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Relinquished baby

(60 Posts)
Wobblypark Thu 27-Apr-17 18:34:57

I've name changed for this as it might be identifying.

We've been linked to a young baby who is being relinquished for adoption and seems very certain about her decision (has had no contact since birth etc)

Birth father isn't named on birth cert and so has no parental responsibility. BM claims he knows about her plans to have the baby adopted but won't give permission for adoption services to contact him or any of her other family.

SS have got a court date for a judge to confirm that it's ok to go ahead with the adoption without his input.

My question is: can BM really do this? What if he doesn't actually know about the child? It's not an area I've ever given much thought to. Anyone out there with any knowledge/experience?

luckylucky24 Fri 28-Apr-17 16:02:32

A family I met recently adopted 3 girls. When it came to place the order it turned out that Dad had been unaware of the adoption and contested. It took them 8 months in court for the father to be dismissed, 16 months after the girls had moved in. Apparently the Dad, whilst being unsuitable, had a case because SS had not tried hard enough to find him.
Tred carefully here. IT may not be as straightforward as it seems.

C0RAL Sun 30-Apr-17 11:37:55

I know a family who adopted a child who had been in care for 4 years. At the last minute the father came forward and tried to block the adoption, he knew the child was in care all that time, he didn't want to have her, just wanted to stop her being adopted. He said that if she stayed in FC he might decide to visit her.

The guardian ad listen actaully supported the father but judge threw it out and granted the adoption.

That case was supposed cut and dried.

The situation you describe is very risky. Father or any member or his family could come along and ask to have baby and it would be granted.

I would be suprised if court would grant adoption order without any consent from father. So I'd want legal advice on this, probably from counsel, which will be expensive.

C0RAL Sun 30-Apr-17 11:41:34

If baby isn't placed yet then court can't give the go ahead for adoption, only for placing baby with prospective adopters.

You would have a whole other problem ahead if BM changes her mind, which she has every right to do . As well as anyone in her family or anyone is his family wanting the baby, such a request would almost certainly be granted as long as everything was ok on the assessment .

Italiangreyhound Sun 30-Apr-17 12:03:32

I would agree with Coral that the situation is risky.

However, check the legalities of this..."The situation you describe is very risky. Father or any member or his family could come along and ask to have baby and it would be granted."

If the child has been relinquished by the mother it may not be that relatives have rights over the adopters.

Possibly only the father would have the right to contest. check out all the legalities first.

C0RAL Sun 30-Apr-17 15:39:53

Father retains his rights until they are taken away by the court when the adoption order is granted. If and when he find out about baby, he can take steps to gain PR.

Which is why the court will be very reluctant to do when when there's no evidence that

1. He knows the child exists
2. He or his family are not willing and able to care for the child

And is this situation it's also not clear if the BMs family might also be able to care for the child.

Is not the rights of BF compared to the foster caters/ putative adopters. It's the rights of the child to be brought up in her family of origin unless there is no one able and willing to do so safely.

So there's a whole host of people who might possible pop up here and say they wish to care for this child. All of whom will be in preference to the prospective adopters, all things being equal.

In a case in 2015 , W was removed from adoptive parents 16 months after placement and returned to BF

www.pinktape.co.uk/cases/contested-adoption-return-of-a-child-to-parents/

In a case in 2016, BF were granted a rehearing even after the adoption order was granted
www.communitycare.co.uk/2016/11/09/parents-withdraw-adoption-case-family-court-nightmare/

So it seems that an adoption order is not safe if it's granted on the wrong information ( this is my understanding as a lay person, I'm not a solicitor just an interested A parent ).

So a court might well require BM to disclose the identity of Bf and her own family and instruct SS to make enquiries of both of them before the child can be adopted.

So it's not straightforward . Please get legal advice if you are thinking of doing this, you need to know what you might be getting into.

Italiangreyhound Sun 30-Apr-17 16:14:58

Coral in the cases you site is the child one who was taken away from mother's care or where child was relinquished?

