All you need is love, except when the State judges families (Part I & II) by Ian Josephs

All you need is love, except when the State judges families. English family court judgements confiscating children from their parents  often have the chilling observation that there is no doubt the parents love and mean well by their child but the child is better off without them nonetheless. We at SaveYourChildren.In have seen many UK cases, including of Indian families, where children have been taken for forced adoption under judgements that bizarrely offer a testament to the parents’ and children’s love for each other, even while separating them forever. So insignificant is love in the equation that children are removed from admittedly loving parents even when there is no actual abuse or neglect, just the “risk” of it in the dubious and speculative assessment of the case worker. 

In this article we are proud to present British philanthropist Ian Josephs on his work helping families targeted by UK Social Services. In Part I Ian Josephs makes the unexpected suggestion that today’s grim and severe child protection services are the product of that happiest and most carefree of times – the Swinging Sixties! In Part 2 he demonstrates how big money and a low threshold for the removal of children from their families in the UK is causing ever-increasing numbers of unwarranted child removals. 

This article was published in two parts on 3 February 2018 with the title ‘The Swinging Sixties marked the onset of forced adoptions’ and on 10 February 2018 with the title In the UK, forced adoptions are backed by big money in the Sunday Guardian as part of our weekly series called ‘Global Child Rights and Wrongs’ in collaboration with them. 


Hidden in the shadows of the Swinging Sixties, a repressive new child protection system was taking shape. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Dutch National Archive.

Thousands of British mothers are in despair because their babies and young children have been snatched by the State to “feed” the ever-greedy adoption and fostering industries that prosper in the UK.

Dramatic? Yes. An exaggeration? No!

My name is Ian Josephs, I am 86 years old, and I have a very sad story to tell you.

It all began for me in 1961 when I was elected as a Councillor for the County of Kent in south-eastern England. In what is now known as the “Swinging Sixties” the climate changed in the UK and most of the Western world. The waltz and the foxtrot were replaced by rock-and-roll, the tidy hairstyles by long shoulder-length hair for men, formal suits replaced by jeans and tee-shirts, and more important for our story, women were “liberated” by “the Pill”, the newly invented oral contraceptive, and old social taboos relaxed, leaving women feeling safe to have babies outside marriage.

Up until then the adoption and fostering industries fed off “illegitimate” children who had always been sent away to be fostered or adopted. But by 1962, with the advent of the Beatles, that source dried up as women began to keep their babies, whether married or not.

Women were ‘liberated’ by the Pill and old social taboos relaxed.

That is where our story really began, the day when a mother approached me as her elected Councillor to complain that her 12-year-old son who had an exceptionally high IQ had been taken away to an unknown destination by social workers for having missed school a few times. The boy was bored with school. The woman said that she had been refused all contact with her son.

When I made enquiries, I was told by Social Services to mind my own business! I found out from a friendly source that the boy had been placed in a private school owned and run by the deputy leader of the Labour group on the Council that charged extortionate fees. When I approached my own Conservative leader of the Council with this scandal I was slapped down and told, “We never wash our dirty linen in public.”

So I waited until the full Council meeting held in public and put down a public motion that if the mother could not see her son, I as her elected representative should at least be allowed to visit him to see if he was alright. The motion was defeated 104 votes to one but as I anticipated made headlines in most of the national newspapers next day. So I was reluctantly allowed to visit the boy at his new school.

When we met, the boy asked me why his mother had not answered his letters and I told him how she had written every day (care of Social Services) and never received a reply!

When we met, the boy asked me why his mother had not answered his letters or come to see him and I told him how she had written every day (care of Social Services) and never received a reply! The boy told me how the school was terrible and had unqualified teachers who knew nothing. I asked him if there was anything at all good about the school and he replied “Yes the money is good”. I asked, “What money?” and he replied “We get very well paid for sleeping with the teachers”.

Well, to cut a long story short I took my own Council to court and the boy was restored to his mother.

As a result of the publicity over this case, I received requests for help from many other parents in Kent and elsewhere. I am not a solicitor or barrister. At that time I owned a language school; but I did have a law degree from Oxford University. So I began representing several parents whose children had been taken for superficial reasons. I appeared in court against Kent County Council and never lost a case! In fairness, I must admit that the climate was different in those days as the judges and magistrates often smiled at me and frowned at the lawyer for the authorities. Nowadays, the contrary would be the case.

Ian Josephs, British philanthropist and advocate for parents wrongly deprived of their children by child protection agencies.

The problem for me was that I began to spend so much time helping these desperate parents that I neglected both my business and my wife. As a result, my language school began to go downhill and my wife ran off with someone else!

In 1967 I decided not to stand for election to the Council again and stopped all my involvement with these parents. I turned my business around and married again (a French girl). We had 5 children and are still married after 46 years. In 1985, I opened a language school in Monaco on the French Riviera.

