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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Can’t adopt white child, try in India, British-Sikh couple told by UK agency

Berkshire-based Sandeep and Reena Mander were told not to apply because of their “Indian heritage”, sparking fury and a race-discrimination case.

world Updated: Jun 27, 2017 23:27 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, London
Sandeep and Reena Mander.
Sandeep and Reena Mander.(Courtesy Facebook)

A British Sikh couple were asked by an adoption agency not to apply because of their “Indian heritage” and were advised to try to adopt in India, sparking fury and a race-discrimination case.

Berkshire-based Sandeep and Reena Mander wanted to adopt a child of any ethnic background but were told that since only white children were in need, white British or European applicants would be given preference, meaning they were unlikely to be selected.

The case prominently reported in the British media on Tuesday highlighted race issues in adoption though the official position is that a child’s ethnicity should not be a barrier to adoption.

The UK-born couple are seeking legal recourse in the Slough county court.

“Giving an adopted child – no matter what race – the security of a loving home was all we wanted to do. What we didn’t expect was a refusal for us to even apply for adoption, not because of our incapability to adopt, but because our cultural heritage was defined as ‘Indian/Pakistani’,” Sandeep Mander told the Times.

Adoption agencies in the UK are allowed to prioritise on the basis of race in order to match children to prospective parents of the same ethnic background. The couple’s legal case is supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

EHRC chair David Isaac said: “There are many children who are waiting for a loving family like Sandeep and Reena to help give them a better life. To be denied this because of so-called cultural heritage is wrong.”

The Manders told the media they had been trying to conceive for about seven years and had gone through 16 IVF sessions before deciding to adopt.

They attended introductory workshops organised by their local authority, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, and its adoption agency, Adopt Berkshire.

Their case was first taken up by Theresa May, who is their MP, during her time as the home secretary. “May was shocked and was very helpful. Her office wrote letters but nothing happened. When Prime Minister, she sent further letters and involved the then minister for children and he suggested we take legal advice,” Sandeep said.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead did not comment on the issue.

Read — Stolen or snatched after birth: The ugly truth about adoption in India

First Published: Jun 27, 2017 13:45 IST