A mother whose three children have been taken into care has failed in her legal bid to win them back. A family court judge said she had not sufficiently improved her parenting skills.
In Re H (Minors), the woman’s three children, aged 8, 4 and 2, were taken into foster care after the middle child, called ‘F’ in the judgement, suffered “non-accidental bruising” at the hands of the father of the youngest child. He was subsequently jailed, while the mother was found to have failed to properly protect her children.
Sitting at the Family Court in Bournemouth, Judge Bond noted that:
“The children remain together in a foster placement and, although they have not been “placed for adoption,” the foster parents have been approved as adopters for the children.”
The mother applied for permission to apply to revoke the ‘placement orders’ which had seen the children placed with their foster carers. She did so under Section 24 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. This states that:
“(1)The court may revoke a placement order on the application of any person.
(2)But an application may not be made by a person other than the child or the local authority authorised by the order to place the child for adoption unless—
(a)the court has given leave to apply, and
(b)the child is not placed for adoption by the authority.”
In her arguments, the mother said he had undertaken voluntary work with a domestic violence charity and had also undergone a course of cognitive behavioural therapy. She had, she said, gained new insights into her relationship with the father of her youngest child.
Judge Bond explained:
“In her statement…the mother now accepted that at the time of the previous proceedings she did not consider that the father had caused F’s injuries. She did not know about the father’s past. She said that if she does have a new partner in the future she would keep him away from the children and would make enquiries with regard to his past if the relationship was to be a long-term one.”
Her legal team claimed that, while she continues to suffer from anxiety and depression, she would be able to control this with help from her father and support network.
In addition, although she had recently struck up a friendship with a man “unable to see his children”, her counsel had told that the court that:
“…it is no more than a friendship and is unlikely to develop further. In any event she would seek disclosure of his history should the relationship develop. As to the father it is accepted that she has received death threats from him via Face book. She contacted the police who said that they were unable to take any action.”
The judge noted that:
“I was told that on the day following this hearing the mother intends to make a Without Notice Application for a non-molestation order injunction.”
As the name suggests, ‘without notice’ applications do not require the other party to be notified.
However, the woman’s social worker cast doubt on her real progress. The judge declared that they had:
“…formed the opinion that the mother still did not appear to acknowledge or show any real insight into the impact of the injuries upon F. The social worker was further concerned at the mother’s statement to the effect that if she had not taken F to the doctor the children would not have been taken away.”
During a conversation with a Dr Wass, the woman had failed to show much concern when the father of the youngest child referred to the possibility of putting the oldest child in the attic “as punishment”.
In addition, the father had reportedly made a number of attempts to contact her since his release from prison, and the mother had only recently begun to consider taking out the non-molestation order.
“Once again,” said the judge, “the social worker was left with the feeling that the mother’s approach was somewhat superficial in respect of the possible risk to her children.”
Such reports, said the judge, raised “significant and enduring concerns about the mother’s parenting capacity and understanding of risk. In my judgment she remains vulnerable to involvement in a risky relationship with a dangerous partner.”
“I do not think that, even now, she accepts the court’s earlier Findings about the father’s behaviour and her own collusion with him.”
The judge repeated his earlier declaration that “the mother remains an enigma in that she has shown some good parenting and has regularly attended contact but has also displayed a glaring inability to do what is required of her to allow for the safe return of her children.”
He therefore dismissed her application.
Read the full judgement here.