Family Law Titles
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(Court of Appeal; Munby, Black, Kitchin LJJ; 21 December 2011)
Adoption proceedings in relation to a one-year-old baby. The mother and father were muslim but from different cultures, the father was married to another woman at time he met the mother and the baby was conceived but the mother not aware of the marriage and his wife was at the time living in a different country. The relationship was hidden from the mother's family as it was likely they would not approve due to cultural differences.
The mother received ante-natal care in a different part of the town from where she lived to avoid her family discovering the pregnancy. A friend took her to social services to arrange adoption. The mother was frightened of the consequences if the pregnancy was discovered. Child protection proceedings were initiated and the risk of physical harm to the mother and baby were found to be high. Following birth, the child was placed with potential adoptive parents and the mother returned home. The father did not have parental responsibility. It was unclear what the father knew of the pregnancy and birth but parents had some contact. The local authority sought permission not to inform father about the child, judge persuaded by police that there was a risk to the mother but ordered that a letter be sent to the father notifying him of the child's birth and that she had been placed for adoption and made a restraining order preventing the father from disclosing any information about the baby or contacting the child or maternal family.
The father sought a residence order, the judge refused and made adoption order, mother consented. The judge had found baby had good attachment to potential adopters, no physical risks whereas very significant risk of honour-based violence if placed with father and his wife and that they lacked the understanding of the emotional risks of moving the child. The father appealed.
Appeal dismissed. Evidence of risk of physical harm had been compelling, findings of emotional attachment could not be faulted, judge had been clear child's welfare required adoption, judge had not been plainly wrong.
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