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Family Law

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03 AUG 2015

Re W (Adoption Application: Reunification With Family of Origin) [2015] EWHC 2039 (Fam)

Re W (Adoption Application: Reunification With Family of Origin) [2015] EWHC 2039 (Fam)
(Family Division, Russell J, 22 July 2015)

Adoption – Opposition to adoption order – Reunification with birth family – Whether the child’s welfare required adoption as opposed to reunification with her biological family – Whether nothing else would do

Please see attached file below for the full judgment.

The application for an adoption order in respect of the 2-year-old child was refused and the judge authorized the child’s reunification with her birth family.

The 2-year-old girl was made subject to care and placement orders and had been placed for adoption with Mr and Mrs A for 16 months. They applied for an adoption order.

The child's three older siblings remained living with their father under supervision orders. The father was granted permission to oppose the adoption order application and the Court of Appeal allowed the father's appeal out of time against the care and placement orders. It now fell to be determined whether the welfare of the child would be best met by reunification with her birth family or by adoption by Mr and Mrs A.

The judge found that the factual matrix leading to the final orders was at the lower end of the threshold criteria required to make a care order. With the paramountcy of the child's welfare being the overriding consideration and having regard to the welfare checklist and the judgment of Re B [2013] UKSC 33 the child would be returned to her father's care. The case had been finely balanced and the standard of care being offered by the adopters was very high.
Although there were obvious risks in moving the child to her birth family, the possible harm she would experience was likely to only be in the short to medium term and was capable of being overcome with professional support. This had to be balanced with the likely difficulties the child would face if she had to later come to terms with the circumstances of her adoption and the denial of the opportunity to be raised with her siblings.

The father was found to be capable of supporting the child through the short-term transition and the difficulties of adjustment were not sufficient to deny the child her place within her family of origin. This was not a case where nothing else would do.

It was regrettable that the child's siblings' views were not put before the court particularly so because their Art 8 European Convention rights were clearly engaged and the court was obliged to have regard to their wishes and feelings pursuant to s 1(4)(f)(iii) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. It could, however, be safely assumed that they would wish for their sister to be returned to them.
Case No: UQ12C00161/SD14C00594
Neutral Citation Number: [2015] EWHC 2039 (Fam)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
FAMILY DIVISION

IN THE MATTER OF AN ADOPTION APPLICATION
IN THE MATTER OF THE CHILDREN ACT 1989
IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION AND CHILDREN ACT 2002
AND IN THE MATTER OF W (A Girl)

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London
WC2A 2LL

Date: 22/07/2015

Before:

MS JUSTICE RUSSELL

In re W (Adoption application: Reunification with Family of Origin)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Between:

Prospective Adopters
Applicant

and

Brighton & Hove City Council
1st Respondent and 2nd Respondent
Father and Mother
3rd Respondent
W (A Child) (by her children’s guardian)
4th Respondent

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Madeleine Reardon (instructed by Osbornes Solicitors) for the Applicants
Andrew Bagchi QC (instructed by the City Council) for the 1st Respondent
Janet Bazley QC & Chris Barnes (instructed by Harney and Wells Solicitors) for the 2nd Respondent
Catherine Jenkins (instructed by Howlett Clarke Solicitors) for the 3rd Respondent
Jonathan Bennett (instructed by Railtons Solicitors) for the 4th Respondent

Hearing dates: 18th May to 22nd May 2015

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Re W (Adoption: Reunification With Family of Origin) [2015] EWHC 2039 (Fam)


Judgment

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