In a confused speech delivered during a debate on forced adoption in the House of Commons yesterday, Parliamentary Under Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi defended the ongoing practice whilst also labelling the policy, “appalling”.

Zahawi’s ministerial appointment raised eyebrows, after he was found to have attended the now abolished President’s Club Dinner several times, and allegations around him supplying oil to Islamic State were revealed.

The motion for the debate called on the government to offer a public apology to single mothers in the 1950s and 1960s in the UK, who were coerced into giving up their children for adoption, at a time when government viewed single parenthood as a threat to the social fabric of the country. Zahawi sidestepped this request, failing to address it during the debate.

Instead, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Children and Families, who Researching Reform is aware reads this blog, tried to shoehorn some ill timed and awkward comments on modern forced adoption practices during the discussion, after this site called on the government to address the issue.

Before making the comments about today’s forced adoption practices, the MPs involved in the debate were discussing details relating to several of their constituents who had had children taken from them by the state. Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck asks Zahawi to clarify the date of a report he was referring to, which was produced in the 1970’s. This is his reply:

“Yes—I did say that when I referred to it.

Children can only be removed permanently by a court without the consent of the parents if the court is satisfied that the child is suffering significant harm or is likely to suffer significant harm if they remain with their birth family. Courts must consider all the evidence put before them, including evidence from the parents themselves, who will have legal representation. Adoption agencies and fostering services are now inspected by Ofsted, whose role is to ensure that practice is in line with the legal framework.”

Rather oddly, Zahawi then switches to issues around mothers looking to trace their children after losing them to non recent forced adoption:

“For the mothers who are at the heart of this debate, it is essential that they are able to trace their children and that their children can establish their parentage”.

After sharing a few more thoughts on the motion itself, Zahawi then doubles back and makes another comment about current forced adoption practices, this time making some terrible mistakes in the process. This is what he says:

“We believe that the lessons of the time have been learned and have led to significant change both to legislation and practice now. No child is removed from their birth family unless they have suffered significant harm or are at risk of such harm, and of course, parents have legal representatives”. 

It’s clear from this speech that Zahawi has very little understanding of forced adoption, and the current crisis within the family courts. As we have written about many times on this site, judges and social workers have become increasingly concerned about the use of forced adoption policies to remove children from parents, and we also know that parents do not, “of course”, have legal representation. In fact, the latest government reports confirm that most parents are now having to represent themselves in court due to a lack of legal aid and an inability to afford private representation.

Trying to make a distinction, as Zahawi does, between non recent and current forced adoption practices is also pointless. There is no difference between non consensual adoption to remove children from mothers in the 1950s, 60s and 70s for being single, and removing children from parents in the twenty first century for being poor, vulnerable or missing out on a full education. Moreover, the similarities between non recent and current forced adoption practices are striking, because they are both rooted in unethical, and unlawful, social engineering.

As Labour MP Stephen Twigg points out during the debate:

“At heart this is a human rights issue. Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 outlines, “the right to respect for…family and private life”. In the case of forced adoptions, it is surely absolutely clear that the parents and children have been denied that most basic of human rights. If the Government accept that that is the case, surely we have a responsibility as a country and they have a responsibility as a Government to address the matter urgently”.

It’s time the government had a debate on forced adoptions taking place today.