Two children set to be adopted should be given completely new identities to protect them from their abusive parents, social workers in Haringey have proposed.
The two children, aged two and three years of age, should also be cut off from their five older siblings, who have all already been taken into care, to make their any attempts by the parents even more difficult, the social workers argued.
But at the High Court, Mr Justice Holman said said they should “pause for thought”. The plan was likely to profoundly impact the children, especially the older one, and the plan could also cause “grief, pain and loss” to their brothers and sisters in foster care.
It was unusual, said the judge, to propose changing adopted children’s first names, although new surnames were routine.
The judge said:
“I understand that the essential reasoning and justification that lies behind that is that the parents of the children promoted a considerable campaign on the internet and in other places with regard to this case so that the names of their children have apparently gained some notoriety.
The local authority – and maybe also the prospective adopters – are fearful that unless the two youngest children are given completely new identities with completely new names, they will be tracked down and the placement potentially destabilised.”
But, he added:
“To change now the forenames by which a child, now almost four, has been known and has known herself throughout her whole life obviously raises considerable issues with regard to her sense of identity and self-esteem.
She is old enough to appreciate that some rather radical change is being made in relation to her identity, but nowhere near old enough to understand the reasons why that is proposed.
It seems to me, therefore, that in relation both these children (and especially the older of the two) the application to change their names, and particularly their forenames, is one of considerable delicacy and difficulty which will require very careful consideration by the court.”
Mr Justice Holman criticised expectations that he reach a decision on the plan in a single day, and adjourned the case for further input.