Girl abandoned by birth mother can be adopted by foster parents, court rules

Judge said the girl was left ‘devastated’ after birth mother said her father died of a broken heart due to girl’s refusal to visit the family

A High Court judge has cleared the way for a teenage girl abandoned by her birth mother to be legally adopted by her foster parents.

Mr Justice John Jordan ruled the consent of the teenage girl's birth mother could be dispensed with in making the adoption order.

The girl was removed from the care for her birth mother at the age of seven due to neglect with evidence she was not properly toilet trained.

Mr Justice Jordan, in a written judgment, records that when the girl was in the care of her birth mother, she suffered from persistent soiling which resulted in hospitalisation for 28 days at which time her condition progressed to a serious bowel condition.


At the time, the girl’s birth mother refused to co-operate with, or act on the advice of the medical staff. She also refused to implement the treatment prescribed by the child’s medical team, the combination of which resulted in the girl being placed in voluntary care.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) subsequently secured a care order for the girl that was granted due to a significant risk of harm to the child's health.

Mr Justice Jordan records that later the young girl was left “devastated” after her birth mother told her that a post mortem on her late birth father found he died of a broken heart due to his daughter’s refusal to visit the family.

The girl was in foster care at the time and according to Mr Justice Jordan, the birth mother’s assertion had a “profound effect” on her and she didn’t wish to see her mother at any more access visits.

Mr Justice Jordan made the adoption order after finding the girl’s birth mother has abandoned all parental rights in relation to her.

Lacked capacity

The judge found it was clear from the evidence that there was no intention by the birth mother to neglect or abandon her child - she simply did not have the capacity to adequately and properly care for her.

He concluded there clearly was no reasonable prospect the birth mother would be able to care for the girl in a manner that would not prejudicially affect her safety or welfare.

The application by the CFA and the foster parents for adoption and dispensing with the birth mother’s permission “is wholly proportionate and necessary in the circumstances of this case”, he added.

Mr Justice Jordan said that the girl has “thrived” in the care of her foster parents and “has integrated very well into their family”.

The girl strongly pursued the option of adoption and Mr Justice Jordan cleared the court to allow him speak to her informally. He noted she “is an intelligent and articulate young lady”.

He said she “was anxious to point out that she does not want to do anything to cause upset to her birth mother” but “there is no question that she wants the adoption order to go through. At the end of the brief chat which took place, I inquired of her if there was anything else she wanted to say in terms of expressing her views. She said she just hoped she had pushed it hard enough – or words to that effect.”

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times