Bramley case: Court will rule on adoption

Police and social services are becoming increasingly concerned at the lack of contact
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The Independent Online
THE FIRST and most urgent decision facing the court when, and if, the Bramleys come out of hiding will be whether to leave the children with them while their renewed application to adopt is being considered.

If the girls are distressed and neglected, the court would have no option but to remove them immediately.

Even if they are happy and well cared for, the court will have to take account of the risk that if the decision should go against the couple, they might abscond again.

It is likely therefore that the family will either be closely supervised for the duration of the new assessment - which could take six weeks to three months - or that the children will be temporarily placed with another family, allowing the Bramleys daily contact, until the decision is reached.

The Bramleys will then be permitted to submit their application to adopt the children to the court.

The children will be represented by the Official Solicitor, a government legal officer who will appoint an independent social worker from outside Cambridge.

The independent social worker, known as a guardian ad litem, will meet the children and the Bramleys and observe how they get on and write a report for the court.

Although they have been referred to throughout the case as foster parents, the Bramleys were, in fact, being prepared to adopt, not foster. The key difference is that a part of foster parents' training involves preparing them to give up temporarily placed the children.

The Bramleys had applied and been approved to adopt, and expected all along to keep the children permanently placed with them. When social workers decided things were not working out and told the parents they were going to remove the girls, the Bramleys tried to take the law into their own hands by applying direct to the court to adopt the children. However, the court refused, because the notice to remove the children had already been issued.

Cambridge social services now says it will not prevent the Bramleys applying to adopt and will leave the decision to the court. Yesterday Felicity Collier, director of the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, said: "I think Cambridge have taken a very good decision. The best interests of the children may be very different from what they were four months ago. Four months is a long time in the life of a three-year-old. We need a fresh look."

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