Judge approves adoption for child of schizophrenic mother

Children|June 24th 2014

A judge has approved an adoption of a child whose mother has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

In Baby C (care and placement orders), the child was taken straight from the hospital into foster care following his birth.

The mother’s schizophrenia is said to be untreatable. She suffers from chronic delusions, including the belief that she was “God’s messenger” and “a man from Egyptian times”. The view of medical professionals was that she would never be able to live independently.

The mother had initially been “ambivalent at best” in her attitude towards the pregnancy and the baby, called ‘C’ in the judgment, and had expressed little desire to see him.

When she did request contact, it did not last beyond the first few weeks of C’s life as the mother was convinced her baby had been “swapped” for another child.

The father was described as a “vulnerable adult” who was dependent on his mother. He was also diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The local authority assessed the father and the paternal grandmother to see if they could be carers for C but concluded they could not.

Attempts were also made to contact members of the mother’s extended family, but they were unable to offer themselves as carers.

Having considered all possible options for the child to remain with the biological family, the local authority sought to have C adopted.

Although he was not present nor represented, the case was heard under the assumption that the father opposed the local authority’s application.

Sitting in the Barnet County Court, Her Honour Judge Venables noted that taking a child away from their biological parents completely “is only justified by the overriding necessity of the interests of the child”.

She went on to cite Re B: Child care proceedings in which the Supreme Court emphasised that “non-consensual” adoptions were “a last resort”, only to be used in exceptional circumstances.

Judge Venables weighed up the benefits of adoption against the possibility of putting C into foster care:

“Fostering is a less interventionist option and falls short of severing the legal ties with the birth family.  It is more likely to provide a vehicle for maintaining contact with the natural family.  A placement order, however, would ultimately make C a permanent part of the adoptive family, to which he would then belong throughout his life.”

The judge was satisfied, on balance, that adoption was the best option for C’s welfare, so she made the required care and placement orders.

Photo of Barnet by oatsy40 via Flickr

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