Blackpool grandmother criticises adoption system that does not allow her to see her grandchildren

Video report by ITV Granada Reports correspondent Rachel Townsend

A grandmother from Lancashire says she has been left heartbroken by an adoption system that strips birth grandparents of any rights to see the children.

"Sarah", not her real name, had contacted her local authority after becoming concerned about her grandchildren and their parent.

She says at the time, she just wanted help.

The children, who were already in and out of the foster care system, are now waiting to be found an adoptive family - and systems in place for their protection means she can no longer see, or have contact, with them.

"You can't imagine what it's like," she told ITV News. "You're not going to see the children grow up."

She added: "I feel like I am being punished asking for that help and I really, really regret doing what I did.

"I know I did it out of the goodness of my heart to look after my grandchildren and make sure they were safe. But it's shot me in the foot.

"It's stopped me seeing my grandchildren now until they get to an age where they may come looking for me."

Children's playground Credit: Granada Reports

Under current law grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren once they are adopted.

An order can be made by a judge to allow children to spend time with their birth grandparents, but this is extremely rare.

Adoption law is built to protect parental rights above all else.

"It's what's going through their little minds," she adds. "Will they be thinking nanny just left them and did not want to know them?

"It's just heartbreaking."

The eldest child is currently split from her siblings, and Sarah says she is concerned they will be permanently separated in the future.

She has also raised concerns about the children's appearance and their welfare under foster care.

"Their hair was straggly, they had bits of food in their hair. They'd got bites which had become infected," she says.

"It's like they've gone into care to be looked after and you're not looking after them properly."

Blackpool Council Credit: Google Maps

In response, Blackpool Council said: "While we cannot comment on individual cases due to confidentiality, we are fully aware of the concerns raised and are confident they have been investigated and addressed.

"We take any concerns raised about our children extremely seriously and there are stringent processes in place to ensure they are investigated and addressed quickly and effectively.

"The safety of our children is of the upmost importance and their best interests are always at the centre of everything we do”.   

On the issue of keeping siblings together it told ITV News: "All decisions are carefully decided by a judge and are made in the best interests of a child. These decisions are informed by an advocate who represents children within the legal system.

“Nationally there is a shortage of foster carers and in Blackpool we are in the same position.

"Each placement we make is an individual one in the best interests of the child. Wherever possible we do try to find placements with Blackpool and aim to keep siblings groups together but on occasions there are reasons why this isn’t possible."