A mother of six has failed to overturn the adoption of her fifth child.
The 34 year-old experienced “a difficult childhood” as her parents were neglectful and abusive. Additionally, she was “sexually abused by a care worker whilst she was in a residential unit”. The first of her children was born when she was only 14 years old.
As she grew up, she began to exhibit “unpredictable and aggressive behaviour”. This led to a number of criminal convictions which included a charge for arson in 1997. She was released from prison after 18 months on licence. This meant she could re-join society under certain conditions, including good behaviour. If she did not meet these conditions, she would be sent back to prison. This happened more than once following her initial release and she spent roughly 11 years in custody altogether.
Every one of the mother’s children was taken into care. Her fifth child, a boy identified as ‘F’, was placed into foster care when he was only three days old. In March 2014, care and placement orders were made in relation to F, which gave the local authority permission to find a permanent adoptive home for him.
The mother sought permission to appeal the decision but was this refused because the judge ruled that she “had not shown a sufficient change in circumstances” to be successful if her application was allowed. He said that the child “cannot wait for the mother to demonstrate that she is in a position to care for him”.
Following this decision, she took her case to the Court of Appeal. Her solicitor argued that the judge was wrong to reach such a conclusion. She cited a “most encouraging” report from a doctor about the mother’s behaviour, which led to the return of her youngest child. The solicitor claimed there was an inherent contradiction in the same mother achieving different outcomes for two of her children in a short space of time.
However, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lady Justice King said that after hearing the evidence she agreed with the initial decision, calling it an “exemplary judgment”.
She ruled that “the judge did not fall into error either in his analysis of the law or in his evaluation of the welfare evidence prior to dismissing the mother’s application”. Lady Justice King added that while the mother “can only be admired for the progress that she has made”, she saw no prospect of success if the mother was allowed to challenge the adoption. By the time the case had reached the Court of Appeal, F was two years old and had “lived all his life with his present carer”. Therefore, the mother’s appeal was dismissed.
Re P (A Child) is available in full here.
Photo of the Royal Courts of Justice by Devan Bickley via Flickr