RSS Feed

The last resort – without Jonathan Ross

Re LRP (Care Proceedings : Placement Order) 2013 and some labour saving remarks from the High Court

You may recall the seismic shift in the jurisprudence about adoption law that happened in autumn of this year, following Baroness Hale’s judgment in Re B and the subsequent adoption of many of her thoughts by the Court of Appeal in Re B-S and many others.

One of the things that was in my list of unanswered questions was the extent to which the Court, in deciding that “nothing else than adoption will do” has to explore or exclude long-term fostering as an option.  Is it mandatory to give reasons for ruling it out, or can the Court – having established that nothing else than permanent care by the State will do, simply determine that adoption has advantages that make it the more desirable option?

Well, although this is a High Court authority rather than a Court of Appeal one, it is fair to say that the High Court judge gave the “long-term fostering” argument pretty short shrift  – the case involved a young child, indeed a baby.

In fact, it only arose as an issue at all because the social worker was obliged as a result of Re B-S to put it in as a possible placement option and outline the advantages and disadvantages

The only other possibility mentioned within Ms Gorbutt’s report, is that LRP might be placed in long term foster care. It emerged during the course of the evidence that the primary reason for raising long term foster care, which Ms Gorbutt does not support, was so as to attempt to satisfy the requirements of Re B-S (supra) and other recent Court of Appeal guidance.



The analysis, whilst making it plain that adoption was the preferred option of the LA, said this

Ms Gorbutt’s report suggests that long term foster care would be a “means by which permanency can be achieved”; and that “a long term foster home can offer … commitment, security and stability within a new family…”



And Pauffley J’s take on this was  (get your copy and paste button ready, it’s CTRL C then CTRL V)

  1. I profoundly disagree with those contentions. Long term foster care is an extraordinarily precarious legal framework for any child, particularly one a young as LRP. Foster placements, long or short term, do not provide legal security. They can and often do come to an end. Children in long term care may find themselves moved from one home to another sometimes for seemingly inexplicable reasons. Long term foster parents are not expected to be fully committed to a child in the same way as adoptive parents. Most importantly of all in the current context, a long term foster child does not have the same and enduring sense of belonging within a family as does a child who has been adopted. There is no way in which a long term foster child can count on the permanency, predictability and enduring quality of his placement as can a child who has been adopted.
  1. The realistic, as opposed to the fanciful, options are (i) a return to her parents or (ii) a placement for adoption. So whilst I am sympathetic to Ms Gorbutt, as I would be to any practitioner who is endeavouring to fulfil the requirements of the law in the way assessments are conducted and reports written, it is worth reiterating that the focus should be upon the sensible and practical possibilities rather than every potential outcome, however far-fetched

Well, I completely agree with Pauffley J, in relation to a newborn baby (these proceedings were actually concluded within 10 weeks), long-term fostering is not a proper care plan at all.

The final sentence is interesting – of course, as a High Court judge, Pauffley J doesn’t have the power to overturn Re B-S (court of appeal authority), but it is a clear marker that so far as the lower courts are concerned, a laborious exercise of setting out why adoption is better than long-term fostering is just a waste of everyone’s time and they don’t want to see it.

(I told you that you would want the cut and paste handy)

That also seems to me to mean, that until the Court of Appeal tell us otherwise, once the Court reaches the point of “nothing else but permanent placement outside the family will do”  there is not a need to RULE OUT long-term fostering.

A welcome authority – let’s save the arguments on long-term fostering versus adoption for those cases where there is a genuine issue as to what the better option for the child might be.

It is also interesting that although the Court of Appeal authority required the LA to spell out the disadvantages to the child of making a placement order, Pauffley J goes through those disadvantages like a drug-fuelled chef julienning some particularly tender vegetables. Perhaps the vegetables had been pre-tenderised by some forceful handling?

