Britain’s multicultural dream has suffered a blow after a Sikh couple alleged they were told by authorities that they could not adopt a white child because of their ethnic background.
Sandeep and Reena Mander (pictured), who were both born in the UK, claim their local adoption agency, Adopt Berkshire, rejected their application because only white children were available.
The married couple, who are in the 30s, have been unable so far to have their children despite undergoing several rounds of IVF treatment. They told the adoption agency they would be happy to adopt a child of any race but were apparently advised to adopt a child from India.
They are now legally challenging the decision, with the backing of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Mr Mander, who is vice-president of sales for a technology company, told The Times of London that they had been prevented from even applying for adoption “not because of our incapability to adopt, but because our cultural heritage was defined as ‘Indian/Pakistani’.”
Adoption agencies in Britain can match the ethnicities of a child and its prospective parents but this is not routine.
Adopt Berkshire was created by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council. The agency’s website says children available for adoption in the area “will reflect the racial, cultural and religious backgrounds of the populations within the areas from which they originate” and “local authorities will try firstly to identify appropriate prospective adopters … who reflect the child’s culture and religion of heritage”.
Children will not be kept waiting for an “exact match”, it says.