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Babies relinquished by foreign nationals: leading guidance

Date:27 JUL 2016
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In JL v AO (Babies Relinquished for Adoption) [2016] EWHC 440 (Fam), [2016] FLR (forthcoming and reported at [2016] Fam Law 556) Mr Justice Baker gave leading guidance on cases concerning babies relinquished by foreign parents. The majority of adoption cases now before the courts concern non-consensual adoption where the local authority (LA) applies for care and placement orders usually opposed by the parents. Consensual adoptions were historically more common but are now relatively rare in comparison.

In JL the parents were Estonian nationals, the mother having moved to the UK for work 5 months prior to giving birth and wished to relinquish the baby to be adopted in the UK. The father lived in Estonia and also wished for the baby to be adopted in the UK.

In AO the parents were Hungarian nationals who both worked and lived in the UK. The mother was unable to have the baby terminated as she was at 25 weeks gestation when medical professionals were contacted. Both parents wished for the baby to be relinquished upon birth and adopted in the UK.

As a result of the similar issues in these cases Baker J heard them together. In judgment he gave leading guidance which addressed in particular:

  1. the jurisdiction of the court to make placement and adoption orders;
  2. application of s 1 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002;
  3. guidance to local authorities when addressing the parents wishes and feelings, confidentiality and consent;
  4. whether the test of 'nothing else will do' is applicable;
  5.  Application of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

The full version of this article appears in the July 2016 issue of Family Law. 

Online subscribers can access the article here

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