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Athlete displays heartwarming gesture of sportsmanship described as "best in history"

Diego Mentriga's actions have been described as "the best in history" after a mix-up on the last corner of the Santander Triathlon gifted him the lead ahead of British athlete James Teagle
B yDarren Wells Digital Football Writer

09:16, 20 SEP 2020Updated09:24, 20 SEP 2020

A triathlete has been praised for his heartwarming display of sportsmanship to allow his opponent to win after late race drama in Spain.  Brit James Teagle was on course for a place on the podium in the 2020 Santander Triathlon when he took a wrong turn less than 100 metres from the finish line.  Diego Mentriga was following closely behind and quickly overtook before haring down the final stretch.  However after realising Teagle's error, Mentriga slowed up and surrendered his position to his rival to gift him third place.  “Seeing how he was wrong, unconsciously I stopped. He deserved it,” 21-year-old Mentriga said after the race. 

He told Eurosport : "When I saw that he had missed the route, I just stopped. James deserved this medal.  He didn’t notice the signs or they were misaligned. I don’t know, but the second time I would have acted the same."

Teagle showed his gratitude to Mentriga as he caught up, shaking the Spaniard's hand before crossing the finish line.  Mentriga has since been hailed for his outstanding actions, with race winner Javier Gomez Noya describing his gesture as “the best in history”.

Other sporting figures also applauded Mentriga's behaviour, including Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian.  Sharing a video of the crucial moment, Adrian said: "The real values of SPORT in a single gesture: James Teagle got confused on the last corner and was passed by Diego Méntrida who did this #respect #fairplay."  The incident was somewhat reminiscent of the actions of runner Matthew Rees in the 2017 London Marathon.  Rees who represented Swansea Harriers in the race had turned into the final stretch and was on to record a good time.  But after spotting fellow runner David Wyeth of Chorlton Runners struggling about 135 metres from the finish, Rees stopped to help guide him up The Mall.  Classy work.

Anti-vaccine protest leader is 'mum-of-four who says coronavirus doesn't exist'

Kate Shemirani reportedly calls the global Covid-19 pandemic a 'scamdemic' and says the disease which has killed thousands in the country 'doesn't exist'

By Ted Hennessey, Thomas Hornall & Danya Bazaraa

17:56, 20 SEP 2020

The leader of an anti-vaccine protest in London is a suspended nurse who has previously compared lockdown restrictions to the Holocaust, according to reports.  Mum-of-four Kate Shemirani calls the global Covid-19 pandemic a 'scamdemic' and says the disease which has killed thousands in the country 'doesn't exist,' it is claimed.  And she reportedly says the coronavirus pandemic is a conspiracy to control the masses.  The 54-year-old from East Sussex controversially claims its symptoms are 'linked to the roll out of new 5G wireless technology'.

She believes a vaccine that scientists are working on to tackle the deadly disease is poisonous and a political tool to change people's DNA.  According to the Daily Mail, Ms Shemirani compares the lockdown restrictions to the Holocaust, asking whether the public will wake up 'on the cattle truck? Or in the showers?'

The newspaper claimed she had been suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in July.  Speaking about a Covid-19 vaccine, Ms Shemirani told them: "They will be able to look at every aspect of what is going on in our brains.  Not only can they pick it up, they can download into us."

Addressing protesters at the anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square yesterday, organiser Ms Shemirani said: "We are the resistance."

She also shocked thousands when she wrote: "Murder. Genocide. The NHS is the new Auschwitz."

Her Twitter following has more than trebled over the past few weeks to 25,000 followers.  Meanwhile at the protest yesterday, dozens of officers, including some on horseback, were repelled by human blockades with loud cheering and chanting as they tried to make arrests.  Scotland Yard said the large crowds of people are "putting themselves and others at risk" just a day after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned it is "increasingly likely" restrictions will be needed to slow the spread of coronavirus in the capital, adding he was "extremely concerned" about the rate of transmission in London.  The number of cases per 100,000 people over seven days is reported to have increased in London from 18.8 to around 25.  One protester appeared to have a bloodied head following a scuffle, while another was seen receiving medical attention on the ground as several officers surrounded the scene.  Traffic around Trafalgar Square came to a halt during the demonstration, with one protester seen apparently spitting through the open window of a taxi whose driver had beeped the horn in frustration.  Rally organisers sold T-shirts bearing 5G conspiracy theories and advocating the legalisation of cannabis, with banners calling for Government scientific advisers to be sacked and declaring Covid-19 a "hoax".  The protest was advertised with an image showing a vaccine bottle and urging people to "Come together, resist and act."

