Judge Tackles Family Breakdown Spanning Three Generations

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In a tragic tale of family breakdown spanning three generations, a family judge has opened the way for a baby girl’s adoption after ruling that neither her parents nor her grandparents can give her ‘good enough’ parenting.

The girl’s mother had endured a desperately troubled childhood and had a history of extreme and self-destructive behaviour. Her father was in prison and had convictions for violence and sexual assault on an adult woman. Neither parent sought to keep the child (T) but the baby’s maternal grandparents put themselves forward as potential carers in an attempt to keep her within her natural family.

The grandparents claimed that a social worker had painted an unfairly negative picture of their caring abilities and that the local authority had been ‘intent upon adoption from the outset’. However, the judge said that neither the social worker nor the council had done anything wrong and both had acted reasonably.

He found that, however much the grandparents believed that they could put T’s needs first, they would not be able to do so, particularly given the enmeshed and difficult relationship between the mother and the grandmother. There remained serious concerns as to the grandparents’ ability to care for T and the judge found that the little girl would be at risk of harm if sent to live with them.

Emphasising that the baby’s welfare was the court’s ‘paramount consideration’, the judge said that it was ‘to the credit’ of her parents that they had recognised their inability to give their daughter all the care she needed. He concluded, “I bear in mind that adoption placements do break down, but T is still very young and of an age when an adoption is likely to be successful.”