There was no further involvement from me in helping parents until 2003 when a scandal broke in the UK about parents falsely accused of the murder of babies that died of natural causes and others that were adopted against the will of their mothers.

I wrote a letter to the Daily Mail in the UK saying that things seemed worse now than when I was involved back in the sixties. After my letter came out, the Mail forwarded me letters from around fifty mothers claiming their babies had been snatched at birth by Social Services for “risk of future harm” and asking for my help!

I was by then older, and (I think) wiser and also in a secure financial position. So I determined to help these parents and campaign for a change in the law.

new laws had been passed in 1976 legalising adoption without parental consent. Even worse, in 1989 the law began allowing adoption merely for risk of future emotional harm!

I was horrified to find out that new laws had been passed in 1976 legalising adoption without parental consent. Even worse, in 1989 the law began allowing adoption if children were deemed not to have actually been harmed but merely to be at risk of future emotional harm! Even newborn babies were being taken at birth on this dubious ground.
I said to myself “that is forced adoption” and coined a catchy phrase that is now used in common parlance everywhere. I then set up a website offering to help parents with legal advice since the law had changed in 1989 forbidding non-professional people like myself from representing parents in court.

I give financial help to pregnant women in the UK to escape to Ireland, France and Northern Cyprus. Escaping to Ireland is easiest because no passports are needed if you arrive on the ferry from the UK. The disadvantage is the UK authorities may go to the Irish courts demanding the baby’s return to the UK. It is safer to flee to France, but parents find it difficult to get work if they do not speak French. So mothers escaping to France need support from their family or partner back home. Northern Cyprus is 100% safe as the UK and EU countries have no diplomatic relations with Northern Cyprus since the Turkish occupation there 50 years ago. But mothers need cash to live in Northern Cyprus as there are no “benefits” there.


Nearly all adoptions in the UK are forced on distressed, low income parents who fight in vain in the family courts trying to retain their children but rarely succeeding.

By the time I founded my website on forced adoption in 2003, the snatching of children to feed the highly profitable forced adoption industry was in full swing and largely running out of control. Nearly all adoptions in the UK are forced on distressed, low income parents who fight in vain in the family courts trying to retain their children but rarely succeeding. Many millions of pounds are made by fostering and adoption agencies and “special private schools”. Much of this money trickles down to the social workers, lawyers, judges, and so called “experts” in the system.

only one in 400 care orders are refused in court.

Judges in the family courts rubberstamp the demands of social workers that these children be adopted or permanently fostered by strangers. Legal aid and other lawyers in the care system have a poor reputation, especially among low income families. According to judicial statistics, only one in 400 care orders are refused in court. Parents complain that lawyers usually tell them “best if you stay quiet “or “wait outside as we will speak for you” and promptly agree in court with the “SS” (the popular name for UK Social Services). This is why parents reach out to me in Monaco for legal help. I have written statements for hundreds of mothers to use in court and about 25% succeeded in keeping their children.

nearly 3000 calls a year…..children taken into state care at the rate of 90 a day!

The scale of the problem is enormous; I get nearly 3000 calls a year from parents fearing Social Services will remove their children. This may sound improbable until you consider the rate of children being taken into care – according to official figures for England from October 2017, children were taken into state care at the rate of 90 a day!

mother forced under a court order to have a C-section to which she did not consent

As a result of the flaws in the UK care system many shocking injustices have happened, especially to foreign children. One of the most notorious perhaps was that of a pregnant Italian lady who came over from Italy to take a test for a job with an airline. She passed the test with flying colours and checked into a hotel at Heathrow, intending to fly home next day. She then had a violent dispute over her bill at the hotel ending with her being “sectioned “and taken by force into a mental home. There she was drugged for some months and eventually  forced under a court order to have a C-section to which she did not consent! I spoke to her by phone several times during her incarceration and found her to be exceptionally calm and lucid. I advised her to get a lawyer before the birth but it was difficult for her to find one on Legal Aid willing to act for a patient in a mental home. Her baby was placed with adoptive parents and she was sent back to Italy, never to see him again.

daughter burned to death beyond recognition when her young social worker crashed her car

Another tragic case was of an Arab married to an Irish girl with a daughter of 12 who behaved badly while her father was away on business. Social workers took the girl away and refused to return her after her father came back. They phoned up a bit later asking for her dental records, saying she needed work done on her teeth. It was only later that evening that the police came and revealed the truth to the parents – they needed her dental records to identify her since she had been burned to death beyond recognition when her young social worker crashed her car into a tree killing them both. The young girl could only be identified by her teeth! The weather was fine and the road was straight………was the social worker high on drugs?

15-year old found that her mother was a nice woman, and not a drug addict, alcoholic or prostitute, as she had been told by her adoptive parents

One mother whom I helped had tracked down, after 10 years of searching, the family that had adopted her two daughters. They had been taken from her on claims of “risk of future emotional abuse”. I persuaded the mother to get together with the older daughter aged 15 who had herself found her mum via Facebook. When the 15-year old found that her mother was a nice woman, and not a drug addict, alcoholic or prostitute, as she had been told by her adoptive parents, she and her 12-year-old sister left and went back to live with their birth mother!

