In re A (A Child) (Baby Relinquished for Adoption: Case Management)

In re A (A Child) (Baby Relinquished for Adoption: Case Management) [2016] EWFC 25

‘A, a baby born in England to Latvian parents, was relinquished at birth for adoption and quickly placed with foster parents who were approved to adopt. On the understanding that there was no one within the extended natural family, either in England or in Latvia, in a position to care for A, and with the consent of the birth parents given in accordance with sections 19 and 20 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, the local authority proceeded to convert A’s short-term arrangements to an adoptive placement and notified the Latvian central authority of A’s situation. The foster parents, with whom A had lived for much of his life, applied to adopt him. The Latvian central authority, having made its own enquiries of relatives in Latvia, identified the maternal grandmother as a potential long-term carer for A, had completed a favourable preliminary suitability assessment and commissioned a full suitability assessment. The central authority opposed the adoption of A in England and submitted its concerns that the approach of the English courts towards adoption cases placed insufficient weight on the rights of a child to grow up in his inherited culture and was therefore potentially contrary to articles 36 and 37 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 and a breach of articles 8 and 20 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. The birth mother, who had deliberately not informed her wider family in Latvia of the proposed adoption, continued to support adoption by the foster parents, maintaining her opinion that an education and upbringing in England would be in A’s best interests and that her mother would find it difficult physically and financially to care for A. At a case management hearing, the children’s guardian appointed for A recommended an adjournment to enable completion of the grandmother’s assessment. In circumstances where the prospective adopters, the birth parents and the local authority all supported the adoption, where factors from the welfare checklist in section 1(4) of the 2002 Act pointed towards adoption, and where a delay in making a decision was likely to prejudice A’s welfare, the issue before the judge was whether he should make an adoption order without having considered the substantial assessment of the suitability of the maternal grandmother in Latvia as A’s long-term carer.’

WLR Daily, 6th May 2016