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Separating twins

 

 

There’s a notorious study from the 1960s, in which an American organisation, the Louise Wise Adoption Agency under the request of a child psychologist, Peter Neubauer, placed twins in separate adoption placements, with a number of different twin pairs, so they could be followed up by psychologists in later life to see whether they, as adults, had similarities (which would give credence to nature / genetic factors being the most dominant) or differences (which would give credence to nurture/environmental factors being the bigger influence on children). It’s the sort of thing that makes us shudder now.  And rightly makes us think that separation of twins is a huge, huge life-changing decision, never to be made lightly.

 

This case isn’t as bad as that, because the separation came about more by a combination of incompetence, lack of thought and dogma that adoption is the best thing always even if it means splitting twins, rather than just carelessly using children as unwitting experiments, but it is still bad.

 

Readers may remember Keehan J opening a can of judicial whup-ass on Herefordshire just before Christmas. After I finished writing THAT post, I found this judgment, which….well. You’ll see.

BT & GT (Children : twins – adoption) [2018] EWFC 76 (29 November 2018)

 

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2018/76.html

 

1.I am concerned with two children, BT and GT who are twins who were born in 2010. It is almost impossible to imagine the circumstances in which it would be considered appropriate to separate twins and place them for adoption by different prospective adopters. This is, however, what occurred in this case and I have before me an application by a couple, whom I shall refer to as A and B, to adopt BT and an application by a single carer whom I shall refer to as C, to adopt GT.

 

 

2.As I shall set out in some detail, I am satisfied and find that the court is in the position of considering applications to adopt the twins in two separate homes because of the incompetence and serial failings of the local authority, Herefordshire Council, and the egregious behaviour of some of its former staff.

 

  1. The failings of this local authority have been utterly appalling. Whilst I accept the assurances of the director of children’s services and of the assistant director that significant and substantial reforms will be made and effected, no child should ever again be cared for in the manner BT and GT have had to endure at the hands of this local authority nor suffer the woeful lack of rational care planning. Further no prospective adopter should ever again have to endure the treatment meted out to A, B and C in this case.

 

This was a case in which twins born in 2010, were made the subject of Care Orders and Placement Orders (authorising them to be placed for adoption) in 2015 – the plan approved by the Court at that stage being that the Local Authority would search for an adoptive placement for the twins together for nine months, and if one was not found to search for a long term foster placement for them together.

 

 

 

 

22.On 19th March 2015 HHJ Hooper QC made all five children the subject of care orders and made placement orders in respect of BT and GT. Their court approved care plans provided for them to be placed together with a search being made for nine months for an adoptive placement and if the search was unsuccessful the following three months would be devoted to seeking a long-term foster placement for them together. There was no question of the local authority proposing, still less the court approving, a plan for the twins to be separated and placed separately whether in adoptive placements or long-term foster care.

 

 

23.On 10th April 2016, however, a team manager made the decision to place the twins separately for adoption. This plan was endorsed by a LAC Review held the following day. I shall return to consider these decisions in greater detail later in this judgment.

 

We aren’t given a huge amount of background as to the decision to make Care Orders in 2015. We know that the twins father was convicted of multiple sexual offences against children and that he is also serving a 21 year prison sentence. (para 5) and we know that 5 children were removed from the mother and made the subjects of Care Orders and that there were issues of neglect, domestic abuse and alcohol abuse.(paras 17-22)

 

The Judge, Keehan J, was faced at this hearing, with applications by two different adopters to adopt one of the twins each. By the time of the hearing, the children had been in those placements for over a year. The Judge had to decide whether to grant the adoption orders, meaning that the two children would permanently live apart, or to refuse them and move the children from those separate placements into presumably a foster placement together. Understandably the Court was more than vexed at being placed in this position after the event, when it would have been very unlikely to have sanctioned separation of the twins in the first place.

 

Let’s look at why that happened.

 

As we know, the social work team manager took the decision on 10th April 2016 that the children should be placed separately for adoption. Their foster placement, a joint one, broke down on 28th April 2016.

 

 

 

26.The allocated social worker undertook a sibling attachment assessment. The report, approved by the then team manager, is dated 7th July 2016: some three months after the decision had been made to place the twins separately for adoption. It is asserted by the local authority that the social worker, whom I shall refer to as D, gave an oral report on this issue but I do not know when nor to whom this oral report was given. Quite astonishingly and wholly contrary to good social work practice, there is no note or minute of the manager’s decision made on 10th April. Therefore, I do not know what material he considered when making his decision and I do not know the reasons or basis for the same. Thus, I do not know whether he considered the oral report of D. Moreover, I have had no explanation as to why it took D three months to write up her assessment.

 

 

27.I will return to this so-called assessment later in this judgment, but I note in the summary of her report D asserted:

 

 

 

“Having considered the legal, policy, moral and best practice guidance, it is essential that GT and BT have the opportunity of an adoptive family.

 

GT and BT’s care plans have remained to be one of adoption (jointly placed) for a considerable period of time. Over the period of 12 months, family finding attempts have not been successful.”

 

This does not reflect the court’s approved care plan which was for a 9-month search for an adoptive placement together to be followed, if unsuccessful, a by three-month search for a long-term foster placement together. I have been given no explanation as to why or how D in her assessment completely misrepresented the care plan: whether it was deliberate or just an error I do not know.

28.I am satisfied that the prospective adopters were unaware of the flawed decision making process relating to the separation of the twins until these proceedings seeking adoption orders in respect of BT and GT had been commenced.

 

GT was placed with prospective adopters in March 2017, BT in May 2017. The Local Authority ended contact between them, there being just two sessions of contact for twins (aged at that time seven) in a YEAR.

