Legally Kidnapped

Shattering Your Child Welfare Delusions Since 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Parents against forced adoption

Stop the injustice of the family courts, stop the purgery happening on a daily basis. Stop the removal of children from families that want to care for thier offspring families together help each other, stop taking away childrens rights, every child wants to know its natural family loved them, give them a chance to know.

The Big Issue
by Laura Armstrong
May 21 2007

A investigation, conducted by a Cross Part Group of MP's on social services guidelines

An MP's survey of guidelines that are allegedly routinely used to remove children from their mothers is expected to conclude this summer that the guidelines are "irresponsible and ridiculous".

The investigation, conducted by a Cross Part Group via questionnaires being sent out to groups including social workers and parents, was prompted by serious concerns amongst MPs over miscarriages of justice in the closed courts system.

Worried politicians fear that hundreds of children have been wrongfully removed from their families as a result of the flawed Department of Skills and Education (formerly Department of Health) guidelines that social services use to determine whether or not a parent is abusive.

According to campaigners, the guidelines say signs of abuse may include anything from speaking harshly to even helping with homework.

Stress or tiredness may also be read as indications of psychological difficulties-leaving parents vulnerable to accusations of" emotional harm".

The MPs are particularly interested in the effects of the guidelines regarding Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy (MSBP), also known as Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII). MSBP-type instances can occur when parents of children with genuine medical conditions are suspected instead of feigning or inducing their children's problems.

MPs believe that current legislation makes this a rare disorder dangerously easy to misdiagnose, and plan to expose the problem by revealing exactly how many parents have been labelled as having this condition.

Chaired by Doctor Richard Taylor, other MP's believed to be involved including John Cruddas, Damien Green and Earl Howe.

One member of the group, John Hemmings, feels so strongly about the cause that he has campaigned along side many of the parents affected. Refusing to adopt a 'softly softly approach,

Hemmings determination to speak out has angered several local councils, many of which have threatened him with imprisonment.

He said ; "A lot of things are very badly wrong with the guidelines , and have been recognized as badly wrong. This is a systematic problem rather than just a few bad apples. Mistakes keep happening that are allowed and even encouraged.

"I'm in favour of a complete rehash of the system. I think that the idea of a child being taken away from their parents because they come into contact with a dog is, quite frankly, testing the boundaries of sanity. And yet, unless people speak out, nothing will be changed and the guidelines will remain in place."

The committee will report on its conclusions this summer. MPs are hoping that this will encourage the government to scrap overzealous guidelines, replacing them with legislation geared towards keeping families together.

A spokesperson for the Cross Party Group said; These guidelines mean that any child with special needs could become a subject of aggressive and misconceived investigation. They mean that once a child is referred to the social services, there are limitless reasons to keep them there and break up the family.

"The mistake has happened in the quest for perfection. No concern is too small to be taken seriously, and consequently almost anything can be taken as MSBP or FII-including the vague possibility of future emotional harm".

The spokesperson continued:
"The survey is taking place because there are substantial professional concerns about the way that social services apply these guidelines, and the potential for serious harm. So far our questionnaires have reflected and supported this. It appears that the guidelines are really a tool for social services to get their teeth into a family and hack it to pieces.

"The proper outcome for the survey would be a complete with-drawal of these guidelines, and this is what we are hoping for.

Otherwise the same rules will just be marched on for the next 50 years".

This investigation is fully supported by campaigners such as Linda McDermott, who lost her child two years ago following accusations of emotional harm.

Ignoring medical records that show her son to be asthmatic, the court ruled that McDermott had been poisoning him with inhalers and was therefore an unfit parent.

Robert (not his real name)-who also has leukaemia-was placed in care and now sees his mother for a maximum of one and a half hours every month. McDermott has since committed herself to counselling women in a similar position, and plans to set up her own helpline in the future.

"I see hundreds of women who have lost their children and been through hell", she said. Desperate mothers who are not allowed to send their kids birthday cards because they've been accused of emotional harm. They're not violent or abusive- they're just ordinary women who feel cheated and helpless. All they want is access to their children, but they're denied it for reasons that are completely invalid.

"I have met parents who have lost their children because they've had nappy rash, or because they've banged their legs in the bath. One woman lost custody of her children because her daughter developed a bad cough that made it difficult for her to breathe.

"We want to put an end to cases like this, and that is why we campaign and protest. The MPs' survey should make it clear exactly how many women have had children taken from them for almost no reason at all -- for the first time, these women will have some kind of voice."


Another woman campaigning for change is Yvonne Coulter. Her baby daughter Tammy mother and daughter now pictured left) was taken away from her after bruises gained falling out of a high chair were interpreted as signs of abuse. Over the next three years it was proved beyond doubt that Coulter was a good and loving mother- but by the time the case came to court, the judge followed social services' advice to leave Tammy with her adopted parents, because Yvonne would "be a stranger to her". Seventeen years later, however , Tammy managed to track down her mother via a Genes Reunited website and the pair met again. Tammy now lives with her mother and brother Cameron, and together they are working to open up the secretive family courts system that they say allowed this to happen. Yvonne said:

"The experience was completely devastating- it ripped my life apart. I was completely alone and I had no one to turn to because I had no idea that this was happening to other's too."

"Now I am seeking legal action against the courts, because I can never replace the years that I lost with Tammy. I have also set up a website offering support for people in similar situations, which has received 79,000 hits this year. (

"Many of these people have had their lives completely ruined and something needs to be done to protect others from suffering in the same way that they have. The more people know what a horrendous mess the social services are in the better".

Ian Johnstone, chief executive of the British Association Of Social Workers, was scathing about the MPs' stance. "It's not responsible for politicians to say such things. Social workers have a very difficult job to do and they take decisions as part of a group of health professionals.

I don't see them as over-zealous-they're just doing their job".

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