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(Family Division; Ryder J; 19 July 2006)
Following the decision in Haringey London Borough Council v C, E and Another  2 FLR 47 that the child in question had been the victim of child trafficking, rather than the result of a miracle birth, the local authority sought a care order and a declaration freeing the child for adoption. The authority had identified a suitable prospective adoptive family. The woman who had been deceived into thinking that she had given birth to the child sought to have a residence order made in favour of herself and her husband. The couple persisted in their belief that although the child did not share their DNA, he was their child by conception and birth, and was the result of a miracle, indeed the woman believed that she was currently experiencing another spiritual pregnancy. The child's short-term foster mother sought to be joined as a party to the proceedings with a view to asking the court for a residence order in her favour, with a special guardianship order to follow. The Kenyan authorities were no longer seeking the return of the child to Kenya, as the child's natural parents had not been identified despite searches being undertaken.
The judge refused to place the child with the couple who believed they were the child's parents, notwithstanding the couple's undoubted attachment to child and the quality of their practical care for the child. Neither the man nor the woman was able to acknowledge that the child had in fact been removed from his real parents and neither would be able to give credibility and status to a secular account of the child's history. It was a concern that both the man and the woman believed that the child would be a special or miracle child in life as well as in birth. The court had permitted the foster carer to submit written evidence, give oral evidence and be cross-examined without restriction; this process allowed her to present her case without doing injustice to any other party, following a broad rather than a restrictive or formulaic approach to the exercise of discretion. The foster carer was not preferred as a long-term placement for the child, notwithstanding the good progress the child had made in her care, because, inter alia, of her: difficulty in maintaining a working relationship with social workers; lack of cultural match; age; lack of insight into the child's need for a clear identity; and inability to adopt for religious reasons. The authority care plan was approved and the freeing order made.
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