It’s the second time within a month that our story has appeared in The Times, and I applaud their campaign for a radical review of our present adoption process in the UK. This is what The Times says about us today as part of their report about children in care facing “adoption apartheid”.:
For Francesca Polini and her husband, Rick, the process was heartbreaking. They deliberately chose not to have children of their own, but instead to offer a home to a couple of children in care waiting to be adopted.
Mrs Polini was taken aback when social workers at Ealing council in West London, where she lives, told her that their services were not required.
“I was told over the phone, without even an interview or face-to-face meeting, that all the children in Ealing needing to be adopted were black or mixed-race and there was a cap on the number of white couples they wanted to approve, and that number had been reached,” she told The Times.
“I was really shocked. It was made clear we could not be considered for anyone other than a white child, and there was no suggestion that neighbouring local authorities may need white couples and I should go there instead. The social worker suggested we try for overseas adoption instead. Apparently it didn’t matter about the child being from a different ethnic group as long as it came from abroad.”
The couple did just that, and after an emotional rollercoaster ride became the first British couple to adopt from Mexico. Mrs Polini, 41, has written a book, Mexican Takeaway, about the experience. They have a daughter, Gaia, 3, and a son Luca, aged six months.
Although they are happy with their family, they still feel they had a lot to offer children in care in this country.
“It didn’t hit me until after we had adopted Gaia how ridiculous it is to tell a couple they cannot adopt because they are white. With local authorities it seems to be colour first, and then what religion your are, rather than whether you are ready and prepared to look after a child.
“The Government has made a start with new guidance but it remains to be seen whether local authorities will follow it. I think there won’t be any significant progress unless they scrap the local authority-based system altogether and have one national agency in charge.”
I would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to The Times for the tremendous support they are giving to help young children find loving and stable homes.