Adoption, the Saudis and our Ken

Jon Gaunt, BBC Radio’s resident loud-mouth, was mouthing off about adoption on BBC’s London radio (94.9 FM, 9am-12pm Monday-Friday) this morning. The thing that got his goat today was that parents who gave their children up for adoption would get help in tracing them, in contrast to the present system whereby usually only children can do the tracing. He went on about how if his parents ‘abandoned’ him, he didn’t want to be traced by them. Apparently he had been in care for a while when he was a kid and so he knows what it’s like (he mentioned that he was often told by other kids that “the parents are coming”, and they never came). While by the end of the show, he appeared to have gained some ability to see that the issue was more complicated than he was making out, the fact is that he should not have delivered his rant to begin with. People do not usually give up their babies because they don’t want them - it is often to do with family pressure, poverty, or more recently social services and court intervention. I have heard of a young single mother being tricked into signing a baby over when she did not want to, and the adoption was not happy for the mother (who later married the father) or the daughter.

Worse, a letter in the Independent yesterday (7th April) from Beverley A Lawrence Beech, honourary chair of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services in Surbiton, Surrey, alleged that mothers lie in questionnaires designed to detect post-natal depression due to fears of losing their children, that cultural insensitivity is a known problem, and that a baby was booked for adoption when her mother had severe post-natal depression despite her successfully having raised two elder siblings; the adoption was only stopped when three “horrified” local organisations intervened. Beech alleges that “providing young children for adoption is taking priority over giving practical help to families in need”. (You can read the letter here; note that the Independent has a “portfolio” system which requires the reader to pay to read articles more than a week old.) And who can forget the awful story of the families who have lost children due to the lies of Roy Meadows and other scoundrels like him? It is unconscionable that people deprived of their children due to such activities should be denied the right to find their children.

(I should add that as Muslims, we don’t believe in adoption anyway. It is an iniquitous system which involves people deluding themselves that someone is their child, when they know this not to be the case, and lying to the child also. Sometimes the people do not find out until they are in their 40s, or when they have to get a birth certificate to get a passport or something. To say nothing of the fact that people do not know about their real heritage, and of so many other issues.)

Gaunt also mentioned that Ken, as we call him (i.e. Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London) has come up with three “soundbites” including one about people paying 50% tax once they earn 100,000 pounds (this terminal won’t do the pound sign!) a year, and how he’d like to see the Saudi royal family swinging. I think a 50% tax is just too high - although 50 grand is an awful lot of money to take home anyway, but when people get quoted a huge sum of money and then find they only take home half of it, or less once you take into account council tax, pensions and so on, it can be a real disincentive to work. As for the comment about the Saudi royal family, well a lot of Muslims I know don’t have any great affection for them and they have a very bloody history. But stringing them up will do more harm than good in my opinion, and someone much worse may well replace them anyway.

The problems that many people associate with the royal family is, to most observers, actually the fault of the religious establishment, although you can’t just string up even them. Ken, please stick to what you know.

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