Parents may be worthy of praise and deeply love their children, but it sadly does not always follow that they are able to provide them with a stable home. The High Court made that point in sanctioning a little boy's placement for adoption.
Due to concerns that he was not receiving a good enough standard of parenting, a local authority placed him in temporary foster care and sought care and placement orders. His parents, although separated, staunchly resisted plans for his adoption, arguing that his mother was able to look after him. His paternal grandmother was willing to step in as primary carer if the mother proved unable to cope.
Ruling on the matter, the Court had no doubt that all three adults, along with other family members, held the boy very dear to their hearts and wanted the best for him. They were entirely genuine in their motivations and their desire to keep him within their family. The polite and courteous way in which they conducted themselves during the proceedings was highly impressive.
The Court noted the high likelihood that adoption would in due course lead to the complete severance of the boy's relationship with his parents and wider family. He was currently benefiting from those relationships via contact sessions and ending them would be detrimental to him. There was a risk that he would be left with an embedded sense of loss.
The mother, however, bore the emotional scars of her troubled childhood. She had a history of cannabis abuse and a mental health expert's report indicated that she had unstable and sensation-seeking personality traits. Her feelings of loneliness and distress gave rise to professional concerns that she might prioritise a relationship with a partner over her own welfare and that of her child.
The father also had a history of psychiatric and substance abuse issues and frankly accepted that he was not currently well placed to care for the boy. The paternal grandmother's property was in a poor condition. Her advancing years and other factors cast doubt on whether she would be able to provide the boy with a safe and appropriate home in which he could thrive throughout his childhood.
The mother was making progress in tackling her problems, but the Court found that it would be far too risky to place the burden of primary care on her at a relatively early stage in her therapeutic journey. Her plea that the case should be adjourned to enable a further assessment of her parenting abilities was rejected.
Granting the council the orders sought, the Court found that the boy, whose welfare was paramount, could not wait to be placed in the security of a permanent home. Options short of adoption simply could not meet his needs within an appropriate timescale. Given the commitment and love that his family had shown him, the Court urged that consideration be given to some form of open adoption in which a level of contact between them might be maintained.