 

 

 

35.They did not then see each other again for seven and a half months until there was a contact visit on 27th October 2017 and then no contact for over four months until a visit took place on 4th March 2018. I do not understand how, why or when the hugely important decision was taken to so severely curtail, indeed deny, the children an ongoing relationship once they had been placed for adoption. For the avoidance of any doubt, it was the local authority which determined this level of contact. I make and intend no criticism of the prospective adopters.

 

 

The Local Authority accepted a large catalogue of failings at the Court hearing

The Local Authority: Actions and Failings

44.The admitted failings of the local authority which led to breaches of BT and GT’s human rights and those of the prospective adopters are set out in Annexe 1 to this judgment. These admitted failings are supplemented by further admissions of failings by the local authority, together with notes of the actions taken by or to be taken by the local authority to prevent, or at least, ameliorate the future risk of such failures of the system and of social work practice occurring. This schedule was prepared by Liz Elgar, the assistant director of children’s services and is set out in Annexe 2 to this judgment.

 

 

45.The admitted breaches of human rights and the schedule of failings of the local authority are extensive and grave. They relate to the whole operation of children’s services in Herefordshire. They are both systematic and the fault of individual social workers, team managers and line managers.

 

 

46.This said I commend the approach taken in this case by the new management team of children’s services, including in particular the Director, Chris Baird, and the Assistant Director, Liz Elgar, for the open and forthright manner in which they have responded to the divers criticisms made. I am reassured by their expressed commitment to a root and branch reform of children’s services in Herefordshire and a commitment to ensure that far more robust systems are in place to ensure compliance with good social work practice.

 

 

 

  1. The breaches of human rights may be summarised:

 

  1. i) a failure to undertake a thorough analysis of the need to change the care plans for the children and a failure to consider appropriately the consequences of separating the twins;

 

  1. ii) a failure to disclose in full detail the needs of, the challenging behaviours of and the past life experiences of BT or GT to their prospective adopters;

 

iii) a member of the social work team deleting references to the children’s challenging violent behaviours from the Child Permanence Reports (‘CPR’) and the Adoption Support Plans;

 

  1. iv) the wholly unmeritorious decision and issuing of a s.35(2) notice to remove BT from his placement with A and B;

 

  1. v) the undue stresses and strains caused to the prospective adopters by:

 

  1. a) the local authority’s flawed decisions; and

 

  1. b) as a result, these prolonged court proceedings which have had an adverse impact on BT and GT’s experience of family life;

 

  1. vi) the failure to consider properly the alternative plan for placing BT or GT in long term foster placements and to adhere to the court approved care plans;

 

vii) the failure to hold adoption reviews rather than LAC reviews (adoption reviews have an entirely different mandatory criteria to consider than LAC reviews: see Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005, regulation 36); and

 

viii) the failure of the Independent Reviewing Officer system to take any steps to secure any cogent care planning for the children and/or to protect them from the consequences of flawed and/or ill-considered decisions.

48.The schedule of supplemental failings set out in Annexe 2 may be summarised as follows:

 

 

 

  1. i) a failure in the original care plans to set out what the local authority would do if a placement together could not be found after 12 months;

 

  1. ii) a lack of management oversight;

 

iii) a failure to follow the court approved care plan to a correct conclusion;

 

  1. iv) a failure in the decision-making process to place the twins separately for adoption;

 

  1. v) the failure to acknowledge the significance of maintaining the legal sibling relationship of the twins;

 

  1. vi) the failure to acknowledge the legal relationship between BT and GT and their older siblings;

 

vii) the failure to record the reasons why a manager made the decision to place the twins separately for adoption on 10th April 2016;

 

viii) the failure of the LAC review on 11th April 2016 to consider pursuing a plan of long term foster care or commissioning further expert report(s) on the issue of placing the twins separately;

 

  1. ix) the failure to promote contact between the twins once they had been placed for adoption;

 

  1. x) the failure in applying full and accurate information in the CPRs and Adoption Support Plans including the adoption team manager wrongly and inappropriately deleting information about the twins challenging behaviours;

 

  1. xi) the failures of the IROs to take any steps to oversee and/or challenge the local authority’s decisions;

 

xii) the failure of the ADM decision making process, namely to fail to consider the impact on the children throughout the whole of their lives of separating them; and

 

xiii) the failure of the local authority, as a result of poor record keeping, to provide accurate evidence to the court.

49.Most regrettably all these admitted failures were not the end of this long litany of errors and misrepresentations. On the second day of the final hearing the local authority discovered there were documents and records, which contrary to previous orders and/or the local authority’s general duty of disclosure, had not been disclosed to the court or to the parties. When the disclosure was made it amounted to some 200 pages. I gave the parties the whole of the following day to read and digest the documents disclosed and to take instructions.

 

 

50.It caused the prospective adopters considerable distress to discover that within this disclosed material were matters relating to the children which had not previously been communicated to them by the local authority nor had it been communicated to the adoption agencies supporting the two sets of prospective adopters. [REDACTED TO PRESERVE CONFIDENTIALITY].

 

 

51.The emotional pressure on the prospective adopters was great enough without the added burden of having to receive and cope with the new information revealed. I do not understand the explanation offered as to why this material had not been disclosed earlier, other than it resulted from yet another error by an employee of the local authority. I received no explanation as to why the information revealed had not been previously communicated to the prospective adopters or their supporting adoption agencies.

 

 

However, over and above that, emerged the actions of the social worker who had written the sibling assessment (after the conclusion of proceedings) that formed the basis of the decision to separate these twins

 

 

 

52.It then emerged that the then social worker, D, the author of the sibling assessment had misquoted the opinions of Dr Mair Edwards, a consultant psychologist, who had prepared a report on the children for the purposes of the original care proceedings. The extract contained in the sibling assessment of July 2016 reads as follows:

 

 

 

Dr Edwards concluded, “If GT and BT were not twins, I would be recommending separate placements for them as GT’s challenging and bossy behaviours do impact on BT’s abilities to express himself and he therefore tends to focus in on his love of mechanical objects and machinery, and withdraws from social interactions…Both GT and BT have significant learning difficulties and developmental delay and will have significant needs throughout their childhoods. Their long-term placement would therefore need to be fully aware of the high level of commitment that will be required, and the ongoing support that the children are likely to require from agencies and services throughout their lives””

 

It will be noted three dots appear about halfway down the extract indicating some material had been omitted

 

One hopes, of course, that the three dots are just indicating that there was extraneous and irrelevant information contained which has been snipped out to provide an accurate and thorough summary of what Dr Edwards had said.

