I haven't posted much in a while – still getting used to this being a full-time Mummy & now Sqk doesn't need a nap that much I don't have that convenient time to organise my thoughts.
But the subject of this post is really the Panoroma programme “I Want My Baby Back” shown earlier in the week. Like many I watched this expecting sensation which is what we got. You would get impression from this programme that many children taken into care should never have been removed and as per usual social services get blame whereas they work from medical advice and indeed it is the family courts that make the ultimate decision. What it does highlight as other commentators have said is the need to open up the family courts somewhat and also to make sure medical evidence is considered properly.
Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise and there may be a very small number of instances where the family court has made the wrong decision. However there is a balance of probability judegment as there is always an outcry when a child known to social services dies or a child dies due to neglect or abuse from a parent. Baby P, Victoria Climbie, Daniel Pelka and Hamza Khan being among the more recent cases. As the chairman of CAFCASS said in the programme “One child left at risk is one child too many; one child taken by mistake is one child too many.”
Family court proceedings being as secretive as they are leads to a space where people can fill in as they want to. As an adopter I have seen what I have been allowed to from the proceedings in the court regarding my son and his older siblings. He was taken away at birth because of the damage done to his siblings so in many respects I am more fortunate than many adopters that my son has never lived with birth family. However due to hold-ups in the court proceedings he was only placed with us after his second birthday – I know some of the reasons for this but will never know the full story as material is rightly kept from us.
Family courts do need some level of privacy to protect the children – those with placement orders for adoption will in many cases not change their first name unless there is a serious security risk. All the training we have as adopters is that the name is important to a child's identity. This was the reason on my Twitter feed on Monday night there was some horror over not only pictures of a child placed for adoption being shown but also her name being mentioned.Strangely the BBC was good with the final contact child but less so with the first child of the mother who had fled to Spain.
That also was not good – seeing a MP suggesting parents should flee abroad rather than work with the services. My experience is that family courts will favour the birth family if at all possible – several of Sqk's extended family were considered as kinship carer before the placement order was made as well as the parents being assessed and worked with for some time. I also know anecdotally from my husband who has clients who are birth parents in his pharmacy. Since our adoption he has actually found them being more open with him and discussing what they went through – it is strange he teels me looking at things from two sides of the adoption triad.
One issue throughout the programme was the right of reply from social workers is limited due to professional ethics bar anything else. I also gather that the response from one council was in fact a letter sent to query the programme rather than a formal response. I did feel that there was some bias shown in the programme but also realise it highlights the need to consider medical issues carefully and for further research to be done as the medical experts do not agree about the prevalence of Vit D deficiency in very young children or even about any possible increase in Rickets.
Overall looking back the Panorama programme does once again highlight the need to open the family courts up while still maintaining the right of chlidren to anonymity and avodiing making it clear exactly who is involved given that they work on a balance of probability unlike the crimnal justice system. It is important to fill the vacuum the total secrecy leaves with facts rather than speculation or indeed pure myth.
Last night's programme on Channel 4 was I gather from my twitter feed more balanced – I have yet to watch it given the time it was on. I shall try to blog when I have done so.