High Court prevents Social Services from removing child from prospective adopter

17 April 2013

The High Court in England and Wales granted an injunction under human rights law to prevent Social Services in England from removing a child from a prospective adopter. The prospective adopter suffered health difficulties and had lost her sight.

The case involved a new born baby who was abandoned by her mother at birth. The baby was born prematurely and spent considerable time in hospital before being healthy enough to be discharged. Upon discharge the baby was placed in foster care. After a period in foster care, the baby was matched to a prospective adopter. The prospective adopter was a single woman who had a full time career. The baby was then placed with this lady. The lady began to experience problems with her sight and after medical investigations it was found that she had a brain tumour, requiring immediate attention.

The baby had been with the prospective adopter for a period of 10 weeks thus allowing her to file a formal application for adoption to the Court. However on the same day that this was allowed, the prospective adopter was admitted to hospital. Detailed plans were made in relation to the proposed care of the baby whilst she was hospitalised which lasted 3 weeks. After medical treatment and upon discharge from hospital, the prospective adopter found that she had lost her sight. She together with the baby were cared for by friends.

After discharge from hospital, the prospective adopter consulted with her Solicitors and lodged a formal application to the Court for adoption. On the same day Social Services wrote to the prospective adopter advising of their intention to remove the baby.

Further legal advice was sought and proceedings were lodged before the High Court for an order to prevent Social Services from taking this action.

The Judge in considering the case was critical of Social Services and their lack of assessment as to whether the prospective adopter could adequately care for the baby. Further the Judge found that Social Services made assumptions which were discriminatory by automatically ruling the prospective adopter out without proper enquiry or investigation.  The Judge also was critical of the lack of support offered to the prospective adopter following her decline in her health.

RCW - v - A Local Authority [2013] EWHC 235 (Fam)

Jenna Boyce -  Solicitor

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Disclaimer: No information in this article shall be construed as legal advice. The information is offered for general purposes only based on the current law when the information was first displayed on this website. You should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified solicitor on any specific legal enquiry.

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