A French documentary produced by media outlet Le Monde En France revisits the lives of children who were forcibly removed from their parents in the UK three years after being separated from their families.
The programme, “England’s Lost Children” aired on French news channel France 5 on 16th April. It is the second instalment of a series which offers a deeply critical look at forced adoption in the UK.
The first programme, called “England’s stolen children” was aired in 2016, and won an investigative award in 2017 (Figra), and was also selected as a finalist at the Prix Europe in Berlin that same year. Researching Reform shared details about the programme in English for anyone with an interest in the subject matter unable to speak French.
“England’s Lost Children” features individuals who will be familiar to child welfare professionals and campaigners in Britain. The programme’s reporters spoke with Vicky Haigh, whose case made the headlines in the UK after she lost custody of her daughter in 2012.
Journalist Florence Ballone was also interviewed for the programme. She spoke to Researching Reform about the programme and the debate which followed the documentary’s premier on France 5 last week:
“During the debate Hynd Ayoubi-Idrissi, from the United Nations Children Rights committee, confirmed that transferring children from their natural family environment to the child protection industry is a trend spreading around the world. The difference is that most countries do not have a forced adoption policy, choosing voluntary adoption practices instead,” she said.
Florence added, “This means that, as in France, middle class parents who challenge care orders, including those involving babies and toddlers, have a chance at re-unification. Of course, it’s much more difficult for isolated single mothers and socially precarious families.”
“We are now very used to fighting for oppressed minorities. That there is a major battle ahead for children and families who are neither hungry or excluded, or living in conflict zones has yet to be acknowledged,” she noted.
The second programme is in French and does not include subtitles, however we’ve added a translation of the programme’s press release below. Some parts of the programme also include interviews in English.
ENGLAND’S LOST CHILDREN
Le Monde En Face, hosted by Marina Carrère d’Encausse, presents the documentary “England’s Lost Children,” directed by Stéphanie Thomas and Pierre Chassagneux.
The documentary will be followed by a debate. France 5 rebroadcast the first part of this series, “England’s Stolen Children,” on Sunday, April 14 at 23.30.
The documentary England’s Lost Children is the second instalment of a two-part series devoted to British social services and more particularly child protection in the UK.
The first documentary, England’s Stolen Children, was rebroadcast on Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 23.30, and tells the story of the thousands of children unjustly taken from their families. A system where the absurdity and consequences of a law called the Children Act 1989 makes suspicion of child abuse enough of a reason to remove a child from his parents, a system which also takes the view that couples or single mothers in poverty cannot be good parents.
In this second instalment England’s Lost Children, broadcast Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 20.50, the filmmakers retrace the steps of thousands of children, who, once permanently removed from the custody of their parents, were either adopted when very young, or in foster care if they were older at the time of separation. In the United Kingdom, this part of the child welfare system has been entrusted to the private sector for many years. As a result, neo-liberal policies prevail over the idea of a public service supporting the most vulnerable.
After the broadcast of this documentary, Marina Carrère d’Encausse will host a debate with several guests:
Alice, who is French, was a witness on the programme “England’s Stolen Children” in November 2016. At the time she was fighting against British social services to get custody of her cousin’s 5 year old son who had been placed in foster care. She recovered the little boy in July 2016.
Vicky Haigh, a British national, has been living in France since 2014. She lost custody of her daughter to her ex-husband after being accused of emotional abuse for saying that the father had sexually abused their daughter. After social services threatened to take her second child by her current partner, she fled to Ireland where she gave birth. She was subsequently imprisoned for nine months in England with her baby daughter for speaking out publicly to British parliamentarians about her history and how she had been treated by social services.
Florence Bellone, a journalist, was the first to publicize the problems within British social services, and is a winner of the special radio prize Lorenzo Natali of the European Commission in 2011.
Jean-Luc Rongé, a lawyer and publisher of the Youth Law Journal, was particularly interested in how child protection operates in Great Britain.
Hynd Ayoubi Idrissi, an expert and member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child of ONU is also a panel member.
You can watch the documentary below.
Many thanks to Flo Bellone for alerting us to the programme.