Researching a family

A couple of newspaper articles that hit our national news that concern me….

Mitochondrial transfer is controversial because the healthy donor DNA is inserted into IVF embryos. That means the genetic material is not only carried by the child that grows from the embryo, but is passed down the female line to all future generations. So far there is no evidence that the procedure is dangerous, but unknown side-effects could emerge and affect all of the generations that carry the donor DNA. (The Guardian)

Despite the discontent, many scientists are backing the procedure saying it will offer hope for women who have no other chance of a healthy family. (The Telegraph)

My response is:

1) Unknown side effects – dont you think they should be explored and the worst case scenario understood before a vote is taken to proceed with making this legal?

2) There is another, more ethical, chance of a healthy family – adoption. Since Autumn last year, over 8000 children in the UK are waiting to be adopted (

So this is what I emailed my local MP…..

Having seen recent news headlines regarding a vote to change the Embryology Act in a bid to defeat mitochondria, I share concerns outlined by Fiona Bruce MP regarding the safety of such a procedure and any unknown side effects. I would be very wary of voting for a procedure that isn’t 100% safe and I would argue that more needs to be done so that a vote can be taken that is better informed on safety.

On the broader issue of family planning, I would like to know what the Government is doing to speed up the process for adoption. It is a shame that adoption figures were higher in the 70s than they are today, resulting in more children being brought up in care. I believe more should be done to promote adoption as an alternative to costly IVF treatments and the legal minefield of surrogacy through publicity on adoption success stories, the numbers of children currently waiting for a loving family and the support that exists for families wishing to take this life-changing step.
This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

15000 and more reasons why adoption is better

Channel Four should be commended for the documentaries that select key issues in society.

The new series 15000 and counting is about the tragedy of those who are not able to parent their own children and the difficult decisions the local authority and social care workers have to take to get the best outcome for the child. As one social worker said ‘we try and do what is best but further down the line, when the child is older, they may look back and find that the wrong decision was made’. The point is there are no guarantees only the pursuit of an ideal scenario in a less than ideal situation.

I saw one mother who clearly cared for her baby girl. I do not know the circumstances of why social workers had got involved as I joined the programme half way through. I just saw the court ruling at the end to say that the baby girl was going o be adopted. The young mother was grief stricken but resigned to her fate. “I hope she gets more GCSEs than I got and that she has a better life. I got 2 F’s for Mathis and English and I have never had a job. The girl hated herself and life. Therefore, as much as she cried for her lost baby daughter, it was almost as if she expected not to have her child for life because she has no ounce of belief in herself or her abilities.

It made me wonder what kind of life she had experienced to go into adulthood with this outlook on life. So what the social system is trying o do is break this vicious cycle of neglect that breeds neglect.

In a preview of the next programme on the adoption process, the social worker says ‘all this little girl wants is a mum that doesn’t smoke, drink or take drugs, is that too much to ask?’

The programme says there are not enough adoptive families but this is exacerbated by the two year process it takes to adopt a child. We would like to adopt but do not have a spare room and until we move we can’t take our application further. I have friends and family who have plenty of rooms and money but cannot face the prospect of loving a child who isn’t from their genes. I do not understand this mentality, through time as a nanny, I experienced a strong loving bond with children born to other parents, to the extent that I didn’t want to hand them back at the end of the day.

I hope programmes like this stop families embarking on their 10th ivf attempt or surrogacy contract and the realisation dawns that love knows no bounds, genetic or otherwise. Those who want children but can’t have them biologically should give adoption the chance to change their lives and create a bond with a child who is already in the world and in need of love rather than wasting time, money and heart-ache chasing that elusive embryo.

I am blogging every day for UNICEF – support the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

Can children in care go on to become Olympians?

I was reading an article today on Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds. Her achievements are an inspiration and the article features quotes from her family and her teachers detailing her strength of character, her competitiveness and her determination. Her mother said that she was always like this from very young and her teacher said that she is the same with her schoolwork.

Paralympians overcome physical scars to achieve their goals. What about people who have deep-seated emotional scars from a childhood that was far from perfect? Children who were forced to be independent and lead their own lives in order to survive from a very young age. Children in care have inconsistent emotional support and most of them have attachment disorders (they are incapable of forming bonds with parental figures because of abuse suffered earlier in life). If you were born determined and competitive does this stay with you despite a crap mum and dad who can barely feed you, let alone support your personal ambitions?

I read a column by Guardian journalist Lucy Mangan the other weekend that touched on the inequality in standards of education. More specifically, the percentage of privately educated children that go on to Oxbridge and Russell group universities. She quite rightly argued that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to educational inequality. There are children born into a world of domestic violence and abuse. Many just don’t have their most basic needs met, such as a bed to sleep on, a meal every day, a book read and are left to fend for themselves until social services are called in. Having gone through the first four years of life existing in this way can you imagine what these children must go through when they start school for the first time? As Lucy put in her column, these children are exhausted before their education has just begun because they have been too busy trying to survive the hell that they have been born into. That is the real inequality. They haven’t even got a chance in the first place.

The Olympics and Paralympics aims to inspire a generation and I wonder about the generation growing up in the care system  who have been watching the games? They may have been battered by their circumstances but do they have the strength to pull through and realise their ambitions? I would be interested to know of any athletes who have made it despite their childhood experiences growing up in care. Can you be born determined and still achieve despite suffering from attachment disorder? Adoption UK has a really good online animation – The Wall – that explains how abuse and neglect in a child’s early years can cause attachment disorder and other psychological conditions. Strength of mind overcomes physical barriers but does it work vice versa?

I hope you enjoyed this blog. If so please donate £1 to Unicef – the whole reason for my daily blog to combat child poverty and neglect worldwide. I am still hunting my first donation – so if you do donate you will be the first and I will thank you in my next blog. (the money raised so far is through the fee I pay to Unicef for missed blog days).

Thanx for reading.