This case made quite a lot of news last year – parents of a boy born in 2012, who suffered significant fractures. Within care proceedings, there was a finding of fact that the parents had caused these injuries and in 2013, a Care Order and Placement Order was made. In 2014, the child was placed with prospective adopters and an adoption order was made. In late 2015 (3 years after the injuries, and a year after the adoption order was made) the parents were acquitted at the criminal trial. In fact, the Judge at the criminal trial directed the jury to acquit as there was no case to answer. (That’s obviously a lot stronger than the case going before a jury and the Jury not reaching a 12 or 10 juror verdict that they were sure the parents were guilty. This was a criminal Judge saying that the evidence showed no case to answer)
Understandably, there’s a lot of public disquiet about whether there’s been a miscarriage of justice here, and what would happen.
The law isn’t very helpful to the parents in terms of their ultimate aim to get their child back. An adoption order being overturned after it has been made is very very unusual. I’ve found only 2 reported cases where that happened. One was a step-parent adoption which the birth father had agreed to and later learned that the mother had lied to him, concealing the fact that she had a terminal illness and he would never have agreed to the adoption. The other was
PK v Mr and Mrs K 2015
Where the child had been adopted by family members who had physically abused the child, who later left them and went back to live with mother. Everyone in the case was supportive of the adoption order being revoked. I wrote about the difficulties here:-
The lead case on ‘oh, maybe we got this wrong, but the adoption orders have been made now’ is Webster, where adoption orders were made on the basis of physical injuries and a Court was later persuaded that the injury had been the result of scurvy, itself the result of a failure of a brand of formula milk to have sufficient vitamin C. The Court there, as a result of the passage of time and public policy issues declined to revoke the adoption orders.
“Adoption is a statutory process; the law relating to it is very clear. The scope for the exercise of judicial discretion is severely curtailed. Once Orders for Adoption have been lawfully and properly made, it is only in highly exceptional and very particular circumstances that the court will permit them to be set aside.”
Anyway, in this case
Re X (A Child) 2016
the parents went to the Court of Appeal, and all parties there * supported a hearing taking place to DECIDE whether there should be a re-hearing of the finding of facts taking place, for the benefit of the child having the truth about their life and childhood and the public confidence in fairness of the justice system.
(* I add the asterisk, because as you can see from Re X, the adopters – who were at that point the child’s legal parents and had been for over a year, were not told about the circumstances or the litigation and were not parties to the proceedings. I’m not at all sure how that is fair or compliant with their article 6 rights. They were and are in law, the legal parents of the child, and it clearly had an impact on their family life.
Ms Fottrell QC made that same point, and I absolutely agree with her. The President bravely ducks the issue.
At the adjourned hearing, Ms Fottrell set out her clients’ position as being that they “appreciate and accept that in the interests of fairness the birth family are entitled to have a hearing on the facts following on from the outcome of the criminal trial”, but opposing any application to set aside the adoption order. Although making clear that her clients made no point against any of the parties, Ms Fottrell submitted that the decision to exclude the adoptive parents – X’s legal parents – from the appeal process and the permission hearing in the Court of Appeal was wrong and in breach of both Article 6 and Article 8 of the Convention. I record Ms Fottrell’s submission on the point; it is not a matter on which it would be proper for me to comment.)
The case has now come before the President, and he has published this judgment. Bear in mind that the re-hearing has not taken place, so at this stage the family Court hasn’t decided whether the threshold criteria was wrongly found in 2013, or even whether it was right then on what was known at the time, but on what we know now it can’t stand. The parents have been cleared and pretty comprehensively in a criminal Court, but the standard of proof is higher there, so it doesn’t automatically follow that any re-hearing would be bound to clear them. It very well might, but it might not.
As a matter of law, there isn’t really an easy legal framework for this to operate in. The parents aren’t able at this stage to apply to revoke the adoption application, because the findings in the care proceedings still stand, it isn’t an appeal out of time. So we of course use the Court’s magical sparkle powers of the inherent jurisdiction to have a decision as to whether to have a re-hearing. That’s not automatic legal aid, but it doesn’t say in the judgment that the parents lawyers are acting pro-bono (for free) so they must have been one of those rare cases where the Legal Aid Agency grant exceptional funding under s10 LASPO.
The President reminded everyone that if there was a re-hearing and the findings were overturned, that would not automatically lead to the return of the child, and that the Court are not dealing with that application at all (yet), but of course, it is a prelude to the parents making such an application if the re-hearing vindicates them.