One speaker at the rally, Professor Dolores Cahill of University College Dublin (UCD), expressed the view that the coronavirus vaccine will "make people sick", going against mainstream scientific opinion.

The UCD has previously disassociated itself from views on Covid-19 aired by Prof Cahill, who also chairs the Eurosceptic Irish Freedom Party, the Irish Times reported.  Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infectious disease and have virtually eradicated smallpox, polio and tetanus in the UK, the NHS says.  But if people stop getting vaccinated then diseases can quickly spread again, it said, pointing to a spike in measles and mumps between 2016 and 2018.  There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism, allergies or other conditions, weaken the immune system in any way, or contain harmful ingredients, it adds.  The World Health Organization says immunisation prevents two to three million deaths per year.  Protests are exempt from new legal restrictions introduced on Monday limiting groups to six, but only if it is "organised in compliance with Covid-19 Secure guidance", the Government said.
That's so sad, I remember watching that and thinking they were such a nice family  :confuse36:
Fun, Games and Silliness / Re: Jokes
« Last post by Auntie Cee on September 18, 2020, 03:56:10 PM »
A family who had some visitors coming to lunch and they wanted to show-off to their visitors how well they had bought up their children and how well their children prayed.  So when it came to lunch, they said to their son, "Johnny, why don't you pray?"

Johnny looked rather embarrassed and he said, "I can't."

So, the mother just whispered to him, "Johnny, just say what Daddy said at breakfast."

So he shut his eyes and said, "Oh God, why do we have to have these awful people over for lunch today?"

DIY SOS viewers are heartbroken as Nick Knowles reveals severely disabled boy whose home was transformed after his mother passed away and father became paralysed has died aged 18

    In April 2019, a moving episode of the home renovation show told the story of widower Darren Hudson and his sons Ollie, Mike and Harvey from Hull
    Severely-disabled teen Ollie, who was 17 when the show aired, was born with Hydrocephalus, known as water on the brain, and tragically passed away
     Sharing a beautiful picture of Darren and Ollie, Nick, 57, wrote: 'We @DIYSOS send condolences to Darren & family on the sad passing of wonderful Ollie who is missed & was so loved', before viewers also showed an outpouring of grief
    In summer 2017, roofer Darren was left paralysed and wheelchair bound when he developed cauda equina syndrome - a serious condition where the nerves at the very bottom of the spinal cord become compressed
    Darren's childhood sweetheart Sarah passed away on Boxing Day 2017
    Nick's tribute to Ollie came after the episode aired as a repeat on Thursday 

By Ciara Farmer For Mailonline

Published: 10:42, 18 September 2020 | Updated: 12:29, 18 September 2020

DIY SOS viewers were left heartbroken when presenter Nick Knowles revealed a severely disabled boy whose home was transformed after his mother passed away and father became paralysed has died aged 18.  In April 2019, a moving episode of the renovation show told the story of widower Darren Hudson and his sons Ollie, Mike and Harvey from Hull. Ollie was born with Hydrocephalus, known as water on the brain, and has tragically passed away.  Nick shared the tribute on Twitter on Thursday night, after the episode aired as a repeat. His message was met with an outpouring of support from fans.  Sharing a beautiful picture of Darren and Ollie, who was 17 when the show first aired, Nick, 57, wrote: 'We @DIYSOS send condolences to Darren & family on the sad passing of wonderful Ollie who is missed & was so loved'.

