A ‘harrowing’ case of mistaken identity has left ‘perfect adopters’ heartbroken after a baby boy who they had looked after for most of his life – and who they believed would be theirs forever – was taken from them by a family judge.
The couple – A and B – had provided a home for the boy – C – when he was seven months old because his drug addict mother could not care for him. They put their all into parenthood for over a year before it emerged that social workers had wrongly identified the boy’s father as the natural mother’s current boyfriend.
When his real father came forward – his paternity was put beyond doubt by DNA testing – his sister, C’s aunt, said that she wanted to care for the little boy. Despite the ‘intense grief’ which he realised that he was inflicting on A and B, the judge found that it would be ‘positively better’ for 20-month-old C to be returned to his natural family.
The judge said that he had ‘rarely heard a more harrowing case’ in almost 20 years on the High Court bench. There was no doubt that A and B had become ‘very well attached’ to C, and he to them. He added, “The agony which they and their wider families must have experienced since they first learned of these facts and the opposition to adoption cannot be overstated. Yet, they have continued selflessly to care for C with love and devotion to an exemplary standard.”
However, the aunt’s parenting abilities had been very positively reviewed and her case was supported by social workers and the child’s guardian. The judge ruled that C’s welfare demanded that he live with his aunt. He concluded, “I have no doubt that public reaction to this judgment and decision is likely to be polarised. Some will agree, and some strongly disagree, with what I have decided.”