A wealthy tycoon has pledged to help a couple who were told by a council to ‘open their minds’ on gay adoption or never see their grandchildren again.
A top law firm has been hired in a bid to challenge the actions of Edinburgh City Council in the courts.
The council rejected the grandparents as adopters, in part because they were supposedly ‘too old’, and placed the children with two gay men.
They had spent two years trying to fight the Council’s decision themselves, but gave in reluctantly when money ran out.
The grandparents would still like to adopt the children, but at the very least want them to have a mother figure in their lives – particularly because one of the children is nervous around men.
On hearing of the backers’ offer, the grandmother said: “I can’t believe anyone would do that for us. We are so grateful.”
The couple’s four and five-year-old grandchildren were removed from their daughter’s care because of her heroin addiction. The children were looked after for a time by their grandparents.
But the grandparents were told they couldn’t adopt the children because of their ages – the grandmother is 46 and her husband is 59 – and because they suffer from diabetes and angina respectively.
Other heterosexual couples in the area were also rejected before social workers finally settled on a same-sex couple.
When the grandparents objected, protesting that the children should have both a mother and a father, they were told to drop their opposition or lose access to the children altogether.
The grandmother said: “If we had known how it would turn out, that social workers would choose a home without a mother for them and we’d have to like it or not see them again, we’d never have given up the fight.
“The thing is they were so happy here. They knew they were loved and they were safe.”
The grandfather said: “We never wanted to let [the children] go and, if we had known it would come to this, we would have fought it to our last breath.
“We can now see it was the wrong thing to do. We were bullied and manipulated.
“Now, because of the generosity of a stranger, we might have a chance to put things right – not only for our family but for others who are put in this position.”
Last week it was reported that a social worker had phoned the children’s mother to say that the furore surrounding the case meant the grandparents would not be recommended for twice-yearly visits once the children were adopted.
The Council is resisting separate calls for an inquiry. Councillor Marilyne MacLaren said: “These are difficult decisions but we are confident we made the right decision and have no reason to doubt the staff involved acted with anything other than professionalism and sensitivity.”
But a spokesman for the Catholic Church indicated that a legal challenge would go ahead: “As well as the moral issue there is also a legal question, which needs to be explored. Lawyers will be taking this forward with the family.
“Allowing two men to adopt children against the wishes of their grandparents who want to care for them is positively wicked. It is not surprising this case has caused outrage.”