Letters: Adoptive parents really welcomed


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The article describing the failed attempts of the Jolly family to adopt (15 November) was potentially damaging to children in care waiting for adoptive parents.

The article describing the failed attempts of the Jolly family to adopt (15 November) was potentially damaging to children in care waiting for adoptive parents.

We are recent adoptive parents and have two beautiful, bright, lively boys placed with us from care at 11 months and 15 months. The experience often described in the media is at odds with our experience and that of other adopters we know.

When a court order is made for a child to be placed for adoption there is no way back; that child will never return to its birth parents and will either be adopted or stay in the care system. Children who stay in care often do disastrously. Articles like this are discouraging people from applying to become an adopter.

To adopt you do have to engage fully with the assessment process. It requires openness and honesty. The social workers were helpful, encouraging and keen for us to succeed, but they do require you to be fully focused on the process, which seemed fair enough to us.

It's not a time to undertake any other major change or upheaval in your life. Get the building work done and stop smoking first. If the social workers think you are not suitable they will let you know early. The adoption panel, which is the final stage, is not the cliff-hanger sometimes portrayed in the media but more an endorsement of the recommendations for approval already made.

The assessment process took us a few months to complete and our first child was matched soon after we were approved. Most people who are determined to become adoptive parents and can totally focus on the process will succeed.

Name and address supplied

Blame culture at the Home Office

In the "borders" dispute at the Home Office we see the end product of decades of a professional management culture in government.

Ambition unrelated to vision or purpose, divorced from ethical content or understanding, is the primary driving force. Blame is the weapon to deal with inconvenient colleagues. Respect, service, duty – mere labels. Brodie Clark may be "old school", but it is a school that we have ignored for too long and to our great cost .

Christopher Dawes

London W11

Rumours of Theresa May's political demise are greatly exaggerated. Her record as an MP and minister is one of integrity, sagacity and enormous energy. These qualities will see her survive the present storm in a teacup and beyond.

Yesterday's men had better beware., Mrs May is the woman of tomorrow. The Iron Lady 2 is already in the making.

Anthony Rodriguez

Staines, Middlesex

For us regular travellers, the Border Force fiasco reinforces our own observations about the pointless pretence that goes on at our airports.

My regular trips back from Germany always follow the same pattern. My name and passport number are given in advance to the airline. When I check in, my passport is scanned by a machine. When I pass through the German border, my passport is inspected by a German border policeman. When I board, my passport is again checked by the airline staff. When I get to the UK, the border force person puts my passport on a scanner.

It's a criminal waste of manpower. There must be ways of combining this five-fold system, with our border force restricting their contacts to those who arouse suspicion, leaving the vast majority unmolested. That way, they'll catch far more transgressors, as their pilot scheme has already indicated.

Stuart Shurlock


Hypocritical to attack capitalism

It is heartening to learn from your report "The forces of capitalism fight back" (16 November), that capitalists are rightly defending their position. According to many, it is wrong for the few to receive large salaries and bonuses. Yet it is acceptable for a celebrity to earn millions, in some cases more in a month than most will take home in a lifetime. The anti-capitalist argument does not add up.

How many of us would have turned down large bonuses from our employers? It is time to end our hypocrisy.

Robert Duncan Martin

Fordwich, Kent

Nick Szeremeta's column on 11 November about Zynga online poker described how millions of people are willing to devote their skill, energy, and time in a competition where there is no personal reward, purely for pleasure. It should be an eye-opener for shareholders in City institutions.

Obviously there are plenty of gamblers who could do the job of City fat cats and for whom success would be its own reward. Let those who threaten to leave if not loaded down with pay and bonuses go.

Stephen Ranson


Unions serve the public interest

Christina Patterson ("If we're all in this together, then so is the public sector", 16 November) opines it isn't who wrecked the economy that matters, but what you do about it.

She regrets that millions of public-sector workers will strike on 30 November to protect their pensions, and considers that RMT members employed by top Tory Lord Ashcroft's company as train cleaners, who last week won a 10 per cent increase to their near-minimum-wage pay, "sound like people who haven't opened a newspaper, or switched on the telly, for quite a while". I do not know whether our members read her opinions as they go about their jobs clearing old newspapers from Sir Richard Branson's trains and emptying his effluent tanks, but I can assure her that they are not taken in by her arguments.

