Judge orders adoption for baby whose parents are both in jail

Newcastle Combined Court. Copyright Google Images.
Newcastle Combined Court. Copyright Google Images.

A judge has ordered that a baby from South Tyneside - whose parents were both in jail on the day she was born - be adopted.

The mother and father of the youngster both have criminal records and a history of chaotic lifestyle fulled by alcohol and drug abuse.

I unhesitatingly conclude that there is no realistic possibility of (the girl) being safely placed in the cousin’s care.

Judge Simon Wood, Newcastle Family Court

The mum’s cousin stepped forward to care for the one-year-old, but Judge Simon Wood ruled, at Newcastle Family Court, that the risks of the baby remaining part of her natural familer were “too great”. South Tyneside Council was granted an adoption order and the girl – whose father has only been out of prison for two months of her life – will now grow up as part of a new family.

The judge said the mother had spent much of her childhood in care. She had 22 arrests and convictions for assault, drunkenness and street robbery.

Aged in her early 20s, she gave birth to her daughter, her first child, whilst behind bars serving a two-year sentence for a mugging.

The father, 10 years older than her, had an even worse record of increasingly violent behaviour. He had been convicted of 95 offences, during 45 court appearances, and was also in jail when his daughter was born.

After at first demanding that they be allowed to bring their daughter up, the couple eventually accepted that she could not live with them.

However, the mother’s cousin put herself forward, saying she would look after the girl with her other child.

Judge Wood described the cousin as “a decent, wholly competent and meritorious young mother”.

But he nevertheless ruled that the risk posed by the baby’s father meant she had to be adopted outside her biological family.

For the mother, the little girl was a “much loved and much wanted” child and her pregnancy had been planned, said the judge.

The father said that he was determined to turn over a new leaf and felt a strong commitment to his role as a father.

He even asked the judge rhetorically if his criminal past and history of chaotic parenting “meant he could never have children”.

But the judge said he was not prepared to “experiment” with the baby girl’s future. The risk the father posed to his daughter, even in the cousin’s care, would be “very real”, he told the court.

Judge Wood accepted that adoption was very much “a last resort”.

But he ruled: “I unhesitatingly conclude that there is no realistic possibility of (the girl) being safely placed in the cousin’s care.

“That is not through any risk from her but from risk principally from her father. Her needs can only be met in an adoptive placement”.

The judge formally placed the baby girl in care and authorised the council to place her for adoption.