A Cambridgeshire couple have lost a legal bid to prevent their infant daughter’s adoption.
While they began proceedings with “very competent and specialist solicitors”, the parents “chose to dispense with their services” and represent themselves.
Cambridgeshire County Council had applied for care and placement orders which would allow them to find an adoptive family for the girl, ‘Z’. This was prompted by concern for Z’s welfare and the belief that she would be neglected if she was left in the care of her parents.
These concerns were explained in a report compiled by a psychologist, a social worker and a guardian appointed by the court to advocate for Z’s best interests. They noted that the mother had learning difficulties and suffered from epilepsy. She would often need to be reminded to take her medication, they claimed. She also found it difficult to understand Z’s needs.
Meanwhile, the report alleged that the father used cannabis “on a regular basis” which would eventually lead to Z being neglected because he “would not always be focused on [her] and responsive to her needs”. The contributors to the report claimed that both parents did not take care of themselves and had “poor personal hygiene”. Social workers therefore worried that they would not keep Z clean or in clean clothes.
At the Family Court in Peterborough, His Honour Judge Greene said that the couple had denied almost everything in the report. This included the claim that they would need round-the-clock help if they were allowed to care for their daughter. They did not believe this would be necessary and said they would refuse such help.
Despite the couple’s protests, the judge believed that the evidence in the report had been “very clear, balanced and compelling”. It was “recognised by all parties that [the parents] love Z” and the social worker had expressed sympathy for their situation.
Judge Greene declared that the parents were “incapable of recognising [their] deficiencies” and that the evidence in favour of Z’s adoption was “overwhelming”. Therefore he made the care and placement orders the local authority had requested.
Cambridgeshire County Council v X and Y is available in full online. Read it here.
Photo of Peterborough by Martin Pettitt via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.