In a decision which Lord Justice Wilson said made him ‘profoundly uncomfortable’, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the adoption process is final. This means that children who are adopted after they have been removed from their biological parents cannot be returned to them, even if it is subsequently discovered that the parents were incorrectly accused of harming them.
The case concerned a couple with four children. Three of the children were taken into care after suffering what were considered to be ‘non-accidental’ injuries. The children were adopted in 2004. Evidence produced after this date indicated that the injuries sustained by the children were accidental, being consistent with the sort of injuries that would occur through normal parental handling of children suffering deficiencies of vitamin C and iron due to a diet based on soya milk rather than cow’s milk.
Appeals to set aside the adoption orders, made several years after the adoptions took place, failed, even though the Court was of the view that the original orders placing the children in council care would be unlikely to succeed were the case to be heard again.
The adoption process is final. Once legal adoption has taken place, the child is, in law, the child of the new parents. For this reason, giving up a child for adoption or adopting a child is a decision which has to be given thorough consideration.