Despite losing previous children to the care system, a Welsh mother should be given a chance to parent her new baby, a family court judge has ruled.
In A (A Child) social workers had sought for a final care order for the six-month old baby girl.
The mother, now 39, had lost no less than seven previous children to the care system, in three separate sets of family proceedings. The children, some now adults, range in age from three to 21. Her three oldest children were placed with their fathers and the remaining four were adopted.
After the third set of proceedings, the mother separated from her partner and moved to a different part of Wales. A new relationship came to a swift end when the man in question threatened to hit her. Later she met the father of A, who is from Pakistan. They began a relationship and eventually married in April 2014.
Unfortunately, the following year the father was refused permission to remain in the UK and forced to return to Pakistan. The mother followed him there, but returned to the UK just months later, and gave birth to their daughter here in February last year, with the father stuck back in Asia.
As a result of the birth and the father’s subsequent “subsisting family life in the United Kingdom”, he was granted leave to return, but a the time of the care proceedings for A, had yet to take advantage of this and given no indication of when he might do so. His absence meant he could not considered as a parental figure for A.
Given her unimpressive record as a mother, social workers quickly launched care proceedings. An interim order was made, and A was duly placed with foster carers. Both parents participated in the court proceedings – the father in a limited way via Skype and telephone.
The mother was keen to take on A’s care. Sitting in the Family Court at Wrexham, Judge Gareth Jones ruled that her application should be fully considered.
In previous proceedings, Judges had ruled that the mother’s own difficult childhood meant her children would be a risk of neglect if they remained with her. Social workers had highlighted her track record of “ unsuitable relationships with violent aggressive or controlling husbands or partners”.
But sitting in the family court at Wrexham, Judge Jones came to the conclusion that she deserved another chance, saying:
“The Local Authority (for perfectly understandable reasons) has concentrated upon the mother’s poor parenting history. That is inevitable in a case such as this. … However, it would not be fair to “write off” the mother simply on the basis of her historic track record. Why assess her at all if upon the birth of each successive child, that child is removed from her care because the previous child or children had also been removed from her care?”
Her personal circumstances and psychological health had both improved since the earlier family proceedings, although she remained vulnerable to depression. As a result, the evidence presented by the local authority did not justify “separation of the mother and the child”.
Nevertheless, the mother should be supervised by social workers for a period of 12 months, he ruled, adding:
“I accept the mother’s vulnerability is a continuing feature of her underlying personality. She lacks confidence and her intellectual limitations have been documented. She is apparently prone (it would seem) to reactive depression and I accept that she may in the future be overcome by the vicissitudes of life. That is a risk, it is a possibility.”
Read the ruling here.
Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr