There is a serious shortage of foster parents in the world today and there are even fewer families that are willing to adopt a child out of the foster care system. In England, there are more than 69,000 kids in the system and many of those will wait indefinitely to find a forever family. That’s why it is even more appalling to hear of social workers that make it next to impossible for stable, loving families to adopt. This week, we heard the heart breaking story of Brian and Abigail, a UK couple that was denied the opportunity to become parents because a social worker saw Brian vaping.
The couple had already spent thousands of dollars trying to get pregnant with the help of fertility doctors, but all attempts had failed. In December 2013 they turned to the authorities in hopes of adopting. They went through the rigorous screening process that included personal interviews, financial background checks, and even medical exams. Everything was going well until a social worker spotted Brian with an electronic cigarette and then shut down the whole process. The couple said they were essentially kicked out of the adoption program and told that they could not apply again until Brian had been ecig-free for a full twelve months.
It seems crazy to have such a silly rule in place when thousands of kids need families, but this is not the only time ecigs have caused a problem. There are actually 13 councils in England that prohibit an ecig user from adopting. This seems incredibly difficult to believe considering that there is no scientific evidence that ecig vapor poses secondhand risks. Public Health England said, “The health risks of passive exposure to electronic cigarette vapour are… likely to be extremely low.”
But for Brian and Abigail, an ecig led to their dreams being totally devastated. Brian had been a light smoker when they started the adoption process and while they were not told that tobacco use would exclude them from adopting, he decided to quit anyway and used ecigs to help cope with nicotine cravings. It wasn’t until they were nearing the final steps of the adoption process that social workers brought up ecigs and informed the couple that vaping would cause them to be removed from the adoption program.
Abigail said they were both devastated. “It made us feel judged and worthless, that you are a lesser person if you smoke e-cigarettes. They seem to be seeking adopters who are perfect. But we are like lots of ordinary families.”
Do you think that social workers have a legal right to exclude vapers from adopting? Is this taking things too far?