In England, as in the United States, local governments receive cash incentives from the national government for adopting out children. In England, this has led to the seizure of thousands of children from their natural parents by social workers hoping to receive bonuses.
The Daily Mail, one of England's principal newspapers had a frightening story on June 8 about this. You have to read it to believe it.
The idea behind the incentives was to give social workers an incentive to do their best to ensure that children already in orphanages or foster care will be adopted.
But children already in foster care tend to be older, less desireable, and harder to find adoptive parents for. For a social worker that wants to receive an adoption bonus, it's much easier to snatch cute, well-adjusted babies and toddlers who already have loving parents, than to do the hard work of adopting out an older child who has no parents and may have behavioral problems or disabilities that make him less adoptable.
So social workers in England have been seizing cute babies and toddlers from loving families based on trivial or unproven allegations (or in some cases, no allegation of wrongdoing at all), and then giving them to adoptive parents to reap the cash incentives.
One child was seized after a social worker told the child's mother that she feared the mother might yell at her child in the future. Another was seized because of an injury to her half-brother years earlier, which the child's parents insisted was accidental, but which social workers, without any proof whatsoever, suspected resulted from baby-shaking.
Stephen Baskerville of Howard University argues that children are being seized by social workers for similar reasons in the United States, where federal law also provides incentive grants to state and local governments that succeed in adopting out the most children.
When such legislation was proposed, its sponsors said what sponsors of counterproductive legislation regarding children usually say: "It's for the children."
Ronald Reagan once said that the scariest words in the English language were "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."
But to me, the scariest words to come out of a government employee's mouth are "it's for the children."