I noted with interest the Obiteritem reporting the Family Justice Review Panel’s comment that the family justice system is in fact ‘not a system at all’ (see  Gazette, 7 April, 35).
Last week, my husband, two-year-old daughter and I were ordered to attend the Royal Courts of Justice to obtain the final order for our daughter’s adoption.
We had to arrive the night before and stay in a hotel, as we live 300 miles from London, and needed to be there for 10am.
As we arrived we were asked why we were there, as there was nothing on file.
I passed over the order we had received ordering us all to attend and the clerk seemed totally nonplussed.
Unluckily for us, it was the hottest day of the year, and the best the clerk could do, by 11.30, was suggest we take a walk with our two-year-old for half an hour.
I did ask if she expected us to give our daughter a guided tour of local banks and chambers, given that we were on the Strand – not a particularly child-friendly place.
After waiting for five hours, we were called in to see the judge just before 3pm to be told that they could not find the file and we would have to come back next week.
What should have been the happiest day of our lives (adopting our daughter) had been hideously marred because of the sheer incompetence of administrative staff at the court.
It is fair to say that nobody at the court had any regard for our daughter and the fact that she had been kept waiting for five hours.
It was a total debacle.
As I have just had a year off work, and now only work part-time, finances are an issue, and the fact that we spent £450 to get to London to obtain the order was clearly an irrelevance.
We pointed out that further train tickets would be in the region of £300 because of the short notice of purchase, but it was clear that the court did not consider that to be an issue.
Frankly, I am used to documents going missing and general maladministration in my local courts, but had hoped that the higher up you rose in the courts that the efficiency would increase.
We had a family celebration planned for the following day, which we had to cancel and the whole sorry episode has marred my view of the courts even further.
When our adoption procedures are as bureaucratic and onerous as they are, you would have thought that simply getting the right files to the right courts would be seen as a priority.
We can only try again next week.