- I am not concerned today with any application which may hereafter be made by the birth parents seeking to challenge the adoption order. That is a matter for another day and, in all probability, for another court. It is relevant only because Ms Cover has made it clear on instructions, both in her position statement and again orally, that the present application before me is, at least in part, what might be called the springboard for such a further application. However, as I observed in In re C, paras 44-46:
“44 The law sets a very high bar against any challenge to an adoption order. An adoption order once lawfully and properly made can be set aside “only in highly exceptional and very particular circumstances”: In re W (Children), para 149. In that case, the adoption orders “were made in good faith on the evidence then available” (para 177) and therefore stood, even though the natural parents had suffered a “serious injustice”: para 148. In re W (Children) can be contrasted with In re K (A Minor) (Adoption: Foreign Child)  2 FLR 221 where an adoption order was set aside in circumstances where there had been (p 227) “inept handling by the county court of the entire adoption process” and (p 228), failure to comply with the requirements of the Adoption Rules, “procedural irregularities go[ing] far beyond the cosmetic”, “a fundamental injustice … to [the child] since the wider considerations of her welfare were not considered” and “no proper hearing of the adoption application”. Butler-Sloss LJ held (p 228) that: “there are cases where a fundamental breach of natural justice will require a court to set an adoption order aside.”
45 Whether the natural father would have succeeded in meeting that very stringent test is, in my judgment, open to serious question. I do not want to be understood as saying that he would not; but equally I do not want to be understood as saying that he would. It certainly should not be assumed that his appeal would have succeeded.
46 In relation to this aspect of the matter I propose to add only this: I am bound to say that I find Judge Altman’s decision to proceed in the full knowledge that there was a pending application to this court for permission to appeal very difficult to understand, let alone to justify.”
- Likewise here I express no view on a point of no little difficulty and which is, as I have said, a matter for anther day. The significance of it for present purposes is simply that, as Ms Fottrell correctly submitted, success by the birth parents (if they are successful) on the re-hearing of the facts by no means assures them of success in seeking to have the adoption order set aside.
In terms of whether there should be a re-hearing, the President summed up the arguments
- The case put forward by the birth parents is simple and compelling. They have been, they say, just like the parents in Webster, the victims of a miscarriage of justice. They seek to clear their names, both so that they may be vindicated and also so that there is no risk of the judge’s findings being held against them in future, whether in a forensic or in any other context.
- For different reasons, their desire for there to be a re-hearing is supported by X’s guardian, who submits that it is in X’s best interests that he should know the truth about his birth parents and about what did or did not happen to him.
- I agree with the guardian. X has a right (I put the matter descriptively rather than definitively) to know the truth about his past and about his birth parents. This has long been recognised in our domestic law. In S v McC (Otherwise S) and M (DS Intervener), W v W  AC 24, 57, Lord Hodson, in the context of disputed paternity, said that:
“The interests of justice in the abstract are best served by the ascertainment of the truth and there must be few cases where the interests of children can be shown to be best served by the suppression of truth.”
In In re H (A Minor) (Blood Tests: Parental Rights)  Fam 89, 106, Ward LJ said, apropos paternity:
“every child has a right to know the truth unless his welfare clearly justifies the cover-up.”
To the same effect, in Re H and A (Paternity: Blood Tests)  EWCA Civ 383,  1 FLR 1145, para 29, Thorpe LJ identified one of the principles to be drawn from the cases as being:
“that the interests of justice are best served by the ascertainment of the truth.”
- But this principle is not confined to issues of paternity, as is clear from Strasbourg law, which recognises it as an ingredient of the rights protected by Article 8: Gaskin v United Kingdom (1990) 12 EHRR 36,  1 FLR 167, and Mikulic v Croatia (2002) 11 BHRC 689,  1 FCR 720. It is also recognised in Articles 7 and 8 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- The wide impact of the principle that, from a child’s perspective, their interests are best served by the ascertainment of the truth, whatever that truth may be, is illustrated by Re Z (Children) (Disclosure: Criminal Proceedings)  EWHC 61 (Fam),  1 FLR 1194, para 13(vii):
“the children … have a direct and important interest … in ensuring that the truth, whatever it may be, comes out. As they grow older they will need to know, if this is the case, and however painful it may be, that their father is a murderer … In this as in other respects, better for the children that the truth, whatever it may be, comes out.”
- There is also, however, a wider and very important public interest which, in my judgment, is here in play. I make no apologies for repeating in this context what I said in Re J (Reporting Restriction: Internet: Video)  EWHC 2394 (Fam),  1 FLR 523, paras 29-30:
“29 … We strive to avoid miscarriages of justice, but human justice is inevitably fallible. The Oldham and Webster cases stand as terrible warning to everyone involved in the family justice system, the latter as stark illustration of the fact that a miscarriage of justice which comes to light only after the child has been adopted will very probably be irremediable: W v Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council  EWCA Civ 1247,  1 FLR 543, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council v GW & PW [ EWHC 136 (Fam),  2 FLR 597] and Webster v Norfolk County Council and the Children (By Their Children’s Guardian)  EWCA Civ 59,  1 FLR 1378. Of course, as Wall LJ said in Webster, para , ‘the system provides a remedy. It requires determined lawyers and determined parties’. So, as I entirely agree, the role of specialist family counsel is vital in ensuring that justice is done and that so far as possible miscarriages of justice are prevented. But that, if I may say so with all respect to my predecessor, is only part of the remedy. We must have the humility to recognise – and to acknowledge – that public debate, and the jealous vigilance of an informed media, have an important role to play in exposing past miscarriages of justice and in preventing possible future miscarriages of justice.
