Just as one miscarriage of family justice seems to be resolving itself in Norway (the Bodnariu family are being reunited), another miscarriage of family justice seems to be worsening in the UK. Both cases have one thing in common: Isolated Romanian families.
Claudia Racolta and Florin Barbu, who are Romanian citizens and who met in London in 2007, have two children together - Diana (now, aged 8) and Andy (aged 5). Unfortunately, Claudia and Florin had some marital troubles, starting in 2013. And, in March, 2014, Diana and Andy were taken into custody by Haringey Council.
Since then, Florin (their father) has sought to regain custody -- to no avail, even though all evidence demonstrates that he is a loving father, who has always been responsible for looking after his children's needs.
Recently, things took a decidedly negative turn for Mr Barbu, as the Council apparently decided to adopt out Diana and Andy to a same-sex couple. This decision made such a deep impact on Mr Barbu, that he mounted a hunger strike outside the European Court of Human Rights in Luxembourg for more than two weeks.
Thankfully, Mr Barbu is now eating again. But, the attention he drew to his case included concerned legal experts, many of whom have indicated that Haringey Council may not have followed proper order in its decision to adopt out Mr Barbu's children.
Indeed, it seems that a number of international norms on the treatment of children and families have been violated in this case, including:
- 1. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the following: Article 2, Paragraph 2; Article 8, paragraph 1; Article 12, paragraph 2; Article 14; Article 20 alin.1,2,3. Specifically, in Article 8, Paragraph 1, the Convention states: "The States Parties undertake to respect the rights of the child to preserve identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference". And, again, in Article 14, Paragraph 1, it says, "States Parties shall respect the child's right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion".
- 2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in Article 23 alin.1,4.
- 3. European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms - Article 6 paragraph 2, Article 8, 9.
In this regard, and also under normal conditions, requiring the exhaustion of all relevant remedies in European law cases, it would seem that the option, to allow the children to be adopted by their extended family in Romania (or elsewhere), was not entertained by Haringey Council.
This is wrong...and relevant. Why?
For three reasons: 1) Because the children (and the parents) are not UK citizens. Residents, yes, but not citizens. So, the country of Romania and the extended family still have a valid, legal claim on the children - especially, in light of the above, where, "The State [is] to respect the rights of the child to preserve identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference", as well as in light of pertinent Romanian legislation on same-sex adoption.
2) Because on the Haringey Council webpage, entitled "Children in Care Services," it states: "Sometimes children and young people cannot stay with their own families. If they have no other relatives able and willing to care for them, we will look after them."
The legal and moral question, therefore, is: Did the Haringey Council Adoption Team exhaust all avenues for uniting the children with their extended family? Or, did they rush to adopt out the children locally?
Mr Barbu claims that they did not even entertain such remedies.
3) Because, even in such extraordinary circumstances as the separation of children from their biological parents, still, children have a right to a mother and a father.
That is to say that neither heterosexual couples, nor same-sex couples have the ethical "right" to adopt children. However, children who are adopted do have an ethical right to a mother and a father.
If the reports are true about the children being adopted out to a same-sex couple, this means that Haringey Council would be violating this ethical principle, as well as offending the cultural and religious convictions of millions of Romanians, not to mention the relevant sections on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This petition, therefore, asks Haringey Council to rescind the decision to adopt out the Barbu children, and instead, award custody of the children to their father, or, at minimum, to their extended family.
It will be sent to the Ombudsman of Local Government in the UK, to the Leader of Haringey Council, to the Head of the Haringey Council Adoption Team, and to the Romanian Ambassador in the UK.
This petition can be signed by anyone, from any country.
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