Story (By Nick Tarver)
‘I feel empty. I’m now just hoping and praying that one day she will come and find us…’
Couple despair as incomprehensible decision rubber-stamps ‘forced adoption’ of their baby
PIXELATED in the photograph above are two proud parents doting on their newborn daughter. But just like their identities in this photo, the family’s future has been obliterated by a court system which, they claim, was determined to tear them apart. Just a short time after the snap was taken, the little girl – who, along with her parents, cannot be identified due to a draconian injunction served on the Advertiser – was forcibly taken from her Enfield home by social workers backed by police officers. And now, following four years of heart-breaking struggle by the parents to get her back, during which judge after judge has publicly sympathised with their plight and innocence but remained unwilling to disagree with their fellow judges, she has been officially adopted by another couple.
Their only crime was for the father to be accused – though never charged or convicted – of injuring his son from a previous marriage by shaking him. Perversely, the courts and his former partner allow him full unsupervised access to the boy and his sister, yet his daughter with his new wife was taken by social workers on the vague subjective basis that she was at risk of “potential future harm”.
The father has consistently denied hurting his son and the couple were given a last chance to win their daughter back by challenging the accusation in the High Court in February. However, the judge, Mr Justice Mark Hedley, failed to support their case, despite saying: “The father has never been prosecuted for any offence, nor have I seen evidence on which a jury could be invited to be sure of guilt of any offence.” Now, following years of court appearances, meetings with social workers and StreetSide protests, their quest has reached its devastating climax with their daughter lost for ever.
The mother told the Advertiser “I’ve been so angry all the way through this case and constantly crying since she was taken. But now I’ve got nothing left to give – I feel empty. I’m just hoping and praying that one day she will come and find us.” She was told that if she stays with her Husband, she will not be allowed to keep a baby of her own.
I’m hoping she’s happy and her adopted parents treat her kindly, giving her all she needs,” she said. “My parents and my husband’s parents have been great. It’s not just us who’ve lost a daughter – they’ve lost a granddaughter.”
The father, who is now suffering from multiple sclerosis, said he feels angry and that an extreme injustice has been allowed. “We were actually invited to the adoption hearing last Tuesday,” he said “At the end of it my wife pleaded with the judge not to take away her only child – it was just heart-breaking.
“Because of my own health I don’t know whether I will be around if she comes looking for us. I explained this to the judge and he just called it ‘unfortunate’. We were at the adoption hearing more out of hope than anything. We knew this was likely to happen. “There’s nothing we can now do to get her back, but it won’t mean the end of us protesting or fighting for other parents who’ve been through similar things.”
The Father said the glimmer of hope they cling to is that modern technology will make it easier for their daughter to find them if she wishes. “If our daughter just types her first name and the word ‘adopted’ into a search engine, her story comes up. This is important to us, so that she knows we fought tooth-and-nail for her, that we never gave up.
“My other daughter is 12 and you should see her fly around the computer – it’s like second nature to her. So there’s that hope and that’s what we’ve got to bank on”.
And the farther said he still cannot understand how a family can be legally ripped apart over unproven claims of abuse. “I’d love to have the opportunity to argue this in a criminal court, but as the judge admitted there’s not enough evidence to even get to trial, let alone make any sort of convincing case that I hurt my son,” he said. “Social services don’t protect children – I have no faith in them. The adopters have been told lies. No one can love your daughter as much as we do”.