‘Couple denied chance to adopt because of heritage’

A British Asian Couple were denied the right to adopt a white child
A British Asian Couple were denied the right to adopt a white child

By Sairah Masud

A BRITISH Asian couple has issued court proceedings after their application to become adoptive parents was denied because of their cultural heritage.

 from Berkshire took their fight to court following several unsuccessful attempts, including a letter from the prime minister, to get Adopt Berkshire to reverse the “discriminatory” decision.

Despite a thorough and positive assessment, the agency suggested that they adopt from India in order to give priority to prospective white adopters as only white children were available.

Under the authority of Windsor and Maidenhead Borough, the agency’s appraisal concluded that the couple were more than capable and financially stable to provide for a child.

Representing the couple at McAllister Olivarius law firm, Georgina Calvert-Lee said: “Adopt Berkshire’s refusal to consider Sandeep and Reena as adoptive parents of a white child, regardless of other cultural and financial considerations is an effective ban on trans-racial adoption

The Manders – of Sikh heritage – felt they had sufficient grounds for a legal case after the agency’s failure to appropriately respond to their grievance.

Husband Sandeep said: “We were bewildered, even after the leader of the council had been alerted of our complaint, that deadlines for official responses were missed and a proper investigation was not conducted”.

Current legislation rules that race and colour should not be predicating factors for local authorities and adoption agencies when matching potential parents and children.

Sandeep Mander added: “We didn’t expect to be refused adoption because we were culturally defined as ‘Indian/Pakistani”.

“My wife and I were born and raised in the UK, so for us to be excluded from the adoption process over preference to White/European adopters is unfair”.

The couple had made it clear throughout the adoption process that their criteria was extremely relaxed in terms of the child’s ethnic background and number of siblings.

David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said: “There are many children who are waiting for a loving family like Sandeep and Reena to help give them a better life and to be denied this because of so-called cultural heritage is wrong”.

The EHRC emphasised the importance of multi-agency partnerships to follow laws set in place in order to ensure the best outcome for young people in the care system and avoid unlawful racial discrimination in the future.

The Manders have been successfully approved for adoption in the United States and hope that their case will be a catalyst for change within the domestic adoption system in the future.

“We hope we can raise awareness and help other ethnic minority couples to be considered fairly rather than rejected at the first hurdle”.

A spokesman for Adopt Berkshire said: “We do not comment on ongoing court cases.”