"A week later, we got the phone call to say we wouldn't be allowed to apply."
A Punjabi couple claims they had their plans to adopt blocked from Adopt Berkshire. The agency had reportedly advised them against adopting due to their ‘cultural heritage’.
Sandeep and Reena Mander, from Berkshire, had planned to adopt after trying IVF.
Yet Adopt Berkshire told them that white British or European couples would receive first priority as only while children were in need.
They originally told the agency they wanted a child from any kind of background. Sandeep explained:
“For us, just giving any child a loving home is our goal.” In initial conversations, the agency queried about their background:
“I said we were from an Indian background, and she said that they were ‘unable to prioritise us’, and they wouldn’t look at our case,” says Sandeep.
Eventually, Adopt Berkshire agreed to conduct a home visit. Despite deeming Sandeep and Reena as suitable, the agency decided to block them from adoption:
“A week later, we got the phone call to say we wouldn’t be allowed to apply.” Sandeep also added: “The main reason was cultural heritage.”
Instead, the agency suggested them to adopt a child from India.
The couple feels angered by the decision. However, in the UK, it isn’t illegal for adoption agencies to prioritise on race.
But the UK government have said in the past that the ethnic background of a child shouldn’t serve as a barrier.
Meanwhile Adopt Berkshire has declined to comment, as the case has now gone to court.
This incident has sparked a wave of debates surrounding cultural heritage and if it should matter in adoption processes.
Sandeep gave his thoughts on the issue. While he acknowledged its importance for children, he also noted:
“You should be looking at a number of factors and not just one area, which is cultural heritage.”
Sandeep also added that he thinks the agency believed they made the right decision. Yet he deemed them as “out of touch”.
He also revealed that he and his wife Reema have applied for intercountry adoption, which was approved. This means they can adopt a child from another country.
The couple hopes that with bringing Adopt Berkshire to court, they can raise awareness of this issue.