  1. Placement order – the disadvantages
  1. The disadvantage of making a placement order is that LRP will be deprived of an upbringing within her natural family. She will not be brought up by a mother who is obviously able to demonstrate pleasing emotional warmth and affection for her child or by a father who, similarly, can be appropriately tender when minded to show that side of himself. It may be, as Ms Gorbutt suggests, that in future LRP will need some professional assistance so as to deal with issues of loss and identity if she is not to be brought up within her natural family. But experience suggests that so long as the adoptive family deals openly and sensitively with those matters – and age appropriately as the child grows – the potential for problems is markedly reduced, even eliminated.
  1. Ms Gorbutt comments that “in the event a culturally matched placement is not found, LRP’s diversity needs will not be met.” She continues, “There is a risk of placement breakdown.” Those fears, it seems to me, are misplaced. They fail to recognise the realities, well known to all professionals who practice in the field. I mention the most obvious. First that the younger a child is placed within his / her permanent alternative family, the better the chance of a very successful outcome. Second that LRP is an infant child born to “White British” parents of average to good intelligence so that ‘family finding’ for her should be entirely straightforward. Third, that there should be no difficulty at all in identifying a culturally appropriate placement. Fourth, that I may safely ignore the absurd suggestion that LRP’s “diversity needs will not be met.”

Do we get the feeling that other than in the rareified air of the Court of Appeal, judges on the ground are somewhat patronised by being told how to do their job and at having to laboriously read arguments about the blindingly obvious?

About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

40 responses

  1. It’s interesting that no-one identified what the “diversity needs” were. Which, I suggest, is what the court in Re B-S was getting at, because if a proper analysis is to be undertaken, the terms have to be set out and worked through.

  2. “Do we get the feeling that other than in the rareified air of the Court of Appeal, judges on the ground are somewhat patronised by being told how to do their job and at having to laboriously read arguments about the blindingly obvious?”

    Not if you’re interested in doing your job properly.
    As ever, try walking a mile in the shoes of those subject to your decision-making, those who have to live with the consequences. The child’s welfare demands nothing less than thorough scrutiny, balancing and evaluation of ALL options however pedantic or irksome otherwise you risk putting the cart before the horse.

    When the ‘seismic’ change now leans towards downsizing disproportionality WHY dumb down written reasons for “nothing else than adoption will do” into a casual checklist like choosing between vanilla or choc-flavour?


    The whole point of Re B-S is to be thorough and not to abbreviate valid options to nothing much less to circumvent them.

    • Agree with you in the main. The issue for this case is where the analysis has to be ALL of the options (Re B-S) or ALL OF THE VALID options.

      Your last sentence is pretty much what Pauffley J says in this case. The key word there is “valid” – what the Judge says in this case is that the analyis can be confined to considerations of realistic options not to cover each possible option. (I think as regards the need for rigorous analysis, B-S was exactly on the money and long overdue)

      I will be interested to see whether the Court of Appeal clarify that what was meant in Re B-S was ALL the options, not all the valid ones. (The risk of Pauffley J’s approach is, of course, that one person’s view of valid option isn’t the same as someone else’s view of a valid option, and ALL is safer. As Forced Adoption points out, for very many parents, anything is better than adoption, and Re B-S suggests that they are entitled to have the pros and cons of long term fostering properly laid out)

      • Pauffley J seems to misunderstand exactly what long-term fostering means and would do well to remind herself that crucially, as a LESS-INTERVENTIONIST measure than adoption, which severs all birth ties ONLY for good and proper reason, it is intrinsically valid and must not be disparaged or devalued but scrutinised properly in every case before being ruled out.

        She conveniently omits to mention the two instead of one-way direction of travel for the child and potential for family rehabilitation on the basis of proven change of circumstances from when the threshold and care order was made out.

        39. I profoundly disagree with those contentions. Long term foster care is an extraordinarily precarious legal framework for any child, particularly one a young as LRP. Foster placements, long or short term, do not provide legal security. They can and often do come to an end. Children in long term care may find themselves moved from one home to another sometimes for seemingly inexplicable reasons. Long term foster parents are not expected to be fully committed to a child in the same way as adoptive parents. Most importantly of all in the current context, a long term foster child does not have the same and enduring sense of belonging within a family as does a child who has been adopted. There is no way in which a long term foster child can count on the permanency, predictability and enduring quality of his placement as can a child who has been adopted.

        What better than advocating genuine empathy by tackling disproportionality towards solving the very real abuses caused by the limits of law, and often arbitrary prerogatives of power?