 

Oh, dear.

 

Counsel for the children’s guardian, Mr Kingerley referred me to Dr Mair Edwards 2014 report. The passage omitted from the above extract reads as follows:

 

“When observing them together there was very limited interaction (other than GT telling BT to “no talk”), and no real sense of a sibling relationship. However, they are twins, and the sense of loss in later years at being separated would almost certainly be more detrimental to their welfare than placing them together.”

53.The words omitted completely change the import and meaning of the quoted section of Dr Mair Edwards’ report. The social worker was not called to give evidence before me nor has she been given the opportunity to give an explanation. Therefore, I will not name her in this judgment. The prospects of this being an innocent omission are unlikely in the extreme. It is not an opening or concluding sentence that has been missed. It is a passage in the middle of the quoted passage from the report and the deliberate omission of some words was marked by three dots. Given also that the omitted section of Dr Mair Edwards’ report sets out an opinion wholly contrary to the ultimate recommendation of the sibling assessment, the only credible explanation for this omission is a deliberate act to mislead a reader of the assessment to conclude that the recommendation of separate placements for adoption was consistent with the opinion of Dr Mair Edwards. It manifestly was not.

 

 

54.I was informed by counsel for the children’s guardian that in another case, some years ago, the self-same social worker was alleged to have tampered with a document. I asked for the issue of the social worker’s role in drafting the sibling assessment to be referred to the Director of Children’s Services and to the Chief Executive of Herefordshire Council. The social worker had left the local authority in March 2018 but had later been re-engaged in some role on a zero hours contract. It was proposed, in the Adoption Support Plans, that this social worker would be carrying out life story work for the twins. The following day I was told by counsel for the local authority that her contract had been terminated with immediate effect.

 

 

The Judge went on to explore the other expert advice that the Local Authority had (quite properly) obtained when deciding whether to separate twins and if so, how to best manage this so that the damage could at least be reduced (but sadly had largely ignored)

55.The issue of separating the twins was considered by a child and adolescent therapist with the adoption team, in her report of 12th April 2016. On the issues of separation and future contact between the twins if the decision was made to place them separately she said:

 

 

 

“Making the decision that twins should be separated is problematic. Although each child’s needs may be better met in separate families, they have been constant companions to date, and will find separation confusing and stressful. In addition they share a common heritage and history. The complexities of these children’s circumstances and individual needs should be considered at length and in detail, so that a decision can be made which will be of most benefit to both the children.

 

If they are to be separated, it would seem vital that there is ongoing contact between them. Both children would find the separation difficult in the short term especially, and would need the reassurance of frequent contact.

 

Ongoing contact would rely on two adoptive families both being willing to commit to this. If one child is adopted and one remains in foster care, then contact with the adopted sibling needs to be carefully considered, due to the link to the birth family.

 

Separation would obviously need to be done with a carefully constructed programme that takes both children’s needs into account.”

56.In light of this clear recommendation I am at a loss to understand why the local authority did the exact opposite. Prior to placement with the prospective adopters the twins had a ‘see you later’ contact session and that over the succeeding eleven months they had contact on just two occasions. The local authority was unable to explain who had made this decision for there to be very limited contact between the twins post placement or why this decision had been made.

 

If, like me, you are waiting to see what the reasons given by the Local Authority for the need to separate the twins in the first place was then you, I and the Judge were all equally frustrated that the reasoning just never materialised

 

 

 

 

57.The catalogue of the local authority’s errors and failings in this case is troubling and hugely lamentable. I do not minimise any of the admitted breaches of human rights and/or the other admitted failures by highlighting what I consider to be the most egregious failures, namely:

 

 

 

  1. i) the deletion of important and highly relevant information from the CPRs and Adoption Support Plans by the adoption team manager. This could only have been done to mislead the prospective adopters about BT and GT’s respective behaviours and needs with a view to increasing the prospects of them agreeing to a placement of BT or GT with them;

 

  1. ii) the deliberate and misleading selective quote from the report of Dr Mair Edwards in the so-called ‘sibling assessment’. I am satisfied that the social worker began this apparent assessment with the end result, that of separating the twins, already decided and wrote an assessment to support that conclusion. I do not understand why this assessment was written up three months after the decision had been taken on 10th April 2016 to place the twins separately for adoption or why this decision was not stayed pending the completion of a sibling assessment;

 

iii) the failure to give full and frank information about the twins to their prospective adopters and their respective supporting adoption agencies;

 

  1. iv) the complete and utter failure of the IRO service to satisfy any of its statutory duties in respect of BT and GT. The IROs and the IRO service did absolutely nothing to protect and promote the welfare best interests of the children and did nothing to challenge the local authority’s dreadful and, at times, irrational decision making and care planning; and

 

  1. v) the failure for there to be any note or record of the matters considered, the documents read or the reasons for taking the life changing decision to place the twins separately for adoption taken on 10th April 2016. It is astonishing given the highly unusual and momentous nature of the decision.

 

70.Ms Elgar, the assistant director of children’s services, and Ms Leader, the team manager, gave relatively brief evidence. Ms Elgar had been in post from June 2018 and Ms Leader became the team manager in July 2017. They both offered profuse apologies to the prospective adopters for the actions and failings of the local authority.

