Loving couple face defeat by Newham Council in adoption of boy, five

A couple who fell in love with a baby they wanted to adopt, but had him taken away by Newham Council, have suffered what could be a knock-out blow to their hopes of getting him back.

The boy, now aged five, lived with them for 17 months and they formed a bond with him before social workers removed him a year ago.

The boy, referred to as “K” and who cannot be identified, has since been living with a foster carer, while the couple have battled through the courts to keep him.

In May, the couple scored a High Court victory when Judge Mr Justice Charles said that the council had failed to give them “a full and informed opportunity” to argue their case and that the boy’s removal was “procedurally unfair”.

He ordered Newham Council to look afresh at whether the boy should be reunited with the couple with a view to them at last becoming his adoptive parents.

But the case was back in court last week where Mr Justice Charles revealed that, after reconsidering the matter, Newham had stuck to its guns and again refused to return the youngster.

Endorsing the council’s stance, the judge said that there was “a high risk, if not an inevitability” that the couple will not be able to provide the care that vulnerable “K” needs to “develop into a secure and balanced adult”.

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The couple can still put themselves before an adoption panel, but they must face the fact that an earlier recommendation that they be approved as the child’s parents has now been withdrawn.

After taking the boy from the couple, Newham acknowledged that he “appeared to have settled well” with them.

A medical examination revealed he was in good health and there was no evidence that he had “been the subject of physical chastisement”.

However, the council said the boy had been “exposed to conflict” between the couple and their neighbours and it was “very concerned about the detrimental effect of the instability brought about by recent changes of address”.

The council said it was of the view that “K” had suffered “significant harm” and would continue to do so if he remained in the couple’s care.

Mr Justice Charles said: “In short, it seemed to me clear that the short, medium and long-term welfare of “K” would not be promoted by taking the risks that would now be involved in returning him to the claimants with a view to his adoption by them.

“The factors against a return of “K” to the claimants clearly outweigh the factors in favour of such a return.”

The judge said that, even if it had not been for Newham’s procedural breaches, it was “more likely than not” that “K” would have in the end been taken from the couple.

“Indeed, in my judgment, this is what should have happened”, he added.

Referring to “K’s” “complex needs” and the paramountcy of his welfare, he said it was essential that he ended up in a “tolerant and child-centred family setting” amid active co-operation with social workers and other professionals involved in planning his future.