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Court rejects appeal against adoption

The Court of Appeal has dismissed a couple’s bid to prevent the adoption of two of their sons.

In A (Children), the siblings in question were 15 and 8. Their older brother, now 18, supported the parents’ opposition to the planned adoption.

The couple had previously opposed plans to place the younger boy, ‘L’, for adoption but their application had been dismissed.

The two older children, meanwhile, had originally been taken into care because social workers believed they were being neglected by their parents and at risk of emotional and physical harm.

In the Court of Appeal Lady Justice Black noted that:

“The parents did not take up the opportunity to work with the local authority towards the return of the children to their care. They also declined to participate in an assessment in connection with L, prior to his birth in March 2007, and care proceedings were commenced in relation to him as well.”

The older child spent time with a half-sister but that placement didn’t last and he has spent much of the subsequent time in residential care homes. His younger brothers have remained in foster care.

L and the middle child, ‘D’, have not seen their parents since April 2010 due to legal orders preventing contact, but they do enjoy regular visits with older brother R. The latter does visit his parents however. D has Down’s Syndrome and learning difficulties.

Despite reportedly supporting the parents’ attempts to regain care of the middle children, R successfully opposed the removal of his own care order. Lady Justice Black said his “wishes and feelings” had carried “very significant weight” with the Judge.

The same judge refused the parents’ application to cancel the adoption of the middle and youngest child, saying that the problems highlighted when they were originally been taken into care had not been addressed or acknowledged by the parents. Instead they continued to blame the authorities for their problems. The parents’ sense of grievance was their primary motivation, the Judge believed, and not the welfare of their children.

The unhappy parents appealed a number of issues. They complained that the Judge had refused to withdraw from the case, order the removal of the local authority’s counsel or adjourn the proceedings. These applications were all dismissed by the Court of Appeal. They were given permission to appeal on the placement orders themselves, but the parents repeatedly requested adjournments at subsequent hearings. Lady Justice Black responded to the latest with a judgement ‘on paper’ – ie on the basis of material already submitted – to avoid any further delay in resolving the future of the two brothers.

The Court of Appeal concluded that the earlier Judge’s ruling had been fully justified. He had given due consideration to the two boys’ needs, said Her Ladyship.

“The judge correctly examined each of [those needs] and evaluated the whole picture, ultimately concluding, as he was entitled to do on the evidence that was before him, that two elements of the situation were of particular importance, namely L’s need truly to belong to the foster carers in a committed way and to live life free of local authority oversight, and D’s need for stability and security into adulthood and for his carers to have the standing to secure for him the services he will continue to require as an adult.”

The Court of Appeal ruling can be read here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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