Extension of interim care order for boy awaiting introduction to half siblings- 2022vol2#10

A judge in a rural area granted an extension of an interim care order for a young boy on the consent of the mother whilst the parenting capacity assessment was awaiting completion.

The mother was in court and had legal representation. The father was not in court and there was no representation on his behalf. The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) confirmed the father had been served correctly with the papers and had been told of today’s court date. He said there had never been any consistent engagement from the father.

Evidence was heard from the social worker and from the guardian ad litem (GAL). The social worker said the mother was consenting to the interim care order for two months. A parenting capacity assessment was in progress and would be ready in three months’ time. Following the publication of this report, a plan would be made either for reunification or for the CFA to apply for a full care order. The boy was doing very well in his foster placement, had assimilated into the foster family and was being prepared for school. Access had gone well, videos and calls were frequently exchanged. She reported the mother had accommodation difficulties but had been proactive in trying to resolve these.

The social worker told the court that the mother had wanted to introduce the boy to his half-siblings. However, all those involved in the boy’s care had concerns about the timing of this and how this would be done. She said the boy, even though he was very young, had such confidence about himself and an assurance of who he was and his place in the world. Everyone, the mother, foster family, and all professionals, were anxious this introduction be handled sensitively to maintain his self-assurance. Everyone had worked together, all voices had been listened to regarding the best way these siblings could be introduced, and a plan had been made.

The GAL said that there was a very normal, informal, and respectful relationship between the foster family and the mother. This had had a very positive influence on the boy as she said: “He [the boy] was happy, familiar with his birth family and bores everyone with the story of his family. He talked openly of his tummy mummy and his foster mummy.” A plan had been made to introduce the siblings, which had included life story work.

The GAL believed it would be in the boy’s best interests if he was introduced to his other siblings and it would be unfair if he was not. The concerns centred on how this introduction would be made. She believed the plan that had been made by everyone together would hopefully work but it would be kept under review. She said the father had not been involved, she had tried to contact him, but contact was intermittent at best.

The judge said she had read the papers submitted to the court as part of this application and was delighted all parties worked so well together for the benefit of the boy. She was satisfied the father knew of the application. She granted an interim care order for two months.