        Barnado’s says:

        “In recent years, there has been recognition of the importance of maintaining children’s ‘links’ with their birth family, and this may involve an exchange of letters and photographers, or some limited face-to-face contact with the child’s birth family members.

        Fostering does not provide the same legal security for either the foster carers or the child, and would usually only continue until the children and young people are 18.

        However it means the child can keep their ties with their birth family, who may remain involved in any important decisions being made about their child, and would usually be encouraged to have regular contact with their child. When a child is fostered, foster carers will be asked to work in partnership with social workers as well as the child’s birth family.”

      • Although overall I am not keen on foster care due to all the reasons given, plus children can be at more serious risk in a foster carers than with their natural parents. As proved by stats regarding children who have been seriously harmed by foster carers.
        BUT. There are genuine foster carers and if a child loses contact with a birth family it is usually down to a bad social worker.
        If a social worker was honest and working to the best interests of the child the social worker would as stated encourage birth parents and extended family to keep in contact with the child obviously providing the child is not at serious risk. (The word serious does seem to be very confused by many social workers as to what it means)
        This sums up all that I meant by community care of the child, the fostering of good relationships between the foster carers and the birth family to work together to keep children safe until such time the child or children can be returned to the birth parent or parents.
        Adoption should only be used in very rare circumstances and therefore should not be considered as an option until all options have been fully investigated or the birth parent has committed such a serious crime that to remove the child for its own saftey is an automactic option.

  3. A mother whose baby has been removed for “risk of emotional abuse” would certainly prefer long term fostering where face to face contact with her childcontact would still be possible to a closed adoption where it usually would not.

  4. The final outcome of the Re.B case will be made early after the holiday break, after many strained attempts to have the matter concluded sooner, its not been possible.

    I do hope that the Judgment is published, obviously the Judge in Re. B will give a very thought out and precise Judgment no matter what the outcome is

  5. Something else that I believe is worth talking about is the restrictions and often fear that foster carers live with. And I dont mean fear of the birth parents (rare and often unfounded)
    Its the fear that if they dont carry out every letter of the word of the social worker they will not be allowed to foster children and if they are fostering at the time, the child or children will be removed against the best interests of the child. Which also happens to birth parents.
    Yet genuine people who take up foster care are the hub of the childs life and get to know the child very well, far better than the social worker and will often disagree with the social worker who insists on no contact or lays false blame on parents for some reason or another.
    Which is also the reason why social workers intent on breaking up families for no good enough reason will often place the child with a handpicked foster carer who will be supportive of the social worker and not the child.
    I have heard this many times from the decent foster carers who dont do the job for wanting the child for selfish reasons or just for the money. They do it because they want the family to be reunited once the concerns are cleared up.
    So in my view children would be better served if social workers could be prosecuted for offences in a family court. They should also be properly trained in family work and foster carers should be free to give their opinions without fear of losing their job.
    And for that reason placements should NOT be made to foster carers who want to adopt.

  6. forcedadoption

    I agree Suespicious minds.If children are put with fosterers who want to adopt them; then as prospective parents those fosterers will do everything they can to prevent the birth family from being reunited.The war will then be not only between parents and social workers but also parents and fosterers.We all know who would win and the children would be permanently deprived of their own imperfect but for the most part loving birth parents.Surely not in their best interests?

  7. Message

    I would like to know the experience of First4Adoption
    1/ How many family courts has the staff (from directors to front line staff) attended to research cases.
    2/ Have you studied the laws/legal aid restrictions that work against parents trying to keep their family.
    3/ Are First4Adoption aware that a social worker can commit perjury, contempt in a family court against parents without prosecution.
    4/ Are you aware that failure to understand the implications and research your cases of children put forward for adoption can lead First4Adoption to become involved in Child Trafficking on a large scale.
    As parents are becoming more aware of the corrupt system and how to deal with it, many parents/groups are collecting their documented evidence to prove wrongful removal of children from decent parents. Communication from MOJ and the police have confirmed that the wrongful removal of children amounts to child trafficking.
    But the goverment is allowing it and even offering incentives.
    As in the ‘laundries’ that existed the UK has not only failed to remove child trafficking but encouraged it.
    At the start of 2014 there are over 20 groups formed to fight for the rights of decent parents.
    There are also major human rights groups prepared to undertake work to end the corruption.
    My question is “Do you really want to be part of forced adoptions and destroy more children and families lives at best and at worst be part of child trafficking”
    I urge you to consider your options.

