A RECOVERING drug addict who says her two children are to be adopted by a gay couple told last night how she had wanted them to have a "mum and dad".
The woman was unable to look after her five-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister.
The children, from Edinburgh, had been cared for by their grandparents, who say they have now been placed in foster care and are to be adopted by a gay couple.
The mother, who cannot be named, said:
"I did not under any circumstances want my children to be placed with gay men. I wanted them to have a mum and a dad."
The grandparents, a farm worker aged 59 and his wife, 46, had looked after the youngsters almost from birth.
They claimed yesterday that Edinburgh city council told them they would never be able to see the five-year-old boy and his sister, aged four, unless they agreed to the same-sex adoption.
The controversy surfaced after the grandparents dropped a two-year court battle with the authority because of rising costs. They claim the council systematically dismantled their status as carers by putting the children in foster care for the duration of the legal proceedings.
The grandparents claim the visits they were allowed became less frequent, and that they have now been unable to see the children for four months.
They say they do not know where the children are, and fear the youngsters will be unhappy in their new home – especially the girl.
The couple said concerns about their age and health had led social workers to consider them unsuitable to look after the children.
The grandfather suffers from angina, while the grandmother has diabetes and high blood pressure.
Social workers dealing with the case have admitted that heterosexual couples who were approved as adoptive parents had also been keen to take on the children.
The grandfather said yesterday: "It breaks my heart to think that our grandchildren are being forced to grow up in an environment without a mother figure.
"We are not prejudiced, but I defy anyone to explain to us how this can be in their best interests. The ideal for any child is to have a loving father and loving mother."
His wife added: "It's so important for children to fit in, and I feel our grandchildren will be marked out from the start when they draw pictures of their two dads."
The couple also claimed that when they protested, they were told: "You can either accept it, and there's a chance you'll see the children twice a year, or you can take that stance and never see them again."
When they made their opposition clear, however, the couple were told that social workers would "certainly" look at allowing them access to the children "when you are able to come back with an open mind".
Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: "This is a devastating decision which will have a serious impact on the welfare of the children involved.
"There is an overwhelming body of evidence showing that same-sex relationships are inherently unstable.
"With this in mind, the social work department has deliberately ignored evidence which undermines their decision and opted for politically correct posturing rather than providing stability and protection."
Marilyne MacLaren, the council's convener for education, children and families, insisted the two gay men would be excellent parents.
She said: "I have been assured the professional view is that the adoptive couple will provide a safe, secure and loving environment for these children.
"These are always very complex cases, but I think it is important to say the grandparents have been fully involved in discussions about this case over a period of time."
She said that approving people to adopt and matching them with children was a very rigorous process. At both stages, a panel of experts was involved and typically included social workers, healthcare professionals, a childcare solicitor and representatives of children's charities.
A thorough assessment and extensive checks were also carried out on all prospective adoptive parents.
"Our priority is finding the best possible supportive home and family for the children," Ms MacLaren said.