The parents of a child SR born in 2011 opposed the making of an adoption order in favour of the proposed adopters. The Family Division held that there was only one route which would sufficiently safeguard the welfare of SR and that was the route of adoption.

Borough of Poole v W and another: Family Division: 11 April 2014

Orders in family proceedings – Adoption – Parents opposing adoption order in respect of their child born in 2011 – Whether in child’s best interests to make adoption order

SR was born in July 2011 and was therefore two‑and‑a‑half. There were three older children in addition to SR called B, M and H. The mother was the mother of all four children. The father of SR was also the father of H. The father of B and M played no part in the proceedings.

Two weeks after the birth of SR, an emergency protection order was taken out on her and she was removed from the hospital. In October 2012, a care and placement order was made in relation to SR. By November 2012, SR had been placed with the prospective adopters. The prospective adopters applied to adopt SR. The application to adopt was supported both by the local authority and the guardian of SR and, by necessary inference, by the expert witnesses.

It was opposed by the parents. In the course of the documentation reference was made to SR being rehabilitated. Only if that rehabilitation failed, would the child be adopted and would be adopted by those who had been caring for him or her since first placement.

The issues before the court in order to determine whether the adoption order should be made were: (i) whether SR would survive the rehabilitation process; (ii) whether the parents survive the rehabilitation process; (iii) whether they would produce parenting consistent with the needs of SR over the balance of her childhood.

The application would be allowed.

There was only one route which would sufficiently safeguard the welfare of SR and that was the route of adoption. The court was concerned about SR’s ability to survive the process of rehabilitation and the parents’ ability to sustain her care, whatever her reactions throughout her childhood, when seen in the context of their fragility and of the consequences to SR of a failure of rehabilitation and the need to then start all over again.

All those matters required that adoption be provided as the way of securing her welfare and therefore required that the court dispensed with the parents’ consent. (see [25] of the judgment).