PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.
The welfare of children is always the principal concern of the court in care proceedings and the rights of their parents are of much lesser importance. In one case, a judge opened the way for adoption of a seriously ill baby boy after ruling that his mother’s love alone would not be enough to meet his needs.
The little boy was born 12 weeks prematurely and weighed only one kilogram. He needed a constant supply of oxygen owing to chronic lung problems and required monitoring day and night. His mother, aged in her 20s, was not allowed to take him home from hospital and he was placed in foster care against her wishes. She had a history of mental health problems and was deemed by the local council’s social workers to lack essential parenting skills.
The mother’s challenge to the council’s decision was rejected by the High Court, which ruled that placement in foster care was in the best interests of the child, despite the Court acknowledging that the mother’s love for the little boy was ‘very real’, and that she had engaged in contact sessions with him and her parents had offered to help her with his care.
In making care and adoption placement orders, the Court ruled that the boy’s health needs could not be met by his birth family within a reasonable timescale. Further delay in his adoption would harm his welfare in that it would compromise his ability to make permanent attachments to his new family.
Child care proceedings are always emotional and the issues raised can be complex. A satisfactory outcome usually depends on demonstrating that the proposals made are in the best interests of the child or children and expert legal representation is essential.