Sparking fury over race discrimination and racial attack, a British Sikh couple was asked by an adoption agency not to apply because of their “Indian heritage” and were advised to try to adopt in India.
The couple, Sandeep and Reena Mander, who was based in Berkshire wanted to adopt a child of any ethnic background but were told that since only white children were in need, white British or European applicants would be given preference, meaning they were unlikely to be selected.
The case which was reported in the British media on Tuesday highlighted the race issues in adoption though the official position is that a child’s ethnicity should not be a barrier to adoption.
The UK-born couple is now seeking legal recourse in the Slough country court.
“Giving an adopted child – no matter what race – the security of a loving home was all we wanted to do. 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’,” Sandeep Mander said.
The couple case is supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). In the UK, the adoption agency has the power to prioritise on the basis of race in order to match children to prospective parents of the same ethnic background.
EHRC chair David Isaac said: “There are many children who are waiting for a loving family like Sandeep and Reena to help give them a better life. To be denied this because of so-called cultural heritage is wrong.”
Their case was first taken up by Theresa May, who is their MP, during her time as the home secretary. “May was shocked and was very helpful. Her office wrote letters but nothing happened. When Prime Minister, she sent further letters and involved the then minister for children and he suggested we take legal advice,” Sandeep said.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead did not comment on the issue.