Darren's tragic story broke viewers' hearts, as he told of life caring for Ollie, who needed 24-care due to his Hydrocephalus, before also losing his childhood sweetheart wife and becoming paralysed himself over the space of two years.  Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid in the brain, which can damage tissue. Aside from an abnormally-sized head, other symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and vision problems.  The cause is usually unknown but may be due to issues with cavities in the brain or an underlying health problem that affects blood flow, such as heart disease.  Following Nick's tweet on Thursday evening, viewers flooded social media to honour Ollie and also share in Darren's grief.  Viewers wrote: 'This is absolutely devastating news. Tonight's #diysos was a real tear jerker', 'Darren is clearly a wonderful person and he has a lovely family', 'Can't imagine what he and Ollie's brothers are going through. Life is so terribly cruel', 'Great job on the house btw', That was possibly one of the best if not the best builds I've seen', 'So deserved, such a lovely family. Really touching. RIP Ollie', 'That show had me in pieces. I only caught it at the midway point so didn't get full back story and was still bowled over. Great, meaningful TV. RIP Ollie', 'This was by far the most heart wrenching episode I've ever watched,' 'To be dealt such devastating news multiple times is so unfair', 'But such a beautiful and strong family, I hope you find comfort in all your memories and future memories as the family unit you are. #RIPOLLIE', 'Broke my heart all over again reading this after rewatching their episode again tonight', 'A truly wonderful family who, despite all the tragedy, have such a strong bond and never give up attitude to life I'm sure Ollie & Mum are watching over them with pride Sparkles #RIPOllie.', 'I've never felt more heartbreak for a family than I have just watching that episode then reading that tweet. God bless'

Tragedy struck the family in 2017 when Darren, a roofer who had worked  on DIY SOS community projects before, was diagnosed with Caude Equina, an injury of the spinal cord that left him paralysed from th waist down.  In further devastation, Ollie's mum and Darren's childhood sweetheart Sarah, passed away on Boxing Day 2017 and was found dead in her bed by her other two sons.  In a video shared on Andys Man Club Hull Facebook page, he said of his wife's death: 'Unfortunately it was the Boxing Day of 2017 when I lost my wife to suicide, which was a total bombshell on the full family. Not just family, family friends, associates, people who we knew and it just spun our world upside down.'

His father died the following April and his mum six weeks later.   After becoming wheelchair bound due to his condition, Darren had to sleep in a room with Ollie downstairs in their house as he could no longer manage the stairs.  The episode saw the DIY SOS team renovate the home to make the living space more wheelchair accessible.  As the new space was unveiled, Darren said on-camera: 'Amazing. What you have done for us guys, it's our next chapter.  It's the next step forward which is massive for us. Words don't even seem enough.  I have been in there and I didn't even recognise my house.  In fact it's not a house, you have brought the home back for us. I can actually get upstairs and it might seem nothing to you guys but to me it's everything.  You have given me the full house back where I just had the downstairs for so long.  It's something we needed so bad and it couldn't have come at a better time. It's amazing. Thank you so much.'

What is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is a serious condition where the nerves at the very bottom of the spinal cord become compressed.  Symptoms include:

    lower back pain
    numbness in your groin
    paralysis of one or both legs
    rectal pain
    loss of bowel control (bowel incontinence)
    loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence)
    pain in the inside of your thighs

Doctors advise seeking medical assistance immediately if a person develops these symptoms.  They should visit their GP or the accident and emergency (A&E) department of the nearest hospital.  If cauda equina syndrome is not promptly treated, the nerves to the bladder and bowel can become permanently damaged.

Source: NHS Choices


Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid in the brain, which can damage tissue.  Aside from an abnormally-sized head, other symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and vision problems.  Hydrocephalus' cause is usually unknown but may be due to issues with cavities in the brain or an underlying health problem that affects blood flow, such as heart disease.  It can also be acquired by damage to the brain due to a head injury, stroke or tumour.  Treatment is shunt surgery, which involves implanting a thin tube into the brain to drain away excess fluid to another part of the body where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.  If untreated, hydrocephalus can be fatal due to increased pressure compressing the brainstem, which is responsible for regulating heart rates and breathing.  A patient's prognosis after surgery depends on their age and general health.

Source: Brain and Spine Foundation
Articles / Moment lorry smashes into home leaving man dead and child, 11, fighting....
« Last post by Pippa on September 15, 2020, 11:04:10 AM »

Moment lorry smashes into home leaving man dead and child, 11, fighting for life

A man has died and an 11-year-old child is in a life-threatening condition in hospital after a lorry smashed into four cars and then a home in Kidbrooke, south east London

By Matthew Young

18:04, 14 SEP 2020 Updated 18:28, 14 SEP 2020

This is the horrifying moment a lorry careered into a family home, leaving a 29-year-old man dead and a young boy fighting for his life.  The truck sped down a suburban London street this morning, smashing into two cars further along the road before hurtling into two more vehicles and the house.  Nobody in the house was injured.  A 11-year-old child, thought to be a boy, is today in a “life threatening” condition in hospital.  Two men were taken to hospital and two others injured were discharged at the scene in Kidbrooke, south east London.  The owner of the home, 55-year-old barber Niko, was awoken by the smash as he slept in the room above the impact point.  His son was “seconds away” from being killed as he made his way downstairs to make a brew, while his wife was at work.  “There was just dust and bricks everywhere,” Niko, who has lived there 33 years, told the Mirror.

