No matter how imperfect parents may be, placing children for adoption outside their natural families is always a last resort. The Court of Appeal made that point in the case of an illegal immigrant father who callously used his two young children as puppets in an attempt to maximise his benefits.
The father, who had never had any right to be in Britain, took the view that it was a local authority’s duty to wholly provide for him and his family. He had, amongst other things, threatened to jump off a bridge with his children unless the council provided him with a new home and financial support at the level he demanded.
Making use of the children to put pressure on the council, he kept them off school and hid them in cupboards to evade social workers. He also made wholly fabricated accusations of physical and sexual abuse against social workers and his children’s teachers. The local authority eventually intervened and removed the children from his care under interim care orders. Their mother had in the meantime fled the country when pregnant with a third child.
The children, aged three and five, had settled well with foster carers and had not seen their father for months due to his intransigent refusal to desist from discussing the case and criticising social workers in front of them. In those circumstances, a family judge made adoption placement orders in respect of both children.
In allowing the father’s appeal, however, the Court noted that, before adoption could be justified, all other options had to be considered. Keeping the children in long-term foster care remained a realistic possibility and the Court directed a fresh hearing of that issue. However, it warned the father that, unless he ceased his destructive behaviour, adoption placements continued to be the likely outcome.