The removal of a child from their biological parents is one of the most profound powers of the Family Court. A unique case involving the adoption of a Latvian girl in this country has raised a number of issues regarding how the Family Court determines what is in the best interests of a child.
Latvia’s parliament have argued that removing a child not only from their mother but also their cultural heritage is ignoring the significance of their familial ties. They have formally challenged British policies on non consensual adoption, contacting the Houses of Commons on the basis social services have breached EU law. It is not the first time concerns have been raised by a European nation regarding the British adoption system.
As with all adoption matters they are fact specific, with the courts always ruling in what they believe is in the best interests of the child. Therefore it is crucial we understand the facts of the case and what led the Court of Appeal to uphold their decision that the girl should be brought up in the UK.
The child, who is referred to as CB was removed from her mother at just 22 months old in 2010. The police discovered her alone in her flat, shivering and wet from the poor living conditions. She was dirty, covered in excrement and suffering from dermatitis as a result. CB was placed in local authority care, a decision with which her mother agreed.
During the court process, which took over a year, CB’s mother requested the return of her daughter. The court held the emotional and psychological harm CB had suffered as a result of the neglect had been detrimental to her development and she should be placed with a family to be adopted.
The case was brought before the Court of Appeal in 2013 who agreed with the original decision. During this period CB was placed with adoptive parents and has remained with them ever since. Her mother opposed the adoption proceedings gaining support from the Latvian authorities and Government. However, our most senior family Judge, the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby held that due to the extreme vulnerability of the girl adoption was the only solution that would provide CB with the stable home life she so desperately needed. CB has had no contact with her mother since she was placed with her adoptive family over two years ago.
Non-consensual adoption is unique to English law, allowing the court to place a child with an adoptive family in circumstances where other European countries would not. The question in this case is whether allowing CB to remain with her adoptive family where she has a caring, secure and settled home would not be in her best interests as it is to deny the culture importance of her Latvian heritage, which the mother feels is the more important consideration.
As always what is in the best interest of CB will formulate the decision. However with the involvement of the Latvian parliament there is a fear that the welfare of a now seven year old girl could be overshadowed by what may become a matter of European principle.
Here at Farleys Solicitors our award winning family law team are expert in child matters. To speak to a solicitor regarding adoption please don’t hesitate to call 0845 287 0939, alternatively you can email us.