Mixed race adoptions …..does Mr Gove have a point?

As a Guardian/Observer reading ex social worker it pains me to even type this, let alone say it out aloud….but, could Mr Gove have a point?

This is an area of personal interest to me as someone who was adopted in the 1960’s and who is of mixed race, although not obviously so. My birth mother is Anglo Indian but I am ‘white’ in appearance. The Observer discusses recent research published by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, which examined the experiences of children who had been adopted in the 1960‘s from Hong Kong. The report suggests racial and cultural differences can have a significantly negative impact on children from ethnic minorities when adopted by white families. Many of the feelings the adoptees reported I too have felt, especially feelings of not belonging and difference within their adoptive families and wider communities. I too experienced such feelings even though we were an all ‘white’ family. This suggests, to me, that whilst ethnicity is an important factor, it is not the only factor that needs to be borne in mine when selecting potential adoptive parents and matching them to adoptees, hence the need for a rigorous screening process undertaken professionally.

For me it boils down to an adoptive parents ability to demonstrate unconditional love and acceptance of difference, whatever those ‘differences’ might be.

However, there is a bigger picture here that needs to be addressed because being ‘different’ is not the problem, being accepted is the problem. It is the way others react to such differences that causes problems. The way some in wider society perceive, and treat, individuals from minority ethnic groups is the problem because

“ We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us” (George Eliot)

If the world of the child tells them there is something wrong with them, they are apt to believe there is something wrong with them!

So do the Tories have a point? This report is written about children adopted in the 1960’s when our cultural values and ‘norms’ were very different, and of course much has changed in respect of discrimination and ethnicity, although not thanks to Tory governments in my opinion. However, this is not really about the colour of adoptive parents skin is it. It is about the values of society, about societies inability to accept ‘difference’ , whether that might be due to ethnicity, sexuality or a multitude of other things that might not conform to the ‘norm’, and of course the ‘norm’ is reinforced by policy and legislation handed down by government.

Maybe the Tory government should focus on ridding society of it’s intolerance to difference first, before blaming social workers. Whilst not a perfect profession Mr Gove, maybe it is because social workers are already aware of the reports findings that the adoption process for children from ethnic minority groups is slower.

There is much more to this issue to be considered, maybe Mr Gove needs to listen more closely to those working in the system on a day to day basis, rather than base his reform of adoption services on his personal experience. It is good to have a personal perspective, but please do not let this get in the way of getting reform right.

Phew back on safe Guardian/Observer reading ex social worker ground now, thank goodness. If you would like to read about my experience of adoption and the search for my birth mother please click here for a free short ibook.

About digalpin

I gained my social work qualification from the University of Southampton and worked for 14 years in mental health, disability and older people services. I am currently a senior lecturer in post-qualifying social work at Bournemouth University and am conducting research on government and societal attitudes and responses to the mistreatment of older people in health and social care provision for my doctorate. My views are my own.

5 thoughts on “Mixed race adoptions …..does Mr Gove have a point?

  1. ‘As a Guardian/Observer reading ex social worker…’

    That’s a pretty brave statement to make these days; there aren’t many willing to admit to reading either publication. Julie Birchill and the constant accusations of anti-semitism (http://www.thecommentator.com/article/624/the_guardian_acknowledges_a_degree_of_anti_semitism) are challenging The Guardian and The Observers previously dominant roles as the voice of the progressive left or liberal in Great Britain.

    But the stance adopted by the editors and contributors to either publication don’t necessarily reflect the views of its readers. Whether the readers can help steer both away from the rocky shoals remains to be seen.

    1. Absolutely! Having undertaken a newspaper review this week with students looking at all the papers,, searching for articles that contain information related to social policy and politics, the standard of content is pretty shocking- read the Sun, Star and Daily Mail, now that really was an experience!

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. digalpin. You seem like a caring person. Would you like to comment on this video on
    Youtube:– Walsall ss-forced adoption. WHY do they not answer. The CRIMINALS and PERJURERS. Perhaps you could ask Walsall MBC to reply or evey YOURSELVES . I now wonder if I have performed the GREATEST VANISHING TRICK IN HISTORY(to your SHAME)Sincerely Mr. Phil Thompson

    1. Thankyou for commenting Mr Thompson. I have watched your clip on youtube and am sorry this has caused you so much distress. As I am unable to gather information from social services, other professionals involved and the views and opinions of all the members of your family involved there is too little information to form an opinion, however, it is clear from the clip that you feel your family have suffered a great injustice.

      Social Service as a public authority has to be accountable for its actions, indeed as a public authority it must not breach your families human rights, and can, and should be challenged and held to account if it has acted wrongly. I am assuming the parents of your great grandchild have made a complaint to Walsall? I am unsure of your position legally to challenge as a great grand parent, as you will know from reading my blog I am writing from the perspective of someone who was adopted, I have no background in children and families services so am not an expert on your legal position, but am concerned the government reforms could lead to more problems.

      Have your family contacted the local governemnt ombudsman? Also I see Walsall have recently had a change in lead since the poor Ofsted report of childrens services last summer, have the family considered contacting the new lead? I also wonder if the family could challenge under the Human Rights Act, specifically under Article 8? You would need to obtain legal advice, are there any local advocacy groups you could call upon?

      I am sorry I am unable to offer any answers to resolve this issue for you. Thank you again for reading my blog and sharing your experience.

  3. MAM, Dear Di Galpin, Please know that I cannot find words enough to thank you for your reply. YOU LISTENED and please continue to do so. What I am trying to say is that without any foreknowledge you replied to me. The closest that I can show you(if you wish) is where I spoke for my Family ALONE at Trafalgar Square where I speak toward the end. Please note that I did not give the title to this video post either. Google:– Vicky haig and others speak truth to power
    By memory I state the actual FOUR charges. Please know that I do not ask anything of you but to LISTEN. Ministers past and present KNOW of what has been done to my Family. Not my constituent was the usual reply. Yet they vote for all of the Electorate. BTW, may I say that the people that I accuse of PERJURY by NAME although they know of my accusations remain silent. It would seem alien to my mentality as to how P////// P///////// and her deputy M/////// W////// were adjusted from their posts(sacked and here is another story, Valerie Vaz MP acting for my grandson asked for a Review because of the leadership of the previous administration a P??? S?????? did not reply.). Within three weeks of telling to the Ombudsman P///// C///// and OFSTEAD. I have all the letters. Because you replied and LISTENED. Thank YOU. .

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