Emigrating to avoid forced adoption (Sam Thomas)
I have linked to the story about Sam Thomas in the Daily Mail. http://fightingmonsters.wordpress.com/
is a web log written by a Social Worker who comments on this issue.
Pregnant Sam Thomas emigrated to Ireland a couple of weeks ago because she and her mother (Carol Hughes) were concerned that the local authority (in this case Somerset) were set on taking the newborn baby into care and that this would be likely to result in the baby being given to another family and them banned from seeing it again.
It is worth looking at a few facts in respect of this case. At the time Sam emigrated there had not been a case conference. However, one was held on Monday (1/9) which resulted in a decision by the local authority that the unborn baby should be placed on the child protection register.
This means that the LA believe that the baby faces a "risk of significant harm". This implies that they will initiate care proceedings when the baby is born. There is then the question as to what that means. It is very very rare for the court to refuse a care order for a newborn baby. Hence in essence that is a rubber stamping exercise.
We can then look at the figures as to what happens to babies taken into care at birth. If anyone wants the full spreadsheet for 2004,2005 and 2006 they should email me and I will send it. If a lot of people ask I will publish it.
However, I have the figures (from DCSF) for source and destination by age of child. In other words I have the figures for the number of newborns (0-7 days) taken into care in England in each of those years and what had happened by 2007.
What the parents are interested in, of course, is "return to parents". We can also look at adoption.
|Year||Into care||Returned to parents||Adoption|
In each case fewer than 1/5 of newborn babies return to their mothers. I have expressed it as the situation where if mother stays then you have to toss a coin twice and get heads both times to keep your baby. The chances are, in fact, worse than that.
My advice to parents facing this difficulty can be summarised as follows:
- If you emigrate then English Social Services lose authority for the child protection proceedings as long as you emigrate before the baby is born.
- Emigration is not a trivial issue. However, if you emigrate to a country that does not have forced adoption (eg Ireland, Sweden) then even if your baby is taken at birth you stand a good chance of having your baby returned to you (unlike in England)
- If you Emigrate do it as early as you can and don't take chances with the health of the baby by doing it close to the expected date.
- Emigration means you are going elsewhere to live and are not intending to return (at least not for a number of years).
There are a lot of other complications as well. However, the statistics above demonstrate that Emigration should be considered. It is important to remember that very few Child Protection Conferences reject the recommendations of the social workers and that you cannot rely on the Family Court to bring sense into the proceedings. There are some good Family Court judges, but there are also others who could be replaced by a rubber stamp (and it would be a lot cheaper).BBC TV Interview with Sam Thomas