The President of the Family Division has rejected a plan for two children of Muslim parents to be adopted.
In the matter of B and G (children) concerned a man who was born in an unidentified African nation. The mother’s parents came from the same country, although she had been born and raised in a Scandinavian country. She and her family relocated to the UK in 2007.
The father was forced to flee his home in 1991 following the outbreak of war. Between then and his 2005 move to Britain, he and his family had lived in another African country.
The couple met in 2008 and married in an Islamic ceremony a year later although they have since separated.
The mother had suffered from schizoaffective disorder since she was a teenager. This is a mental illness which incorporates aspects of schizophrenia and mood disorders such as depression. Sir James described the mother as “very vulnerable to stress-induced psychotic episodes marked by erratic and aggressive behaviour”.
Due to the mother’s mental issues, the President ruled that she was “not at present able to look after” the children. However, the mother made a series of accusations against the father. Firstly, that she had been the victim of domestic violence and, secondly, that he had also been violent against the children.
Leeds City Council argued that, if the allegations of abuse against the father were proven, the children should be adopted. Sir James said he was satisfied that there may have been some physical violence by father, it had been “neither very frequent nor of the more serious variety”.
Turning to the allegations of violence against the children, Sir James said that the children may have “experienced instability and inconsistency of care” due to their mother’s illness. However, the evidence suggested it was likely that they “were exposed to mild chastisement – but nothing more serious”, he added.
Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the President ruled that the council’s plan for adoption “cannot be accepted” as it would be “a wholly disproportionate response to the comparatively little that has been found proved against either [parent]”.
He concluded that the father was “trustworthy and can be relied upon” to care for his children and that the mother’s contact with them “should initially be supervised”.
To read the full judgment, click here.
Photo of the Leeds City Council Building by Tom Mulrooney via Flickr