I totally agree that father could pop up and demand to be assessed. And if deemed suitable could get custody. And when a child is taken into care then yes, extended family can all be assessed.

But if a child is relinquished I am not sure that extended family are allowed to challenge a parent's rights to pit their child up for adoption, at least not of they are already in the adoptive family.

I know this is all really complicated and Ivan also not a legal person.

I do know real life cases where relinquished babies went for adoption and in one case the mother changed her mind and asked (and received) the baby back.

Italiangreyhound Sun 30-Apr-17 16:16:26

Put not pit

Italiangreyhound Sun 30-Apr-17 16:17:27

I am not a legal person (not Ivan).

MrsSVN Sun 30-Apr-17 16:35:24

A friend relinquished a baby around 10yrs ago...AP's had been identified before the birth but baby still had to be placed in foster care for around 4 months incase she changed her mind (she didn't) complicating factors were that her mother tried to contest and take the baby in but this was not allowed as my friend did not support this. She hadn't even told birth father she was pregnant (they'd had a fling which ended way before she realised she was pregnant at 5 months) a colleague of BF saw her in town with a huge bump and told BF which caused another delay in placing baby as he then put himself forward to care for baby but again, this was not allowed as he didn't have the support of his family and was still studying at university. Not sure how helpful this info is but I believe baby was placed at around 6-7 months old in the end. (And according to the letter box contact has absolutely flourished)

I know having worked with CLA/adopted children for years that in our area every effort must've been made to contact BF even when I compromises BM's safety (e.g. If she's moved away to flee DV)

Wobblypark Sun 30-Apr-17 18:58:42

Thanks so much for all your responses.

Italian, the way you've described it is exactly how it's been explained to us. As BM is relinquishing the baby, her wishes come before any extended family, so no one seems overly worried there.
It's just the birth father. She doesn't want to give any details other than his name, so we're concerned that baby might be placed with us and he could pop up at any time.

It's a tricky one and we're really not sure what to do! Even if the judge rules that SS don't need to try harder to find him right now, that doesn't guarantee that he couldn't appear later on and ask to bring the child up himself confused

C0RAL Sun 30-Apr-17 20:43:31

Please get legal advice. A BM doesn't have the " right" to put her child up for adoption. She can only say that she isn't willing to care for the child and consent to the child's adoption, if a court feels that's in the child best interest.

A baby isn't property that she can dispose of as she sees fit. Her wish to not care for the child doesn't trump the child's right to be brought up by their family, if that's possible.

Obviously there are many Bio families who are not able or willing to care for the child, but that must be checked out second. First is to check that neither parent can care for child. And she's blocking both of these things by refusing to give information.

I struggle to believe that every single person in both her family and baby's fathers family are so violent and dangerous that she cannot tell anyone where they are. On the contrary, if they were all that terrible surely she would tell SS and they would be able to rule them out.

The fact that she is concealing information makes me suspicious that her or his family would indeed want to care for the child and SHE doesnt want that.

And It doesn't matter whether child is removed or relinquished . The mother cannot insist on adoption outside both families, she can only express a preference and obviously SS would listen carefully to that .

But at the ehd of the day it's about the child's rights not hers. Why would a child who is relinquished have fewer rights to a family life than one who is removed?

bostoncremecrazy Sun 30-Apr-17 21:42:58

Be very careful.
I am aware of a case this year - SS were about to go to court for a placement order for a baby, the BF had not been contacted by SS and when he found out what BM was planning obviously obviously contacted them....the SS had to tell the judge what had happened and no orders were given.
The baby now remains in FC with no placement order while the BF and his family are being assessed to see if anyone is suitable to raise the baby.
This is the BF legal right and has obviously taken its toll on the BM and her wishes, and the baby who remains in the care system.