Not only did workers not cause the current euro sovereign debt crisis, but its solutions will not be found in the policies of austerity for workers and quantitative easing for bankers advocated by George Osborne, Mario Monti, José Manuel Barroso and, well, Christina Patterson. Euro-austerity is killing growth, boosting unemployment to record levels and leading to a global recession.

What is needed to stimulate economic demand are more jobs, greater spending power for workers and more time away from work to spend income. In the 1930s recession, a Tory government stimulated growth by legislating for sector-wide collective bargaining to boost wage levels. In today's global economy where Goldman Sachs appoints the prime ministers of Italy and Greece, trade unionists are the last political and economic actors fighting for a genuine and universal public interest.

By refusing to accept lessons in belt-tightening from the likes of Christina Patterson we are doing society a favour.

Alex Gordon

President, National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers, London NW1

We all want to build more homes

Saturday's leading article, ("We need green space, but houses more", 12 November), rather missed the point of the National Trust's objections to the Government's proposed changes to the planning system.

This isn't a debate about whether we protect the countryside or provide housing. A good planning system should achieve both. The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will not do this.

We have never argued against house-building. Indeed, we build houses ourselves where appropriate and where the need is established, as decided by planning professionals working within the planning system.

We, like house- builders throughout the country, also have planning permission for houses as yet unbuilt. That they are unbuilt is nothing to do with the planning system. In fact, 85 per cent of planning applications were approved last year. Neither is a shortage of building land a significant contributing factor to housing waiting lists. The Council for the Protection of Rural England presented compelling evidence on an adequate supply of brownfield sites suitable for housing in their Building in a Small Island report, also published on Saturday. It is financial constraints, such as lack of available mortgages, that stand in the way of the houses being built.

There is much we welcome in the Localism Bill, but we question whether the NPPF, unless drastically revised, will deliver any more houses for those people on waiting lists rather than simply resulting in chaos and planning-by-appeal.

Fiona Reynolds

Director-General, National Trust

Swindon, Wiltshire

When low fees favour the rich

Your report (14 November) that the University of Worcester intends to levy a lower fee for those entrants with A, A, B at A-level is disturbing, if it spreads to other universities, for two reasons.

It is likely to further assist entrants from the independent sector, thus, oddly, making higher education more affordable for those already advantaged. And it will pervert comparisons on an institution's intake cadre, as those with high number of A-level points are attracted by a discount rather than by the quality of provision.

Suddenly the banners in Trafalgar Square claiming that higher education is being "privatised" begin to make sense.

Stephen Westacott

Great Witley, Worcestershire.

Disunited kingdom

So David Cameron is considering setting the pace on the Scottish independence referendum. My reading of the situation as a Scot domiciled in England is that if given the choice to be rid of these scrounging left-wing whingers, the English will vote heavily in favour of independence for Scotland. Maybe Alex Salmond can sit back and let Mr Cameron deliver the independence he seeks.

Robert Stewart

Wilmslow, Cheshire

I will have a lot more sympathy with David Welch's idea of removing the Scottish blue from the Union Flag (letter, 15 November) when he and his fellow English stop using the British National Anthem as the English anthem at sporting (and other) occasions –which I find offensive, perplexing and unacceptable. It is not an English anthem; it is as much Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish. So get your hands off and find one of your own.

Patrick Jones

Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire

Where charity sector thrives

G Puckett of leafy Ashford is wrong (letter, 15 November) when saying that "in really deprived areas like decayed industrial towns, charity shops are few, grubby and depressing". I work at such a shop in Grimsby, a town that has been struggling since its fishing industry declined in the 1970s. Yet my manager ensures we are kept neat and tidy.

We raise funds for Debra, the charity for those with butterfly skin, and within a small radius are shops representing Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation and the local hospice.

Tim Mickleburgh


Anti-smoking zealots march on

You report that the British Medical Association wants the smoking ban extended to cars. The doctors say governments must be "bold".

They also say there are 23 times more toxins as in a smoky bar. This suggests that the original evidence for a ban in bars and pubs was wildly exaggerated so that anti-smoking zealots could get their way. What would be truly bold is for the Government to tell the doctors to carry on treating patients, not try to run the country.

Steve Lustig

London NW2