Adoption detail is held from mother

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A MOTHER should not be told that the prospective adoptive father of her child has a physical disability, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.

The information was 'irrelevant' to her court attempt to oppose adoption, Lord Justice Butler-Sloss said. To provide it would also give rise to 'a real risk' that the mother would discover the whereabouts of the boy, 'S', now nearly aged three, and his proposed adoptive parents, who had looked after him for 18 months.

The mother was 'the sort of person who would leave no stone unturned to find the child if she wished to do so'. The judge added: 'There should not be unnecessary secrecy, but it is a question of balancing the provision of information against the risk to the child of identification of his placement and destabilisation of his future home.'

The information about the prospective father's disability was not 'so startling and significant for the future welfare of the child that it has to be disclosed come what may'. The Master of the Rolls, Sir Thomas Bingham, and Lord Justice Hoffman agreed.

The court allowed an appeal by the couple who want to adopt 'S' and a local authority adoption agency against the direction that the mother should be told, made by the county court judge hearing the legal battle over the child's future.

The mother placed 'S' in voluntary care when he was two months old and indicated that she wished him to be adopted. Last year, she agreed to termination of access and the boy was placed with the family which now wanted to adopt him. But the mother changed her mind and is now seeking a contact order under the 1989 Children Act with a view to resuming care of him.