An Interim Care Order was renewed in a provincial city for a baby born in Ireland shortly after his mother arrived in Ireland from another jurisdiction, pending an application to the High Court to send the baby back. The baby had been due to be removed from the mother at birth because of concerns about her mental health.
The court heard the mother came to the attention of the social services from a hospital, when she came to the emergency department saying her baby was due the next day. The hospital contacted the authorities in her home country and discovered the baby was due to be removed. This followed an earlier child being placed in care because of physical abuse.
The mother had said she had left her home country to avoid this, with the help of a project in Ireland she contacted on-line. The social worker told the court that the mother had been told child protection was more lenient in Ireland. She had no connection with Ireland, no plans for accommodation and no money. She had no habitual residence in Ireland and so was not entitled to benefits. “After we received the reports from the UK we felt we had no alternative but to take the child into care,” the social worker said.
The mother’s solicitor asked had the initial Interim Care Order been refused because the evidence was hearsay, and the social worker said it was.
Solicitor: “The evidence today is still based primarily on evidence from [the other jurisdiction]?”
Social worker: “Yes. But as this case progresses a lot of the concerns of the [other] jurisdiction begin to surface. After she left hospital she had no place to live, so there are also current circumstances.”
Asked if the social work department management of the case was influenced by the High Court application the social worker said if the child was returned to the mother’s country nothing further would arise. If the child was not returned, there would be a parenting capacity assessment. “I believe the child would be best in [the other country]. He has family there, half-siblings.”
The solicitor said the department should be more flexible with regard to access. The social worker said the mother was very appropriate and affectionate with the child during access and the department was surprised when she reduced it.
The solicitor said the mother’s lack of means was a major concern. She felt she had to get employment in order to get accommodation and this affected her ability to attend access during working hours.
Social worker: “I agree she needed to take up employment. But there was evening work, weekend work, shift work she could have taken up. Access can only be facilitated Monday to Friday. It has to be supervised by a Tusla employee.”
The judge asked about the child’s father, and the social worker said he was not on the child’s birth certificate and did not seem to want any involvement with the mother. The mother told the court that they had a brief relationship and he did not want any relationship with the child. He told the social services this and signed adoption papers.
“There was pressure on me to sign away the baby. I found out about the possibility of avoiding social services in Ireland, France, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland. They were all recommended on the website,” the mother said.
“I came to Ireland and was with a family in the south-east initially. I moved to the west when I was two days over-due, I was dumped there by the people I stayed with after my arrival. Then I went to hospital for the birth.
“I don’t want him to go back where he will be put in care and possibly adopted. I have a good working relationship with the foster parents here.
“I was encouraged to seek employment because I was not entitled to social welfare. I have £600 in an account and my father gave me £200. My sister helps as well. No-one is giving me a chance to be a good mother. At Christmas I didn’t get to see the baby for a week. At the end of the day I’m fed up with being judged all the time. Their scheduling problems are not my problems.”
She told her solicitor she was not totally opposing the extension of the Interim Care Order at the moment, but wanted the level and type of access changed. “I’d like to push my baby about in a pram.
“I’m fed up with the lies that came in [with these proceedings]. People said I came here to frustrate care proceedings. I came to stop my baby being adopted.”
Asked if her other child was adopted, she said he was too old for adoption when he went into care. He was seven.
The judge said: “Very serious allegations have been made. If the High Court makes an order that the jurisdiction of this case is moved [to the other jurisdiction] there is nothing we can do about that, if it does not the mother will have to be assessed in the normal way. She has given evidence on oath about a lot of money being put into her account by various people. There is the question of the child’s father, who is not on the birth certificate. All of that will have to be looked at by the CFA.
“At the moment we have the issue of access.”
The solicitor for the CFA said that access had been fully reinstated the previous day and the order was renewed.