A couple who had expected to adopt a baby boy they had fostered have been excluded from the ongoing care proceedings.
The biological parents made it clear that they were unable to care for the baby. On the day after his birth, they agreed to him being placed with the foster carers. They had agreed to foster the baby with a view to adoption and the local authority started care proceedings with a plan for adoption.
It was not until January, that the baby’s biological father was established by DNA testing. However, given that he had no intentions of taking on a parental role, he suggested his own parents as suitable candidates.
Within a few months, the local authority agreed with the father and abandon their plan for adoption in favour of placing the baby in the care of his paternal grandparents under a special guardianship order.
The foster carers naturally dispute of this, having cared for him all his life and establishing a strong bond with him. They sought permission from the court to proceed with the application of adopting him. They were granted this, as were the grandparents when they formally requested permission to apply for a special guardianship order to care for the boy. Both applications were consolidated to be heard in a single court hearing.
At the hearing, the court held that the foster carers should not have been granted permission to be part of the care proceedings, because they had already been positively assessed. There was no need for them to be parties to the care proceedings in order to demonstrate that they were suitable prospective adopters.
The judge stated that the carers had spent an unexceptional period of time caring for an unexceptional child in an unexceptional case. The attachment to the baby did not differ significantly from that found in many similar cases where a child had been successfully fostered for a short period.
In this case, the foster carers’ application for permissoin to apply for an adoption order had been premature. Such an application should be considered after the care order proceedings and once the court had concluded that it was in the baby’s best interest to be adopted. The foster carers should not have been given permission to apply for an adoption order at this stage.