MrsSVN Sun 30-Apr-17 21:51:50

Just in case it caused confusion in my post I was referring to two separate situations...first being about a baby relinquished and then in the last paragraph I was meaning when a child goes into LA care, if BF is not on the scene then every effort must be made to track him down. I've had cases where BM has moved across the country/to a new city due to DV. BF legally needing to be told the children are on ICOs/that the plan is adoption means BF is told which authority the child/BM is in. I'm not saying it's right or wrong just that it's often the case that SC are instructed to locate BF before permanency plans are decided. Sorry if I was confusing!

Italiangreyhound Mon 01-May-17 11:23:57

Coral you may not agree with the law bit as far as I am aware the OP is correct.

Being legally or biologically a parent doesn't give you the right to consider a baby property but it does give you legal responsibility over the care and welfare of the baby. And the decision is there to relinquish the baby, which would under normal circumstances mean local authority look for adopters.

Do you really not see how a man can be so dangerous to a woman or child that she needs to seek refuge and not be in contact with him or identified by him; or would not want her child brought up by him?

Why would you think his family should have a right to bring up the baby, or the mother's family? Surely that is seeing the baby as property, some sort of family property.

Why are those who are generically related to a child going to do a better job than someone not? Of course, all things being equal, they are the first port of call, birth parents first, then if not, extended family.

But as an adopter I don't think my input into my son's life disadvantages him because we are generically related.

If a woman knows she does not want her family to bring up her baby, who is the state to argue with that?

Who would know that extended family better than the woman herself?

I believe the bar is lower for extended family in adoption situations, they Mau not have wanted another baby, might take baby on as a duty, also things like non-smokers and own room are not required (this is what I have heard from a foster carer some of whose foster children went to family).

I also feel that having carried and birthed that baby the mum will generally have a much deeper concern for the welfare than a birth father whose only contribution was sperm at a certain date.

Yes, creating a life takes two but a man can become a father and it have very little impact on their life. Maybe the birth mother doesn't know where he lives or how to find him. Maybe it was a one night stand or drunken 'fumble'. She has had sole responsibility for baby from day one.

I do think (when possible) fathers should be told of course.

And accessed if they wish.

But I can imagine many scenarios where a woman may not know how to find the father. And others where she may be too scared to face him.

Sadly, men make these scenarios themselves (where women are in peril of them)so I won't lose too much sleep over them.

ButOP I still advise caution and I would get separate legal advice aside from the adoption agency own legal advice. I am not a legal person but do know of a situation similar to what you are describing. It ended well but was very hard.

C0RAL Mon 01-May-17 16:16:49

Do you really not see how a man can be so dangerous to a woman or child that she needs to seek refuge and not be in contact with him or identified by him; or would not want her child brought up by him?

Of course I can see that. But that's not what this BM is saying. She is saying that he's knows about the baby. And I don't think she said he was violent.

And BM is also saying that she won't give SS any details of anyone in her family OR in his. And yes, I do wonder if it's true that everyone in two extended families is unremittingly awful.

Because ifs it's not true and a suitable relative comes along in a year, the people who pay the price are not SS or BM, or you or me, they are the OP ( and her bio child ) and the baby.

Why would you think his family should have a right to bring up the baby, or the mother's family? Surely that is seeing the baby as property, some sort of family property

Did you really mean to ask why a child's family should have the right to bring him up ? I assume that you and your husband felt that you should have the right to bring up your older daughter. That's the law of the land - families have the right to bring up their children unless they give that up or it's taken away.

If you were killed tomorrow in a car crash, wouldn't you expect that your family or the guardians that you have appointed would bring up your children, even though they might not pass an adoption assessment ( too old, health problems, overweight, smoker, too many other children ) ?

But as an adopter I don't think my input into my son's life disadvantages him because we are generically related

I'm sure you are right but I'd didnt say that or anything like it.

If a woman knows she does not want her family to bring up her baby, who is the state to argue with that?

Because the most important this is the welfare of the child, the mothers wishes will be taken into account but they are not paramount.

You and I have no idea why she doesn't want to tell her family about the child. It might be for many reasons that seem good to her but do not rule them out as kinship carers.

