A local authority should have taken two children into care sooner, a Family Court judge has ruled.
Sitting at the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester, Judge Newton said that Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council’s delay had been “profoundly damaging to the children”, aged two and four.
Throughout the children’s lives, the mother had experienced domestic abuse, and struggled with drugs and alcohol. As a result, the mother frequently found herself in legal trouble. She associated with “a schedule one offender” – someone who had previously been convicted for a crime against a child – and on one occasion she assaulted a police officer.
The mother also suffered from poor mental health, which led to several hospital admissions and two suicide attempts. In September 2014, the mother agreed that her children should be taken in by the local council. Initially, she wanted to work to have them returned to her, but she was unable to commit herself to the assessments and the contact arrangements which were offered.
The council then applied for care and placement orders which would allow them to find a permanent adoptive home for the children.
Judge Newton said it was clear that the mother suffered from “an emotionally unstable personality disorder” and that the two children were in urgent need of “a safe, secure, stable and permanent placement”.
However, the judge said that “adoption is no panacea” and adoptive parents face all the same problems as other parents do “with the added complication that the children they are bringing up are not their birth children”. Allowing the children to be adopted would also officially end their relationship with the mother “who loves them very much”.
Judge Newton said it was unfortunate that the mother’s “appalling upbringing and consequent psychological problems have left her ill-equipped to cope with the challenges of parenting”. Nevertheless, she ruled that, on balance, adoption would be in the children’s best interests and made the care and placement orders.
While sympathy for the mother was completely understandable to “everyone with an ounce of humanity”, the judge concluded, too much focus had been placed on her during these proceedings and “insufficient attention” had been paid to the needs of the children.
To read Re (Care and Placement Orders) H (Children), click here.
Photo of Manchester Civil Justice Centre by Duncan Hull via Flickr