A woman has lost her High Court challenge over the manner in which the Child and Family Agency removed a child she was fostering from her care.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Garrett Simons said that the proceedings were inadmissible because the foster mother brought her action outside of the three month period legally allowed to have the agency's actions judicially reviewed.
The judge, who praised the woman for the care she provided for the child, added that even if the court was to examine and ultimately find deficiencies in the processes and decisions challenged, such an outcome might not be in the best interests of the child.
He ruled that none of the persons involved in the case can be identified in any media reports.
The woman fostered the boy, who has certain medical conditions, for more than a year after his birth in 2016 until the Child and Family Agency (CFA) removed him from her care earlier this year.
She claimed that was done without any consideration for his medical and psychological needs or his best interests and welfare and at a time when he was scheduled for important surgery, which she herself had paid for.
The woman, who has other children, said the boy had built up a strong bond and attachment to her children and herself.
She also claimed she was informed by the CFA that, as a lone parent, she could not adopt the boy and the child’s birth mother wanted him adopted by a two-parent family.
Following his removal from her care, while he was receiving medical treatment, the boy was placed with prospective adoptive parents.
In her judicial review, the woman claimed his removal and placement was done without any regard for his welfare and without proper assessment and planning for his complex physical and medical needs.
‘Thriving and happy’
She also alleged the CFA failed to properly vindicate the boy’s constitutional rights or to give his foster family due process, fair procedures and natural justice in how his future care and custody was decided.
The CFA denied her claims and also argued her judicial review was out of time.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Simons agreed that the case should be dismissed as it had not been brought within the required three month period.
He praised the foster mother and the child’s prospective adoptive parents for how they have cared for the child who has made significant progress.
The evidence before the court is the child is “thriving and happy”.
The judge said the woman was not seeking an order for the child to return to her care and was not seeking to adopt the child nor delay the adoption process.
She was instead seeking declarations there was a historic failure earlier this year to have regard to the child’s best interests which, it was alleged, breached the child’s constitutional rights.
He reviewed the relevant law, and in circumstances where none of the parties wanted the court to do anything that might imperil the continued placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents he declined to make the declarations sought as to the historic events of earlier this year.
Those declarations would not serve any useful purpose but might be detrimental to the child’s best interests, he said.
He also noted it had been agreed a final adoption order would not be made until these proceedings were decided and said it is in the best interests of the child the case be considered.