Features

Yes, Syrian children need foster homes. But so do British ones

There are plenty of abandoned children in need of help already here

12 September 2015

9:00 AM

12 September 2015

9:00 AM

Would you open your home to a migrant child? If the reaction to the drowning of three-year-old Alan Kurdi is anything to go by, thousands of families across Britain are ready to welcome Syrian refugee children — including an impressive number of politicians. Bob Geldof has offered space for three families in one of his spare houses. Walking past the two empty beds in my spare room, I felt the same tug: why couldn’t those beds have two little heads nestling on the pillows, safe after years of horror? It’s the same instinct we feel when a toddler tumbles over on the street and his face crumples up into tears: we want to help, we want to hug.

But there’s something odd about the rush of offers to help Syrian children. I could have filled those two beds in my spare bedroom long ago with needy children who hadn’t crossed continents to reach safety. The Fostering Network, a charity, says it needs to find 8,370 families this year alone to look after vulnerable children in Britain. There are 80,000 children in state care on any one day in the UK, about 63,000 of whom live with foster families. The shortage of homes means desperate social workers can end up placing children with families who aren’t quite right for them. So placements break down, and the cycle of damage continues.

Foster parents are paid a small weekly allowance to look after children who still keep their ties with their birth family; adoption transfers all legal rights from birth parents to adoptive parents. There’s no shortage of people coming forward to adopt newborns, but these couples are often disappointed: unwanted babies tend not to make it to the maternity ward nowadays. The number of adopted children has fallen by 80 per cent over the last four decades and just 4 per cent of children adopted in the 12 months to March last year were under a year old. Most — 76 per cent — are between one and four years old. Children aged five and over are much harder to place.


So here’s the paradox: I find myself thinking approvingly about the 21st-century Kindertransport while breezing past an ad from the council pleading for more people to come forward as foster carers for abandoned British children. And why? Truthfully, because I’m scared I’d be hopeless at fostering a British child, and I suspect all the people offering to take on Syrian children feel that too.

A British child up for adoption or fostering has often suffered at least two years of neglect and abuse and the damage that can do is often irreparable. Through voluntary work, I’ve met adopted and fostered children who have taught me that even in a new loving home, their troubles don’t melt away. I’ve seen six-year-olds in Thomas the Tank Engine T-shirts making sexual gestures; little boys who can’t cope at parties when sweets are handed out as prizes because their birth mothers starved them as a ‘punishment’.

So it’s not the people announcing they’ll take on Syrian children who are the real heroes so much as those who take on our own abandoned children. They’re the ones with hearts big enough for the pain and joy of raising a difficult child.

But even those who’ve volunteered to house a refugee child should make sure they know quite what they’re signing up for. Who’s to say a child from Homs who has suffered years of bombing won’t be traumatised for life? And what about the young girls who have been abused by Isis?

Before that, of course, there’s the whole bureaucratic nightmare to navigate. Many of those inspired to take in Syrian children will find that, after a process lasting months in which they are asked about everything from their daily timetable to whether they and their partner have a healthy sex life, the authorities will anyway rule them out. If prospective parents don’t speak Arabic or Kurdish, and if they don’t have much experience of dealing with what Barnardo’s describes as ‘unimaginable’ trauma, they may never get the chance of taking a Syrian child home, instead finding they’re being offered a child from closer by.

A moving Save the Children video about a Syrian child tells us that ‘just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening’. But children are scared and lonely and in need of a loving family here too, all the more so because people like me shy away from the challenge. It shouldn’t take a crisis thousands of miles away to make us realise that.

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Show comments
  • Suzy61

    British children are not fashionable.

    This is the disgusting truth.

    • right1_left1

      Whatsmore its the British public that is being ‘taken in’
      See what i did there ?

    • Shawayne

      who needs a hug?

    • Jonathan

      Correct, to the hand wringing self loathing bee-yan pon-sont classes, the working class brits no longer matter.

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    • Chamber Pot

      Yes, unfortunately, Lesotho is the place to get a black baby – it’s become a fashion statement a bit like Borat’s gaybies.

    • will91

      Precisely. I was explaining this to my friends today, they weren’t having any of it.

      It’s waaaaaaaaay trendier and far more exotic to have little Anfal from Syria in your spare bedroom than Kyle from Scunthorpe.

  • cartimandua

    And they wont even have the language to communicate with them either.

  • trace9

    Given the gruesome fate of deceased members of Bob’s household, shouldn’t this offer come with a Health Warning – even to ‘war refugees’..?.

    • PaD

      Disgusting comment..