 

 

71.Ms Elgar could not explain how or why the material which had been disclosed at this hearing had not been disclosed at an earlier time or had been ‘lost’ by the local authority. She recognised the local authority’s serious shortcomings and sought to assure the court that action had been, and would continue to be, taken to resolve the identified and admitted failings of the local authority. She accepted the deletions from the CPRs and Adoption Support Plans resulted from a deliberate and wrongful act by an employee of the local authority.

 

 

72.It was Ms Leader who, having heard certain observations by me, checked the electronic records and discovered a considerable amount of material had not been disclosed. She readily accepted the decision to terminate BT’s adoptive placement in late 2017 had been wrong and the whole episode had been badly dealt with by the local authority. Mr Noble had noted that some of the documents disclosed in the hearing related to events some months or even up to two years before but had only appeared on the local authority’s computer system within days of each other in February or March 2018. When asked why this was, Ms Leader said that the previous social worker, D, had got seriously behind with her administration and had thus spent the last few days of her employment uploading two years worth of notes, records and other documents onto the system. When asked how this could have been allowed to happen, she could give no answer other than to say it was not good practice. This ranks as a masterful understatement and was a completely inadequate response. For the last seven or eight months of the social worker’s employment in children’s services, Ms Leader had been her line manager and had taken no effective steps to remedy this extraordinary state of affairs.

 

 

73.Finally, Ms Leader confirmed that no note, record or document had been found relating to the decision made on 10th April 2016 that BT and GT should be placed separately for adoption

 

The Court then was faced with what to do for these twins in the future, it having become abundantly clear that they ought not to have been separated, but that the independent expert analysis was now that they had settled with their prospective adopters and moving them would be profoundly damaging to them.

 

88.I have struggled with the concept that a court could find that it was in the welfare best interests of twins to place them separately for adoption. From the time the case first came before me up to and during the course of this final hearing I was keen to find a route by which BT and GT could be reunited in a single placement. If this proved impossible to achieve, I was keen to find a legal framework, short of adoption, which could afford them the degree of permanence, stability and security which I entirely accept they both so desperately require.

 

 

89.For the avoidance of any doubt, as I observed in the course of the hearing, in expressing these views I did not for one moment doubt the love, commitment and care which A, B and C have afford to BT and GT: quite the reverse. I wholeheartedly commend both sets of prospective adopters for the enormous great love and devotion they have shown to BT and GT, for their unswerving commitment to them and for the superlative care they have given BT and GT. It is plain that, notwithstanding the grave harm and damage they suffered in their past lives, they are thriving beyond expectations in the care of A and B and C. The stoicism each of these adults have displayed in the course of these lengthy proceedings has been admirable.

 

 

90.Nevertheless, BT and GT are not just simply siblings they are twins. In making adoption orders in favour of two separate sets of prospective adopters, I would sever the legal relationship of BT and GT as brother and sister. Further I would sever their legal relationship with their elder siblings. Whilst the latter is very important, it is the former consequence of adoption that principally troubles me.

 

 

91.There is no question of it being a realistic option in the welfare best interests of the children for either of them to return to the care of either parent. The mother manifestly is not capable of caring for them and neither is the father. In any event, he is serving a very substantial custodial sentence and is convicted of offences of child abuse.

 

 

92.Is there any other realistic placement together or apart? On the basis of the powerful and compelling evidence presented by the Anna Freud Centre and the most impressive and persuasive oral evidence of Dr Morris and Ms Mautner, supported by the children’s guardian and the local authority’s assistant director, and the compelling evidence of the prospective adopters, the answer is a resounding no.

 

93.I am of the view that if this local authority had exercised good social work practice and exercised a modicum of child focused judgment in its decision-making processes, there was, in my judgment, a real possibility that the children could have been placed and lived together for a substantial period of their childhoods. They had, I note, lived together in their foster placement for nearly three years albeit not without presenting their foster carers with immense challenges from time to time. Whatever the possibilities of being placed together, I am completely satisfied that the actions of this local authority denied them the opportunity of this option being properly explored which is, to put it mildly, deeply regrettable and will have an impact, great or slight, for the whole of BT and GT’s lives.

 

 

94.I am satisfied on the totality of the evidence before me that I cannot now contemplate moving either BT or GT, or both of them, from their placements without causing them serious harm and, potentially, lifelong grave harm. They are well settled with their prospective adopters and are plainly well integrated into what they consider to be their respective families. They are, for the first time in their lives, allowing themselves to believe they have their forever family. If one or other of them or both of them were to be moved, I accept the evidence of the Anna Freud Centre, that one or both of them would be devastated. They would suffer a sense of considerable loss, their behaviour would undoubtedly regress and they are likely never to allow themselves to trust a future carer or others involved in their lives: even if not likely, there is a substantial risk this would be the consequence of a removal.

 

 

95.To embark on the removal of the children with all the attendant serious adverse consequences cannot, in my judgment, be in the welfare best interests of either BT or GT. Accordingly, I am now persuaded and satisfied that both BT and GT must remain in the care of their respective prospective adopters.

 

The Court was driven to make the adoption orders, though not without a great deal of anguish.

 

Damages claims were agreed and settled.  (I think they seem very low for the twins, but that’s a personal view and opinion rather than a legal one, as damages is not my field)

 

  1. The damages agreed in satisfaction of A and B’s HRA claim were £5,000.00. The same sum was accepted by C in respect of her HRA claim.
  2. When considering the infant settlement approval of BT and GT’s respective claims for breaches of their human rights I had the benefit of advice on quantum by Mr Kingerley dated 16th November 2018. The local authority offered in settlement of the children’s claims the sum advised by counsel, namely £20,000.00 each. I was satisfied in all the circumstances of this case and having regard to recent authorities on the issue of HRA damages, that these were entirely reasonable damages to offer just satisfaction to both children. Accordingly, I approved the settlement achieved for BT and for GT. Further I made the declarations of the breaches of human rights of BT, GT, A & B and C in the terms agreed and set out in Annexes 1, 3 and 4 to this judgment.