10% of adoptions are to same sex couples even though they represent only 2-3 % of the total couples in the UK. Bewildered babies and young children are taken from the mum they love to be in the care of “two daddies”. In one recent case where this happened, the gay adoptive father murdered the baby much to the distress of the grandmother who had offered to care for it after it was taken from its mother for the forced adoption.

Public protest is being suppressed. If parents dare to protest publicly identifying themselves and their children they face jail for “breaching the privacy “of the baby or young child! A former UK Home Secretary (Harriet Harman) released the only statistic we have on this matter when she said over 200 parents a year were being jailed for speaking out.

Children are also forced to keep quiet. Children aged between 5-15 are taken screaming in fright from their families at home, usually around 6-7 am by numbers of uniformed police. Their lap tops and mobile phones are confiscated, cutting them off from family and friends. Parents who want contact are forced to sign a contract promising not to discuss the case or answer their children’s questions about when they can come home. During contact sessions, children are forbidden to complain about any abuse or harm they suffer in the “care” of Social Services In one case a  visiting grandparent was told not to question her grandchild about his broken jaw; broken while in care! Foreign children are forbidden to speak to each other or to their parents in their native tongue. Only English is permitted, which means that some children cannot speak at all!

Advertisement in the UK offering £590 per week to take in a foster child. Photo: Ian Josephs

Why has the system evolved this way with nearly 100,000 children in care in the UK? Thousands of officials make a good living, some making literally millions of pounds, out of this rotten system. Local authorities advertise with posters on local buses offering £590 per week per child for foster carers (most take on two or three). The agencies supplying the foster families and adoptive parents get around £2000 per week per child. One agency (The National Fostering and Adoption Agency) founded by two social workers around 18 years ago worked its profits up to more than £10 million per year and sold out about 3 years ago to a commercial firm called Graphite for more than £130 million. Graphite in turn resold last year for a lot more. Special schools for “difficult children” in care (in other words, children who miss their parents!) charge £3000-£4000 per week per child for housing them mostly in rundown terraced houses. Their charges are more than 3 times what it cost when Prince Harry went to Eton.

Big Money: National Fostering Agency founded by former social workers shows profit increase from £5.6m in 2008 to £10.3m in 2010.

The system grew because having children when unmarried ceased to be a disgrace by the 60s and 70s so mothers kept those children and the pool of “unwanted” children that the foster care and adoption system thrived on dried up. Social Services had to resort to snatching children from loving but imperfect parents desperate to keep them. The system is likely to stay that way for a long time as those who are making a fortune from it protect their interests.

risk of future emotional harm and failure to cooperate with professionals

Forced adoption should be abolished but even more important, no child should be taken from law abiding parents for “risk of future emotional harm”. Families should not be torn apart forever and stopped from even minimal contact with each other when there is no actual harm or neglect, merely speculation by so-called experts of a risk of future emotional harm. Such assessments are in any case highly questionable – based on such things as the personality, IQ or income of a parent. Even more frequently, “failure to work with or cooperate with the [child protection] professionals” is itself being taken as a sufficient reason for removal. This is very unfair as all mothers find it difficult to cooperate with “experts” whose clear avowed intention is to deprive them of their children!

These are the two top reforms I and others in the movement for child welfare reform strive for and hope to see one day. But “don’t hold your breath!”

Ian Josephs is a British businessman and philanthropist based in Monaco. He runs a website to help families targeted by child protection services in the UK.

Postscript: The protection of orphaned or deprived children has always been seen as one of the duties of the state. What distinguishes modern Western child protection is that it extends its scope to children who have families and are not necessarily materially deprived. Child protection services with the authority to confiscate children from so-called “bad” families, is the result of this thinking. Today, the need for this form of state supervision of family life is presented, especially to the Third World, as a self-evident and universal moral imperative to which the world had until now been blind owing to misguided ideas about the sanctity of the family. But in this essay Ian Josephs gives us a glimpse into the rise of modern child protection that shows us how it came as a response, and as it turned out a tragically mistaken one, to a very specific Western situation that reached its apotheosis in the cultural revolution of the ’60s. Whether or not that revolution was bad for children is a subject for another time, but what we in India need to understand when presented by Western “experts” with “best practices” and “global” standards for child welfare, is that they do not necessarily reflect a universal situation or disinterested moralizing about child welfare. What the West advocates to us as an example of its higher principles, may in fact be covering up for problems concerning children that the West has created for itself. No doubt we in India have our own problems regarding children, but we must think independently about how to address them, learning from the mistakes of the West, and not adopting whatever desperate and misconceived measures they take in response. – SaveYourChildren.In