Judge rules in favour of adopted teenager opposed to birth family caring for her child

A teenage mother who was adopted at the age of six after suffering neglect has won a court fight with a council over whether blood relatives should be assessed as potential carers for her child.

The 19-year-old woman’s 15-month-old daughter went into foster care after social workers raised welfare concerns, a judge heard.

Council social services bosses thought they should assess members of the woman’s birth family when considering who could care for the girl in the long term, but the woman objected, saying her adoptive family was “her family” and her birth family would be “wholly unsuited” as carers.

Mr Justice Cobb ruled in her favour, concluding that her birth family was her “original family” but not her “current family” or “relatives”.

The judge said the council is not under any obligation to “inform, consult, assess, or otherwise consider” the woman’s birth family when making decisions about the girl’s care.

Mr Justice Cobb outlined detail of the case in a written ruling published online following a recent private family court hearing in Leeds.

He said the woman, her child and the families involved could not be identified in media reports of the case.

Lawyers representing the council argued that it was “incumbent” on staff to assess birth family members as carers.

They said the girl was descended from her mother’s birth family, and members of her birth family knew of her existence and were interested in her.

Lawyers representing the woman pointed to their “historical failure” to care for her, and to what she knew of their “current lifestyles”.

Mr Justice Cobb, based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said members of a birth family could not be ruled out as possible carers in every such case.

He said he could see a situation in which a birth family “could properly fall to be assessed”, for example where a previously adopted parent had “reconnected successfully” with their birth family.

But he said that had not happened in the woman’s case.

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