201612.02

Family Judge Prioritises Welfare of Mentally Ill Mother’s Baby Boy

Some people are, through no fault of their own, incapable of good parenting – but the law is clear that top priority must be given to the welfare of their children. In one case, a family judge expressed sympathy for a mentally ill mother but directed her baby boy’s placement for adoption.

The mother suffered from an unstable personality disorder and was prone to outbursts of extreme volatility and aggression. During one distressing incident, she had threatened to kill a social worker and to throw herself from a third-floor balcony. Her child was very young when placed in foster care.

In resisting a local authority’s application for a placement order, the mother argued that she should be given time to have therapy and to prove herself as a parent. There had been some improvement in her mental health and it was submitted that long-term fostering was a viable option.

The judge acknowledged that the mother clearly loved her child; that adoption was a last resort and that there would be emotional consequences for the boy in cutting his connection to his natural family. However, in making the order sought, he found that the mother could not safely care for her child. Adoption was necessary, proportionate and in the boy’s paramount interests throughout his life.

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