“I just thought how the hell has a lorry ended up in my house?  I’m in shock I feel numb. I was in my bedroom directly above it. My first thought was to get out the house with my two sons.  I feel very lucky to be alive but of course also very unlucky and it’s tragic that somebody has died.  I heard the driver had a heart attack at the wheel.  I think the child that was injured was in a car with his dad possibly. I really hope he’s ok.  At the end of the day this is just a house it’s bricks and mortar.”

Neighbour Rosie Chadha, 37, was told the driver of the lorry had been gesturing to a car in front to get out the way.  “One woman said she was driving in front of him and he was gesturing for her to move out the way and so she pulled over,” the financial regulator said.

“Maybe his brakes weren’t working. I heard a huge rumbling and the sound of a house collapsing.  There was a little boy on a stretcher, his school clothes were on the floor and paramedics were trying to resuscitate him and the air ambulance came for him.  There was a man with blood all over him I think that was the boy’s dad.”

Debris from the huge smash was strewn across the road while police cordoned off the entire street including a section where two other cars had been hit as the lorry ploughed at speed along the road, leaving a trail of destruction.  Directly outside the house, the lorry smashed into a Land Rover and a Citroen Xsara Picasso.  Lawyer Kate Hurst, 38, rushed out her home to help the injured people.  “I heard the the lorry going over the speed bumps at a fantastic rate and the noise of it going into the house was horrendous,” she said.

“I went out to triage people. There was one guy covered in blood, I was just trying to calm him and get in contact with people.  His car was one of the cars that was smouldering. There was lots of petrol on the floor too.  People were in complete shock. There was a young boy, I think he was cut out of a car.  I heard the lorry driver may have had a heart attack at the wheel.”

Detective Constable Neil Webb said: “This was a traumatic incident and my thoughts are with those involved and their loved ones.  We are conducting extensive enquiries into what happened, and I’m keen to hear from witnesses and those with dash-cam or CCTV footage of the incident. Please help us piece together what happened.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman added: "Police were called at approximately 8:05am to Broad Walk, Kidbrooke, by London Ambulance  Service to a road traffic collision involving multiple vehicles and a building.  An 11-year-old child was taken to hospital.  Their condition has been assessed as life-threatening. Two males have been taken to hospital. We await an update on their condition.  Sadly one man has been declared dead at the scene.”
I can't understand why potential adopters are so selfish as they can keep a child's name but let family and friends know why they would prefer to use a different name on a daily basis.  They aren't thinking long term either as the child can change their name when they are older.
Articles / Re: "Handing back our adopted children was the most traumatic day of our lives"
« Last post by Pippa on September 10, 2020, 10:50:34 AM »
.... and what about the poor children?

I wish potential adoptors would do some serious research before adopting older children.  Adopters who have adopted older children and either blog and/or write books are the kind of people who can give a wealth of information. 

Articles / "Handing back our adopted children was the most traumatic day of our lives"
« Last post by Shrimp on September 05, 2020, 12:59:20 PM »

24th April 2018
"Handing back our adopted children was the most traumatic day of our lives"
By Maxine Gordon

What happens when adoptions break down? York's Catherine Adamson shares her heartbreaking story

CATHERINE Adamson's happiest day was when the two young children she was adopting moved into her house in York.  Her saddest day came just four months later, when the children moved out after the adoption failed.  "It took me six weeks to leave the house after the children left. The day they left was the most traumatic day of our lives," says Catherine, 51, who is married to Bill.

This all happened four years ago, but the pain is still raw. As Catherine tells her story, over a cup of coffee at her home off Huntington Road, she is in tears.   She has decided to share her story and speak out about what the authorities term "adoption disruption" to highlight the issue and to raise money for charities that support young people in need: The Island and SASH.  She is aware that failed adoption is taboo subject but wants people to be aware that it does happen. She says figures are vague, but one report suggests as many as one in five adoptions are "disrupted" in the UK. And she wants to make the case for more resources to support children and families following adoption.  Catherine and Bill applied for adoption after failing to conceive. "I met Bill when I was 40," says Catherine, who runs her own business, Kaleidoscope Virtual Assistant Services. "We tried to have children, but wanting to conceive had its ups and downs. We considered IVF but that didn't feel right when there were so many children needing homes already.  So we went down the adoption route. It took us two years to get approval which is as it should be."

