A British-born Sikh couple who were denied to adopt a White child due to their Indian heritage has taken the local Royal Borough council and its adoption service to court.
Sandeep and Reena Mander have alleged that their local Berkshire adoption service told them that their application to join the register of approved adopters would be rejected due to their “Indian background.” They were also told that they might have better luck looking to adopt a child from India.
Currently in their 30s, the Manders have been unable to have a child of their own and expressed willingness to adopt a child of any race, Telegraph reports.
In late 2015, the couple attended an introductory seminar given by the local adoption agency, Adopt Berkshire. They were reportedly encouraged to submit an application as they felt the agency had been welcoming to all prospective adoptive parents regardless of race or sexual orientation at the time.
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According to Mander, this all changed when he he called the adoption agency on April 2017 and was asked to identify his ethnic origin. When he told the agency that he and his wife were both born and raised in Britain but their parents were born in India, he was informed that they were unlikely to be approved as potential adoptive parents. He was told that since only White children were available in Berkshire and the surrounding area, they would not be allowed due to their “Indian background.”
“I could hear from his voice that something wasn’t right, his tone was shocked,” Mrs. Mander later told the court heard by Judge Melissa Clarke.
“I heard something about cultural heritage. I felt that I should have the same right to enter the process as anyone else.”
Shirley Popat, the social worker who Mander spoke with over the phone, reportedly told the couple that their “only other option was to adopt from India or Pakistan.”
Despite being initially turned down, the pair persisted in applying as they believed their heritage should not be a valid reason to have their application turned down outright.
In response, Adopt Berkshire insisted that it would still not approve the adopters’ registration because of their Indian heritage.
Backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the couple started the four-day court battle in a landmark case against Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council at the Oxford County Court on Tuesday.
The Manders, who have four spare bedrooms in their home, alleged that the incident is a blatant case of direct discrimination on the grounds of race, which breaches Section 13 of the Equality Act 2010 and the European Convention on Human Rights. The trial is set to conclude on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Manders have since successfully adopted a little boy from the United States.