(Family Division, Russell J, 23 November 2016)
Public law children – Adoption – Egyptian child abandoned– British applicant brought child to UK – Egyptian authorities opposed to UK adoption
An adoption order was made in respect of the 6-year-old Egyptian child who had been abandoned at birth.
The now 6-year-old child was born in Egypt to unknown parents and was abandoned as a baby. The applicant was a British national working in Egypt at the time. A local orphanage placed the child with the applicant and her Egyptian husband. She had remained in her care ever since. The child was granted entry clearance to visit the UK but due to a number of factors including political instability and civil unrest in Egypt they had not returned.
The applicant applied for a British passport for the child and had notified the local authority of her presence. The relationship between the applicant and her husband broke down and he resumed a relationship with his previous wife who it appeared he remained married to. The local authority reports were positive about the applicant’s care of the child. She was reportedly well settled and attached to the applicant who was the only mother she had ever known.
The applicant applied for an adoption order, or alternatively, a residence order. The husband was opposed to the child remaining in the UK although he had no contact with her. The Egyptian authorities were granted permission to intervene and objected to an Egyptian child being adopted in the UK. Both the husband and the Egyptian authorities submitted that she should return to Egypt.
The proposition that the mother and child should return to Egypt was unrealistic. It would leave them stranded without support, accommodation or any financial provision in what was to both of them, in essence, an alien land. The advantages were illusory, for although the child would return to her country, culture, religion and heritage of birth and would remain in the care of her psychological mother and primary carer their situation would be so precarious as to undermine any such advantages. For her to return to Egypt and placed with alternative carers would have numerous disadvantages and involve a substantial risk to her long-term psychological welfare that would more likely than not lead to significant harm.
An adoption order would provide far greater security than a child arrangements order. Applying the welfare checklist and taking into account the advantages and disadvantages it was in the child’s best interests throughout her life for an adoption order to be made.