A family law judge has ordered that an eight month old child be put up for adoption despite the objection of his parents.
In A (A Child), the boy was taken into care by the local authority after he was found to have bruises “for which there was not considered to be any adequate explanation” and a fracture to his ankle.
After a medical examination, it was determined that the child’s injuries were “likely to have been caused non-accidentally”. Both parents denied responsibility for the injuries.
Sitting at the Family Court in Newcastle, Her Honour Judge Hudson stated that there was “no obligation to identify the perpetrator” and that the court should not “strain to do so”.
She added that, in cases where a perpetrator could not be readily identified, a “pool of perpetrators” should be established. Based on the standard set in North Yorkshire County Council v SA & Ors , a person is within the pool “if there is a real possibility that he or she was responsible”.
The local authority sought a placement order which would allow them to put the boy up for adoption “having ruled out all options for his placement within his birth family”.
The mother sought a second chance to care for her son despite admitting she had previously made mistakes which led the child to come to harm.
The father had been diagnosed with an attachment disorder as a result of “a very difficult childhood” and was also being assessed for his ability to live independently. Despite their relationship ending, he supported the mother’s wish to have the boy placed in her care.
Judge Hudson said that, despite the parents’ wishes, she concluded that it was “a necessary and proportionate step” to put the child up for adoption. She added that the parents’ consent must be “dispensed with” as adoption was in the boy’s best interests.
To read the full judgment, click here.
Determining a perpetrator of injuries to a child is notoriously difficult in a family law setting. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled on a care case after the initial judge changed her decision. In that case, the judge originally ruled that the father was responsible for the injuries suffered. Two months later, after careful consideration, she said that the mother could not be ruled out as the perpetrator.
Photo of Newcastle by Neil Thompson via Flickr