There’s been a lot of press coverage recently about a Sikh couple who have been told they cannot adopt, due to their cultural and religious heritage. They were told go to India to adopt. Why? Because the children their agency was placing for adoption are primarily white. White adopters are preferred. I am an Asian adopter. I have adopted children through the UK system. It wasn’t easy. A lot of barriers were put in our way. Our cultural and religious heritage was an excuse to turn us down by local authorities, and voluntary agencies. But I didn’t take no for an answer. This is our story.
The wrong kind of Asian to adopt
After a failed and horrendous IVF treatment, two miscarriages, King of the Mountains and I realised having a birth child wasn’t going to happen.
We wanted a family, the child didn’t have to be ours, this led us to consider adoption.
Adoption felt right for us.
I’d seen the posters. BME parents wanted to adopt BME children languishing in the care system.
As First4Adoption says: “Sadly, statistics show that children from BME backgrounds are waiting longer to be matched with adoptive parents in London, could you help and provide a happy and permanent home to one of these children?”
That’s what I wanted to do.
I picked up the phone and started ringing around. I was enthusiastic, as you are when you start out on a new adventure. Who wouldn’t want us? Young(ish) couple, fit and healthy with plenty of potential. We wanted to share our lives with a child from the UK care system.
But, I was wrong.
Sorry, but we can’t take you on, we don’t get children with your cultural or religious heritage.
What do you mean? You want BME adopters.
Yes, we do. But not you.
We were the wrong sort of Asian.
Our heritage is South Indian and Christian. We are a minority within a minority.
But you don’t even know us
Now that’s what really pissed me off.
I can still feel the anger as I type.
Those initial calls had nothing to do with our potential to adopt, our potential to be loving parents to a child hurt by trauma and abuse. No.
Those calls focused purely, on screening us, on race and culture.
If this had been a job interview, I think they would call that discrimination.
Getting beyond the phone call
That’s what I had to do, get to the next stage. It started to feel like a game.
I wasn’t going to accept defeat.
I knew I had to talk about our rich and diverse family, because:
- My husband is adopted. His parents are WHITE
- He has an adopted sister, she’s BLACK AFRO-CARIBBEAN
- And he has a brother and sister who are both WHITE, their kids, our nieces and nephews are WHITE
- And we have nieces and nephews, they are DUAL HERITAGE, BLACK/WHITE, ASIAN/WHITE.
I had to get that into the conversation.
And we had both volunteered at a local cubs and scouts troop working with underprivileged kids.
Try, try, and try again
We were turned down.
By the voluntary agency that only took on a strict quota of gay, single and black and minority ethnic adopters. They didn’t want us.
And the local authority with a high Asian population, they wouldn’t be able to find a right match for us. They only had white children in foster care.
There were others. They all said no. Sorry, but we can’t match you.
Then I rang TACT.
Someone listened to us. They heard our story
TACT was willing to listen.
They looked beyond us as a purely Asian couple, they looked at our diverse family background and realised we had something to offer.
We made it to an interview. We were actually going to talk to someone face-to-face.
As the cliche goes the rest is history
TACT approved us to move to the next stage the preparation course, and the homestudy with a wonderful social worker who guided through to approved adopter status.
Game. Set. Matched.
After 18 months were approved as adopters (it’s a lot quicker now) and a few months later we were matched with our children.
And our kids, they aren’t an identical cultural/religious match. That didn’t bother us. It doesn’t bother them because we are simply Mum and Dad.
We are a family, we have two wonderful, amazing kids.
I am proud to be their mummy.
If you are Asian. Want to adopt. Struggling to adopt.
You can adopt.
It’s hard, there will be barriers, but keep pushing, challenge the system.
Get the social workers to look beyond your colour, your race, your religion, your culture. Show them what you have to offer as parents.
You can. We did.
Save this Pin