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(Family Division, Pauffley J, 12 December 2013)
The parents' two older children had been removed from their care and placed for adoption following a fact-finding hearing found that the father posed a risk of significant physical harm to any child or adult with whom he resided. Further, he held unhealthy or unwholesome attitudes to sexual relationships and he, his mother and step-father (against whom serious sexual findings were made) presented as a cohesive, enmeshed and well-defended unit. The mother was unable to identify or respond appropriately to that risk of harm and was unable to separate herself from the father and his family.
Care proceedings were initiated in response to the, now 10-week-old, baby shortly after birth based upon the serious findings in previous proceedings. The mother and baby initially were placed in a specialist foster placement but after 11 days the mother returned home alone and had only one contact with the baby since.
An independent social worker reported that she did not feel there were any services or support systems which could be put in place to ensure the child's safety in the event of her being returned to the family home. Despite having ample opportunity to change the parents had made no attempt to do so and remained committed to each other. Her conclusion was that the child needed a permanent long-term placement.
Long-term foster care was an extraordinarily precarious legal framework for any child, particularly, for one so young as this child. It would not provide an enduring sense of belonging as was the case with adoption and would not be appropriate in this case.
Applying the authorities of Re B (Care Proceedings: Appeal)  2 FLR 1075  UKSC 33 and Re B-S (Adoption: Application of s 47(5)  EWCA Civ 1146 adoption was the course which best accorded with the child's welfare needs. It was necessary to dispense with the parents' consent pursuant to s 52(1) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 on the basis that the child's welfare needed demanded it. Final care and placement orders granted.
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