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03 JUN 2010

ADOPTION: Oxfordshire County Council v X, Y and J [2010] EWCA Civ 581

(Court of Appeal; Master of the Rolls, Moses and Munby LJJ; 27 May 2010)

The birth parents wished to be sent a photo annually of their child who they had given up for adoption. All other parties wished to permit the birth parents to view the photo at the local authority offices annually. The judge ruled in favour of the birth parents.

Applicable welfare checklist was that in the Children Act 1989 because the adoption order had already been made in respect of the child. The judge had failed to refer (as had counsel at first instance) to authorities stating that it is very rare to impose unwanted conditions on adoptive parents. The judge had considered the impact of possession of the photos on the likelihood of any interference with the adoption. In fact the judge should have been focusing on whether the adopters' fear of such interference was unreasonable in that it had no reasonable basis. To undermine the adopters' security was to harm the child's welfare. The mere fact that the judge came to a different conclusion to the adopters as to the significance of risk was no answer if the adopters' fears were reasonable.

Appeal allowed. Whether or not sending of such photos to adopters was usual practice, as the Official Solicitor claimed, imposing such a condition on adopters was not.


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