 Almost 10 years ago I said this (Re B (A Child) (Disclosure), para ):
‘… We cannot afford to proceed on the blinkered assumption that there have been no miscarriages of justice in the family justice system. This is something that has to be addressed with honesty and candour if the family justice system is not to suffer further loss of public confidence. Open and public debate in the media is essential.’
I remain of that view. The passage of the years has done nothing to diminish the point; if anything quite the contrary.”
- In my judgment, and giving appropriate weight to the terrible burden which what is proposed will inevitably impose on the adoptive parents, although bravely and responsibly they do not oppose what is proposed, the claims of the birth parents, the best interests of X, and the public interest all point in the same direction: there must be a re-opening of the finding of fact hearing, so that the facts (whatever they may turn out to be) – the truth – can be ascertained in the light of all the evidence which is now available.
The law on re-opening a case is Re Z, and the President quickly skates through that (having already decided above that there is going to BE a re-hearing)
The re-hearing is going to take place in October 2016. That will be four years after the injury, three years after the Care Order, two years after the Adoption Order, and a year after the parents were exonerated at the criminal trial. If nothing else, this case has not shown that the legal process can react swiftly. The President has also indicated that there may be before then a hearing about how the Press can report the re-hearing (thinking of the Poppi Worthington case, and the press interest there is going to be in this, it might for example include almost-live reporting and tweeting)
IF the findings are overturned at that re-hearing, there’s still a massive legal mountain to climb for the parents. The guidance in Webster is from the Supreme Court, so it isn’t open to the President to simply ignore it. It does however, give the small chink of light An adoption order once lawfully and properly made can be set aside “only in highly exceptional and very particular circumstances”:
So a Court could potentially find that these ARE highly exceptional and very particular circumstances. (though showing why very similar circumstances in Webster didn’t meet the test but this one does is going to require some particularly skilful footwork.)
I appreciate that people’s FEELINGS about this will be very strong, and many of you will strongly support the parents getting the child back. If I was doing the odds, based on the Webster decision, it is at best a 20% chance, even if they overturn the findings. The Webster decision, in law, is a really high mountain to climb. That test, as a Supreme Court decision, is a test that really only Parliament or the ECHR could change. So it is not hopeless for these parents, but legally they have a mountain to climb.
It is certainly true that the public debate and the judicial position on adoption is rather different than it was in 2008 when Webster was decided. It is possible that this will have an impact.
A dreadful set of circumstances for everyone involved – if the parents are found both to the criminal AND civil standard of proof to have not injured their child then what has happened to them has been the most awful thing one can imagine. They will have been completely let down by the British justice system.
It is almost impossible to understand how the child would make sense of it. The child’s adopters, who have had this child in their home for two years and who are now the legal parents of that child and consider him as part of the family, and who went into that process in complete good faith have to face months of doubt and anxiety about the future. It would be nice if whatever the Court finally decide about the adoption order, both his adoptive parents and his birth parents get to play a strong part in his future life, but that in itself would be a brand new arrangement, never tried before in England, and litigation doesn’t often foster that spirit of all parties wanting to work together to do what is best for the child.
One thing is for sure, we are going to have a huge public debate about adoption in October 2016 when this case is decided, and an even bigger one if the parents are cleared but the adoption order still stands (as the precedents suggest that it would)
Not so sure new style arrangements are so new – I did open adoption order case in about 1997. No reason why concept couldn’t work both ways. Interesting opportunity to put child rights on better footing perhaps whatever the fact finding. Best arrangements rather than best interests??
Felicity Gerry QC Barrister London & Darwin 36, Bedford Row London WC1R 4JH
Mob: 07979800176 Twitter: @felicitygerry Skype: felicity.gerry Media: http://www.felicitygerry.com Australia Mob: +61427220988
That’s a really nice way to put it. And maybe it will produce some sort of sea-change.
Well,I Of course any reasonable person must believe that no adoption order should have been made in the first place .The parents were not convicted criminals .Punishment without crime should never happen in UK Courts and to those lovers of semantics who say” there was no punishment ;merely an adjustment in the interests of the child” I say firstly the child was effectively punished and emotionally harmed by being removed from loving parents and secondly the parents were in effect punished by having their child snatched from them and given to strangers ;These adoptive parents should have known better than to take for themselves a child whose mother and father were desperate to keep it !
In the case all we have seen so far is an undignified squabble not yet deciding the fate of the child (and two sets of )but to decide whether there will be a hearing at all !
Lawyers get rich on these sorts of cases,whilst wretched parents wait and see……………
I think the bookies were already paying out on your response to this one Ian.
But Adopters are not given the whole picture, the is a chinese wall and they cannot even investigate for them selves if there is any false picture.
Yet again, in a case where a clear injustice was done to Mr Carter, Miss Cox, and their child, we see the adoptive carers opposing the vindicated parents’ application for their family to be re-united. What kind of people would oppose such an application? What tortuous and self-deluding thought process did they go through to justify this decision?
