A child whose parents had a violent relationship has been put up for adoption by the Family Court.
In 2013, the police raised concerns with the local children’s services prior to the boy’s birth. This was due to an incident of domestic violence between the parents while the mother was nine months pregnant.
When the child was only one month old he was made the subject of a child protection order. Section 44 of the Children Act 1989 gives the court the authority to make such orders when they believe a child is in immediate danger.
The following year, the mother and child were placed in a foster care facility by the local authority. However, they believed that the child, identified as ‘J’ in the judgment, would be better off with a permanent adoptive home, so they applied for care and placement orders.
Their argument was that J was at “risk of physical harm and emotional harm” if he were to remain in his parents’ care, due to the abusive nature of their relationship.
While the father accepted that he was not fit to be J’s carer, the mother objected to the adoption. She wanted her son returned to her care, as she claimed that she had separated from the father and had been caring for J “to a good enough standard whilst in the foster care placement”. She added that, given a little more time, she would be able to care for him herself.
The Children’s Guardian in the case disagreed, and argued that it would take too long for the mother to reach a level where she could parent J herself, and that such a delay could be harmful to the child.
Sitting at the Family Court in Reading, Her Honour Judge Owens ruled that adoption would be in J’s best interests. She also noted that, although the father had initially supported the mother’s desire to take care of J, he had said he would consent to care and placement orders if the court believed it was the best course of action.
To read SBC v S & S-A in full, click here.