Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Lancashire Council of Mosques (CF 127)

Adoption of Muslim children and the Children and Families Bill

1. Introduction

I represent an organisation called the Lancashire Council of Mosques which is an umbrella organisation representing thousands of Muslims in the North West of England. I am also a member of the Adoption Panel in Blackburn and Darwen and work with Children’s Services in Lancashire. I have gained a broad overview of adoption through my work over the past two years.

2. A child has a right to a religious identity

It is my view and that of my organisation and that of the organisations we represent that the religion of Muslim children within our care system should be preserved and maintained. We feel that removing the importance of any consideration towards a child’s ethnicity/religion denies people the right to an identity i.e. in identifying with a particular group and being informed regarding one’s culture and heritage. A holistic approach that takes the above into due consideration will definitely enhance the social, emotional and intellectual welfare of people.

3. Adult adoptees born Muslim and adopted by non-Muslims.

Qualitatively, it is shown that adults whose birth parents were Muslim but then adopted by non-Muslim families testify to being well loved and cared for. However, they also testify that the process negatively affected their identities and ability to connect with their birth families and ethnic communities as adults. Such individuals feel it is important that Muslim children are placed with Muslim adopters. With Islam and Muslims often portrayed negatively within popular media, having suitable Muslim role models would allow such individuals to comfortably grow up and develop positive outlooks on life within 21st century Britain as proud British Muslims. Individuals who have been raised by non-Muslim adoptive parents often feel torn between two communities and could develop grievances. In their search for an identity and drive to connect with their birth religion, such people may resort to look for answers online and-without proper guidance from a Muslim role-model-be at risk of flirting with violent extremist ideologies.

4. Boroughs will stop using inter-agency adopters

Local authorities around the country are involved in the poor practice of not referring to the adoption register or ignoring matches to avoid paying extra costs for inter-agency adopters. This is apparently due to managers wishing to protect budgets. The repealing of this ethnicity clause (which is tantamount to advocating that the faith of a child should be overlooked) will ultimately mean local authorities that do not have Muslim adopters and are looking for adopters for Muslim children within their care will not look out-of-house but settle with in-house non-Muslim families. The repealing of this clause will consolidate this terrible practice that is, anecdotally, very common.

5. Last words

I would suggest ending the inter-agency fee will allow Local Authorities to place the needs to children above all other interests. I would also suggest children are opened up to approved adopters across the country in a way that Local Authorities do not generate additional costs. This would also benefit children who are harder to place and speed up the adoption process.

April 2013

Prepared 26th April 2013