Too white to adopt: Politically-correct town hall officials tell banker and his wife they can’t give a home to a black or Asian child
Cradling her daughter on her knee, Francesca Polini is every inch the loving, caring mother.
She and her banker husband have good incomes, a spacious home and a close network of family and friends.
But their hopes of parenthood were initially dashed when town hall bureaucrats said they were ‘too white’ to adopt a child.
Their rejection meant a child in care was denied the chance of a happy, comfortable home and a stable future.
And it casts a spotlight on a politically correct adoption system which routinely blocks white couples from giving a home to a child in need.
Mrs Polini, 40, and her husband Rick offered to adopt a black or Asian child, who wait longer for adoption because of a national shortage of ethnic minority couples looking to adopt.
But the couple claim officials in Ealing, West London, told them there was a cap on white parents adopting black or Asian children.
Officially, the council denies such a cap exists, but the case echoes those of other white, middle-class couples who have been barred from adopting for the same reason. Mrs Polini said: ‘The woman didn’t even meet us, she just told us on the phone, “I’m afraid you are too white for us to permit you to adopt one of our children”.
‘There was no assessment, it was based purely on our skin colour, and that shouldn’t be what qualifies you to adopt. None of this is about the child’s best interests and frankly it’s immoral.’
Faced with their local authority’s refusal to consider them as adoptive parents, the couple had to search abroad for a child to adopt.
Ironically, the same council which had refused their application to adopt a British child was happy to charge more than £4,000 to vet them for international adoption.
After overcoming a series of bureaucratic hurdles, they eventually won permission to adopt a girl in Mexico. Gaia, now two, was granted British citizenship last year, and her parents hope to adopt a second child from Mexico.
Currently there are more than 80,000 children and teenagers in care in Britain, and white children are more likely to be adopted than those from ethnic minorities.
Charities including Barnardo’s have called for a radical review of the adoption system, and Mrs Polini is campaigning for an end to ‘caps’ on inter-racial adoption.
The former director of communications at Greenpeace has set up an organisation, Adoption with Humanity, and has written a book about her experiences.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has apologised to the family for ‘unacceptable and inappropriate’ delays in the handling of their case and has said councils should not bar white couples from adopting black or Asian children.
In a letter to the couple, Ed Balls, then Children’s Secretary, said: ‘We are clear that it is unacceptable for a child to be denied the opportunity to grow up in a loving, permanent family solely on the grounds that the child and the prospective adopters do not share the same racial or cultural background.
‘These are issues that local authorities should take into account, but they should not act as a “bar” in the way that seems to have happened in your case.’ An Ealing Council spokesman denied it discriminated against white couples, saying: ‘We do not have a policy of same-ethnicity adoption.
‘While an ethnic and cultural match is considered important, it is the overall needs of the child that are given priority, and all potential adopters are considered.
‘Since 2006 we have permanently placed 17 children with families of different ethnic backgrounds, which is 19 per cent of the children placed.’