Adop­tion: 51-year-old hits out at ‘hideous’ treat­ment from Home Of­fice

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID WALKER

A woman who adopted a baby to save his life has been left dev­as­tated fol­low­ing an un­suc­cess­ful three-year bat­tle with of­fi­cials to get a Bri­tish pass­port for her son.

Debbie Raf­ferty, 51, orig­i­nally from Al­ford, res­cued Al­fie af­ter he was born when she re­alised he was at risk of aban­don­ment, mis­treat­ment or death due to be­ing con­ceived by an un­mar­ried woman.

How­ever, she has strug­gled to get cit­i­zen­ship for her lit­tle boy be­cause

“In­stead of treat­ing him like a per­son, they see him as a num­ber”

her ap­pli­ca­tion to the Home Of­fice was re­fused – leav­ing the young­ster state­less.

Mrs Raf­ferty works as a se­cu­rity con­sul­tant in a south-east Asian coun­try, which she can­not re­veal de­tails of due to the na­ture of her em­ploy­ment, where she adopted Al­fie.

Now, af­ter a failed at­tempt to get a Bri­tish pass­port for her son, she is up­set at the way she has been treated by the Home Of­fice.

“They have treated us hideously ever since the ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected,” she said. “In­stead of treat­ing Al­fie like a per­son, they see him as just a num­ber.”

Al­fie is three years old and has a pass­port un­der the same na­tion­al­ity as his birth mother but it will not be re­newed.

“We’re run­ning out of time,” said Mrs Raf­ferty. “He’s only got one page left in his pass­port be­cause ev­ery­where he goes he needs a visa.

“It means if I have to move away for work, I can’t take him with me.”

Hav­ing a Bri­tish pass­port would of­fer Al­fie more free­dom to travel with his par­ents and also grant him the safety net of cit­i­zen­ship in the coun­try.

All the tod­dler’s doc­u­men­ta­tion shows him as Bri­tish, so if he was to be de­ported from his Asian fam­ily home, he would be flown to the UK.

In a let­ter to the fam­ily, the Home Of­fice stated: “The coun­try in which your son’s ap­pli­ca­tion took place was not recog­nised by United King­dom law at the time of adop­tion.”

It stated that his case did not meet the re­quire­ment be­cause it was “not an adop­tion un­der the terms of the 1993 Hague Con­ven­tion on In­ter­coun­try Adop­tion”.

Mrs Raf­ferty ap­pealed this de­ci­sion five months ago but has still not heard back from im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials.

Andrew Bowie, Con­ser­va­tive MP for West Aberdeen­shire and Kin­car­dine, added: “The UK Visas and Im­mi­gra­tion depart­ment have been a com­plete dis­grace.

“A kid’s life has been stuck in limbo for too long and the fam­ily de­serve bet­ter.”

A Home Of­fice spokesman said: “The case is on­go­ing and so it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment.”

STATE­LESS: Al­fie Raf­ferty and his adop­tive mother Debbie Raf­ferty – who is an­gry and bit­ter at not be­ing able to get him a Bri­tish pass­port

Young Al­fie Raf­ferty

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