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Children’s champion speaks out over Portuguese family caught up in adoption scandal

Child’s rights campaigner, Dr Luís Villas Boas, has spoken out against the lack of support being given to Portuguese families caught up in the ongoing ‘forced adoptions’ scandal in Britain.
Talking to the Resident, Dr Villas Boas said “it would be a crime” to see Portuguese parents lose their children without any “juridical foundation”.
“The Portuguese ambassador is responsible for the interests and well being of all Portuguese citizens in UK,” he told us. “No one needs to tell him what to do. His Excellency knows exactly what needs to be done.”
Dr Villas-Boas was referring to the case of the five Pedro siblings, whose devastated parents have been told by British social services there are no plans to return the children to their care.
This is despite the fact that police have dropped their case against the couple on the grounds that there was “insufficient evidence” – and it goes against the promise the Pedros received that their children would be kept together, to be returned to a children’s institution in Portugal from which their futures could be decided.
The announcement – forged between Portuguese social attaché José Galaz, Portuguese consul Carlos Sousa Amaro and Lincolnshire Social Services – is what the Pedros wanted.
“We have all the proof we need to get our children back,” Carla, 36, told SIC TV back in March. “We just need to get the Portuguese authorities to help us.”
But since then, nothing seems to have moved forwards. Quite the opposite, in fact.
As we reported earlier this month, the Pedros have actually “lost” their two youngest children into the system, and are terrified the children may be being adopted.
“No one tells us anything,” an emotional Carla told us from her home in Grantham, Lincolnshire.
“If I hear about the adoption of two Portuguese children by the British authorities, I will demand to know why,” Dr Villas-Boas, the man in charge of Faro’s flagship children’s home Refúgio Aboim Ascenção told us.
“I think the British have an excess of preoccupation and concern with children, which in some cases is very, very good, but in this case it is very, very bad.”
“Social workers are not the owners of children. No one owns a child. But in this situation, the British social workers should pay attention to other nationalities. Families have to be respected. These are not British children. They are Portuguese children, and they should be put in their own country under Portuguese juridical authority.
“I do not want to get involved in the politics of these cases, but it is clearly time for the authorities to act before there is any more heartbreak.”
Dr Villas-Boas was speaking at a conference in Sintra focused on the need for improved child rescue services across the board in Portugal.
For the time being, the Refúgio’s Emergência Infantil service is the only one of its kind that can be called upon 24/7 to take in children at risk.
“We are here, we are always here, and if those five children in Britain need us, they only have to knock,” he said.
The problem is that the Pedro siblings have so far been unable to make themselves heard.
McKenzie Friend litigators working on the case accompanied a delegation of immigrant parents to Brussels in March to present a petition protesting about what they claim is an insidious web involving UK judges, lawyers and social workers effectively ‘kidnapping’ 4,500 children every year.
Tireless campaigner Sabine McNeill told the European Parliament: “Children are screaming to be heard. If you don’t hear those children scream, who will?”
Meantime, repeated attempts by the Resident to contact Portuguese consular authorities have met with no response.

Dr Luís Villas Boas is one of Portugal’s leading experts in child care and intervention. A former army colonel, he took a degree in clinical psychology at Lisbon University before going on to specialise in child protection, adoption and emergency as director of the Refúgio in Faro since 1985.

In 1992, Dr Villas Boas’ work was recognised by Princess Margaret, the Countess of Snowden, who awarded him with the title of Honorary Member of the NSPCC at the same ceremony that saw Maya Angelo awarded.
In 1997, he was honoured by the International Forum for Child Welfare in the United States, and a year later, after launching his refuge’s unique child rescue service ‘Emergência Infantil’, the indefatigable father-of-three received the Diana Princess of Wales prize in front of an international jury in Athens.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]