The Guardian – British Sikh couple take legal action after being advised not to adopt

Sandeep and Reena Mander say they were told they were unlikely to succeed as the only children in need were white

Kevin Rawlinson

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead-Berkshire-UK, 27 June 2017. A British Sikh couple are bringing a legal case, claiming they were advised by an adoption agency not to apply because of their “cultural heritage”.

Sandeep and Reena Mander said they had wanted to adopt a child of any ethnic background.

But they were told that, as only white children were in need, white British or European applicants would be given preference, meaning they were unlikely to be selected.

Instead, the Berkshire-based couple allege, they were advised to try to adopt from India, a country with which they have no close links.

“Giving an adopted child, no matter what race, the security of a loving home was all we wanted to do,” Sandeep Mander said.

“What we didn’t expect was a refusal for us to even apply for adoption, not because of our incapability to adopt, but because our cultural heritage was defined as ‘Indian/Pakistani’,” he told the Times.

Adoption agencies are allowed to prioritise on the basis of race in order to match children to prospective parents of the same ethnic background. But the government has also said that a child’s ethnicity should not be a barrier to adoption.

In 2012, the then education secretary, Michael Gove, told an audience in London: “One particularly sensitive element of the matching process is, as you all know, matching by ethnicity. Which is much more complex than simply race.

“I won’t deny that an ethnic match between adopters and child can be a bonus. But it is outrageous to deny a child the chance of adoption because of a misguided belief that race is more important than any other factor.

“And it is simply disgraceful that a black child is three times less likely to be adopted from care than a white child.”

The Manders are applying to Slough county court, seeking a declaration that the policy should allow them to adopt. They are being represented by the law firm McAllister Olivarius and their case is supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

On Monday, the law firm’s senior partner, Ann Olivarius, told the Guardian that too little attention had been paid to the best interests of children in need of adoption.

“It is very odd when you have children in great need and who are desperate for a home. This couple seem the best candidates for parenthood you would want to know.

“They do not see racial divides, they just have so much love in their hearts and want to raise a family.”

To place them lower on the list than another family because of their background suggested that the authorities had “lost the plot, we have lost what is important”, she said.

David Isaac, chair of the EHRC, said: “There are many children who are waiting for a loving family like Sandeep and Reena to help give them a better life. To be denied this because of so-called cultural heritage is wrong.”

The Manders said they had been trying to conceive for about seven years, and had gone through 16 IVF sessions, before deciding to try to adopt.

They attended introductory workshops organised by their local authority, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and its adoption agency, Adopt Berkshire.

They said their case was first taken up by Theresa May, who is their local MP, during her time as home secretary.

“Mrs May was shocked and was very helpful. Her office wrote letters but nothing happened,” Sandeep Mander said.

“When prime minister, she sent further letters and involved the then minister for children and he suggested we take legal advice.”

The couple have been approved to adopt from the US, which is expected to cost them about £60,000.

Adopt Berkshire’s website says children in need of adoption “will reflect the racial, cultural and religious backgrounds of the populations within the areas from which they originate”.

It adds that the authority will seek prospective parents of a similar background to the child, though they would not keep children waiting to “achieve a direct match”.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead did not respond to a request for comment.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/27/british-sikh-couple-take-legal-action-after-being-advised-not-to-adopt

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: