Not many people would disagree with the position that children should only be taken from their natural parents as a last resort and this is the view of the court system also.

In one case which strikingly made that point, a mother was given a final chance to care for her baby daughter despite her history of forming relationships with violent men.

During her ‘dark days’, the woman had lived with a string of unsuitable men who were dependent on alcohol or drugs or who had mental health problems. She had repeatedly lied about her lifestyle to social workers, who said that she could not be trusted to protect her daughter from emotional harm.

The local authority applied to a family judge for a ‘final care order’ with a view to placing the girl for adoption. In refusing the application, however, the judge said that there had recently been a dramatic improvement in the mother’s way of life and an awakening of insight into the damage she might cause to her daughter.

She had engaged with professionals who were trying to help her and had felt the benefits of cognitive behavioural therapy. In those circumstances, the judge found that the threshold for making a care order had not been reached. He urged the mother that, if she wanted to keep her daughter, she would have to focus on her welfare and being open and honest with social workers.

The judge directed the council to provide mother and daughter with a high level of support and to keep them under close supervision for three years.


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