  8. Lets face it the child protection, social services system and therefore the family court system is defunct.
    The system is headed by the powerful . Coram, Barnados, BAAF and the hundreds of off spring.
    It does not POLICE itself, the govenment keeps it tied to secrecy, It does not even know and/or pretend ‘not to know’ the law for Joe Public. The police are prevented from bringing prosecutions for contempt of court and perjury by the social workers.
    Money changes hands at vast rates. foster carers, Incentives for adoptions, children’s homes, promotions for social workers, perks, cars, It has become a massive corrupt service industry where pen pushers like to earn large sums for doing little.
    And who are the people with whom they prey. Well it is the families who have suffered from industry closing down, automation, foreign imports, foreign cheaper workforces, legal and illegal immigrants and greedy corporations that is creating a vast depressed and out of work or poorly paid generation.And with that comes loss of human rights inflicted on the poorer by the powerful.

    • forcedadoption

      So how to put things right? LEGISLATION is needed to replace family courts by criminal courts,make child cruelty once again, the business of the police not social workers.Forced adoption (against the will of parents in court) must be made illegal,as must all gagging orders on parents and children split up by the courts. An end to censorship of conversations between parents and children in care ,and an end to “punishment without crime” (which is what happens at present to parents who have children removed even though no criminal offence has been committed).This in effect turns the clock back around 65 years when exceptionally famillies were better treated by authority than they are now .

      • For that to happen the police must also be policed. There are many innocent people in jail.
        If a service industry was one of any value in a civilised world, it would put human rights, justice and truth in any court.
        Therefore to end any miscarriages of justice there must also be a system whereby dishonesty does not bring about injustice.
        In other words the wheels of justice are slow to turn because its been overseen by a weakness brought about by the corrupt. And that weakness mostly relates to the time it takes to bring a case of injustice.
        Hence its the same flaw that has lost thousands of innocent parents or good enough parents their children.
        I.E. All the time social workers and other agencies are not prosecuted for contempt or perjury the system cannot work to protect children.
        All the time the parents cannot bring witness or evidence to a family court in their favour, injustice can occur.
        And all the time family courts allow LAs to with hold important evidence injustice occurs.

    • No wonder Scotland wanted OUT, the UK has become the least civilised country in the world and fast becoming the most corrupt intent on making a service industry for the govenment and not for the people.
      I wonder in decades to come where this will take everyone. Will the govenment have its Army or will the Army, made of of largely the very people with whom it is destroying rebel.
      Being big and powerful may seem good but then as all the countries facing rebel actions know, numbers also count for a lot and so do they army who have supported the people and not the govenments.
      The UK has a huge imbalance of human rights. Civil servants and public servants amass providing a service industry which only takes the interests of the better off. (And not always them) The service industry is more a protector of govenment. Which in a fair and just world would be acceptable, but in the UK it is proving otherwise.
      So if the UK wants to ever move towards a civilised world and be part of it, it needs more than anything to police itself and what better way then protection and nuturing our birth families. It is the foundation of life itself after all.
      Human nature does not ‘bend’ to all these intrusions and hostility nor to having its roots destroyed. And it does not encourage a civilised world but more turns the clock back to medi evil.
      Social services should do what it says on the packet. Social ‘care’ should do just that. By making our birth families stronger, more educated within itself and by giving a future for the children born within them.
      AND NOT be allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry to make money out of them, ridicule them and throw them on the scrap heap. As they say, dont throw stones when living in a glass house.

  9. Forced Adoption – You stated
    An end to censorship of conversations between parents and children

    You are so right there as history and documented evidence has proven that most terrible abuses to children while in state care or even adoptions have happened because the child had been restricted from talking to their birth family.

    Another important fact is. While the children are in foster care notes are kept (by the better foster carers) of the daily life, conversations, reactions, moods, unusual behaviour etc of the child.
    Especially uselful if the child is too young to be articulate and conversational to express what is happening to them. It is no surprise to read these and know beyond all doubt that the ocial services have been wrong in removing children.
    But does the family court every see these papers.
    Does the court ever encourage the speaking out of the child.
    In all the cases that I have read on so many sites. The answer clearly shows NO.


