Adoption of abused children was botched Council admits

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The Independent Online

Social workers have been condemned for botching the adoption of two severely abused young children raised by their birth mother in squalid conditions.

Social workers have been condemned for botching the adoption of two severely abused young children raised by their birth mother in squalid conditions.

Because of their mistreatment, the boy and girl behaved "like dogs", barking, running on all fours and eating from the floor after being left alone for long periods by their birth mother with the family dog.

In a damning report by the Local Government Ombudsman, Waltham Forest Borough Council, north London, has been ordered to pay £5,000 compensation after failing to tell the children's adoptive parents of their history of abuse and serious behavioural problems. These errors led to the couple, given the pseudonyms Mr and Mrs Wright, going through "prolonged and profound distress" and a trial separation. After a false accusation of sexual abuse against Mr Wright, the couple were also forced to leave their village home in Surrey.

In ordering the relatively high £5,000 award, the ombudsman, Edward Osmotherly, said Waltham Forest was guilty of "maladministration causing injustice", which led the childless couple to adopt children they were too inexperienced to cope with. He said the Wrights were given inadequate information about the children's medical and family problems.

The Wrights were chosen as potential adopters in 1995, but the council failed to pass on any detailed social services and psychiatric reports about the children's histories. The council had also ignored a psychiatrist's original recommendation that the adoptive couple needed to be experienced parents.

Yesterday, the council admitted "unreservedly" it had failed the Wrights and the children. Indicating that the £5,000 compensation was very likely to be paid, a spokesman said the authority had learnt from the case and already overhauled its adoption procedures.

The council spokesman also confirmed that the children's main social worker, referred to as Official A, had been given further training and had her workload cut after an internal inquiry into the case.

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