  • Damaris Tighe

    British children consigned to state care homes are often the ones who become victims of gang abuse. The girls say that they welcomed the attention they received from the ‘boyfriend’ – the first proper attention they ever received & so rare that they couldn’t discern proper love from being p*mped out.

    These girls were ignored by a system that combined treating them as rubbish with heartless abstract theories about their human right to go out with whoever they wanted.

    Yet the virtue-signallers have never shown any interest in saving these children. Too English? Too working class? Not exotic enough?

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  • davidshort10

    Well, at least one can make a few bob writing about ‘raising’ difficult children in a right-wing magazine.

  • ebonystone

    “There are plenty of abandoned children in need of help already here…”

    There are also thousands of young British girls who need help — all those forccd into child prostitution by some of the immigrants who are already in Britain.

    • evad666

      Labour’s immigrants that is.

      • Bluegray

        The cases involving gang based abuse of young British girls have had largely Pakistani perpetrators, so I assume that’s what you are referring to. Pakistani immigration has been happening under Tory and Labour governments since the 1960s. So that comment is both ignorant and pathetic, as well as irrelevant to the article.

        • evad666

          Really Labour profited mightily by turning a blind eye to the range and scale of the abuse undertaken during its last extended period in Office.

  • flippit

    Good article. The emotional impulse to adopt has to be tempered by realism. A recent TV series showed how fostering damaged children can drive the best of people nearly out of their own skin to adapt to the child’s needs. It can cause terrible anguish and sense of failure; couples need a very strong relationship and to understand it will be tested to the limit.

    • JEng

      yes I see parents who adopt gain weight afterwards and they just get bigger and bigger cuz its a hairshirt and if the child is a different race, parents may feel compelled to walk on eggshells cuz adoption isn’t necessarily a chemistry match.

  • Harryagain

    You have to be brain dead to allow yourself to be influenced by one (possibly fake) picture. So now we know who is brain dead, useful information.
    So do we foster these kids with muslim families and so nurture a new generation of little terrorists?
    Would they want them?
    Suspect not, there is little charity in muslims.
    (Shortage of bone marrow etc donors)
    (Won’t take refugees in Saudi Arabia.)

    • cartimandua

      wont adopt either.

      • rightrightright

        Mohamed declared adoption to be unislamic and it is forbidden to this day. He fancied his adopted son’s wife but she was forbidden to him because of the family relationship. Allah conveniently came up with the news that adoption was invalid, so Mohamed had his way with the poor girl.

    • Ray Spring

      Not so. Saudi has welcomed four refugees since 2011. So they do make the effort. We should applaud them for their concern for fellow Muslims.

      • Gilbert White

        They would foster Charles Windsor like they did Idi Amin, if it ever came to it.

  • Philsopinion

    Great article. Thank you

  • Fraser Bailey

    There are plenty of Asian men (and more arriving) who will happily ‘foster’ British children. Well, the female ones, anyway.

    • Rashed Ghafoor

      You’re so sick mate, what has race got to do with anything!!!! What about the sick white people who who were kiddy fiddlers, Rolf Harris to name just one

  • Som Trivedi

    1. The number of hoops that you have to jump through to foster a child is overly complicated, takes a huge amount of time & effort, all the while being treated like you might be a potential criminal.

    2. To solve the problem mentioned in No.1, the government *could* bring in legislation to simplify the process and issue corresponding guidance to the LGA.

    3. If a sensible government did embark on legislating a common-sense approach to fostering, and god forbid 1 foster child in a 1000 was subjected to abuse, our lovely tabloid press would crucify whichever minister/government it was that took it upon themselves to get rid of unnecessarily complex regulation.

    4. Hence it is quite understandable why no government would even consider stepping into the minefield of heavily overdone legislation that governs the process of a private citizen fostering a child from state care.

    • MacGuffin

      Why on earth should taxpayers pay for an extension to a foster family’s house? Ridiculous.

      • Som Trivedi

        Extension? By “addition” I meant the foster child itself, not a bleeping extension to the house!

        • MacGuffin

          Oh ok – you should have said ‘household’. I had visions of Middle England queuing up to foster, only to boot out the foster kids once the builders had finished the new conservatory!

  • ItinerantView

    The toxic mix of social media, virtue signalling and fashionably unhinged views on mass immigration, are currently setting some of the tone for the future security and the very existence of European culture.
    As politicians fall over themselves to appear the most compassionate, ruthless men sit and plot demographic conquest- while promoting the concept of Hijarh in a modern context- no doubt splitting themselves laughing at the gullibility of obliging, infidel ‘progressives’- who are beholden to the EU’s Great Leap Backwards.

