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(Court of Appeal, Patten, McFarlane, Floyd LJJ, 18 October 2013)
The 2-year-old child was removed from his young parents' care due to a number of concerns for his safety. The local authority, supported by the children's guardian, sought care and placement orders with a care plan for adoption. The maternal grandparent, EB, sought to care for the child under a special guardianship order. EB was registered blind and was separated from the maternal grandmother, EG, following EB's gender reassignment. The maternal uncle offered to assist EB in caring for the child during the first few months of the placement.
The judge ruled out the mother as a possible carer due to the fact that the mother was at times unable to ensure her own safety let alone that of the child. No appeal was sought from that decision.
In relation to EB the judge made specific findings including EB's inability to deal with the mother and that there was a real concern over EB's ability to manage looking after a child as a single carer with a disability and also managing work and financial commitments. Weighing up all of the evidence the judge found that the concerns outweighed the advantages and that adoption was in the child's best interests. EB appealed.
The judgment was in a linear form and did not make it clear that the judge had conducted the balancing exercise in order to make the crucial decision. Despite the unhelpful structure of the judgment it was clear that the judge had a number of relevant long-term factors in mind which demonstrated that he did engage sufficiently with the core, long-term welfare decision in the case. He had in mind the extreme seriousness of taking the adoption route and the requirement for proportionality. The decision had to stand. Appeal dismissed.
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