About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Adoption & Fostering round up

Many news stories have covered the thoughts of Tim Loughton on enabling white couples to adopt black & Asian children including the Telegraph. The DfE press release is here. Part of the reason for revisiting this issue is that adoptions have dropped by 15%. The charity Adoption UK has responded saying that it is actually age at placement is the most important factor determining whether children are found adoptive placements (but not disagreeing that trans racial placements may be appropriate). The figures do show that 1 in 5 children waiting for adoptive placements come from ethnic minorities and they typically wait 3 times longer than white children. The Telegraph also carried a piece linking the fall in numbers to the opening up of adoption to same sex couples (& the consequent closure of Christian adoption agencies). I can't help thinking that delay in finalising care proceedings caused by the upsurge in caseload must be contributing to the overall drop in numbers.

Martin Nairey of Barnados makes another plea for early intervention to ensure the best success for adoption.

Tracy McVeigh makes her plea for better support for adoptive parents picking up concerns recently expressed by Adoption Uk and the Observer reinforces the message in an editorial today.

A Christian couple are asking the High Court to rule on the question of whether they should be barred from fostering because they would be unable to be on-message about homosexuality as the Guardian and the Mail. The judgment does not seem to be available yet.

A judgment which is available on the main site is M (A Child) 2010 EWCA Civ 1160 in which a mother successfully appealed an order refusing her leave to oppose an adoption. She was able to show change in circumstance based on the improvements in her life. Ward LJ held that the next question for the court to consider was whether it was in the best interests of the child for a case for opposition to be heard when it was not hopeless.

Obviously all cases will be different, but an application to oppose should involve an exercise of assessing to some extent the prospects of success of the opposition. But it should be viewed more perhaps -- and this is the issue the court will have to decide -- in terms of whether this is an utterly hopeless case, or whether this is a case which is at least arguable in the sense that, even if there is not a better than even chance of success, there is some realistic prospect of success in much the same way as we decide whether to grant permission or not.

He also took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of full judicial consideration of the welfare checklist, particularly the potential harm to a child of being permanently separated from birth family.

Also on the main site is T & M v OCC & C (2010) EWCA 964. The facts are particularly unusual involving a lesbian couple from Nicaragua & the USA who had adopted a child each when living together in a family unit of 4 because adoption as a couple had not been legally possible in Nicaragua. By the time their application to adopt one of the children jointly in this country was heard they were living separately though very close by because of the behavioural issues of one of the children. Hedley J held that they could still be described as "living as partners in an enduring family relationship."

Here the parties live in a committed and exclusive relationship recognised by our family law and spend significant time as a unit of four. The background to the case and the shared care arrangement is entirely consistent with the concept of a family of four. In my judgment, the parties in this case bring themselves within the ambit of Section 144 (b) and thus Section 50 of the 2002 Act. They are thus entitled to make a joint application to adopt C.

No comments: