An interim care order for two young children was extended for three months and one month respectively with the consent of the three parents involved in the District Court. Arrangements were being made to introduce the older child to her father, whom she had not met and who was not the father of the younger child.
This man wanted the child to come into the care of him and his partner, but the HSE social worker said she was a child with extensive developmental needs, including a need for a fuller assessment. She was very wary of strangers. She had bonded well with her foster parents and would have to be introduced to her father very slowly. All parties agreed he should be guardian. His solicitor said he agreed to develop the relationship at the child’s pace.
The court was told that the mother consented to the extension of the interim care order for both children for three months, but the father of the second child would only consent for one month.
The mother’s solicitor said the mother did not accept the first child had been neglected. The social worker said she had started in a crèche at one year, and the crèche noticed signs of neglect, including a vacant look and the fact that she was cold and dirty.
The solicitor for the HSE said that the second father was moving from one homeless accommodation to another. He did not have legal representation as yet. There was an issue around the €50 fee. The judge said the Legal Aid Board could waive the fee in cases of hardship.
The social worker said there had been problems with access the previous weekend. The mother had asked that the father be arrested. She was afraid if she left her apartment he would come in and break it up. Later she turned up in the office quite irate and demanding to see the child. The social worker explained that her role was for the child and not to be involved in parents’ personal difficulties. She said the mother should avail of the services offered for victims of domestic violence.
The mother’s solicitor said the mother was very upset. She had difficulties in her relationship with the child’s father. She thought that if the apartment keys were taken from him she would feel more secure.
The mother said that the father had previously thrashed the apartment and had texted her to say he had keys and was coming over the break it up. She said she wanted to take care of her son in the future and wanted to work with the social work department to get him back out of care.
The father said he had been made homeless four times by the mother. The first time she said she was going to abort the child, she said she would put him up for adoption, even sell the child. “I am a very loving person. I always wanted to be with someone and have a family. When I met her I wanted to get her daughter out of care and have a family,” he said.
“She knew I was in a hostel and getting sorted out with accommodation for me and my son. She asked me to move back in and we tried to make a go of it. She had suspicions and she keeps going on and on at me and eventually I lose it. I accept I smashed up the apartment and locked her outside. I did say out of anger I would smash up the apartment. But I don’t have a set of keys.”
The mother’s solicitor asked if there had been an altercation the night before the case was before the court in October when he smashed the television, and if he had texted the mother to say he had keys. The father said he had, but he didn’t have keys. He said he had no intention of going near the apartment.
The judge extended the interim care order for this child for one month, with the parents’ consent, and for the other child for three months, also with the parent’s consent. He also appointed a guardian ad litem for the child.