The couple were approved for adoption in September 2013 and just four months later were matched with two young siblings, who were under the care of a local authority outside of York and North Yorkshire. It was this authority and its social workers that worked with the family in the aftermath.  "It was so exciting," recalls Catherine. "Everything was so positive. We bought this house because we were adopting and needed something bigger, more of a family home. You have to start making changes to your life like when you are having a baby. You need to, you want to."

Catherine smiles at the happy memory of those early days. "We were so hopeful; I'd always wanted children and assumed I'd have them.  The children were excited. We had a two-week introductory period, when they came back to have tea then we'd take them back to their foster home."

The day they moved in was a "whoosh of emotions" says Catherine. "We were euphoric about things; about our hopes and our future and what we were going to be doing."

But that high soon turned to a low. Catherine says the local authority's social services did not reveal the full background story of the children, and when problems arose she felt left to struggle on alone, without support.  She said: "I felt they placed the children with us and ran for the hills. I felt abandoned. None of it was the children's fault. Their behaviour is a result of their life experience. They are not responsible for anything to do with the breakdown."

Ultimately, Catherine feels let down by the system: "There is a lack of support, energy and finance to do anything to help."

She adds: "I was spinning into a point of total despair and all the social workers would say was: 'don't worry, you are doing a fantastic job'. There was no recognition, no offer of support. What me and the children needed was just dismissed."

After four months, she and Bill made the heartbreaking decision to return the children to the care of the original local authority and their previous foster parents.  She said it was a devastating outcome for all of them. "You don't take them on a trial basis. But I was slowly day by day, hour by hour, becoming less well. I was in post-adoption depression. I was in a state physically, emotionally and mentally, and I just could not cope. You are in such conflict; you want these children so much and love them, but it is making you so ill. What do you do?"

Catherine says Bill was "her rock" throughout. "Thank God I have a strong marriage," she says.

"It took me six months to leave the house and I didn't make eye contact with anybody.  I felt judged; I felt people would think I was a bad mother who could not look after her children and let those children down.  No one I have ever spoken to has judged me. But no one can judge you harder than you judge yourself.  I want other people going through a difficult adoption to know they are not alone."

This summer, she will walk and wild camp 109 miles along the Cleveland Way to raise money for vulnerable children. She hopes to raise £10,000 to be split equally between The Island, which supports young people aged between eight and 13 in York who are struggling to cope at home, at school, or in the wider community, and SASH, which works to prevent youth homelessness in York, North Yorkshire and East Yorkshire.   As part of the fundraising drive, she is selling her wedding dress too. It cost £1,100 new, and Catherine would like to sell it for £400. "It is a beautiful dress, but I have no reason to keep it. It is a halter-neck and would fit a curvy size 14-16."

She is also organising a Race Night at Haxby Sports Bar on May 4, and a coffee morning to boost funds.  She says: “I can’t do anything now for the children we lost, but I want to try and make a difference to the lives of other children and young people. I want to try to prevent what happened to our children from happening again.”

About the charities:  SASH ( runs supported lodgings schemes in North and East Yorkshire, to help young people develop the skills they need to live on their own and provides emergency overnight accommodation for young people during a crisis. By providing support during a time of need, the charity hopes to break a vicious circle of unemployment and homelessness.  The Island ( provides young people with fully-trained volunteer mentors, who provide one-to-one support to young people in need of support over 12 months.

To find our more and donate, visit Catherine's fundraising page at:

For details of support groups, visit
Articles / Scandal of the babies parents won't adopt because they're called Chrystal '''
« Last post by Shrimp on September 05, 2020, 12:33:26 PM »

Scandal of the babies parents won't adopt because they're called Chrystal and Chardonnay and the social workers who won't let them change their names

By Kate Gallagher

Published: 01:21, 7 May 2012 | Updated: 11:09, 7 May 2012

A whistleblower reveals a shocking new twist to Britain's adoption shambles - and why social workers, obsessed with the rights of dysfunctional birth families, refuse to do anything about it.  Sitting on a Winnie The Pooh blanket, a baby girl waves her chubby arms with joy as she attempts to stack up some wooden bricks, chuckling each time they fall down.  At less than a year, she would be the perfect child for any couple unable to have a baby of their own. You would also assume her time on the adoption register would be short.  But instead of a loving home and the prospect of a good start in life, it’s highly likely she will languish in the care system for some time to come.  The reason?

