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Family’s 18 months of hell after two children are taken away when blundering social workers wrongly accuse them of breaking baby’s limbs

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2026555/Social-workers-wrongly-accuse-family-breaking-babys-limbs.html

Family’s 18 months of hell after two children are taken away when blundering social workers wrongly accuse them of breaking baby’s limbs

  • Social workers accuse mother of harming her newborn son
  • Children taken into foster care despite any wrongdoing
  • Case dropped after doctors diagnose boy with brittle bone disorder

By Luke Salkeld for the Daily Mail
Updated: 10:56, 17 August 2011

A couple was accused of child abuse after doctors failed to realise their baby son’s ‘injuries’ were caused by genetic bone disease. Both parents were arrested and prevented from seeing their children unsupervised for 18 months before their innocence was finally acknowledged. Yesterday Amy Garland said she and her partner had been treated like criminals after they took their six-week-old son Harrison to the hospital when he was ill. Miss Garland and her partner Paul Crummey were arrested and banned from seeing their children alone before anyone realised that Harrison actually had the brittle bone disease or osteogenesis imperfecta. The rare condition is caused by a gene defect that impairs the production of the protein collagen, making bones fragile. Those with the disease can break their bones while being cuddled or even in their sleep. Around 40 to 60 babies are born with the disorder each year. Miss Garland, 26, who lives near Bristol, said her family had been left in tatters after she and Mr. Crummey split up over the stress caused by being separated from their children. As soon as the fractures were discovered, social services were called in. The couple could not explain the apparent injuries and police arrested them. Their daughter Bethany, then 20 months, was placed in the care of Miss Garland’s father. When the case went before Bristol County Court a judge ordered them to live in a family placement centre where their every move was observed. Miss Garland said: ‘The judge didn’t want to separate me from Harrison because I was still breastfeeding. We were watched 24 hours a day and there were cameras in every room. It was like a prison.’

After three months, staff could find nothing wrong with their parenting skills and recommended that the family be allowed to stay together. But social workers applied for an interim care order and the children were placed into foster care with Miss Garland’s mother. They were allowed contact with their parents for six hours a day, under supervision. This continued for more than a year until Miss Garland found an expert who said Harrison probably had osteogenesis imperfecta. Six months later, doctors agreed that this was a possibility and South Gloucestershire Social Services dropped the case. Miss Garland told last night how Harrison had been in obvi s discomfort in the weeks after his birth, but hospital tests found nothing. But when she got home she noticed his legs were swollen, and X-rays later showed he had several fractures in his arm, feet, and legs. Miss Garland said: ‘We had no idea that this condition was in our family so when they asked us how they happened we didn’t know. They said they needed to investigate it and we were happy for them to do that. The police and social services asked us a lot of questions. They asked me if there was any family history of violence. The police spoke to our neighbours asking what we were like. They went through our house. I was in absolute shock. I felt like a criminal.’

Even in hospital, she was not allowed to be alone with her son. ‘I wasn’t eating and I couldn’t sleep because I was worried they would take him from me,’ she said.

The strain caused the couple to split up two months after the children went into foster care. Miss Garland said: ‘It was horrible. When I went home at night and the kids weren’t there, I broke down. We took things out on each other.’

A month after the case was finally dropped two years ago, Harrison was officially diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta. Bethany, now five, was found to have a lesser type of condition. Harrison still has vitamin D injections to strengthen his bones and sees a physiotherapist to build up his muscles. Brittle bone disease is often confused with osteoporosis thinning bones in women after menopause but the two are not the same. Mr. Crummey, 41, who recently lost his job as a civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, said: ‘All we wanted to do was help our sick child but we were treated like criminals. We’ve never received an apology from social services. It makes me feel very angry.’

A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: ‘We have a legal duty to protect children and young people and we always put the welfare of the child at the heart of how we deliver our services.’

WHAT IS OSTEOGENESIS IMPERFECTA?

Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), also referred to as brittle bone disease, is a genetic disorder where infants are born with defect connective tissues leaving their bones susceptible to tear. A person born with such a defect can remain troubled by this throughout his or her life. In addition to fractures people with OI often have muscle weakness, hearing loss, fatigue, joint laxity, curved bones, scoliosis, blue sclerae, dentinogenesis imperfecta (brittle teeth), and short stature.

The real story behind ‘forced adoptions’

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-real-story-behind-forced-adoptions-10408306.html

The real story behind ‘forced adoptions’

A story this week about a girl put up for adoption because her grandparents were ‘too old’ is just one more in a long line of emotive but simplified media tales

The British media abounds with highly emotive adoption stories, and this week was no exception. Howls of protest sounded in some areas of the press at the news that a three year old girl was forcibly put up for adoption this week, against the will of her loving grandparents, allegedly because they were judged ‘too old’ to care for her. It was reported that the mother of the child had lost custody of her due to severe mental health problems, but that her parents were willing to take on special guardianship, against the recommendation of social workers.

The UK is the only country in Europe, and one of a tiny minority of countries in the world, that participates in so-called ‘forced adoption’. This fairly self-explanatory procedure means taking a child away from its family without and sometimes against- the agreement of all family members. This is very much a last resort in a desperate situation, undergone when there is no safe way for children to stay with their immediate family. However, there’s no denying that it can feel extremely brutal for those involved.

In the last few years, the number of children with an Adoption Order has dramatically fallen. What this means in practice is that there are just as many children in the care system, for instance, being fostered but fewer who have been recommended by local authorities to be placed for adoption with a new family. This year alone, the number of children in care with an Adoption Plan fell again, by 37 per cent. For many of these children, cast adrift in a sea of uncertainty, this is a depressing state of affairs.

The key reason for this results from judgments made by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal which reminded local authorities and courts of the huge significance of adoption. Adoption legally and permanently severs the child’s legal relationship with their birth family. Again, the UK is the only country in Europe to do this, however often contact does continue with both siblings, grandparents, and sometimes birth parents. ‘Forced adoption’ is more accurately referred to in the care sector as ‘contested adoption’.

Make no mistake about it: most children who are embroiled in the care system are there because of serious abuse or neglect. One of the reasons that contested adoption is legal here and illegal elsewhere is because UK law puts the welfare and rights of the child first, above those of parents and any associated relatives. It’s not always in the child’s best interests to stay with their birth family.

‘Kinship carers’ defined as relatives and close friends of the birth family often become special guardians of a child. This allows children to leave the care system and remain within their immediate family, minimising disruption to that child’s upbringing, and can often provide a knowledgeable and loving new home. By law, kinship carers must be the first port of call for social workers. However, there are some difficulties with these arrangements.

For instance, kinship carers do not receive access to legal aid, which means it can be difficult for them to contest a child’s adoption through the courts. Neither do they enjoy the same benefits as adopters do if they look after a child, such as the legal right to adoption leave from work. Some have fallen foul of the Bedroom Tax.

Sadly, finding a loving home for a child can often be harder than anyone imagined. What is needed is a more holistic approach to adoption and fostering by the government. The £19.2 million for the Adoption Support Fund providing therapeutic support for adoptive children was recently pledged, but this fund doesn’t extend to children placed with kinship carers. Meanwhile, too many children remain in the care system without any promise of a permanent and stable home.