Private matters

July 30, 2004

Jacob was just a year old when his Nigerian parents placed him with Janet, his white private foster carer. When he was five, his mother was killed in a road accident and his father returned to Nigeria.

When Jacob was seven, his father wanted him to return home to live with an aunt, but Janet wanted to keep him - the maintenance payments, which were by now sporadic, didn't matter to her. This was agreed, and until he was 11 Jacob kept in contact with his father and his aunts.

But when Jacob was invited to spend the summer holidays with his biological family, Janet told him that he wouldn't want to spend time with "those blacks". Jacob became horrified at the prospect; he "belonged in England", he said. The invitation was refused.

Today, Jacob is one of three black children at his secondary school. He is often in trouble with his teachers, and he is known to the police for shoplifting.

Since he turned down the invitation to go to Nigeria, he has had no contact with his father.

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