All this simply serves to underline the fact that adoption has nothing to do with the best interests of children, and everything to do with financial expediency on the part of the State, and the adoptive carers’ hunger for a child, anyone’s child, at any cost!
I whole heartedly agree, the minute the injustice was uncovered the expediency of the return of the child should have been the first issue to have been considered and agreed upon rather than try and predict the outcome of the reaction of a child to be told as a young adult he was taken from his loving birth family illegally, and we your adopted parents refused to let you return.
I have to agree, if they love this child, they will let him go, do what’s right for him.
It’s worrying that they actually passed as adopters when they clearly do not have the child’s welfare as their central concern, they are self serving and selfish.
I am dealing with exactly the same case right now, keeping the adoption at bay, just, but it’s closing in on me, because the la and court refuses to accept the non guilty verdict … I hope I can use this example for further adjournment until October.
Well take another approach that the bookies might not anticipate Andrew ! Surely the worst effect of the verdict in the Webster’s case and similar situations was not merely the adoption but the refusal of the judge to allow the birth parents to ever see again the children that had been wrongfully taken from them?
If “closed adoptions” were made illegal in the UK so that all adoptions were” OPEN” and birth parents were allowed limited contact with their offspring the hurt would be that much less.
Most research shows that open adoptions are preferable for all parties.I know that there would be a danger of parents undermining such adoptions once they knew where their children were going but I am sure rules could be introduced to deal with this especially if such contacts were severely restricted to Xmas and birthdays for example……………..
Not all by default Ian … Some parents really should never be allowed near any child ever again, Xmas dinner with rose west, Myra hindley, Tracey Connelly… No, just no
Ashamed to be British it may surprise you to know that baby P’s mother ,Tracey Connelly was allowed to see her children in jail ! (Google daily mail) I doubt that Myra Hindley or Rose West would ever have gone to court to demand contact with any children that they might have had ! I still say forced adoption is wrong and such adçoptions if “closed” are even more wrong than those that are “open” (these never seem to occur in the UK!)
Without getting into the minutiae of reasoning.
I find it incongruous that if your car or house is disposed of involving fraud you get it back, but that even in the case of adoption by fraud you cannot get a child back.
For me this highlights the weirdness of the whole current settled and permanence arguments in care and adoption, “The child is settled now so go away, sure it was wrong (for a number of possible reasons not just fraud) but bad luck anyway.” Is it any wonder some parents would try and undermine such things,
I would and I would ask, wouldn’t any reasonable parent?
The law is an ass and some time it needs a damn good kicking!
Having been witnesses involved in family court procedure, as grandparents, we were asked not to mention actual facts,” I QC Focke will do the neglect case against the hospital later”, my grandsons mother the only one accused of abuse of her child was told to admit to a shake, just a little shake and you will get your baby back the mother being a Christian, this was never going to happen, whilst we the grandparents trusted QC Focke and just answered the questions asked, and not until second half of a split case (without legal representation) did we voice the whole miserable conspiracy, and change of my grandsons birth certified name to subdue the truth, the case ended in the court of Appeal, and still stands to date split case joined in the name of a child that has never lived, A bit of local lower court hopping by RCLA and a full Care Order emerged in the birth certified name of my grandson, later adoption without any involvement of family members, Admit to something and you will get your child/children back, play the game, my point being we the family were under oath, were we the only ones, or do the other side all enter their evidence and accusations on oath
How can there be such a difference in the two courts?
Perjury has long been recognised as a useful device for obtaining a divorce, in fact its most common.
I know of other child care cases where admit to a “small lie” and get your kids back has been proffered as an option and parents have refused. And blatant criminal lies by SW’s are glossed over!
The trouble is people believe they are going into courts of justice, I quickly dissuade them of such notations by saying its not a court of justice, its court of trial by combat, a bear pit, you must at least fatally wound the opposition as they will be trying to do with you, but they have the advantage of only having to rely on probable wounds on you, you have to do far more.
It they go in believing things are fair they will likely loose. .
Your story continues to make no sense.
If there is to be an appeal from Munby P in October 2016, and if there remains doubt on Webster, is this not a case for leap-frog of any appeal to the Supreme Court?
I don’t think the appeal would be in October, but a few months AFTER any fact find, when there’s an actual application to revoke the Adoption Order (and quite possibly a fallback application for contact post adoption). But I’d agree that if the issue is whether the law in Webster is to be developed, a leapfrog would probably be the way. The hope, obviously, is that the decision is right first time around, so we may be getting ahead of ourselves
Such decisions can NEVER be right first time ! Forced adoption is always wrong but the wound is less if the adoption is open rather than closed !