Well, unfortunately she’s called Chardonnay as opposed to, say, Charlotte and for this reason she will struggle to be placed.  It might sound like a joke, but as someone who has worked for one county’s adoption system for the past two years, I can tell you that it’s far from a funny situation. As a member of an adoption board that approves adoptive parents and the children who are adopted, I have signed a confidentiality agreement to protect the identity of the children involved.  That's why I'm using a pseudonym and have changed some of the names involved.  But I feel duty-bound to dispel the myth that there are only a handful of babies available for adoption and droves of parents waiting and willing to take them and to expose how a misguided system is failing vulnerable children.  From what I have witnessed, our adoption system is in crisis. At the heart of the problem?

A toxic combination of old-fashioned British snobbery, and a political correctness that prizes the feelings of the birth parents above the well-being of the children it’s supposed to be helping.  Since the case of Baby P, who was killed by his mother’s boyfriend in 2007, the number of children taken into care has spiralled, in an attempt to prevent a repeat of that tragedy.  As a result, the number of children available for adoption has also shot up.  For example, my county has around 125 children, 60 of them under two, who need to be adopted and just 15 couples in the pipeline prepared to adopt a massive shortfall, and a picture that is reflected all over Britain.  The situation reminds me of two conveyor belts: one moving fast with ever-more children being added to it, the other running alongside very slowly and carrying only a trickle of would-be parents.  Without a doubt, one of the issues stemming the flow of would-be adoptive parents is class.  I always feel sorry for potential adopters, those hard-working and educated people, with their good intentions and bright smiles, who think they will get the poor orphan girl they read about in the paper whose parents died in a crash on the M25, or the cute baby boy abandoned in the loo at Heathrow when he was two minutes old. Those are real cases, but they are very rare.  The majority of adoption cases are a much more complicated business.  Just as last summer’s riots shone a light on Britain’s predominantly unemployed underclass, so does the adoption process except that because it’s so secret, only a very few people witness it.  The reality is that most children up for adoption, even babies, come from dire backgrounds, where it’s highly likely Dad has been in prison and Mum was addicted to heaven knows what illegal substances and working as a prostitute.  And while some adopted children will go on to have behavioural problems because of their poor start in life, there are still many successful adoptions that take place.  But, unfortunately, the names of these blameless children make their less-than-middle-class backgrounds all too obvious. And most prospective parents don’t want to adopt children who are named after someone’s favourite celebrity or tipple.  For some reason there is currently a fashion, among those whose children are forcibly removed, for calling little girls after drinks hence two recent babies called Chardonnay and Champagne. There is also a tendency to name girls after jewels, though often misspelt: Rubie, Emmarald, Jayde, Chrystal.  And there are those birth parents who think, why ruin your child’s future with just one dreadful name when you can wallop them straight into the gutter of life with two?

So we on the adoption board who are trying to place these children in loving homes are confronted with Gemma-Mai, Courtney-Mai, Alexia-Mai, Lily-Mai, Shania-Rae and so on, names which will mark them out for their whole lives as members of a peculiarly British underclass. Simply put, the children’s names do not fit with the social demographic of the people coming forward to give them homes.  You might think a simple, and obvious, solution would be for adoptive parents to change the child’s name. After all, under-twos are still young enough to adapt to a new identity and will have no memory of their birth name.  But in the past few years it has become standard practice for social workers to recommend that the birth name be retained, a suggestion which is then rubber-stamped by the judge at adoption hearings.  Changing the name is something adoptive parents almost always want to do, especially if they already have birth children of their own. Naturally you want a new child to blend in with your existing family but will Chardonnay ever fit in with Henry, James and William?

No.  A good friend adopted a beautiful little girl but was unhappy with her first name, even worse than those listed above, and she knew it was also the name of the birth mother’s psychiatric nurse.  She said: ‘We adopted her so now she’s our child, but another woman chose that name and it’s awful. It’s also a constant reminder that the birth mother had mental health problems. Surely the least they could do for adoptive parents is allow them to choose a fresh name?’

