The Family Court may not apply to revoke an adoption order for his son, a court has ruled.
In Re I (A Child), the child in question, ‘I’, is now approaching his third birthday. The local authority, South Tyneside Council, issued a care application for I when he was just seven months old. He was taken into foster care at the same time, meaning that, at the time of the hearing, he had been in foster care for a period of 25 months.
The father was found to have behaved in a violent way towards both his wife and older children, findings which she initially denied before eventually admitting “very late in the process”. The family’s life was characterised by the courts as one characterised by “dishonesty, collusion, and deception”, as well as emotional abuse.
His Honour Judge Simon Wood explained:
“Ultimately, the court concluded that the father represented a significant and ongoing risk of physical and emotional harm exacerbated by his denial of wrongdoing.”
The subsequent care proceedings were delayed by a number of factors, including a request by the family that the local authority consider no less than 14 different members of their family as ‘kinship carers’ – relatives who look after children unable to stay with their parents.
The parents later separated and the mother filed for divorce, presenting this as a possible reason to have I returned to her care, or at least for him to live with a member of her extended family.
By August of 2014, the parents were continuing to resist attempts to have I adopted and objected in particular to a potential adoptive family made up of an Asian couple who had converted from Christianity to Islam. This matching had caused “particular upset”, the Judge explained.
Both I’s uncle on his mother’s side and his mother applied to revoke the adoption order for I, but both applications were dismissed.
In January, the father made a further attempt, applying for leave to apply to revoke the adoption order, under Section 24(2) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
The father said he had resumed his relationship with the mother and gained new insights into his behaviour after attending a “perpetrator’s programme”. This had, he said, helped him to accept that he had been guilty of verbal and domestic abuse and understand the consequences of such behaviour. He now had “a loving, trusting, and mutually satisfying relationship [with his wife] in which they share tasks together” he claimed, and he was a “completely changed man”. He could therefore offer his children a happy home life.
However, His Honour Judge Wood said the reported changes in the father’s lifestyle were too little too late. The delayed adoption process was already at an advanced stage and as a result
“…despite the benefits of remaining part of one’s birth family which is, of course, an entirely laudable goal, the delay for I could not be justified unless it looked as though there were really good welfare reasons for preventing [the plan to have I adopted] from being advanced.”
This, of course, “desperately sad”, said the Judge. He concluded:
“One cannot, and I do not, criticise parents for seeking to care for their own child, but…despite all that has been said, I simply cannot find that there is sufficient merit existing to re-open the question [of adoption].”
The judgement is here.
Photo by R. Halfpaap via Flickr