Campaigning lawyer Pedro Proença has helped yet another Portuguese mother living in absolute terror of losing her two young children to the British Social Services.
The issue of foreign parents being stripped of their children in Great Britain (click here and here) has taken something of a back seat in the media since the onslaught of the pandemic.
But it clearly doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. Katia Silva is testament to this: a television exposé aired last night minutely described how she found herself “obliged to run” with her two young children, convinced that if she didn’t, they would be removed from her – regardless of the truth – and put up for adoption.
Pedro Proença told investigative reporter Ana Leal (formerly of TVI and now writing for Correio da Manhã) that adoptions in the UK are a €2.3 billion business – with this money going from the State to private institutions which take in children, “fed by social services, without any kind of State supervision”.
“The business needs to be sustained. For this reason, forgive the expression, the maximum number of children possible need to be placed on the market”, he told her.
There are “catalogues of children” published in local newspapers, he explained, so that potential parents can choose a child.
CM describes how “around 150,000 children are removed from their parents in Britain every year. The foreign communities are most affected. This has been denounced in the past (click here). In the last three years around 70 Portuguese children have been targeted by British Social Services, of which 50 have been removed” from their parents.
Katia Silva is one of the ‘lucky ones’. She appears to have escaped.
Says CM, she is living quietly in a village in the Douro but still full of fear that British Social Services might somehow catch up with her and force her children back to the UK to be adopted.
“I cannot fail”, she told CM. “If I fail, my children will have no-one”.
As Ana Leal’s report explains, Katia’s story – a little like many of the stories that have come to light over the years – began with a false allegation.
In this case it was an allegation by one of her older children, Lourenço, the son of a different partner.
Katia believes the 13-year-old made the allegation to help his father in his attempts to win back the property Katia and her children were living in.
The boy said his mother had hit him over the back with a chair and bitten his hand. None of this was true, said Katia – but the mere fact that her son said these things meant that Social Services turned up at her door the very next day.
From then on, Katia lived in terror. “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I lived in panic”, she told CM.
Pedro Proença, specialist in international law and a fluent English-speaker, said: “From the experience I have with cases of other mothers that have gone through similar situations in the UK, Social Services were closing in on this mother in order to incriminate her and consequently take her children for adoption”.
Alice, aged three, was born in Portugal and therefore has Portuguese nationality. Her brother Miguel, aged five, however was born in the UK, and even though Katia has been trying hard, she has still not succeeded in securing him Portuguese nationality.
The children’s birth father is deceased.
Katia seems to have had the wherewithal to have filmed her ordeal, no doubt encouraged to do so for the purposes of CM’s exposé.
She left London with her youngest children just a few days ago, with three suitcases and “just the clothes they stood in”.
CM’s film shows her arriving in Lisbon airport; Pedro Proença waiting for her – and her first words were: “I was terrified all the way…”
But she has made it.
The last clip shows the children playing in autumn leaves with their mother, a whole new life ahead of them – albeit full of uncertainty in that Katia has left the country that was her home for the last 27 years, and has no idea what kind of job she will manage to secure.