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Maidenhead couple claim adoption 'racial discrimination'

George Roberts

A Maidenhead couple who claim they were barred from adopting due to their Indian heritage have taken the Royal Borough’s adoption service to court.

In 2015, Sandeep and Reena Mander attempted to join an adoption register after they were unable to have a child of their own.

The pair, both in their thirties, had expressed a desire to adopt a child of any race, with a preference for someone under three years old and with ‘simple needs’.

But the couple claim their application was rejected due to their Indian heritage, despite both being British nationals since birth and identifying as British.

They have been backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in their discrimination case, which is being heard in a four-day case at Oxford County Court this week.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the court heard how, after the Manders’ application to be put on Adopt Berkshire’s register was ‘deferred’, they received a letter stating they should try adopting a child from India or Pakistan.

Under cross examination yester-day, Hilary Loades, of the now-disbanded adoption agency, which worked on behalf of the Royal Borough, said: “Generally it would be most appropriate to match the child’s cultural inheritance with the adopters.

“Another option is to adopt from other countries. It may be complicated and financially stretching, but it might allow you to find a child whose cultural heritage is similar to your own.

“I think they would have met the criteria for some adoption agencies in India.

“Retrospectively, I could have just suggested they go to the Intercountry Adoption Centre (IAC).”

The IAC assists families in adopting a child from overseas.

Despite the accusations of racial discrimination, Ms Loades insisted that the Manders’ applicaton was only deferred because their desire to adopt a child of pre-school age with non-special needs was of low priority to the adoption agency.

She said: “Adopt Berkshire has a strategic direction that was not governed by me. It was clear that in terms of recruiting adopters, the priority was hard-to-place children.

“If they had said they’d take a child with Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy, we would have prioritised them.”

Since the initial complaint, the Manders have successfully adopted a child from America.

The case continues.

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