For example, she may have been brought up in a religious faith and turned her back on it. So she may not want her fmaily to raise the child in that faith. Is that a good enough reason for a child not to be raised by an aunt and uncle or GP?

What if her sister and her wife would want to raise the child but BM is homophobic so she doesn't want that?

Or her family never approved of her BF so she wants to punish them because they were right and she was wrong ?

Or they supported her for year with an addiction / mental health problems but she rejected that help and now she feels ashamed at how things have turned out ?

Or her baby's father is a different ethnicity from her and she doesn't want everyone to know that she was with a man of that race.

Are these good enough reasons for a family not to be permitted to raise this child ?

That's why the first thing has to be the baby's welfare , not the mothers wishes. That's why adoption is regulated by adoption agencies and ultimately the courts and private adoptions are not allowed in the UK.

i believe the bar is lower for extended family in adoption situations, they Mau not have wanted another baby, might take baby on as a duty, also things like non-smokers and own room are not required

Of course that's the case. They are the child's family and they don't have to meet any " bar" , just the same as you didn't you gave birth to your DD1. They just have to show they can be good enough parents / carers.

I can see that you feel very strongly about this. But I don't think I'm saying anything controversial here .

The OP knows that it's risky . So far she's had legal advice from social workers who are not qualified and are not impartial.

It's much easier for them if OP takes baby and accepts the high risk that BM changes her mind or BF or anyone else in two whole extended families come forward for this child.

Social services have nothing to lose here. They either keep baby in Fc and pay for that while they make further enquiries of the families.

Or they Place baby with the OP, free. If the baby then has to be moved a year or two down the line, it's not their fault, it's the courts. It's unlikely they will be paying the OPs legal fees ( she should get this agreed if they go ahead ).

Most SW have placed very few children in this situation and won't have much if any experience. Case law changes.

The op needs legal advice from a specialist solicitor and not to rely on what she has been told by SS. She needs to be fully informed before she makes any decisions.

Italiangreyhound Mon 01-May-17 19:18:51

Coral I was not talking specifically about this situation, just in general. I don't know any further details.

I am not sure what the legal position is but
I don't think the extended birth family need to be unremittingly awful or otherwise, I think they are not automatically assessed. Maybe it does depend if the child has already been placed with an adoptive parent/s. Maybe the OP can ask these questions.

Have extended family been consulted?

Have any been assessed?

What if any come forward at a later date?

Might relatives allowed to adopt the baby even if they are placed with the OP. Before adoption order/after adoption order.

As far as I am aware this is not the case only the father may have the right to challenge. But it is good to get this information from an independent solicitor.

What's the legal position. Are social workers accurately representing the situation.

It would certainly be better for the OP if the father could be located and the situation verified.

Coral I think you are totally misunderstanding me. Of course the mother of the child has the right to bring them up. But as far as I am aware they have the right (in general, not specifically in this case) to relinquish the child.

Yes, of course you make a good point that families would not always pass a test (spare room etc) I know my sister would not! If my Dh and I die she would receive money so she could look after our kids.

The situation you describe where my husband and I have both been killed in a car crash or whatever both my children, birth daughter and adopted son, have an existing relationship with extended family which would be very helpful especially in terms of coming to terms with the loss of both parents.

When a new baby is being put up for adoption, although some of the issues may be relevant, I think it still seems a bit different as no exisiting relationship, Mau be just a genetic link.

It's true remaining within birth family may be beneficial but also there might be a case made that a family who are specifically waiting and ready to adopt may be better for baby. Clearly a relinquishing mum might feel so.

"I can see that you feel very strongly about this. But I don't think I'm saying anything controversial here ."

Actually, I don't feel very strongly. I am just trying to relate the facts as far as I know them.

You make excellent arguments for your point of view.

Being generically related to other people doesn't always mean you do a good job or care or whatever more. And you are totally right that when a child is taken into care the wider family is consulted first. And that's right, and as it should be.

If they can do a good enough job of parenting that is all fine (good enough being the term used not my own view of it, either way).

