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10 DEC 2014

A and B v Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Others [2014] EWFC 47 (Fam)

A and B v Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Others [2014] EWFC 47 (Fam)
(Family Court, Holman J, 5 December 2014)

[The judicially approved judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in the Family Law Reports [2015] 2 FLR 381]

Adoption – Child placed with adopters for 13 months – True genetic father came forward after application for adoption order made – Paternal aunt put herself forward as a potential carer – Whether an adoption order should be made – Whether the child should be moved to live with the paternal aunt

Please see attached file below for the full judgment.

The application for an adoption order in respect of a 20-month-old child was refused and the plan for the child to be moved to live with the paternal aunt was approved.

The child was removed from the care of his mother shortly after his birth and placed in foster care due to the mother’s problems with alcohol and drugs. The professionals involved accepted the mother’s assertion that her partner was the child’s genetic father. Despite the fact that the child had dark skin in comparison to his parents, the professionals accepted the father’s assertion that his mother was Burmese and that the child’s skin would become paler with age. The child was placed with prospective adopters following an unopposed care and placement order was granted.

When the adopters applied for an adoption order another man came forward claiming he was the child’s father. DNA testing soon established this to be true. Although he was not able to care for the child full time himself he asserted that the paternal aunt should care for him so that he could grow up within his birth family. The mother was white while the father and his sister were black African. The prospective adopters were also white. The child was now 20 months old and he had spent the last 13 months with the adopters.

Professional opinion was divided. The social workers involved with the family supported an adoption order and the child psychologist was of the same opinion. The director of safeguarding children and families and the interim strategic director of children’s services firmly resisted the adoption as did the child’s guardian.

The child had settled well and formed a good attachment with the adopters who had been described as the perfect adopters. The aunt had been thoroughly and positively assessed by an independent social worker. She already had a son of her own and had prepared him for the possibility of another child joining their family. She had made it clear she was very receptive to advice and guidance from the social workers.

The judge made it clear that he was not adopting the test of whether nothing else would do but rather determined the issue on the basis of the child’s welfare throughout his life. If the balance of factors came down against making an adoption order it would not be made. If the issues were evenly balanced and it was not possible to say that making an adoption order would be better for him than not doing so then an adoption order would not be made.

The judge came to the firm conclusion that. It was positively better for the child not to be adopted but to move to live with the aunt. The adoption application was dismissed and pursuant to s 24(4) of the Adoption and Children Act the placement order would be revoked.

Case No: SE 24/14
Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWFC 47 (Fam)


Royal Courts of Justice

Date: 05/12/2014


(sitting in public)

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A and B

- and -

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
The mother
The genetic father
The aunt
Miss D
The child

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Mr Nicholas Power appeared on behalf of A and B
Mr Charles Prest appeared on behalf of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
The mother was served but was not present or represented
Miss Caroline Ford appeared on behalf of the genetic father
Mr Andrew Wynne, generously acting pro bono, appeared on behalf of the aunt
Miss Dawn Tighe, generously acting pro bono, appeared on behalf of Miss D
Miss Alison Hunt appeared on behalf of the child’s guardian

Hearing dates: 17 – 21 November 2014, sitting at Sheffield

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A and B v Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Others [2014] EWFC 47 (Fam)
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