Parents accused of Actual physical harm, should be dealt with by police and the Law of the Land, using actual evidence, produced to a criminal court with leading medical experts in support, not possibility or probability injury cases brought about by false scenarios, my grandchild has no hospital entrance record that he had fell from his mothers arms onto a tiled kitchen floor, then experts predicting the injury outcome to be expected on this false scenario presented to them by Social Services Legal Department
How can we as parents and family be expected to answer to these accusations of false accident, false injury scenarios, were is the justice when the hospital involved cover-up the truth by stating they were not party to the case, and had nothing to do with the case, while using the case to cover-up my grandchilds birth damage that (which could not be entered into court) that we had possession of since the day he was born.
What sort of standards does a police force have when they investigate the false accusations and conclude their investigation with Released UNCONDITIONALLY then support (later) false accusation doctors reports, false injuries accusation case with these reports in a possibility and probability family law case, knowing they were all based on false scenario accident report that has never existed, let alone submitting into a court case in the name of a child that had been illegally changed”
I think guilty conscience forced QC Focke to hand me (Grandmother) his full case file
in comes the old adage ,What goes around, Comes Around
Reblogged this on L8in.
You are right “Notinmyname” ! Abolish social workers and use the money saved to reinforce police to deal with child cruelty etc”.No punishment without crime” and no hypocritical comfort for bereft mothers who are told “When we take away your baby at birth for adoption by strangers it really is not a punishment just extra care for your babv !” Ugh !
You oughtn’t to throw the baby out with the bathwater, Ian.
A vanishingly small amount of child abuse involves outright sadism which warrants police investigation and judicial punishment.
Child abuse and neglect occurs most often in families which are under pressure and lack support. Most abuse occurs in families with some, or all, of the following factors:
Lack of education
Serious marital problems
Frequent changes of addresses
Violence between family members
Lack of support from the extended family
Loneliness and social isolation
Very high expectations of the child and what the child should achieve
The parent may have been abused as a child
A lack of knowledge and skills in bringing up children
Low self esteem and self confidence
Alcohol and/or drug abuse
Mental or physical ill health
These are all matters which the police are completely unable to address but where competent, and properly-resourced and managed, social workers would be able to bring about real and lasting change, to the benefit of our society.
Mike,neither police nor social workers can deal with unemployment,poverty,or lack of education and most other items on your list. I have so far never spoken with any parent who has met with the “competent and properly-resourced and managed social workers”that you mention. Any parent’s reaction to a proposed visit from a social worker is “my God she wants to take my baby/children” !
Police do not get that reaction and are far better equipped than any civilians to deal with physical or sexual abuse.
“No punishment without crime” is a simple mantra and far more appropriate than that used continually by social workers when parents disagree with them .”You are putting your needs before those of your children !” An entirely subjective matter of opinion………………
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So if all social workers (I believe you refer to us as SS (presumably this means Super Stars)) were abolished and the money diverted to the police to investigate after the event crimes, what happens to all the early intervention work we do and the support we give to families to stop issues escalating?
You may say that you are yet to see families who benefit from our involvement but perhaps only people who have a similar view as you do gravitate to you as so this distorts your perceptions. I have plenty of letters and notes from children, parents and relatives suggesting a more positive experience of our time with them.
I am kind man and work hard to keep families together Ian. So do the social workers around me. We work damned hard to stop things getting worse for families. With the current political atmosphere, I suspect your wish may become true and only children and their parents will suffer.
This is just generalisation,trust me I am a Social Worker, well I for one along with every neighbour and friend around me that witnessed for themselves what was seen as ‘help’ with their own eyes. Not only was my grandson denied any help for diagnosed brain damage we were threatened with his removal,
As Grandparents, Great Aunt and Uncle carers for my grandson, we had to secretly contact a Charity The Rescue Foundation for Children now Cerebra for help,
We were provided with a Baby Massage video, we massaged that child between the three of us 24/7 using his eczsma cream by the bucket load, his body/head jerking spasms subsided, his muscles developed all under the threat of social services, guardian found out my grandson would be removed from our care, and cover-up his to cover-up his birth brain damage Cerebral Atrophy or Palsy as is more commonly known but denied/covered-up throughout the whole enquiry of UNEXPLAINED INJURY
For centuries children have grown up in different family environment. Some in a very abusive environment, some in a nice family environment, some were orphans raised by a relative or someone who , simply loves children and took the orphan in his/her house/home,
Some children (regardless the family history) became successful, some end up dead, some ended up criminals, but the majority of them we end up grown responsible adults.
Since man kind invented writing, never in the ancient history forced adoption was mentioned, or existed. Nature took its course.
Ancient Egyptians, and Ancient Greeks, made laws which are not fair to some members of their society, but none of the ancient civilizations, designed a system where a child would have been stolen from its natural parents.
coming forward to modern history, we read historical events taken place in Africa, Asia, and North America, where children was been stolen so they can become slaves for cheap labour.,
what the above proof?
That there is Not law that says the state can remove children from their natural parents, but there is an unlawful urge to use children for profits.
In India for example children as young as 5 are working for £1 (one pound sterling) per Day!!!
The same in Mexico, In Thailand, and many other countries.
