A mother who had hoped to place her two youngest children with her partner’s parents has failed in her appeal against a ruling a ruling that they be placed for adoption instead.
At a court hearing in Chelmsford, the judge made care and placement orders for the woman’s youngest children. Placement orders are legal permission for children to be placed with prospective adoptive parents. The children, said the judge, had been subjected to significant emotional abuse and neglect, including:
“A long history of terrifying and serious domestic violence perpetrated on [the mother] by [the father] in front of the children, to the extent that the eight-year-old boy would refuse to go home because he was so scared.”
The parents had used illegal drugs and lived in “unhygienic home conditions”. The judgement also noted “the parents’ lack of understanding of the children’s wider practical and emotional care needs”.
The mother and father had previously accepted that they were unable to care for the two children, but at the hearing the mother applied to be given extra time to “repair her life”. This was rejected as the time required would not be in the children’s interests.
The mother’s oldest child had already been placed with her mother, under a ‘special guardianship’ order. She now hoped that the two youngest could be placed with their father’s parents. The local authority, meanwhile, insisted that the children be placed for adoption.
The judge acknowledged that the two youngsters had a strong bond with their father’s parents, but claimed the latter did not fully understand the nature of the abuse that had taken place or the problems that would surround the mother and father wanting contact with their children in the future. The grandparent s “had a lack of insight into the difficulties that there would be with contact and a lack of insight into the abuse and neglectful care in the parents’ home given the regularity of their contact over time.”
The judge added:
“The paternal grandparents have a conflict of loyalty with the father of the children and a tendency to minimise issues in relation to him.”
They were also vulnerable to their son “who does not respect the ordinary civil law conventions”.
The mother appealed the ruling in favour of adoption, on a number of grounds, including a claim that the judge had not properly analysed her ruling according to the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
At the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Ryder concluded that the original judge had correctly considered the legal requirements for care and the children’s welfare in relationship to the 2002 act. If adopted, they would grow up not knowing their mother older brother and other members of their family, but they would also benefit from having a permanent family. They had already grown attached to their new carers.
The older brother had expressed a clear desire to see his younger siblings and the original judge recommended that his be seriously considered in the future.