    And Barnardos boasts their imput of adopted children should have the ‘odd’ photo sent to the grieving parents.
    Come on now, lest we forget your crimes.

  11. At the last inspection, carried out in July 2012, the home was judged as inadequate. 12 requirements were made relating to a number of key areas of care provision. These included ensuring the assessed needs of young people can be met by the home, that care planning and risk assessment processes were robust and accurate and that medication procedures were safe. There were also requirements made which considered the need for the educational and future training needs of young people to be addressed and for the monitoring of standards of care in the home to be more rigorous and effective.

    The above report on Child First in Lancing of which there are reports of abuse dating back to 2003/2005

    Had this been stated about a birth parent in a family court the child would be on a neglet/physical/emotional and possible sexual child protection order. The latter has there was a case of unreported attempted sexual abuse to a child in this unit.

    Childrens homes can be paid £3.500 per WEEK per child.


    A foster carer barren and wanting to adopt. And this is NOT a lone case of abuse/murder by adopted parents.

  13. IDear ‘Family Rights Group’

    Thank you for contacting First4Adoption. We are the national information service for anyone interested in adopting a child in England. We fully support the principle that children should be brought up within their own families wherever possible, and that adoption should only be the plan for a child when it is clearly in the child’s best interests.

    We are not a lobbying or campaigning organisation. Our role is to provide information to people who are interested in adopting children in England, in order to help increase the number of adopters so that children who need an adoptive family may be placed with well-matched and well prepared adopters.

    I hope this is helpful

    A reply from First4Adoption to the questions listed above.

    Kind regards



    Just to lighten the discussion a little bit of Disney.

    Not to be corrupt you have to be a free thinker. Problem is, too many are not and will give in to pressure. For them its just a game until death leaving a blood trail behind them.

  15. What did the Minister for Children say in 2012 ?

    The Children’s Minister Edward Timpson said “the outcomes for children in care remain woeful.””For instance, we know that children in care are seven times more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol than others, 50 times more likely to end up in prison, 60 times more likely to become homeless and 66 times more likely to have children of their own who will need public care.

    Unfortunately judges who are thought to be higly intelligent folk never look at the “obvious”
    When they consider the cases of children with vaguely dysfunctional parents ,who perhaps shout at each other,have non violent problems with alcohol,or who have mild learning difficulties, and consign those kids to so called “care “.They NEVER NEVER compare the terrible risks of “care” as shown above with the sometimes “negligible by comparison “risk of leaving them with their own parents who so often plead in vain to keep children they love.

    • Yes the Greenhouse.
      Some Judges will judge others on the smallest of dysfunctional behaviour, then walk out the courtroom door, visit the dungeons, cheat on their wives, ignor or shout at their children, get caught drink driving, fiddle the expenses, lord it up on expenses, send their children off to boarding school, hold interests in various companies and avoid tax and in general be an ass.
      But then bad social workers will do the same, as will the rest of the gang.

      While parents are left bereaved and children destroyed against the might of the system that allows it.
      A private investigator would have a field day if the tables were turned onto those that judge the parents.

    • And the sad fact remains that many parents are not even dysfunctional but just stand accused of crimes they never committed.
      Some parents in the family court dont drink, dont take drugs, or show dysfunctional behaviour. Some are just angry at the corrupt system that destroys families having been wrongly kept in care as children.
      To be a victim of injustice once which robs you of your childhood is bad enough, but for the same people to come back again and destroy the next generation is beyond being described as barbaric.

    • forcedadoption

      That is your 22nd contribution “Son4” in the last 23 entries ! A friendly tip . No more than two consecutive entries otherwise they just do not get read !

      • Proves most people only read what they want to.
        As its my 23rd entry I dont expect anyone to read this either.
        Since Christmas no-one seems to have contributed, the blog seems to be read by a couple of people with little interaction,

        Cheeryble. Perhaps all new borns should have a tag attached ‘Born in a testube, no natural family’. A scientist may well fulfil your wish one day, save a lot of money stealing them from humans.

%d bloggers like this: