A father who argued that he lost his young son to adoption – because South East England’s ‘housing crisis’ had made it impossible for him to find a suitable family home – has failed to convince the Court of Appeal that the boy should be returned to his care.
The man had been seeking custody of his three-year-old son since he was placed in foster care by Suffolk County Council on grounds that his mother was suffering from ‘serious problems’ and that his father had previously experienced ‘difficulties with a personality disorder’.
After his successful completion of a parenting assessment, the father was viewed by social workers as capable of providing adequate care for his son. A family judge recognised his efforts and noted that he had the benefit of a committed family support network. He was granted three months of enhanced contact with the boy in which to demonstrate his parenting abilities but was told that it was vital that he find a suitable home where he and the boy could live together.
At a later hearing, the same judge found that there had been a ‘marked deterioration’ in the boy’s behaviour since he had begun spending more time with his father, who had been unable to secure a family home. In making care and adoption placement orders, the judge found that the father had ‘to some extent, gone back to his old ways’.
In challenging that decision, the father said that he had become very close to his son during their time together. Although he admitted having ‘some demons’, he insisted that he had turned his life around and that he posed no threat to his son’s welfare. Describing his struggle to find a suitable family home, he said that he had been thwarted by the high cost and scarcity of such properties in the South East.
However, whilst expressing sympathy for the father, the Court of Appeal was ‘not surprised’ by the family judge’s view that adoption was in the boy’s best interests. The Court was not persuaded that there was any realistic prospect of the family judge’s decision being overturned on appeal.