 

 

 

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About suesspiciousminds

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

10 responses

  1. Whilst I understand the separation of twins! It’s equally devastating for siblings also! Brother and sister! I know i see it on a daily basis! I wonder if these twins will be able to see each other! Our granddaughter has been denied that and in my opinion this will effect them for the rest of their lives!

    • Whilst I understand the separation of twins! It’s equally devastating for siblings also! Brother and sister! I know i see it on a daily basis! I wonder if these twins will be able to see each other! Our granddaughter has been denied that and in my opinion this will effect them for the rest of their lives! Sorry let me change i understand the separation of twins! I don’t think any siblings should be separated wether they are twins or not

  2. What a disgusting judge ! He shows overwhelming concern for the adopting parents and none at all for the birth mother.I realise that the father is in prison and for all I know the birth mother really was as the judge alleges “manifestly unable to care for her children”,but must we really take his word for that without hearing from her????.
    As I understand it ,if an adoption breaks down the birth parents must be informed and if a year has passed they must be given the opportunity to reapply for custody.In practice of course these parental rights are callously ignored and I daresay the birth mother is still unaware to this day of the disgraceful treatment of her children by the local authority and the judge both of whom really are themselves “manifestly unable to care” for these unfortunate children ! !

  3. ashamedtobebritish

    Your first blog to have me completely in tears. How very, very cruel.
    Where is the empathy & compassion for these children – it’s child abuse and the la should be charged with such

  4. This Case is so similar to mine ‘re serious procedural errors. An old friend (as in known them and of them a number of years) Jerry L sent me this story, telling me it smacks of my Case. Except it didn’t involve twins.

    In my Case, I became to learn years later- that my son would end up with not one but two ‘alleged’ adoption certificates and both with different surnames to each other (years apart, once he was 17 years old when it changed) No ‘alleged’ adoption-placement breakdown. There had ‘allegedly’ been a mistake with the surname on the ‘alleged’ adoption order. (I say alleged, because i don’t believe one existed and with good reason) How, when Council’s keep copies of Care Case Records which are meant to be updated periodically as to correctness and why did it take at least 10 or more years to find out. Yet, prior to this, no trace could be found of my son through me contacting the GRO on the entire England & Wales adoption register. But I still got sent the newer amended, anotated birth certificate to indicate there had been an Adoption. I still ended up with both true certified copies (full length) of ‘both’ ‘alleged’ adoption certificates. Despite me asking for an explanation, none was given and I’d even been refunded my money for the one said certificate. I’m told the alleged AP/s would have been sent the details with a form and surely they would have been sent the originals. The GRO referred me back to Family Court for me to try and get the much needed answers where I was informed said so called mistakes with the surname would have originated from. This did not stop the addition of any extra added middle name/s!

    Prior to this, I’d had the Judge notice that both the very experienced GAL and the experienced SW fraud on my Case. They were not removed from my Case, although the GAL due to retire, asked to step down from working with my family. The Judge said how disappointed he was in him, he had apparently never seen him (The GAL) who by this time was very red faced do this on another family before. Sure enough I checked with other groups at the time, no one back then had had their Judge spot fraud on their Case in a way any of the parents knew about it; like I did.

    The GAL, a Solicitor as I recall stayed in Court while the rest of us, including myself with PR was made to go outside in the waiting area where an Oral Transcript was done. I have a copy, the conversation does not flow properly and the GAL was told, there would be a copy there if ever ‘he’ needs it. The fraud GAL was actually prioritised over my family and me. He remained on our Case until Adoption decisions were made at least, although both him and the FRAUD Social Worker had already shown they were biased.

    Dr N Banks who I am not restrictied from naming and was one of the top ten phyc’s in the country so my first Solicitor had told me- recommended rehabilitation home be tried first with Social Services support in place. Social Services said they did not have the funds to provide this. This was in the days adoptions were not sped up and we were meant to be given fair chance first.

    The same Judge made them both (GAL and SW) go away and do their work properly. I had been the only one, as mum to consider the feelings of said child if he were to be moved on to adoption now. Same Judge said if he went on to place said child for adoption now, it would breach Article 8 ECHR and not only for my son and I; but also for his 3 siblings. There may have been mention of Article 6 ECHR too. I would have to double check.

    The fraud, the Judge spotted (with an extensive long list for both said Professionals, or so called) was not mentioned as such (ie fraud) in neither the Reserved Judgement or the Final Approved Judgement. Guess whose side said Judge took out of the GAL and the physc by the end of it all.

    Then the Council I can’t no longer name, since I took this back to Family Court over my recent findings, and got restricted mentioning certain names and places; misled the Judge and I as to certain events (although they claimed they didn’t intend to, when I raised it later in writing) and i got responded to in writing (all I sent to the Judge at Court, same Judge who has restricted me) and the Council may I add.

    There are also two ‘alleged’ adoption years which was held on the Council’s written records, files. The years the Council and Cafcass have held on written record for when my Case ran differ. At least 2 years I spent trying to get said Cafcass files, even going through my local MP to go through POH. I’d only got sent a few mm of paperwork, had files allegedly destroyed for Caffcass only for them to retrieve them again as I recall and the reason given for me receiving so little, was because they could not dechipher the GAL’s handwriting. The GAL had wrote tall capitals and the tiniest lower case writing I think I have ever seen, from seeing what I was sent.

    I am now of the strong belief, that whenever adoptions are contested and parents refuse to sign Section 20 CA1989 that any said children affected have not really been adopted at all but have really been placed in Long Term Foster Care all along without their parents knowledge regardless of them maintaining parental responsibility right up until an adoption order is made.

