By Cara Sulieman
THE NUMBER of parents having their children taken off them and put up for adoption has rocketed in the last three years.
The number of cases where social services have stepped in and forced adoption have doubled in the past three years and a record number of kids have been taken into care.
Figures obtained from Scotland’s councils under the Freedom of Information laws reveal that 203 children were put up for adoption by social workers last year.
Two thirds of them were babies and toddlers under five.
Three years ago there were just 119 adoptions with less than half involving very young children.
The numbers have sparked a row between family campaigners, social workers and academics about what is best for the kids.
Patricia Morgan, a sociologist who campaigns for pro-family policies, thinks that there should be more forced adoptions to provide stability for the children.
She said: “This doesn’t happen enough.
“There are too many children who go in and out of the care system and back and forward to abusive parents.
“It would be better if the majority of those were placed with adoptive parents.
“It can be a disaster for children left in the hands of drug and alcohol addicts.”
But John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP and chairman of the campaign group Justice for Families, said kids can be seized when there’s no evidence they’re in danger.
He said: “There’s an assumption adoption is the best solution but a lot of adoptions break down, causing all sorts of problems.
“We need more research into the long-term effects of removing children from their natural parents.
“What could be more traumatic than for a mother to have her baby taken away at birth?
“That, in itself, can caused mental health problems which are then used by social services against the mother as a reason not to return the baby.
“There’s been a massive increase in babies taken into care before being adopted when there’s no evidence of any risk to the child.”
Social workers pointed out that most of the parents affected by the policy have drug, alcohol or mental health problems.
The authorities are in a difficult position with forced adoptions, with cases like Baby Peter and Brandon Muir leaving critics asking questions about why the children weren’t taken from their families earlier.
But on the other hand, cases such as Fife couple Kerry Robertson and Mark McDougall who fled to Ireland to stop social workers from seizing their unborn baby attract criticism of the policy.
Michelle Miller from the Association of Directors of Social Work said the rise in forced adoptions could be down to the increasing numbers of children who live in neglectful environments.
She said: “The extreme vulnerability of very young children in these circumstances may lead to the removal of some for their safety.
“In cases where children may not be returned home safely the stability of a permanent alternative family is of paramount importance.
“Adoption is one way of securing this stability.
“However, it is important to consider each child’s circumstances and make decisions in their best interests.”