I have just read a news article about a court case where two Polish children under the age of 5 have come into the care system here in the UK. Children who were born in the UK and live in the UK. Their social worker is so concerned that they would not be able to find a family 'who meets the cultural and language needs' of the brothers, even though there are 3 Polish families willing to adopt them.....so she is considering sending them to Poland.
I find this to be wrong on so many levels.
First of all, there are 3 families willing to adopt the children - three. So, without any further discussion there is already a choice of families for these brothers. If keeping a child with their Polish cultural and language roots is more important than anything else then why not put them with one of these families? This idea that one has to find the 'perfect' match has resulted in tens of thousands of children in the UK growing up without a permanent family. I will never forget a TV programme I watched about adoption and social workers, and there was a 6 year old girl whose social worker had been looking for a family for her for 4 years....yes she couldn't find the right family for this child for 4 years. Why? Well the 'child is so musical, we have to place her with a musical family'. Please show me one child who is not musical? Please show me why the talents of a child must be reflected in the talents of a parent? Yes it would be good, but it is not crucial. My child is musical and I am not...that is why we have musical schools. So that poor girl was spending her formative years in foster care, because of the poor judgement of her social worker.
Secondly, the children were born in Britain and live in Britain and go to shops in Britain and have neighbours in Britain and watch British TV...you get it. Even if they had, as the judge stated, being growing up in 'a Polish world', they will still imbue everything about Britain/England purely by osmosis. They are very small children, they are absorbing everything all the time, and they are growing continuously. Their culture is British and Polish, and their language will not doubt be dual as well.
And how can moving them to another country, the birth country of their parent, be in their best interest? What about all their Britishness? This idea that one's identity is solely their language and culture is so naive. They are from Leeds, thus they are northerners, they might have a poodle puppy, and thus they will belong to the global poodle owners group. One might love aeroplanes and thus belong to the aeroplane loving community. Where we are born and what language we speak does not define us. It is part of us, but not all of us and thus it should not limit us.
In narrow minded interpretation of identity is so dangerous and harmful. In this SW mind it justifies removing the children from the very country they have a legal right to live in and which they have an attachment, creating more loss, to put them in a strange land with more strangers. Loss is the BIG word in adoption and yet here they are suggesting more loss. Send them to Poland and they will suffer the loss of their formative years.
Why not place them in a non Polish family? And here we get to what is culture and what is language and do these over ride a child's basic right to have a family? A child is born with no language and no culture. These are things a child is born into. And these things are flexible and changing and moving all the time. If the children are British - do they not have a right to all things British? As well as that of their birth family. My child enjoys part of my heritage, has a relationship to his birth culture but he is totally English. An English child. An adoptive family will bring them up in the same way as all the other children in the neighbourhood, if all the 7yr olds are riding bikes, they will too. This is what is important. And there are so many adopters waiting, I know at least 5 people who would adopt them in a heartbeat.
And while the children are waiting for their fate to be decided, they will be in the foster care system, in the UK, with British foster carers...and no doubt they will languish in this system, kept in limbo land and not belonging to either 'their Polish world' or the real world.
Culture and language are learned - denying a child a family is a fundamental human failure. The pain of this will far outweigh any desire for a child to have culture or language.