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Nothing else will do in the USA

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.


About suesspiciousminds

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

5 responses

  1. Erm not quite right there. USA national child (born in the UK, I was born in the UK…man) was deemed by law to have no rights to UK citizenship. BUT UK SS thought they knew best and F;ed it up beyond believe.
    Grandma and Grandpa refused to adopt…In Grandpa’s words ‘he is almost 10 for f’ck sake! He knows his parents.’
    It is interesting you posted this today as I have been taking advice; ‘This has to be the most bizarre SGO I have ever seen.’
    The USA State Dept don’t want to know….the Home Office doesn’t want to know…The USA child protective services think the entire matter is a joke….’seriously… I wouldn’t do a home visit for THAT!’ ~Really…come on…will read judgement but they are just plucking at the air…
    (*they were most put out to deal with a Mum with lots of degrees and a member of MENSA.)

  2. See the LINDA LEWIS CAMPAIGN and the disgusting `goings on` there. A child was removed from a hospital at gunpoint with an illegal passpart to remove the child from the USA and ever more from her loving mother who is still fighting for justice. Play around with the words in the legal documents all you like, justice is not done.

    It`s about time we saw the LAW on the side of victims, not on the side of the Councils and other agencies who feed the disreputable lawyers.

  3. I have a question……
    I have SGO for 2nd cousin in law twice removed (lol) her mom has been acquitted on arson and 3 counts of child neglect is there any way that if she stays off the alcohol and a support plan is put in place that she can have her baby back in 3-5years?
    (My husband and I plan to move to the states in a few years and considering that my cousin was actually acquitted and wants to raise her child we think it would be best but SS are saying they are not in support!)

    • If the mother has made significant changes since the SGO was made, she can make an application to discharge the SGO – the Court would be looking at what she had changed, so with something like alcohol misuse, the longer she can demonstrate abstinence and an understanding of the problems she had and working with services to maintain abstinence, that will all help. A major factor the Court would look at would be the views of the carers and child, and the support available to her. It is a bit hard to give specific advice on an individual case, but these are the things that give her the best chance :-

      (a) engaging with services and keeping off alcohol and developing her understanding into the problems it caused her (b) keeping up with whatever contact she is allowed and being supportive of the placement (c) the more stablity she can show if she makes her application (relationships, employment, housing) the better.

  4. Pingback: Nothing else will do in the USA | Children In L...

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