    I strongly believe that parents should be sent copies of adoption orders and adoption certificates mandatory, where they themselves have not physically harmed their child. Even where ones have, it can of been in play so not deliberate. However, I have witnessed NAI still being used as a falsehood excuse even when a Case went first to Crown Court and said Judge said had the injury been deliberate, he would have jailed said parent who caused it. My own thoughts (I went on to suffer a breakdown and any help I needed came much too late, same for my children if at all- ‘re not done genuinely or in time) was used against me to suggest I could be a risk ‘re significant harm. Once this got proved wrong, really it just got lowered to risk of emotional harm. But not in a way you would know it Jim.

    In my recent Case I brought back to the Family Court’s attention, I was told there was no jurisdiction ‘re this side of my application (The other side was for requesting permission to use Family Court documents, belated which I suceeded for that part) and the reason I was given was because the Judge believed said child had been adopted despite me challenging this. Post adoption- they apparently have no jurisdiction even when there is valid doubt adoption took place with evidence. I had already made a/and the most successful application for post adoption contact (better level of, with a view to face to face after said son tried finding us some years back) as I understand it in England. I was fortunate to have a Family orientated Judge who was lied to by the other side and I’d audio recorded the meeting when 2 SW’s attended my property. Once I made this known, an adoption Manageress went on to leave her job position. Connected? She refused to do anything about it after initially asking me to give her a week as I best recall. I also got lectured for recording, as opposed to the lies, when I said my son tried finding us as told to me by SS and in front of 2 witnesses one a GP friend and unbelievably she was only really concerned about that ‘re said recording.

    Reason said Judge believed my son had been adopted? backtracking to my latest Case where I represented myself- Well this was because the Judge saw the Care Order (presumably the last one) so because he said he could see adoption was the intention he appeared satisfied by that my son had been adopted.

    Anything could have and did change, between said Care Order and the ‘alleged’ adoption order being made. This is because of the said serious procedural errors as I’ve described already, above. Look what if he could have come home and I also got sent a copy of my son’s original birth certificate through the post (The second LT SW asked to ‘borrow’ for the Judge/another lie) way before the ‘alleged’ adoption order got made (which post dates the second adoption year the LA has had on written record by 4 years) I stood no chance. This was all obviously pre decided whatever it was. I requested my son home with a CP in writing through my Solicitor and got took to Court for doing so, as I best recall from memory. Yet, Counsel had told me it was my rights to do so and in front of my Solicitor.

    My 200 pages of evidence, were not taken into consideration, no remedy or no serious investigation was not carried out neither. I had to not far off beg the Judge to look at the certificates and the invoice to prove I’d been reimbursed my money for the one. He admitted it was strange or odd but said he still believes my son would have been adopted ‘re these differing certificates.

    I am since led to believe, that some of these errors have been corrected on written record, like I requested but they don’t rush themselves do they. I have received very brief apologies for the two ‘alleged’ adoption years (one of which got found on Consumer Relations files) at the Council after me not far off begging, in writing.

    Neither my son, my other 3 siblings or I as mum have been offered any effective remedy for such serious procedural errors, no compensation in regards to any of this, no offers to investigate further properly and despite me now been in the fortunate position of finally having my son home I am broken and can’t move on until justice is done especially for all my children. I have received very minimal compensation for other things some years back.

    This was all on top of having the same Social Worker stop our face to face on going Contact in Contempt of Court, against the Judge’s decision for it to be dwindled down gradually at only adoption decision stage (in writing) She was not held to account and it had been 18 months before I found out. On top of not being invited to any more Social Services meetings as I should have been, at only adoption decisions stage. Then when I found out through a second Solicitor, I put my son’s best interests first and didn’t try for it because I learnt how distressed he was having it stopped. I couldn’t put him through all that pain again even though the Social Worker was plainly wrong. The Solicitor had said she could help with Contact, but not an appeal. The first Solicitor firm failed us too, saying they could not help beyond adoption decisions stage even though I recall one or two more Hearings after that, but I’d not attended any Adoption Hearing due to being told it’s fruitless once the Judge has his mind made up. Lack of support and information led me on to becoming alcoholic (10 years this coming May I am recovering alcoholic, so have not touched a drop in 10 years) I self harmed and cut my arms to cope with and release the deep trauma with the emotional pain which only took the edge off slightly. I am still grieving now. I still have nightmares now. I ended up being invited to one maybe two more meetings, but again this was not sustained.

    Then I learnt at only Reserved Judgement stage, just around the time this was being done that the first Social Worker out the two long term ones planned to set me up. Nothing I was ever going to do was going to be good enough, because she planned to have my son adopted no matter what and even shared information what would happen with Court Proceedings behind my back with 2 Family Members she swore to confidentiality (so secrecy) In the end, one of them told me when I found out about the FRAUD from Court. They both wrote me Witness Statements, the first Solicitor/firm ensured was ‘not’ put into Court properly by means of a proper application (as discovered through me making a Complaint elsewhere) and I’d been falsely diagnosed with EUPD. The Threshold was based on this for adoption decisions to be made, unbelievably with five so called Professionals all told agreeing with it (Despite not all being medically trained) or no proper assessment carried out first. (So premature false threshold) The SW made it clear she would be using MH against me to two said family members.

    I was bullied and lied to and I knew things were wrong and being hidden from me. I’m at least average intelligence and had several Professionals refer to my intelligence, while Social Services treated me like I was stupid. This was frustrating enough for me in itself, as it was. I never did sign Section 20, through fear it was really adoption papers I could be signing.

    I went on to agree to do CBT therapy voluntarily for me to have a chance to get my boy back, had the Therapist tell me I passed with flying colours with only a few more sessions needed. Just past Reserved Judgement stage, my son was starting to come home for Contact with a view to potential rehabilitation home. I failed on the most silly things. I was told to treat it as a natural home setting which I did. My one son put computer games on for boys, I failed because the games were not suitable for my daughter or me because we’re females. My daughter or I wasn’t into computer games. We’d have preferred things like pampering time. I was very much into growing vegetables and herbs and using natural remedies. Did this really make me such a bad parent? I refused to send my other son back to private residential children’s care home, who it transpired he was being beaten up by staff there. I had the Judge’s and SW’s blessing but I never was sent the outcome of the serious investigation the Judge wanted. This was another reason for my youngest son coming home. He couldn’t be at home for my youngest to- due to his then behaviour issues.

