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‘Push for adoption’ causing ‘unprecedented level of state intrusion in family life’

Legal Action for Women publishes dossier quantifying ‘discriminatory treatment’

A dossier, published by Legal Action for Women, describes and seeks to quantify 'the traumatic and discriminatory treatment of children, mothers and grandmothers by the state and the institutions who are in charge of child protection'.

The organisation has published the dossier because, it says, the crisis in women's lives has had little publicity and that 'it is generally not known how widespread the intervention of the state in families is'.

Suffer the little children & their mothers states that new research shows that local authorities with the highest adoption rates also have the highest increase in children in care. Prioritising adoption over support for families has led to a 65% increase in the number of children separated from their parents. According to the dossier, single mothers, immigrant mothers, teenage mothers and mothers on low incomes, of colour, and those with learning difficulties are particularly vulnerable. Women who suffer rape and/or domestic violence are most likely to have their children removed.

The dossier notes the following:

Anne Neale of Legal Action for Women, co-author of the dossier, commented:

"The push for adoption has resulted in the highest ever number of children in care and an unprecedented level of state intrusion in family life. The fundamental relationship between mother and child is dismissed as irrelevant to a child's wellbeing and development, and the trauma of separation, and its lifelong consequences, are ignored.

"The majority of children taken into care and put up for adoption are from low income working class families, especially those headed by single mothers and those where one or both parents are black or immigrant, have disabilities, are young and inexperienced. In this climate of austerity, no one knows how many more will be taken into care or adopted into middle class families as impoverished mothers are accused of 'neglect' for no longer being able to keep a roof over their heads. This is social cleansing.

"Mothers who are victims of domestic violence are refused help, blamed for 'failing to protect' their children, and punished with their removal. There isn't even a duty to consult children before forcing them to have contact with and sometimes live with violent fathers, with tragic consequences. Mothers, almost always the primary carers and protectors, get little or no support, and the legislation supposed to protect children is used to take them away from their protection. It's as though there has never been a women's movement.

"For child welfare to be prioritised, money and resources must be made available to support families, starting with primary carers, usually the mother."

Legal Action for Women is keen to work with family law practitioners, academics and others who are concerned about these issues and hopes they will contact the organisation if they are interested in doing so. Legal Action for Women can be contacted through its website here.