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Down Lisburn Health & Social Services Trust v H

The judge’s decision to make a freeing order on the basis that parental consent was unreasonably withheld, even though prospective adopters had not been found by the date of that hearing and the parents did not know whether post-adoption contact was available, was not so plainly wrong as to entitle a court to interfere with it.

28 July 2006

The appellant parents (H) appealed against a decision of the Court of Appeal upholding the view that H’s consent could be dispensed with when freeing their child (N) for adoption. N, aged four, was the fourth child of her mother (M), who had a long history of alcohol-related problems. N’s older siblings had suffered periods of instability and separation from M as a result of M’s alcoholism, including periods in care, and N was admitted to foster care as soon as she was born. She returned to live with H for some 10 months, during which time she developed significant attachments to them, but was again taken into care when M relapsed into alcohol abuse. The trust’s care plan for adoption was approved and it then made an application for a freeing order, pursuant to the Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987. H objected to the freeing order on the basis of their objection to the adoption in principle and the uncertainties surrounding their future contact with N. Evidence was prov...

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