Council Faces Inquiry Into How Boy Was Taken From Foster Mother
A London social services department faces an investigation into why it abruptly removed a victim of child trafficking from the foster mother with whom he had bonded.
A consultant child psychiatrist involved in the case has asked the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) to look into the way in which the boy, aged nearly three, was taken away without warning while playing outside his foster mother’s home, instead of being gradually introduced to his new family in line with the tenets of good child care practice.
The “miracle baby”, who can be named only as Child C, was at the centre of a three-way tug-of-love in the high court between the infertile woman who claimed he had been born to her miraculously in Kenya after a 27-day pregnancy, the foster mother who had cared for him for 15 months, and the prospective adopters found by Haringey council in north London.
A high court judge, Mr Justice Ryder, ruled in July that the boy must go to the adoptive parents, an Afro-Caribbean couple with children, even though he had bonded with the foster mother, Mrs F, a divorcee living on her own with the child, and she had cared for him well.
The judge said the couple and the boy shared a “visual identity” and they wanted to adopt him while Mrs F’s Muslim faith was against adoption. She had offered to bring him up, but under a special guardianship order, a permanent arrangement short of adoption.
Mrs F tried to appeal against the adoption ruling, but was turned down by an appeal court judge, Lord Justice Wall. The same day she was refused permission to appeal, Child C was playing outside her home when he was lifted off the toy truck he was riding on and taken away by two social workers, protesting and calling for his foster mother, according to neighbours who witnessed the incident.
The complaint from Hamish Cameron, an honorary consultant child psychiatrist at St George’s hospital, south London, and adoption adviser to the charities Childlink and Coram Family, has been forwarded to the CSCI by Gwen Williams, solicitor for the original “miracle parents”, Mr and Mrs E, an African couple who looked after the boy for only six weeks before he was taken into care.
In his complaint, Dr Cameron, who saw the boy as an expert witness in the case, says C is likely to be suffering a profound grief reaction to the loss of his mother figure, who has not seen him since he was taken away in August, and could suffer permanent psychological trauma from the way he was removed from her. He was already vulnerable after six foster placements in three years and a similarly abrupt removal from Mr and Mrs E.
Lord Justice Wall, the appeal court judge who heard Mrs F’s application for permission to appeal against the high court judgment, has also asked for an investigation into the circumstances of the boy’s removal.
Ms Williams said: “My clients are very upset about the fact that he’s been removed in this way. They are concerned about his wellbeing, even though the court ruled that he should not live with them. I’m particularly concerned that this is the second time the local authority has removed him forcibly from the person with care.”
Haringey council said in a statement: “The court asked us to respond to a letter of complaint it had received from the foster carer. We have done so. The complaint is now subject to the council’s complaints procedure which involves an independent investigator. This is usual practice.
“The welfare of Child C has been and continues to be of paramount importance. He is safe and well. We were pleased that Mr Justice Ryder recognised the careful work done by Haringey.
“Dr Cameron’s views during the proceedings were considered by the judge and discussed in the publicly available judgment. We are not aware of any representations from Dr Cameron since the appeal hearing.”