And I do understand that the feeling of being rejected by wider family could be very strong so I do support the idea of wider family being involved.

But in the area of relinquished babies I believe the law is different. Whether you (or I) approve of that difference is immaterial.

If the OP does not adopt this baby I imagine a new adopter/adoptive couple would be saught.

As I say I am not just stating my views but what I believe to be the law on this matter. Whether I support the idea that a relinquishing patent should not have her child given to wider family is really immaterial.

However, I do totally agree with you that "The op needs legal advice from a specialist solicitor and not to rely on what she has been told by SS. She needs to be fully informed before she makes any decisions."

In this situation it is possible birth mum may change her mind, I've known of this happen twice, once before placement and once after.

Or birth father may appear and contest. I've known of this happen once.

I've also read of birth father contesting in one case because the birth mum claimed father was her husband, which was not the case. But I cannot remember if that was a relinquished baby or not.

Coral I think you feel very strongly on this so lets agree to differ but both hope the OP gets external expert legal advice.

flowers

Rosieandtim Mon 01-May-17 21:24:15

I think Italian is correct.

If BM refuses to put forward any family members, then they cannot be assessed to take the baby, even should those family members wish to. I feel that this is likely well tested by decades of women relinquishing babies, and perhaps a grandmother offering to take it, but mum preferring adoption, so adoption happens.

However, I think the area of law around BF could be more grey, and that would concern me. I have certainly heard of BFs who have found out late, and then raised either successful, or stressful, objections to adoption. I know of a case where the child now lives with the father.

I believe the court will look differently on a case where the BF knew, but didn't wish to be involved, as different to a case where BM kept knowledge of the pregnancy and/or baby from BF. In the case I know well, BM had named another man on the birth cert. The real BF had no PR, no idea, until one of BM's friends told BF that the child looked like him. The child is the spitting image! BF is a doting dad, and immediately acted, which the court viewed favorably.

Coral is correct that it is the child's right to grow up in their birth family if possible.

If you can go into this, knowing that if BF does emerge, there is the possibility you would, for the best for the child, have to hand the child 'back' to BF, then it may be an acceptable risk to take.

C0RAL Mon 01-May-17 22:17:10

I believe the court will look differently on a case where the BF knew, but didn't wish to be involved, as different to a case where BM kept knowledge of the pregnancy and/or baby from BF. In the case I know well, BM had named another man on the birth cert. The real BF had no PR, no idea, until one of BM's friends told BF that the child looked like him

You can't name anyone on your child's birth certificate as the father unless it's your husband.

So either the man who was named incorrectly was BM husband or the putative father went along to register the birth with the mother believing that it was his child. And of course the BM might well have made a genuine mistake about who the father was.

I'm guessing that it was some months before that father was able to get PR, as most newborn babies don't look exactly like their father, at least not enough to make it clear who he was. And yet he was still able to have his child live with him.

This of course is one of the concerns in the OPs case, that there's no evidence that BF knows that the child exists/ is his.

I know of two families who adopted relinquished babies, but in both cases neither parent nor their families wanted to care for the child. This was all established before the babies were placed with adopters, though of course the BP have the right to change their minds.

So the risks were much lower than in this case where BM is witholding all of the relevant information.

Op I hope you can get some advice to help you move forward in this difficult situation.

Rosieandtim Mon 01-May-17 22:23:01

BM had led other man to believe it was his kid, so they must have registered together. Charitably, BM probably did think she'd got the right bloke, but time showed her to be incorrect!

It was an older child, and not relinquished. But my point is that BM had not put BF forward, or even said he may be BF.

The child had been in care some time, it looked cut and dried that adoption was best.

TBH, if BM had plumped for BF, and not the man she did, perhaps the child would never have been in care, as BF is a thoroughly good egg.

My point is, there are risks here. I don't think the law is as clear as 'if BM relinquishes then the BF can't intervene'. I'm agreeing with Coral that OP would need to a) have legal advice on those risks, and b) be willing to tolerate them, before accepting placement of the baby.