We have never read “blogs” or reports by professional social services contemning child slave labor,
” Because this don’t happen in Britain” I hear you say.
wrong. Britain is the leader of slave trade.so today’s Child protection is nothing less other than an excuse so private foster care industry to profit (£40 billion per year) from such fake child protection, and today’s social workers earning 320 to £40 per hour!!!
I repeat that there is not law that allows the Social services to remove children from their family, neither there is a law that allows family court judges to make orders judging on the “balance of probabilities”.
If the social workers are sincere enough to concern about the welfare of the child then they should spend more time educating the family so to improve their parental quality, rather than making threats, and going to court writing defamatory and untrue reports, which under the common law are offenses of Perjury, perverting the course of justice, and conspiracy to cause harm to the child.
@ A Social Worker – I don’t doubt your bona fides and I am not opposed to the office or function of social workers. I think that early, effective intervention, on a therapeutic, not punitive basis, is the only way to keep families intact and to break the cycle. The problem is that the resources available are pitifully inadequate and so, inevitably, are being directed at rescue, rather than repair; fighting the fire, rather than repairing the leaking petrol tank. The profession needs to do far more to challenge the status quo though, rather than simply collaborating out of fear or financial self-interest. Perhaps the BASW Enquiry will be the catalyst for change?
I’m not sure there are any simple, “inherently correct” answers to this case.
Looking at the dates, the child probably has no memories of parents other than his current adoptive parents.
For a child to be taken from the people they believe are their mum and dad, and then be handed to effective strangers, is going to be extremely traumatic for the child, and I am not at all clear that it would be in their best interest.
If this had been a older child who had a clear relationship with his birth parents my view might well be very different, but in this case I have to suspect it is simply best to clear the parents (if that is the conclusion of a re-examination of the facts), and then for them to make the sacrifice to leave the child where he is.
Biology is no everything, and as has been shown from a number of “mixed up babies” cases, swapping children back after then have formed strong relationships with the “wrong” parents, does not generally lead to positive outcomes.
Similarly, in the case where a mother fails/refuses to name the father of a child, settles down with another man, and then they jointly raise that child (with him adopting the child), would it really be right for biology to be dominant, and the biological father to have the right to take custody of the child, whatever the age and whatever the relationship between the child and their adoptive father?
I am assuming you are a child foster carer, your third paragraph does not make sense to support what you are earning a living from.
All any family, parents expect from family courts, truth and honesty is that too much to ask ? Not just to be lucky enough to get a truly honest legal team
I tried to be upfront that there are no winners in this case.
I have also never tried to hide that I _am_ a foster carer, though it isn’t my major source of income, so you’re “you are earning a living from.” comment doesn’t really apply.
I do also recognize from personal experience the impact on a child when the people they view as their mum and dad change, and strongly believe the number of these changes should be kept to a minimum.
Where I suspect we disagree is whether biological parents are in some way magically better at raising children than equally or more caring alternative parents, and whether biology can make up for some appalling examples of abuse.
My personal experience is that biology is pretty much irrelevant, and what matters is that children get constant, unconditional love, care and support.
In cases of abuse I’ve often seen children flourish after being adopted elsewhere, despite the lack of biological connection, because they weren’t getting what they needed before, and now are.
However I accept that the facts of the case mean I’ve no reason to believe the care with the adoptive family is any better or worse.
This is where the impact of changing from one set of carers to another (both good) is relevant, because I’ve seen how this can undermine a child’s ability to be confident in the support they receive.
I tried to illustrate this with the outcome of swapped baby cases, and also the question of whether a biological father should trump a step/adoptive father if the biological mother died
I note you have not commented on these example, and would particularly like to know whether you think children should automatically be transferred to their birth fathers (even if they have never met them), if a birth mother dies but a long term step/adoption father still lives?
He’ll be fine, just like ss say the 5,6,7,8 year old are when they’re ripped away and placed in the arms of strangers.
It’s better to cause a short term trauma than a life long one, which is what happens in general when children discover they’re adopted.
MH issues are rife in adopted adults
I think being removed from your parents is clearly traumatic.
The questions are whether: “parents” is defined by biology, or the people who care for you; and whether the trauma of removal is outweighed by the impact of removal?
I’ve seen lots of cases where children have thrived after adoption, and believe that can often be the right decision. I’ve also seen cases where children left with / returned to their birth parents have suffered/died, or where ongoing contact with bad biological parents poisons a child’s chance of making attachment to their alternative carers. Finally I’ve seen miscarriages where children are removed who shouldn’t have been.
The best situation would be if parents always looked after their children. The question is what to do when this isn’t the case, and I believe this can only be judged on a case-by-case basis.
Of course, each case has to be dealt with on its own merit, I’d rather see more resource into support though, rather than lining the pockets of agencies because it’s less hassle.
Both my parents were very unhappy children, adopted and grew into dysfunctional adults, I was a lac myself, unhappy child, unhappy adult, the system is broken, and so are the children within it.
My sw was amazing but he couldn’t provide what I needed, stability love and care, foster care was hell on earth, children’s homes were worse than anything any child should have to endure, leaving my brother dead and me traumatised fof life.
