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English Family Judge Frees Neglected Polish Boys for Adoption

International migration means that English family judges often have to plan the future of foreign children in the care system. However, as a case concerning two young Polish boys shows, the nationality of children makes no difference to the fundamental principle that their welfare is paramount.

Despite DNA testing of two men and a local authority’s employment of an inquiry agent, it had proved impossible to discover the identity of the boys’ fathers. Both aged under five, they had been taken into interim care due to concerns about their mother’s heavy drinking. They were said to have witnessed incidents of domestic violence and to have been kept in squalid home conditions.

In those circumstances, their Polish mother accepted that they had suffered harm in her care and that the threshold had been reached at which full care orders were appropriate. The council, which had communicated extensively with the Polish consular authorities, argued that adoption – either in the UK or Poland – was the only viable possibility for the boys and that all other options had been considered.

In ruling on the matter, a family judge noted that adoption was a draconian step and would result in severing the boys’ relationship with their mother. If adopted in England, they might also be divorced from their Polish heritage. In making adoption orders, however, she found that those disadvantages were outweighed by the boy’s imperative need for a secure and stable home throughout their childhoods.

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