Readers may be aware that in care proceedings, if it is not possible for a child to live with a parent then a family member is the next best thing. They may also be aware that the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal have been saying in 2013 that in order for a plan of adoption to be approved that the Court must be satisfied that “nothing else will do”
You might not be aware, unless you happen to have done such a case, that where a family member lives in America, that the only lawful way to get the child INTO America is for the family member to adopt the child. That’s because of the way that the US authorities deal with immigration and visas and such.
That poses something of a tension between “I want to place with Auntie Beryl, who lives in America” and “adoption is the last resort” because in this situation, adoption is actually the only legal route one can take to get the child placed with Auntie Beryl.
But at the same time, you end up with a substantially more draconian order, one that ends the legal relationship between the birth parents and the child, than you would have countenanced had Auntie Beryl lived in Stoke instead of Tallahassee.
Should you find yourself in that tricky spot, this piece of caselaw will be helpful
RO v A Local Authority & Others 2014
Exactly that situation arose, and where a Court would normally be looking to place the child with Auntie Beryl under a residence order or Special Guardianship Order, here they have to do so under a regime of adoption, which is now considerably more difficult than it was pre June 2013, when the caselaw shifted radically.
The Judge approved the plan of placement with the relatives who were living in America, and outlined very carefully the reasons that this could only be done under the auspices of adoption, and thus why the making of a Placement Order was justified. It would stand as a good model for any one seeking to persuade a Court to place with relatives in the USA in future.