You’re hardly a disinterested party, are you Fosterer5? No doubt your facile and confused argument helps reconcile your conscience with your actions but it flies in the face of scientific thought about ante- and neo-natal bonding.
As it happens my wife and I trained as a scientists, and have spent a lot of time studying attachment, bonding and child development. That, combined with personal experience of abusive parenting, is one of the main reasons why my wife and I foster carers.
Also as noted earlier, income from fostering is not a significant part of our household budget, so I’m not approaching this from a financial perspective.
Our view of the research, combined with personal experience as foster carers, is that biology is not a major factor in successful parenting, whilst stability and loving support are critical.
In that context, changes of parenting can be extremely traumatic, and should only be considered if the default situation is particularly bad.
I can see that in this case (and in many “swapped baby” cases) the birth parents might want the child back, but I’m not at all clear as to whether that is best for the children.
In terms of your own position, I’d be interested to hear your views on whether a divorced biological father should have an absolute right to “reclaim” a child from a loving step/adoptive father if the birth mother died? Is the situation any different if the biological father has never met the child?
I’d also be interested to know whether your view is different if the baby was via: IVF and donated sperm, the birth father’s sperm but a donated egg, or a surrogate pregnancy with the surrogate’s egg?
To my mind the above illustrate that biology just isn’t the critical factor, compared with who has provided the only love and support a child knows.
Don’t get me wrong, my hearts go out to the parents in this case, I just wonder whether they are the one who need to be making the sacrifice not the adoptive parents.
Without too much detail … There is an ongoing case where a surrogate was agreed, until the birth mother discovered severe MH issues in the mother to be, dangerously so, therefore refused to hand the baby over.
Birth mother encourages contact within a safe environment and includes parents to be in decisions.
The courts thought other wise based purely on the fact there was an agreement in place.
Birth mother is kicked out of child’s life
Hardly child focused
My grandsons parents, both, financially sound, single home owners, both childless, have to be with the threat of removal of child hanging over them for their lifetime, this is where these parents were at, luckily a criminal case has removed this lifetime threat, now you want them to give up their child, ???
I’m honestly not clear that there is any perfect “solution” here.
The birth parents are in a terrible position, however, so is the child.
If a child has never know alternative parents to their adoptive parents (because the adoption was so early), and believes that the adoption (if they are even aware of it) is “forever”, then what would it be like for them to be removed from the people they consider their “mum and dad”, and to be placed with strangers?
Good old, unashamed paternalism, eh? Keep everyone in the dark, it’s for the best. The trouble is that the truth will always come out in the end and when it does, the “what ifs” will torment the child/adult for the result of his/her life. Obviously, it’s hard to separate causation from association but the level of MH problems among children and adults who have survived the “care” system should give you pause for thought.
You can shade it whichever way you want with scenarios involving fosters/step-parents/adoptive carers/honourary Uncles/Aunts but in my view the simple fact is that DNA should be the determinant, nothing else. All other problems associated with giving effect to the DNA-directed decision are capable of being surmounted if the will is there.
There is not one photograph in existence of my grandson having ever suffered a bruise in his short time with his family, amazing considering the injuries we were accused of, miracle child, the second visit at the social services contact centre whilst in their care, my grandchild was presented to his parents with a large purple bruise on his forehead, no explanation offered, no investigation, above the law foster carers
I reported to Mo Mowlam, nothing done, left him to God and providence,
To be honest we were grateful when he was adopted and out of Social services clutches, also grateful to the anonymous caller to my home who kept us the grandparents informed on everything that happened, ie new doctors name and address, adoptive parents address,, new name, Now Facebook not friended him, just viewed
Your lack of empathy is amazing, but never having produced a child of your own, and a scientist, might explain this, me, being a child brought up in a family of ten, my working back ground/education Accountancy, secretarial, well travelled, emigrated with my husband and family of three (all well adjusted, employed home owners) to South Africa, stayed and worked hard for 6yrs, visited many countries with my husbands employment, own 2 homes, our only downfall, falling fowl of injustice, and serving a lifetime sentence, whilst you a charmed life, with the attitude, displacement of children by self appointed government officials is perfect for children who do not have a voice,
I think you are reading quite a lot into who I am, on very little basis. In particular the “charmed life” demonstrating you have no knowledge of what my wife and I have been through, including huge injustice on the part of an LA, and a real fight for our two children. You are also totally dismissing our first hand experience, via fostering, of children who have suffered at the hands of their biological parents, _and_ the fact I have openly described injustices we have observed _against_ biological parents.
If you look back on my past posts, you’ll see I always aim to be balanced, with concerns for parents and children alike, but with a belief that the evidence has to be viewed before you can form a judgement, and that from the outside it is always a risk to definitely say “X is at fault” or “Y is a mistreated saint” (the recent article on this same blog about a mother coaching children to make false accusation against a father being a good example).
In this case I feel extremely sorry for both the parents and the child, because it would seem they have been very badly served by the state. You’ll also note I haven’t said what the right answer is, and am just saying that it _might_ not be best for the child to go back to the birth parents, not least because the child might well view his adoptive parents as the only mum and dad he has ever had.