    But who cares about such things if one’s trending on twitter as #mostcaringMP?

  • cartimandua

    Local news media are beginning to “get it” that Daves over generosity is going to land on their area and their tax payers.
    Kents bill has doubled in a year.

  • cartimandua

    I tell you what though. Unemployment is so high amongst Muslims if it didn’t detract from their benefits perhaps they could see fostering as a nice little earner.

    • MacGuffin

      I would be very concerned about the fate of a non-blood relative child in some of those families. I don’t think we should be delivering up little girls to become second or third wives to a 75-year old man.

  • Harryagain

    The comments here sum up the stupidity of Camoron.
    The man hasn’t an ounce of common sense and is totally out of touch.

    Join UKIP and help save our country from this man and the evil EUSSR.

  • Charles Hatvani

    How to get rid of the idiots who pretend to be representing us? Why have they been elected in the first place?

  • Dogsnob

    “Our own abandoned children”?
    Whatever could you mean by ‘our own’ anymore? Is that distinction even allowed.

  • ShallIgiveup

    Maybe if it would be easier to adopt/foster and the agencies and social workers would be a tiny bit more helpful more kids could be placed! We had been turned down 3 times already. First before we could have been assessed because we were renting a one bedroom flat (thought to save some money before the long approval process). 2nd time the social worker told us to do a year of voluntary work with kids because looking after our friend’s/sibling’s kids was not enough. Last time I was the black sheep. I could not lose weight and my BMI is 42. Apparently working over 55 hours/week in a carehome doesn’t prove the opposite and having insulin resistance for years should not be a problem to lose weight. So here I am to blame because I dared to think of helping a refugees child!

  • uberwest

    If you read Christopher Brooker in the DT, you will be aware that children are often stolen from their parents on the flimsiest evidence, with lawyers on both sides, judges and social workers all conspiring against the parents, ‘in the child’s best interests’.

    The child will then be put in care, where they will be treated far worse than they were by their parents, even being abandoned to muslim paedo pimps.

  • slyblade

    Here’s a thought why not Sucre a safety zone on the Turkish/Syrian border, patrol both sky and land, police it with UN troops and rebuild schools houses and hospitals some of those healthy young men i see taking selfies on the Greek beaches look capable of lending a hand. Then those poor unfortunate children can stay in the country of their birth, live in the culture they were born into and practice the religion of peace and tolerance that call me Dave keeps going on about.

  • Sten vs Bren

    “Syrian children need foster homes. But so do British ones”

    Course of action; encourage fostering.

    “Who’s to say a child from Homs who has suffered years of bombing won’t
    be traumatised for life? And what about the young girls who have been
    abused by Isis?”

    Oh, quite. Course of action; encourage fostering.

    • JEng

      if the ideological differences are impassable, then Europe will be hosting cuckoos – which is not the case in America – our immigrants from South of the Border tend to drink the Kool-Aid.

      • Sten vs Bren

        Sorry, old boy; I can’t make out your banter.

        Something to do with a complaint about being American? Not my pigeon. Try the embassy.

        • JEng

          is your intentionally obviously erroneous imitation of Veddy English a shoutout to Agatha Christie on her 125th Birthday? or to remind someone that the Allies aren’t too happy with sassenach UK either? cuz America does not have the problems that England does with “Asians.”

          • Sten vs Bren

            Fuck off, Yank prick.

            Do you prefer that? I think I do.

          • JEng

            no it’s still uncanny valley – it’s not accurately the vernacular and emotionally rings false.

          • Sten vs Bren

            Well, it was from the heart.

            Sorry about your life.

          • JEng

            I’ll see your “sorry” and raise you an “I’ll let you go now.”

          • Sten vs Bren

            Ah, if you are going, may I refer you to the answer I gave some moments ago?

          • JEng

            After you. I would always walk you out first. I’m not going anywhere.

          • Sten vs Bren

            “I’m not going anywhere.”

            Agreed. Bye.

  • evad666

    Labour elites prefer the exotic to looking after the white working class as it makes virtue signalling so much easier.
    After all we have seen 5171 young victims both sikh and white abused on Labours watch by their preferred muslim mates.

  • Kat Anglesea

    I actually believe solid foster parents to be amongst the most heroic people out there.

