201708.07

Adoption Is a Last Resort but the Welfare of Children Is Paramount

Family judges are well aware that it is preferable for youngsters to be brought up by their natural families and that adoption is a last resort. However, as one case clearly showed, they will not shrink from taking that step if a child’s welfare demands it.

The case concerned a little boy, aged two and a half, whose mother suffered from a personality disorder and whose father’s habitual use of cannabis had interfered with his parenting skills. The boy was two months old when he was removed from his parents’ care by the local authority and placed with a foster couple. He had had no contact with his natural parents since he was 10 months old.

The foster couple applied to adopt him, but this was resisted by his parents. Although they were separated, both argued that he would be better off living with one or other of them. The mother was responding to treatment for her mental health difficulties; both had shown commitment to improving their lifestyles and the father had proved himself capable of caring for the boy’s younger brother.

In granting the adoption order sought, however, a judge noted that the boy had had no meaningful relationship with any member of his natural family for more than half his life. He had become deeply attached to the foster couple and separation from them would inevitably cause him grief and trauma. In the circumstances, a placement with one or other of his natural parents would be likely to fail.

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