Application for a Permanence Order under Section 80 of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 by The City of Edinburgh Council in relation to A against B & C [2020] SC EDIN 21 (Edinburgh Sheriff Court, 18th March 2020)

The City of Edinburgh Council has been granted a permanence order with authority to adopt in relation to a child, A, who was born in November 2015. The only party with parental rights and responsibilities (PRRs) was the child’s mother, B, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 13 and would not recover from this illness. A had been placed in the care of the local authority with his mother’s consent shortly after birth. He originally resided with B’s mother in a kinship care arrangement, but this later broke down and he was moved to foster care. The child’s mother was not opposed to the application for permanence.

However, the child’s father, C, did oppose the permanence application. C was a Nigerian national and had been granted limited leave to remain in the UK until October 2020. He was not registered as the child’s father and had raised a separate action seeking PRRs in respect of A. This action had been sisted pending the outcome of the permanence proceedings.

A parenting assessment of C was carried out by a clinical psychologist, who concluded that C had untreated psychological issues and that there was a high risk of neglectful parenting if C was to be granted PRRs. In addition, A had reacted badly to contact with C.

In the meantime, A had been matched with a prospective adopter, E. The prospective adopter had made efforts to familiarise herself with A’s mixed-race heritage and A was deemed to be well settled with E.

Sheriff Welsh QC held that it was in A’s best interests to grant the permanence order with authority to adopt. Although the child’s mother did not oppose the application, the Sheriff did make a finding that for A to live with B would be seriously detrimental to A’s welfare because of his mother’s medical condition.

The child’s father was dismissed as a stranger to A. The Sheriff also found that there was a degree of uncertainty in relation to the child’s father for two reasons. Firstly, it was not known what the outcome of any treatment provided for his psychological issues would be. Secondly, his right to remain in the UK was only guaranteed until October 2020. It was held that it would be too long for A to wait in uncertainty for the outcome of these situations, which were unpredictable. As Sheriff Welsh QC stated, “A has a compelling need now in his own best interests to move on and be claimed and attached to a loving parent”.

The Sheriff also found that the no order principle was met, because it was better for A to be granted the certainty of the permanence order rather than to remain in the local authority care system for an indefinite period.

The child’s father was granted indirect contact as it was not deemed to be in A’s best interests for an order of no contact to be made.

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