Judgement underlines perils of late adoptions

Posted: 11th September 2012

familyA committed Christian couple who for almost a decade tried their hardest to make a go of adopting a deeply troubled girl have finally had her taken from their care by a family judge.

The girl, now 15, endured a traumatic first four years of life, blighted by domestic violence, neglect and possibly sexual abuse. By the time she was placed in foster care, she was scruffy and dirty, with rotten teeth and a bad case of head lice.

She was aged seven when the devout couple stepped in to adopt her out of a simple desire to help a child less fortunate than their own, said Judge Clifford Bellamy.

However, the girl's behaviour became more and more disruptive, causing chaos in her family home and leaving her adoptive parents desperate. She eventually had to be moved to a residential home and bitterly wrote to the couple: ‘You are NOT my parents’.

Although the couple were at the end of their tether, social workers were ‘quick to judge’ them, blaming them for the girl's grossly disturbed behaviour and accusing them of failing to give her the nurture and support she so desperately needed.

Judge Bellamy said that their parenting had not been perfect but that they deserved sympathy for having to deal with ‘some profoundly difficulty problems’. Nothing that they had done had caused their adoptive daughter's acute psychiatric problems.

He said that he had formed ‘a favourable impression’ of the couple, who bore no responsibility for the ‘appalling parenting’ that the girl endured in her early life, and it was a tragedy that their high hopes of providing a loving home to a disadvantaged child had ‘ended in tears’.

Observing that adoptions, particularly late ones, ‘inevitably involve taking a risk’, the judge said that the couple had said that, had they known in 2003 what they know now, they would not have gone ahead with adopting the girl.

Nevertheless it was now clear that the girl was ‘beyond parental control’ and had repeatedly expressed her desire to have nothing more to do with her adoptive parents.

Judge Bellamy said that he had ‘no alternative’ but to make a final order, taking the girl from the couple and placing her in local authority care. ‘I do not consider that to be the best outcome for her but I am satisfied that it is a better outcome than making no order’, he concluded.