Two wrongs do not make a right, pity is worthless after fact, justice is for all, evidence not possibility and probability, 21 century technology, is fact, you are a scientist, children should never be forced by human failure, or self indulgence of winning no matter the cost, nobody is allowed to play God without suffering the wrath for their actions, and this is from a Grandparent/parent that has sat and witnessed in many, many family courts the misery, admit to something and you will get your baby back legal advise, (not that they ever do) personal knowledge of the false Cleveland Child Sexual Abuse, and the method the medical profession used to prove the case against innocent parents, not forgetting I am an innocent grandparent also acussed of being a perpetrator of Unexplained injury of my grandchild, whom the state could not pay enough money for me to foster a child, without researching for myself facts, and their is enough technology out their before I would harbour/foster or adopt on the states say so
There are miscarriages, and there are abusive parents who hurt and damage their kids. If your children are in the former category you have my sympathy. However, many of the kids we look after are clearly better away from their parents, and in due course adopted to a warm friendly family.
Nothing says this more clearly than the young people who have been through the process and now seek to help other children in similar situations, by helping recruit more adopters and foster carers.
This particular case seems dreadful, and my heart truly goes out to both sets of parents. I sincerely hope something can be worked out that helps all those involved, and which still offers certainly for those children correctly adopted.
Do you know that social workers lie to foster carers as to why children are placed with them? They certainly cannot allow you to see the case files.
Obviously I am aware that there will be children who go to foster carers who have blatantly been abused at home due to fractures, bruises, burns etc and obvious wetting, fear of touch, bathing, getting undressed, that’s not rocket science.
I’m just pointing out that you don’t get the story as it happened, it’s usually sexed up mercilessly
I do not judge, I state fact, your perspective of Family courts is everything within these courts is done in the best interests of children, hopefully for you, your perspective is right, lest we forget at the end of the day as Christians, we all face judgement day
@ Fosterer5 – whilst it may be correct subjectively to state that “many of the kids we look after are clearly better away from their parents, and in due course adopted to a warm friendly family”, that is only accurate in the context of the UK’s broken and dysfunctional “care” system. Objectively, it would clearly be better for children to remain with their parents in a warm and friendly family and resources would be better employed by being diverted from rescuing, and concentrated on repairing. When a problem persists from generation to generation to generation, surely we have to re-think the solutions?
We are not all Christians . This is not a Christian country as a country cannot be a Christian as it cannot make a decision itself. Christianity is a minority religion within the UK just as Islam is. The vast majority of the population follow no religion. You are not a Christian by being a “good” person by rather by admitting that you are a bad person and asking Christ to forgive your sins. Many people will tick a box saying that they are a Christian but actually leave Christ out of the equation. Those people who HAVE made a decision to follow Christ therefore tend to see their faith as central to their life as any Muslim.There is a problem within the courts as Judges do not also understand this,hence they come up with some rather strange decisions based on the wishy washy assumption that we are a Christian country rather than the faith of the person is more important to them than life itself.
It is interesting though that a higher percentage of Christians ( this is not scientific ,just through what I have observed) do seem to end up in the family court, which is surprising considering they are less likely to lead chaotic lifestyles and families are more likely to be stable.
Andrew sorry to go all religious on you, I will try and stick to politics in the future.
Christianity is not based on being a part of a congregation attending church, it is a way of life, a balance of conscience right or wrong part of falsehood or truth, self conscious choices and living with the consequences
The mother (only) of my grandchild, was tried in a Magistrates Court Unexplained Injury, in the birth certified name of her child, case dismissed, Innocent of Unexplained Injury
Redcar & Cleveland Social Service department, lead by Askew & Askew outside solicitors firm,
Changed my grandsons birth certified name to a name in which no actual child exists covered-up, details he had been transferred from Middlesbrough General Hospital to South Cleveland by not even mentioning, in the child care case that he had been transferred with a different child’s accident report, that had nothing to do with investigation of Cerebral Atrophy condition which were the instructions from his family doctor reported in his covered-up medical file and the reason his mother was found innocent in the Magistrates Court
Change the child’s birth certified name, pay doctors for possibility scenario accident details
lose your child.
Unless the details of allegations are in a published judgment, this would be in breach of comment rules. I won’t take this one down (unless asked by one of the people complained about here), because I appreciate how painful care proceedings can be and how much it can hurt and leave a lot of anger that people want to express. But for the future – the comments rules are that individual cases are only discussed if there’s a published judgment.
In this case the magistrates case was brought after the Family Court case and the
parents found innocent, now, the parents allowed to persue action to get their baby back, my grandsons case was the other way round, Mother only, innocent in the Magistrates Court first, then change of his name and a family court case brought against the mother only, father had to request permission to be party, we grandparents, witnesses, the first comment is a QC I thought maybe she might be able to clarify the difference, the only published judgement (without informing the reader the childs name was not his birth certified name you did publish)
was the court of appeal,