Iolanda and Leonardo.jpg

Portuguese mother becomes latest victim of UK’s alleged practice of “institutional abductions”

A young Portuguese mother has become the latest victim of what many UK foreign nationals claim is an insidious network of judges, lawyers and social workers that effectively kidnap as many as 4500 children every year – the majority of them from people who do not speak good English or understand the system.

Iolanda Menino and her husband Leonardo Edwards are fighting to be reunited with their baby Santiago, “snatched by Social Services” five days after he was born.

They have started a Gofundme page to help with legal and logistical expenses, which has already raised 1,365 pounds in just over three weeks.

But it is only now that the case is getting exposure in the press – two months after Santiago was forcibly removed from the couple’s Southampton home.

According to their explanations online, the couple have been refused all access to their son, which means Iolande has been unable to breastfeed – the form of early feeding that experts all agree is ‘best for baby’.

Jornal de Notícias explains that the Portuguese Consulate in UK is “accompanying the case closely”.

“We cannot give details for reasons of confidentiality”, a source told the paper. “But since the first moment that we were contacted by Iolande Menino, we entered into contact with British social services, who are dealing with the case”.

The secretary of state for the communities is “assuring that all the rights of the mother and the child are being respected” and one strong possibility on the horizon appears to be that of Santiago being delivered into the custody of his grandparents, said the paper – not specifying whether these would be the paternal or maternal grandparents.

The parents, however, vow they are “dedicated to getting our baby back”.

Posting details and videos on Youtube, they have said: “We are going to get our baby back, prosecute the people involved and teach other parents how to do it”.

This could not come as better news to campaigners who have been sounding alarm bells over the UK’s so-called practice of forced adoptions for years.

“This is why we went to Brussels!” Veteran campaigner Sabine McNeill told the Resident today.

We first ‘met’ Sabine in 2014 when she led a group of parents to Brussels with stories of how they had ‘lost’ their children to British social services (click here).

Since that time, other stories have appeared in the press of Portuguese parents losing children to the British system, but they rarely get much exposure – and exposure, Sabine McNeill stressed this morning, is the only thing that will ever change what has been happening.

“We have been fighting for years”, she added. “The whole thing is almost too awful to comprehend. There are so many cases. So many foreigners stripped of their children for the most spurious reasons in contradiction to a Council of Europe report that calls these practices ABUSIVE”.

Sabine’s impassioned appeal to the European Parliament’s Peti committee (see: looked like it would force some changes in 2014, but still today foreign parents are in the same position.

For details of the events that led up to Santiago’s ‘snatching’ from his distraught parents, see their various appeals’ pages:

The Resident has attempted to talk to Santiago’s parents, and will bring updates as and when they become available.

[email protected]