  • Lina R

    Thoughtful article – as always from Isabel Hardman. The bar placed on those who want to adopt/foster is simply too high and unattainable for most mere mortals. Look at what happened to the couple who had a history of fostering but had the children removed because they voted Ukip. While other foster parents say they have now stopped because of the lack of support from the authorities. These people are heroes, they are taking on the most vulnerable children. A friend of mine, who is wealthy, stable and has a strong network of friends and family, ended up adopting from south America because the process here is too slow and the criteria impossible to meet.

  • frank davidson

    Interesting points on the young. As an OAP I watch the pounds(pennies are too small) and note that these immigrants are quite costly in comparisson to us pensioners on £115 per week. The difference? Having started work at 15 years of age, never a day unemployed, paid my NI, income tax, VAT etc and a foreign immigrant flies in and gets more. Not right, not fair, a disgrace.

    • Bluegray

      You should be thanking the immigrants for coming here to pay taxes to pay the pensions of our ever-increasing number of OAPs. The overwhelming majority of immigrants work for a living, frequently in jobs that indigenous white Britons don’t want, like caring for elderly people in residential homes.

      • Pioneer

        Who used to care for the elderly, pick cabbages, etc before mass immigration ?

        You are spouting another leftie myth.

    • red2black

      What you describe was possible in the type of economy you lived in.
      Mr Reagan and Mrs Thatcher, along with Mr Blair, introduced a new type of economy in which, for the majority, it isn’t – especially for the least well off – indigenous or not. My dad said he was lucky never to have been out of work, but he didn’t live to retirement age.

  • Hippograd

    The “British” identity is a vile social construct stained with millions of years of racism and colonialist exploitation. Only racists, xenophobes and crypto-fascist scum would suggest that Syrians, Afghans, Somalis et al are not already British in a far truer and deeper sense than any so-called “white” who lays claim to that term.

  • JEng

    Because of his comical hair, no one argues when Donald Trump hits American voters’ pulse points and says the richer Arab nations should be hosting and protecting these refugees who refuse to fight for either side but are demanding the minute they leave hostile and violence-inflicting Turkish governance.

    It’s not taking kindness for weakness. They don’t believe the kindness is altruism but fear based because of terrorism.

    That monk in Myanmar is REALLY popular and he has no problem calling out Rohingya while Five Eyes press is covering up the fact that Rohingya tend to annhilate native Burmese even when the British gave them weapons to fight the Japanese – they instead used those weapons to massacre native Burmese.

    Not even Muslim ASEAN countries want them – that’s very strange.

  • JEng

    Is Scotland and Catalan shooting for independence because of this refugee influx?

  • edlancey

    If Syrian children are lucky they’ll become this year’s “black babies” for vacuous Hollywood stars.

  • WarriorPrincess111111

    Yes, but the British orphans are either still in nappies or are at school whereas the Middle Eastern ones are sporting long beards!

  • Adoptivedad

    If someone is inspired to foster a child by seeing the plight of refugee children, and then do get as far as applying to be foster parents that is a good thing. Any children they do foster British, Syrian or otherwise will benefit (and foster carers may well foster many, many children over time). The provocation to foster that comes from the refugee situation is a positive one and should be encouraged. Britain needs foster carers and adopters, for all children.

  • Khadijah Khan

    Interesting read. Have tried to adopt for a few years in the UK and keep coming up at roadblocks, our case was slightly complex although not immensely. I despair that organisations like Barnados will take on any child that needs help yet practically wrote us off because we werent a straight forward case. I know that we would have been superb parents too. We are now looking in to overseas adoption hoping for better luck, not out of choice I might add. I dont think the uk system is straight forward at all.

  • Maritsa Mansuroglu

    Foster care reunites families even if the circumstances are still dangerous. That has been my experience here in the U.S. I think with refugee children (many orphaned) coming in, the chances for adoption might be higher. I could be wrong but the first thing that came to mind, to me at least, is that I have a better chance adopting one of these kids than an American child.

  • Vicktor Skarsgard

    FU. Are people in the UK being bombed and enduring a four way civil war? Are those children washing up on shores, dead? WTF kind of comparison BS is this?

    • Konadan Jennis

      Well Said Vicktor. I do appreciate.
      In UK , the word ‘discrimination’ has several meaning and way of use depends upon which side the Brit sit on the balance.

    • Margaret Cass

      Well Wrote

  • James Forber

    Hello we have little babies needing a lovely home please we want any lovely family that are ready to adopt this little babies into their home and give them a good home please get back to us Via TEXT +17025295223 via email on (trustadoptionagency@gmail.com)

  • Smartmoney

    Your so spot on… charity starts at home

  • Margaret Cass

    I’d open my home to a child adult anyone who needs my spare room….How do i do this ?

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