In her case, the social workers said that changing the name would be ‘a loss of the child’s family identity’.  The proud family identity, presumably, which turned out three generations of career criminals.  It might sound flippant, but I honestly think there would be many more adoptive parents if they were allowed to change the baby’s name.  Martin Narey, the Government’s adoption tsar appointed last July, obviously agrees, as it’s an issue he has pledged to tackle.  But the matter of names is just a symptom of a wider problem: that of a current obsession with keeping children in touch with their roots.  Adoption is supposed to help children escape deprived and unstable homes but only if they can get past their troubled origins and be adopted in the first place. And this is where we come to that disaster zone known coyly as ‘the background papers’.  Adoptive parents often think they will get a few pages about the child they are being offered, covering basic information. Instead they get a file the size of the Yellow Pages, full of details that would make your hair stand on end.  For some reason known only to social workers, the reports disclose often unsavoury and unnecessary information that is off-putting to those new to the system and from immaculate homes.  A typical example might read: ‘Chrystal-Mai suffered from nits for 18 months and was excluded from nursery. She misses her daddy who is in jail serving 15 years for distributing paedophile images.’

As the nits would have been treated at the foster carer’s home, why mention them?

And as for Chrystal-Mai’s father it’s not unheard of for men like this to be entitled to regular reports on their child’s development, even after adoption. The Human Rights Act has a lot to answer for.  With contact, there are different rules for each child depending on how reluctant the birth family was to give them up. So while one mother might give birth and do a runner, another mother, or indeed grandmother or auntie, might kick up such a fuss about the adoption that social workers cave in and offer annual meetings or contact by letter.  Again, never mind the child, it’s the birth family’s rights that are deemed to be important.  One couple I came across were on the verge of adopting a six-month-old boy when they discovered that he would have to meet his birth family every year ‘to continue the link with his identity’.  This birth family included crack addicts and criminals, essentially the very people whose behaviour had put him into the care system in the first place.  Similarly alarming is the ‘Letterbox’ system whereby people who adopt a child then have to send regular letters to the birth family via social workers, making it possible for the birth family to identify the child’s whereabouts, especially as children get older and start writing the letters themselves and adding lots of details.  In previous generations, even as recently as the late 1980s, children were adopted and a shutter came down on their past. Background details were sparse and they had to wait until they were 18 to apply for their birth certificate. But since then, the system has changed and not necessarily for the benefit of the child or the adoptive parents.  The rules about keeping birth names and maintaining contact came about after studies showed that when adoptive children grew up, they often expressed a wish to learn about their roots. However, the impact of this move towards greater contact with birth parents has been devastating, deterring potential adoptive parents and often unsettling adopted children.  No wonder people go abroad to adopt. Russia, for instance, has a system which insists that adoptive parents know as little as possible about the background of the child with whom they have been matched. The documents will say: ‘Anastasia was abandoned at six hours old. Her health is good. Her mother signed the adoption forms of her own free will and wanted Anastasia to have a better life than she could offer.’ The end.  The system sounds brutal, and if things don’t work out with an adopted child, a minority of adoptive parents may complain that they were misled. But the system we have at the moment is like picking at an old wound. It cannot be coincidence that one in five adoptions in the UK fails, while the failure rate for overseas adoptions is virtually nil.  The fact that there has been a sharp increase in the number of ‘bedside babies’ in the UK, those taken from their mothers a few hours after birth because she has proved such an unfit mother that her previous children are all in care, could help us to emulate those countries with more successful adoption systems.  Instead of turning up their noses, prospective adopters need to see these children as a blank canvas, an innocent, and be brave enough to look past the dreadful birth name and the background details.  With lots of love and the right guidance, the child will grow into someone any parent could be proud of.  We need to think more about the huge adoption success stories: Kate Adie, the singer Debbie Harry, Education Secretary Michael Gove.  It is my view that adoptive parents should have the right to change the first name of a child if they want to, really awful background details should be toned down and dreadful birth parents should forfeit their parental rights entirely.  The Americans say that any American child has the right to grow up and be President. So, who knows, with a few more common sense rules in the adoption system, little Chardonnay might one day grow up to be Prime Minister. Sadly, as things stand, it’s highly unlikely.
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