I’ve just finished reading this blog post by Lemn Sissay Disappearing Files Abuse.
Great blog, but deeply disturbing. Lemn raises issues that desperately need to be discussed in the open and not behind the doors of even a public enquiry or investigation. Too much has gone undisclosed and discussed in “private”. It is time to open the windows and drawback the curtains.
I think I have an understanding of where Lemn is coming from. I too am a foundling. Only difference, I was a foundling in Hong Kong. Four years ago I was lucky and successful in getting hold of my own records. All through my childhood and early teenage years my adoptive parents told me there were no records.
There was nothing I needed to know about myself, as a baby in Hong Kong, because there was nothing to know. That was a lie. There is a no polite way of penning that fact. In a pretty drab office, where I felt swamped by the huge board room table and mismatched office chairs, I was presented with my International Social Services file.
There on the table in front of me was my life, my past, where I had come from and how I had ended up in the UK. Everything, all that I was allowed to be, before I was flown to the UK and was “re-invented” all bound up in a nondescript manilla file.
It may sound trivial to many of you who are reading this, because the majority of readers will know where they came from. Readers will know and by doing so, perhaps take for granted, their ancestry. They will be able to trace their lineage and join the familial dots together. Take it from me, as one who has no history before I was found and taken to the orphanage in Hong Kong, finding even a small scrap of anything is a really big deal.
What shocks and stuns me is the fact the social services cannot locate Lemn’s records inside the iron mountain, the name of the outsourced company that is charged with keeping and securely storing all such sensitive records. The radio documentary that Lemn made was in 2010 and at the end of the piece he says five months on he still has yet to hear back from social services, it is now 2014.
If any other organisation or business operated in that manner
a) they’d probably go out of business
b) they’d probably be inundated with law suites.
This is an abuse, this is negligence, this is a dereliction of the State’s duty of care. How can records go missing? If these records are not missing then who has them and why? And does anyone else see the irony of files being “lost” from within the iron mountain?