Daughter of drug addict to live with family member

fostering and adoption

A toddler abandoned by her drug addict mother should live with a relative and her husband, the Family Court has ruled.

The little girl was referred to as ‘X’ in court rulings. She had spent much of her life in foster care, until ‘Y’, an extended family member, took on her care under an interim order. The Family Court at Leeds was then asked to rule on her long term welfare.

X’s mother had endured a difficult childhood, having her first child at the age of 16 while leading an “unsettled and chaotic lifestyle” which involved illegal drug use. That child went to live with his grandmother. The mother’s drug use intensified and by the time she fell pregnant with X she was testing positive for crack cocaine.

For a while the mother appeared to be beating her addictions and social workers initially planned to leave X with her after the birth. But after a further test for crack use proved positive despite denials, it became clear the baby would not be safe with the mother.

Social workers assessed the grandmother as a potential carer for the new baby but concluded that family tensions and her existing commitments meant she was not the right choice this time.

The assessment of Y, although ultimately positive, was a drawn-out process, noted Her Honour Judge Lynch in the Family Court sitting at Leeds. An unspecified family member living with her caused concerns about the safety of X, explained the Judge:

“He had to be assessed to see what risk he might pose. A psychiatric assessment of him suggested there would be risk, but the family dealt with this by him moving to live with another family member.”

Y’s husband also had to be assessed, causing further delay.

Judge Lynch contined:

“All the parties in this case agree that remaining with Y would be best for X. The mother sadly, due to her drug misuse and chaotic lifestyle, has not seen her daughter for long time now but I am told she supports the placement.”

She commended Y for putting X’s interest first and agreeing the family member’s departure.

It was “obvious”, said the judge, that remaining with Y was the right choice for the little girl. But even though Y is a family member, the local authority and guardian insisted that the girl should remain with her under a care order and the Judge accepted this argument, noting:

“A care order keeps the local authority involved, enables the social worker to keep an eye on the placement and requires the giving of such support as is needed to help the family.”

Read the ruling here.

Photo by Eirik Refsdal via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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