    My daughter, I learnt years later (with written evidence) was engineered into living elsewhere by Children’s social services, who arranged it behind my back; despite me having PR for her. She had to stop running away for my youngest to come home. (It had been habit formed already, but what if this had not all been engineered behind my back?)

    Then lastly, I tried with bringing a Case about ‘re miscarriages of justice/potential-relying on some of my own Cases to demonstrate, as just prior to this the mistakes I learnt of all these years later came to light. I wanted information leaflets pushed through every door in England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales to help parents, grandparents and children to all know their basic rights. I lost that Case (also on Bailli website, public) because it was decided I was doing it for myself, despite all my.research I did and included to help others. Not all I submitted was read neither (they missed the differing adoption year evidence ect) until I pointed it back out again, despite me referring to it repeatedly. I had tried for ‘Kieron’s Law’ and was so concerned, as I still am- I wrote an ebook to help other families learn their rights. It’s basic, colour coded for easy reference based on my own many years of personal experience. I don’t know if it would be welcomed, me sharing it here?

    But in conclusion, said Judge for that Tribunal Case stated ‘The Appellant does not make accusations for the sake of it.’ Despite this, one department told the Judge ‘re the latest Family Court dealings (I can’t name which dept apparently) that I thought I had all the evidence for what I had to say. I said I have, I would not say it if I didn’t have. It just simply did not all get read, except for some of the certificates evidence ‘re FC. One department (same said dept) was the one who misled (or lied/fabricated evidence orally) to the Judge and I and apologised- in writing to us both. My youngest son wanted and still wants answers especially as I do and signed a letter to said effect.

    The later Telephone Hearing ‘re Tribunal, is concealed from the public’s view, was done behind closed doors ( I was told no public would be allowed in, if they turned up)! and I learnt even if the ‘alleged’ (My words) adoption had either happened a different year or not at all (can’t remember the exact wording) that it would not have affected the outcome of the said Tribunal Case, where I represented myself.

    It”s important I share, these mistakes with the said differing ‘alleged’ adoption years, was not known to me at the beginning when I was considered to make a vexatious FOI Request (last 2) ‘re MOJ’s which covers a vast area, not just adoption and foster care, because there are children who remain living at home all throughout as my eldest son did. There are grandparents being failed and children failed and let down without the support or help they deserve.

    I was never stopped seeing, contacting (or by phone) or having 2 of my other children home, either to live or stay over in between time. What was my crime? Just being a loving, caring parent who wanted the best for my children. The help I sought from the very beginning, where I made it clear the help I asked for with my youngest child, was only a ‘temporary’ arrangement, all got engineered with bonds wrongly interfered with where e.g. SS went behind my back to have my daughter live elsewhere (14 moves she had living between my house and a relative’s house) and when push came to shove, neither SS or the police appeared too concerned whenever she ran back home and would leave her there.

    Residency Orders were not worth the paper they was written on, adoption decisions were made at an interim care hearing only and not a final hearing which I’ve heard is illegal? and all in all not a good positive experience whatsoever, where some of the help I needed or was suggested I only got/then had it suggested I could do it once it was too late and time ran out (timescales) where goal posts were put in the way constantly. It’s easy to see that any family could be/has been as easily wrongly affected even though they sought help. A Case can be built on nothing if they so choose and hearsay is rife! and wrong.

    I am now in the process of having and needing counselling and this has been a very hard and emotional read for me. But I am grateful to you at the same time for covering these serious issues.

    When I can, I will come back and read it again properly because my son especially wants answers too and Family Court was and still is aware of this. It is vital all this secrecy is stopped and it is vital hearsay is stopped which is not really evidence is it? It is slander and false accusations and allegations which would surely never be permitted in Criminal Court Proceedings.

    I pray children’s best interests really, truly are put first including the effects when they are older and learn of the real truth from all sides. My youngest currently blames SS for all this but not his ‘alleged’ AP. I too currently have no bad feeling towards his ‘alleged’ AP and only want the best for ‘our son. Because no matter how hurt I am over all this, my youngest has experienced both of us raise him at various times. But it should never have all happened this way at the same time.

    Thank you xx

    • NO Tummum you are NOT forbidden to name anyoe except the child (maybe)
      Here is para 24 of the judgement of Sir James Munby (then President of the familt courts) in ReJ 5A CHILD°
      He cannot I reckon be overuled by any other judges except those of the Supreme Court The LAST SENTENCE IS CRUCIAL !

      24. The court may likewise, by an appropriate injunction, afford anonymity to other participants in the process, for example, an expert, a local authority, or a social worker. Such injunctions, however, will not readily be granted: see the discussions in A v Ward [2010] EWHC 16 (Fam), [2010] 1 FLR 1497, and In re X and others (Children) (Morgan and others intervening) [2011] EWHC 1157 (Fam) , [2012] 1 WLR 182, sub nom Re X, V and Z (Expert Witness), [2011] 2 FLR 1437. As I put it in A v Ward, para [181], any such application in relation to an expert or a social worker must be justified by reference to “the particular circumstances or particular vulnerabilities of specific individuals.” What I referred to as a ‘class’ claim, that is, “a claim that any professional who falls into a certain class – and in the case of … social workers … the membership of the class is very large indeed – is, for that reason, and, truth be told, for that reason alone, entitled in current circumstances to have their identity protected, in plain language to have their identity concealed from the public”, will not succeed. Anonymity should not be extended to experts, local authorities and social workers unless there are compelling reasons. Again, I shall return to this below

      • Thank you Ian for your kind well meaning support as always. Fortunately, I am able to refer to my children’s names in everyday life because this is something I challenged at the time and fortunately in writing.

