11:51AM, Tuesday 27 June 2017
A Maidenhead couple are to take legal action because they say they were denied the right to adopt a child because they’re not white.
Sandeep and Reena Mander are taking their fight with Adopt Berkshire, an adoption company run by the Royal Borough, to court claiming they were told they could not apply to give a vulnerable child a loving home because there were only white children available.
The pair, who are in their 30s, are of Sikh-Indian heritage but are both British-born, have ‘no close links to India’ and had made it clear they would be ‘delighted to adopt a child of any ethnic background’.
Mr Mander said: “As a couple, we didn’t picture our life without a family.
“Having attended introductory workshops organised by RBWM and Adopt Berkshire, giving an adopted child, no matter what race, the security of a loving home was all we wanted to do.
“We were so encouraged by the welcoming attitude at the introductory workshops of all races, religions and sexualities.
“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’.”
The decision by Adopt Berkshire came despite visits and assessments of the Manders which declared them ‘very suitable adoptive parents’.
But despite this they say they were told they couldn’t apply because priority would be given to white applicants.
Instead, they claim they were advised to consider adopting from India.
The pair are being supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which claims the law makes clear race and culture should not be ‘overriding factors’ in adoption decisions.
As well as letters to Maidenhead MP and Prime Minister Theresa May, the couple also complained to the Royal Borough, but said they have been left ‘bewildered' by ‘missed deadlines for official responses and their failure to investigate’.
A spokesman for Adopt Berkshire said: “We do not comment on ongoing court cases.”
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