British-born Sandeep and Reena Mander are seeking legal action against Adopt Berkshire. The Sikh couple made the decision to adopt with no preference to the child’s ethnicity. The agency denied them a child even though they passed the home visit. The Manders were told only white children were available, and preference would go to British or European parents. They were told, “Go to India.” The couple is upset and frustrated. They feel their cultural background should have no bearing on whether or not they can adopt. Sandeep reached out to the Home Secretary and Prime Minister to no avail. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council is showing greater importance for matching skin than whether a child finds a safe, loving family. The law firm of McAllister Olivarius has taken the family’s case. It is backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Legally the agency can prioritize adoptions to match race and ethnicity, but are in no way allowed to use that as basis for refusal.
The Manders are currently trying to adopt internationally, but they hope the court case will raise awareness. They don’t want another couple to have to live through the same experience. As for the suggestion that the couple seek adoption in India, it is certainly not as easy as it sounds. Other couples who sought children from India have broadened their search after meeting challenges.
Sridhar and Indu Unnamatla tried to adopt from India in 2013. They found it nearly impossible to get a newborn from their preferred country. Also they had no option of an open adoption. It was important to them for their child to know his origins and birth family.
Lakshmi and Narayanan Iyer found great difficulty in the process. They said it would have been easier to move to the country for a few years than to try to adopt while on a green card from the US. The couple decided to adopt elsewhere.