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“More than 30 Portuguese children” snatched by UK’s controversial adoption system

As a young Portuguese mother fights to be reunited with the baby she claims was “kidnapped” by British authorities days after his birth, a national television exposé has revealed that the number of Portuguese children being taken from their parents in UK is increasing.

Lawyers talking to RTP’s “Sexta às 9” have stressed that British social worker reports are often exaggerated, causing children to be removed from their families “for the most minimal suspicions”.

Cristiane Macedo – introduced in the programme as a lawyer working with the Portuguese Consulate in UK – said numbers are going up, and authorities are currently dealing with “more than 30 Portuguese children” forcibly removed from their homes.

One of these – perhaps the latest – is two-month-old Santiago, the son of Portuguese cardiology technician Iolanda Menino and her British partner Leonardo Edwards.

Santiago’s case hinges on the fact that his 39-year-old father Leonardo has been caught on camera selling a substance that “Sexta às 9” describes as “illegal and lethal”.

A BBC documentary ‘outed’ Leonardo Edwards in 2015, presenting him as an “MMS pusher” and saying that belief in the healing powers of MMS – which it denounced as nothing more than “industrial strength bleach” – was all over the internet.

That much is true.

Testimonies to the healing effects of Miracle Mineral Supplement (a mixture of sodium chlorite in distilled water) are widely available over the internet, as are declarations to its toxicity.

The bottom line, however, is that it is not illegal.

Sodium chlorite has a European Commission listing as an Orphan Medicinal Product licensed for the treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); it is an approved food additive and it is widely available as a water purifier.

But what is shocking in this story is that Leonardo’s ‘day job’ has somehow been interpreted as a threat to his baby’s safety.

The Resident has seen papers hand-delivered to the couple’s home that use Leonardo’s MMS connection to insist Santiago would not be safe with his parents. The papers are riddled with ‘errors’ – stretching from basic typographical mistakes to misinterpretation of facts (for example, stating that Santiago was born in Southampton’s Princess Anne Hospital, when he was born in a birthing pool at his parents’ home).

There is even one summoning the parents to a “very important” court hearing that is dated a week after the hearing took place.

The papers threaten the couple on numerous occasions with imprisonment and the seizure of their property if they publicise their case, or speak to the media.

“Sexta às 9” was informed of an injunction in place barring publicity, but went ahead with its report anyway.

Iolanda and Leonardo feel they have no choice. Delving into past case histories of families torn apart by social workers’ decisions, Iolanda told us: “Every single person who has played by the rules has lost their children. We have to keep talking about Santiago. We have to shout about what is happening here so that we can get him back.”

On “Sexta às 9”, Iolanda was caught in an emotional moment where she brushed away tears and said she had a “feeling” that she would never see her baby again.

“I don’t know where he is. I don’t even know if he is alive,” she told her interviewer.

But since then, she has rallied to the couple’s online affirmation that they are going to get their baby back, “prosecute the people involved and teach other parents how to do it”.

To this end, the couple has a legal team based in the US regularly giving advice. They say lawyers offered to them in UK were all part of the system that benefits from forced adoptions.

“State Sanctioned Kidnap”

Exposés on Britain’s record for ‘child snatching’ – very often from immigrant parents who do not understand what is even happening – have abounded in the press for years.

In 2009, pop legend Sir Bob Geldof slammed “secretive family courts” for what he called “state sanctioned kidnap”.

Since that time, support organisations have campaigned for reforms, while columnist Christopher Booker has used platforms like the Telegraph to affirm: “If there was a scandal which called for the full glare of publicity, it is the highly secretive system which allows thousands of children to be sent for forced adoption, often on no proper pretext.”

While the list of cases where social workers “ignore all evidence” of child abuse “grows even longer”, Booker has said “it is not generally appreciated how adoption and fostering organised by social workers have become big business”.
And this – Santiago’s parents feel – is much more the nub of the issue.

“It is all about money,” Leonardo told us. “The authorities have kidnapped our baby, and they want us to keep quiet about it. We have no intention of keeping quiet. We will do everything we can to expose their lies. We have managed to speak to a Professor of Midwifery, Professor Paul Lewis of Bournemouth University, and he has stated that the use of alternative health products is not a valid reason to take a baby.”

But while Portuguese authorities are aware of this story – and all the others affecting Portuguese parents – they appear powerless to make any difference.

Iolanda, 31, told us on Tuesday that she had been advised by the Portuguese Consulate to “do what Social Services want”.

Elsewhere, the Resident has been following the case of five children removed from Portuguese parents over two years ago.

Despite the fact that their mother ended up complying with everything the authorities asked, she was told that she could only rescue her youngest children from adoption if she gave up the unborn child she was carrying at the time, leaving that child to be adopted.

The ruling loaded more agony onto an already overloaded situation that now sees the woman’s eldest children in conflict with her, as she is understood to have chosen to keep the baby she was carrying.

Thus Santiago’s parents are in no mood to “do what Social Services want”.

For now, they battle as the date set by the courts to determine their son’s future – June 10, coincidentally Portugal, Camões and Portuguese Communities Day – has suddenly been brought forwards to May 20.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]