A “cruelly deceived” father whose son was put up for adoption without him even knowing of his existence has had his hopes of gaining custody dashed following a court ruling.
Appeal court ruled against father getting custody of the son he has never met
The man, whose ex-partner lied about the paternity of the child, only discovered he had a son when his sister spotted a family resemblance when he was aged four and a DNA test was ordered.
By then he had already been placed with a couple who were in the process of applying to adopt him.
In a desperate bid to gain custody of his son – who he has never even met – the father, citing human rights legislation, appealed against a decision to bar him from the adoption proceedings.
But while his appeal against that ruling was still pending he discovered that the courts had finalised the adoption process.
The boy had been conceived during a brief affair but the woman had never told him she was having his child.
The youngster was then taken from the mother when he was just three days old after she was deemed unfit to care for him.
He was placed with adoptive parents in November 2010 and the court concluded that the he was deeply attached to them having never known any other family.
Today the country’s most senior family judge, Sir James Munby, who is President of the Family Division ended all prospects of the boy having any relationship with his natural father, by upholding the decision that the child’s best interests were served by staying with the adoptive parents.
But acknowledging the “bitter heartache” of the case, he launched a stinging attack on the way other senior judges had handled the matter.
He said the decision to finalise the adoption, while there was still an appeal pending could have “catastrophic consequences” for the child, who was referred to only as C in court.
Sir James, who was sitting with Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Aikens, said: “Recognising the bitter heartache that this must cause a father who, it would seem, was cruelly deceived by the mother of his child, I was in the end entirely satisfied that his appeal had to be dismissed.
“Standing back from the detail, the reality is that the father has no relationship with C, indeed he has never even seen him, and that C has now been settled for over two years with the adopters.
“How can we, how can any judge, take the risk of disturbing that?”
Sir James, sitting with Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Aikens, said that the adopters had been waiting for two years for the adoption to be finalised and had “been through the mill”.
But he said the decision to make the final adoption order while the father’s appeal was still outstanding, had a real potential for catastrophe.
He said: “I am bound to say that I find Justice Altman’s decision to proceed in full knowledge that there was a pending application to this court for permission to appeal very difficult to understand let alone justify.
“I cannot part from this case without expressing my very great concerns about that it reveals about our system.
“The history of events … makes for depressing and profoundly worrying reading.
“This is not, I stress, necessarily a criticism of those involved, most of whom did what was required of them; it is a criticism of a system whose inadequacies and potential for catastrophe have here been all too starkly exposed.
“No humanly devised system can ever be foolproof, but we must do everything to ensure as best we can that future catastrophes are prevented.”