        All my children are adults now and because we are on some of each other’s media platforms, it was unrealistic the Judge not allowing me to name them. (Even my own name was restricted, which was causing me problems with emails where it was thought any I sent were potentially fraudulent as I recall)

        All these years I waited to build my family up again, then I get slapped with Restrictions which when I questioned it there is- no time limit!

        For me to have not been able to name my children publicly, could have meant me not being able to share with them on some social media platforms; again threatening to destabilise our bond.

        But what did happen, once I raised my concerns (and I managed to get some of the Court Order corrected, where it had partly been drawn up wrong post case management as I recall) was that worse restrictions applied. The said Court Order then got amended.

        I am not restricted from naming the Judge, who was back then a Recorder Judge and put it this way, I am most concerned he has worked his way up to President over the Family Courts. He only wants all this secrecy to get worse.

        If I could post up the edited version of the letter, which my son signed permitting me to continue to speak out on here, then I would. I sent said letter off to the Family Court, waited a very long time for a response and had to prompt them. In the end I was invited to make a new C2 application for permission to be heard. But, said Family Court/Judge was already well aware my son wants answers for him from the time I attended before- as was the LA being aware.

        I don’t want to make a further C2 application if I’m only going to get punished again for raising all the problems with the mistakes and serious procedural errors, if I run the risk of being gagged although I might as well already be.

        I have not given my consent or my signed consent for any of this. The Judge doesn’t want all the mistakes coming out. I hold my hand up, I’d submitted family court documents into another Court setting type. I’d thought I was allowed as I’d done the same with the post adoption application which had been allowed due to it being Family Court related BUT the Judge from the other Court setting type, said nothing more would happen with this and that it would be put to bed (same Judge who wouldn’t have allowed the public into Court where I fought for all families)

        My youngest is also so scared he’ll lose me again and I’ll be sent to prison, but we’ve all suffered miscarriage of justice as a family and it grieves me deeply to see other families who are going through/been through the same.

        Thank you once again, I will save this incase I ever need it. Thank you to Suespicious Minds too for kindly allowing my comments Xx

  5. Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court Photo: BRIAN SMITH FOR THE TELEGRAPH

    David Barrett
    By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent

    6:30PM BST 05 Sep 2013

    Follow

    Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, said the law could not be used to silence the father of the infant – known only as “J” – who was forcibly taken into care by social services on the day he was born, in April this year.

    The judge said a legal challenge should not be used to “spare the blushes” of officials, even if they were subjected to criticism which was “abusive and unjustified”.

    In a ruling which is expected to have far-reaching implications for open justice, the judge demanded more transparency in the courts because publicity in newspapers and on the internet plays a vital role in avoiding miscarriages of justice.

    It comes after widespread concern about secrecy in the family courts – which usually hold hearings in private – and a separate court, known as the Court of Protection, which deals with life-or-death decisions about patient treatment.

    Sir James said: “There is a pressing need for more transparency, indeed for much more transparency, in the family justice system.

    “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.

    “The remedy, even if it is probably doomed to only partial success, is … more transparency. Putting it bluntly, letting the glare of publicity into the family courts.”

    He added: “The fear of such criticism, however justified that fear may be, and however unjustified the criticism, is, however, not of itself a justification for prior restraint by injunction … even if the criticism is expressed in vigorous, trenchant or outspoken terms.”

    The role of an injunction was not to “spare the blushes of those being attacked, however abusive and unjustified those attacks may be”, Sir James said.

    Staffordshire County Council sought an injunction after J’s father posted material about social workers on the internet.

    He also posted video clips on Facebook, the online social network, and YouTube, the video website, of social workers taking the child into care under an emergency protection order. He also identified his child by name.

    The parents’ three other children, aged 10, four and 18 months, have also been taken into care.

    The father had previously described social services as “wicked” and “predatory”, and implied the “SS” were making financial gains from the adoption of his children.

    Staffordshire applied for a wide-ranging reporting restrictions order which would prevent the publication of the child’s name, address and image. It would also have barred anyone from identifying the county council or employees involved in J’s case.

    The judge refused the application and instead made a less restrictive order banning the naming of the child and his parents.

    Crucially, it means J’s father will be free to continue publishing criticism of social workers, including images of his son, providing he does so anonymously.

    The judge said his decision was intended to protect the child from identification while allowing a public debate about the care system.

    Sir James said the internet posed “enormous challenges”, but added: “The law must develop and adapt, as it always has done down the years in response to other revolutionary technologies.

    “We must not simply throw up our hands in despair and moan that the internet is uncontrollable. Nor can we simply abandon basic legal principles.”

    In July, Sir James published guidelines setting out how thousands more court judgments in care and adoption cases should be made public.

    Councils have been criticised for using similar legal methods inappropriately in the past.

    For example, in 2008 a senior judge said East Sussex County Council was guilty of a “wholly unacceptable abuse of power” for rushing through the adoption of an 18 month-old child and blocking a challenge by the child’s natural father.

    • Ian, I am so proud of baby J’s dad and we are good friends and have been some years. I was the one who advised him to record, when his youngest child was being taken and it ended up all over the news and in one of the Traffic documentaries, Children’s social services don’t like parents to know about.

      Thank you so much for all your help and support xx

  6. “carelessly using children as unwitting experiments” That sums up the path the UK has taken in the last 30 ish years, with regard to forced adoption to strangers and the results of the experiment haven’t been collated yet.

    Until 1974 ish the majority of adoptions were to those biologically related, biological mothers (to legitimise), grandparents or in combination with step fathers/new husbands and the biological mother. Society changed socially, so the figures decreased over time and took a sharp decrease after SGOs came into being (showing that many adoptions were still to biological family members).

    We have no idea really of the long term effects of adoption to strangers for the majority of these children and society.

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