Rosieandtim Mon 01-May-17 22:24:34

Not 'older child' in adoption terms. Older child than a newborn. A baby in adoption terms!

C0RAL Mon 01-May-17 22:30:39

Indeed.

If it were true that " if BM relinquished then BF can't intervene " then it would be true the other way around - a father with PR could put his child up for adoption and the mother couldn't intervene.

As you say, BF could find out any time and apply for the courts for a test and PR.

Rosieandtim Mon 01-May-17 22:35:48

Coral, that wouldn't quite be the case, as mums always have PR by default, and dads don't. I think the assumption some people make is that 'no PR= no say in whether adopted', which isn't true. But the converse 'has PR= definitely gets a say in whether adopted' , or at least has rights to object, is true. So a dad with PR would never be able to relinquish without mum, because mum will have PR. It causes confusion when people think PR stands for 'parental rights' not responsibility. In adoptive terms, a biological father without PR can still have rights to contest the adoption.

Italiangreyhound Tue 02-May-17 02:18:03

Rosie "My point is, there are risks here. I don't think the law is as clear as 'if BM relinquishes then the BF can't intervene'..." I absolutely agree, the birth father can intervene. He can apply to parent the child but he must also be assessed, this is my understanding of the situation. If he cannot parent the child he cannot offer an alternative relative if the child has been relinquished. this is my understanding of the case.

I am curious, and this is not to do with the OP's situation so feel free to not answer, but Coral and Rosie have made it clear that they think people with a genetic or biological link to a child are somehow better to parent that child if the actual parents are not around (meaning the biological mum and dad).

I said earlier if my husband and I both died in a car crash my sister would take our kids (just for the sake of argument). Supposing I said I have put my friend in my will to look after my kids. She lives closer than my sister so the children could stay in the area they live in now and the same school etc. (just for the sake of argument.)

Should the courts have the right to over-turn mine (and dh's) decision and pass the care of our children to a family member, someone who is genetically related to me or dh (and so to one of our children)?

As I say, I am just curious about the thinking that does into the decisions people make personally as this is not of course a point of law and not relevant to the OP (sorry OP!).

I must add the thought, which for me is very relevant and important, that the law must always think about what is best for a child. For many people this is never questioned since although I went through a lot of attention to become a mum to a son by adoption - our birth child joined us without anyone checking up on us or our abilities to parent.

So for most people questions about what is best for their kids are never asked.

When those questions are asked, it is when a parent has lost the ability to parent legally (have responsibility for a child - I can't think of the correct term, sorry), because their child/children have been taken into care.

In the case of relinquishment the parent making those decisions has not lost the 'right' to parent their child.

So normally the legal parents of a child (the biological ones) have the right to parent and it is not questioned so no one else usually gets to second guess what is right for their child. When the parent chooses to relinquish I do tend to feel many will do so because they really feel (rightly or wrongly) that this is what is best for their child.

This is interesting to me because many years ago (after dd, before ds came along) we had treatment with donor eggs, so had that resulted in a baby (it did not) I would have had a biological link to them but neither dh nor I would have had a genetic link to them. Legally, they would have been our child. I think this is something that has contributed to my thinking on this, but again, this is not relevant to the OP so I will stop pontificating now!

thanks

Italiangreyhound Tue 02-May-17 02:26:59

OP I just posted and said it is not relevant to you but I meant of course not relevant to your specific situation here.

I think as adopters our ability to parent children we do not have a genetic or biological link to, and their ability to love us as parents, is very relevant.

Personally, I think adoption flies in the face of 'blood is thicker than water', and so maybe for that reason I am cautious about the idea that children will always be best with someone biologically linked to them.

Always, what is best for the child is, and should be, at the centre of what we do (as a society) and as families. However, as parents we need to be protected as well.

I do hope in some way that some of this thread will be helpful to you and whatever you decided to do that it will work out for the best for you Wobblypark and you family. thanks

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