Full care order for baby whose mother left state – 2019vol2#26

See also Vol 2 of 2018: High Court quashes emergency care order for newborn removed at birth as disproportionate

A Full Care Order until the age of 18 was granted in the District Court for a young child whose parents are non-nationals. The father was still living in Ireland but was not attending access. The mother, who had mental health issues, had left the country.

The child was taken into care after its birth while still in the hospital. The Child and Family Agency (CFA) had concerns with the mother’s ability to care for the child due to her ongoing mental health issues. The court heard the mother had delusional beliefs. There were domestic violence concerns and there were also serious abuse and neglect concerns regarding the child’s older siblings who have also been taken into care.

The social worker for the CFA told the court he first came into contact with the family when he was working as a support worker for families living in emergency accommodation. He said in September 2019 staff at the accommodation centre heard noises coming from the family’s room. He said that domestic violence was a concern in emergency accommodation, so he went to the room to speak to the parents.

He told the court he had not yet completed a formal assessment, so he would make arrangements to do so. He said that when questioning the mother during the assessment she told him everything was fine, but that angels keep coming up the drain in the shower and attacking her. He said the mother then pinched him.

The mother was involuntarily admitted to hospital before the child’s birth. The consultant psychiatrist gave evidence he felt the mother was suffering from a psychotic illness. She had delusions that she was being attacked and that she was a prophet speaking for God. The psychiatrist explained to the court that a delusional disorder is when a person holds fixed beliefs that cannot be shaken and that those beliefs have an impact upon their functioning. Treatment requires an anti-psychotic medication or injection every three to four weeks.

The mother was discharged after her psychotic episodes improved with medication.  She did not attend her follow up appointment.

The second CFA social worker gave evidence the child’s siblings suffered falls and burns and one child suffered a serious scald that required the child to be hospitalised. The oldest child had disclosed abuse by the father and the court heard another child had fallen from the top of the stairs and fractured his skull.

The children were also exposed to inappropriate behaviour, such as the mother screaming at night for angels, spirits and demons which caused the children to have nightmares. The social worker told the court the school had reported the children were going to school hungry and inappropriately dressed sometimes wearing no socks or shoes. There were concerns with the family’s accommodation being unclean and untidy.

The court heard before the birth of the baby the mother was preoccupied with babies being ripped from her flesh and wanted her labour to be induced. She made references to angels and demons and was adamant she wanted the baby out right away. Doctors advised the mother that it was not good to induce labour, but the mother was determined she wanted the baby right away so she was induced. The Medical Social Worker (MSW) met the mother on the day of the birth and told the court the mother was very excited and agitated and spoke of angels and demons wanting to attack her baby.  The child was taken into care directly after its birth. The mother left the hospital without being discharged.

The court heard the father was not concerned with the mother’s beliefs as he believed she was a prophet and did not accept there is any risk to the children. The CFA tried to facilitate access with the parents, but the parents attended access rarely. The mother’s condition subsequently deteriorated, and it was reported she was aggressive at access and continued speaking about angels and demons. The court heard the father has since disengaged and the mother has left the country.

Mother’s barrister: “You have observed some appropriate behaviour with her child?”

Social worker: “Yes.”

Barrister: “Even when she hasn’t been able to engage she has expressed concern and love for her child?”

Social worker: “Yes.”

The court was told there is a long history of social worker involvement and concerns regarding the levels of aggression, neglect and physical and emotional abuse. “Nothing has changed,” the social worker said, adding: “There are concerns regarding safety if the child is returned to his parents.”

The social worker told the court the child is doing very well in his placement and is thriving. He has contact with his siblings who are also doing very well in their placements. The court heard the foster families will receive support with assisting the children with their cultural and heritage needs.

The court found the threshold for a full care order was met and the order was made until the child is 18 years of age. An aftercare review is scheduled for 6th November 2035.