THERE is a soft hum coming from downstairs and the sound of happy singing. My adult daughter is making herself a fruit smoothie. It’s a sound of ordinary domesticity. It hasn’t always been like this.

Most women get around 7-8 months notice that they are expecting to become mothers. I had 25 minutes. A phone call from Positive Action asking me to take in an unaccompanied minor who had arrived in the city, fallen through every safety net and who they didn’t want to put into a hostel. Obviously at the time I didn’t know that saying “yes, of course”, would mean I would become a mother. At the time it was just another destitute person from the volunteer programme we’d been part of for several years. But living with a child asylum seeker is not the same as hosting an adult. Within days we knew that our lives were not going to be the same again.

It’s a long story, and not one to tell here, but eight years on, fostering an unaccompanied minor has been the most enriching gift of our lives. She has taught us so very much about what we take for granted. She has opened new worlds of humour and happiness, of tragedy and day to day living which would never have come to us otherwise. Through her we have learned in intimate detail the callousness of the asylum decision-making systems in the UK. We know viscerally the damage done by detaining children. We have seen the demands of the law through her utterly bewildered eyes.

And we also know to value each tiny step we made towards enabling a young person who has lost her home – to remake a life. As I listen to her singing I feel again the joy of the day when she was recognised as a refugee; I feel all the pride of a parent in her daughter’s first job after graduation, her tales of office jokes, her personal best at the gym.

Through her we came, after several years of searching, to find some of her family, from whom she had been separated. They were living in a third country in sub-Saharan Africa in extremely fragile conditions. Since then we’ve lived with the news of disappearances to smugglers, with ransom demands and desperate phone calls, with decisions being made by people to get onto precarious boats, under voluminous skirts, into trucks, often at gun point. With drownings.

We know that some of the 3,000 children the UK Government voted not to take on Monday 25th April in a vote which history will judge for its shameful self interest, included — potentially — members of our own adopted family. I recall their laughing faces, I can hear their voices. We’ve tried to find ways to bring them to safety but the routes are closed — third country adoption, family reunion — none of it works for their situation.

As I listen to the sounds of my domestic daughter, I watch the Westminster debate. Stuart Macdonald MP, with whom I bore witness in Calais and met with unaccompanied minors in the camps, is speaking of his incredulity and fury; his astonishment that the Dubs Amendment could even be the subject of debate let alone defeat. He characterises the Bill as “a dark piece of legislation.” I know he sees the desperate eyes of the children in Calais, as I do, and as I see the eyes of those children who are intimately part of my life.

The children who could bring such joy, perspective and new compassion to our oh-so-hardened-hearts.

May God forgive those who voted against the amendment. Or hell mend them.

Alison Phipps is Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Glasgow University and co-convener of the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet)