Court Favours Aunt for Baby Girl Over Adoption Despite Council Opposition
In a recent case, our Kinship Care solicitor, Helen Moody, achieved a significant victory. She successfully advocated for family placement over adoption despite initial opposition from Middlesbrough Council. Here’s a closer look at the case:
In 2017, I acted on behalf of a lady who had been approached by Middlesbrough Council to care for her younger brother. The family history was one of generational drug addiction and subsequent neglect.
Within the proceedings, a psychological assessment was carried out which clearly stated that continued support would be required for the family in order to prevent a placement breakdown. Despite this, the Local Authority did not complete a fostering assessment and proceeded to push their recommendation for a Special Guardianship Order.
In the face of opposition from the Local Authority, I submitted to the Court, on behalf of my client, that a final Care Order was the most appropriate Order and the Judge agreed.
Fast forward 5 years and my client’s niece was removed from her mother at birth. My client put herself forward to care for her and was negatively assessed by the Local Authority. My client sought legal advice from me in respect of the assessment. My view was that I did not consider my client should be ruled out for the reasons that the Local Authority gave. I applied for an Independent Social Worker assessment which the Judge granted.
The independent assessment recommended that the child should be placed with my client and that there were no reasons for her to be adopted when her family were in a position to care for her. It was clear from the Independent Social Worker report what a loving, caring placement this would be and in my client’s care, she will grow up knowing what it is to be safe and secure alongside her cousins, aunt and uncle whilst also maintaining a relationship with her mother and other family members.
The outcome could have been very different if my client had not sought legal advice. If she had accepted the Local Authority’s assessment, her niece would have been placed with an adoptive family with my client unlikely to have any contact with her.
This is a case which shows how vital it is to seek legal advice and how this can completely change the outcome for a child. Particularly in proceedings where the Local Authority plan is for a child to be adopted, the Court must only agree to adoption as a last resort, where all possible family placements have been ruled out after being properly considered.
If you have been assessed negatively to care for a relative child, please seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity by calling 0800 860 6265 and asking to speak to a member of our kinship care team.