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RY v Southend Borough Council [2015] EWHC 2509 (Fam)

Date:10 SEP 2015
Law Reporter
(Family Division, Hayden J, 22 May 2015)

[The judicially approved judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in Family Law Reports [2016] 1 FLR 1233]

Adoption – Return of child into care of local authority after placement for adoption - Disabled child placed with disabled adopter whose physical and mental health had not been fully assessed

Please see attached file below for the full judgment.

The court authorized the return of the child into local authority foster care after placement with a prospective adopter under s 35(2) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

The 2-year-old child suffered hyoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy at birth which had left her with a number of disabilities including quadriplegic cerebral palsy, global developmental impairment, gastro oesophageal reflux disease and visual impairment.

She was placed with a prospective adopter who herself had disabilities as a result of her diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. She suffered from joint pain and impaired mobility and as a result used a wheelchair. However, concerns had been raised that some of the symptoms she exhibited were unusual and that there was a possibility that they were psychosomatic.

After the child was placed the local authority and medical professionals raised concerns about the adopter's care of the child. In particular, that she had obstructed medical professionals in their care of the child, had oppositional relationships with medical staff and over-medicalized behaviour. It was alleged that at times she had prevented nursing observations of the child, she had disputed certain feeding regimes, and she had made inappropriate interventions in relation to suctioning and administering oxygen.

The adopter issued an adoption order application and the local authority subsequently applied under s 35(2) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 for the child to be returned back into their care.

It was evident that insufficient enquiries were made at the time of the assessment of the adopter and in particular in respect of her physical and mental health. The adoption agency recognised its failings in this case and intended to address had since put new procedures into place.

After balancing the clear, captivating and obvious strengths that the adopter had against the harm outlined by the expert evidence it was found that the adopter presented a risk of harm or significant harm to the child which was so real and serious and the potential consequences so grave that they were wholly inimical of her welfare. The evidence pointed clearly and determinatively in support of the local authority's application under s 35(2), in effect refusing the child's return to the adopter's care.

The adopter had some real emotional and psychological issues to address and before she was able to do so it would not be safe for her to be involved in the care of any child or vulnerable adult with disabilities.


Royal Courts of Justice

Friday, 22nd May 2015


(In Private)

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Transcribed by BEVERLEY F. NUNNERY & CO.(a trading name of Opus 2 International Limited)Official Court Reporters and Audio TranscribersOne Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HRTel:  020 7831 5627     Fax:  020 7831 7737info@beverleynunnery.com

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MR. J. TUGHAN QC  and  MS. S. BRADLEY  appeared on behalf of the Applicant
MS. F. HEATON QC and  MR. S. SPENCER appeared on behalf of the Respondent
MS. J. WALKER appeared on behalf of the Guardian

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RY v Southend Borough Council [2015] EWHC 2509 (Fam)