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02 June 2016

Friday’s Thoughts: Tales of invisible children.

I am writing this post because  I was shown and read recently about a case that happened in Southampton no more than three months ago. A case where a newborn baby, merely 5 days old, was removed from the parents guard and that may be post to adoption (or might already have been adopted). Of course, parents are fighting with all their strength to get their baby back. I can’t possible imagine what these parents are going through. I simply can’t.

I have read so many news and have seen so many controversial (as this article about an Italian mother's c-section and its more comprehensive counter-part) articles on the media about Social Services and child care.  Naturally, getting the facts straight is difficult if not impossible when dealing with such sensitive situations. Nevertheless I still want to believe.
I want to believe that the UK has an honest and sensible Social Service at work.
I want to believe that the Social Services in Southampton are truly looking out for the best interest of the children living in their council.

It is terrifying to learn that a newborn can be removed from parents (and looking at past cases, even from the mother’s womb!), with apparently no reasonable or well backed up reason, or at least not known. One thing is to act and to ensure that all is well with a baby, to accompany and monitor the situation. Other thing entirely different is to permanently remove a child from the family care and place him/her for a closed adoption - a forced adoption.
I ask myself, do Social Services  have enough evidence to take this action?
What are the alleged reasons that could justify such extreme act?
But there’s no known answer. And the public will never know.

And this is the key factor of what is wrong with this current child protection system. All cases that involve children and go to Family Court happen behind closed doors, surrounded by secrecy,  and no-one will ever  learn the grounds behind these decisions which leave devastated families behind. Parents are gagged, and cannot tell their tales.
Social Services and the Child Protection System have all the power in these situations. Some may even go so far to claim that few Social Services cases are corrupted, files changed or go missing to back up their claim over the child.  A well known MP also states that parents never get an honest family trial and goes so far to recommend parents to flee the UK with their children if possible, once Social Services are activated. An underground network is already set to support families in these situations, to help them leave the country and start a new life abroad.  We end up reading about parents losing their children in the news, as this one or this similar story from before. But in fairness, the aftermath shown in the media only portraits one side of the story. The family side. We never get a chance to learn the side of the Social Services, and the whole truth is hidden behind the need for confidentiality’.  This  also prevents any scrutiny regarding Social Services proceedings, including finding of any real evidence of effectivity for these same actions. Any event has no accountability, in any way. 

It is  also well known the reason why Social Services may be so quick to remove a child from their parents care. They wish to prevent a tragic and heart-breaking case as Baby P. Social Services got persecuted and scrutenized in the media for failing Baby P. But we have to be cautious when attributing the blame, and even more when attempting to avert past mistakes. Policy changes and reforms when needed to happen have to consider  the realities and the complexities of the social work, and some claim that recent policy changes  have turned social workers into managers and away from the field work. Acting fast, although with weak evidence can only lead to disaster. Moreover when these measures are permanent and tear families apart.

Which brings me back to the first case I started to write about. A newborn baby was removed from his family care by the Southampton Social Services. I feel for the family, truly feel, nevertheless I don’t know the reasons claimed by the Social Services to act. I want to believe that there was a credible cause to proceed so radically. The family however claims that the reason behind the baby’s removal  are adoption targets that the Southampton Social Services may have to meet, which is also rewarded with fostering grants. However, these same targets are disputed by social workers, as a recent article also shows that adoption rates are falling due to court rulings.

Unfortunately, I will never know the truth behind this story. Until Social Services processes and Family Court are transparent, the public will never know. Nevertheless, and unarguably,  the UK shows a clear unbalanced situation in the child protection system, where state and professional workers have more power than parents but without accountability. It is also  known that United Kingdom is the only european country where forced adoption happens due to ‘risk of emotional abuse. If I understand, and completely agree that the welfare and well being of a child has to be paramount in any given situation, I also believe that any parent has the right to defend  their family in a fair, well-balanced and transparent system.

I can only hope that these invisible children, that are not known and whose family life is devised behind closed doors are truly given the best future possible. I just know that  parents and families are left distraught and feeling prejudiced.
Rightly so? I don’t know.

Want to know more?

Personal website about the social services policies and work through the eyes of a previous social worker: The Barefoot social worker blog
Dispatches episode which describes child protection procedures and practices in the social care institution :  Dispatches - The undercover social worker
Community web site about the Social  Services: Community Care

Documentary through parents’ perspective whose children were removed  by Social Services: Traffic
Documentary that exposes forced adoption cases: Exposure - Please don’t take my child


  1. Mais um post teu que gostei de ler. Um tema difícil que mexe com as nossas emoções pp dp de sermos pais. Trabalho com crianças e jovens e em alguns casos estão envolvidos comissões de menores e tribunais. Tem casos de sucesso e outros nem por isso.

  2. Mais um post teu que gostei de ler. Um tema difícil que mexe com as nossas emoções pp dp de sermos pais. Trabalho com crianças e jovens e em alguns casos estão envolvidos comissões de menores e tribunais. Tem casos de sucesso e outros nem por isso.


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