A Family Court judge has made a London couple the special guardians of a 14 month-old girl who was abandoned by her mother.
In Re R BL (Supervision Order), the girl’s parents first met in an English nightclub in late 2012. The father was a Muslim from Pakistan and the mother was a Hindu from India. They married in a Muslim ceremony in early 2013 and the mother fell pregnant shortly afterwards.
Due to the couple’s religious and national backgrounds, “their respective parents thoroughly disapproved of their relationship and of [the child]’s birth”. The father’s parents “disowned” him and the mother’s parents demanded that the child, identified only as ‘R’ in the judgment, be taken into foster care.
Not long after R’s birth, the mother returned to India to “complete a modelling portfolio”, which left the girl in her father’s care. The judge said she had “effectively abandoned” R and the father in England.
Shortly thereafter, R was taken to hospital after she had suffered head injuries. The father claimed these injuries occurred when he blacked out while holding R and landed on top of her. While medical experts agreed that some of R’s injuries were consistent with this explanation, others were not.
The local authority then took R into care and placed her in the care of an older couple who were good friends with the father.
Sitting at the Family Court in East London, Ms Recorder Lazarus said that although “R was harmed at the hands of her father, the risk of future harm is probably low”. Despite that assessment, she said that there were “significant concerns about his insight and his empathy and his understanding of a very young child’s dependent needs”. Specifically, she noted that the father had expressed regret that he had taken R to the hospital at all and had previously asked “to film [R] sucking a lemon … and post it on You Tube for his and other’s amusement”.
As a result of those concerns, the judge approved the local authority’s plan to issue a special guardianship order in favour of the foster couple. Such orders are made so that children who cannot live with their parents can have a legally secure home. She said that this plan would give R a safe placement without severing her relationship with her father.
The foster carers were ideal for this task because they were “proved parents who have three grown and well educated and emotionally stable children”, the judge added. Not only that, they were “very committed to R and [her] ongoing relationship with her father”.
To read the full judgment, click here.