Baby to be adopted due to teen incest

Published Thursday, 07 August 2014
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A High Court judge has cleared the way for the adoption of a Northern Ireland toddler whose parents are teenage brother and sister.

Baby to be adopted due to teen incest
The child was born in 2012. (© UTV)

Mr Justice O'Hara ruled that the agreement of the two-year-old boy's mother to a freeing order can be dispensed with because she is incapable of giving consent.

His verdict came in a case involving family circumstances described as "depressing" and "hugely unsatisfactory".

The little boy, referred to as J, was born in 2012.

His mother, a schoolgirl identified only as A, was 13 when she became pregnant while his father, Z, was 15 at the time.

Despite being disputed by Z, DNA testing proved J is his son.

Both A and her son were taken into care - in different settings - within months of the birth.

With no suitable family arrangements available, J has since been placed with another couple.

The Trust involved in the case sought a freeing order on the basis that it is in J's bests interests to be adopted - a view the judge held to be clearly correct.

Although the child's father took little part in the proceedings, Mr Justice O'Hara had to decide whether the mother's agreement should be dispensed with because she is incapable of giving consent or whether she is unreasonably withholding consent.

Now aged 16, the court heard A has had an "exceptionally difficult life" with recurring social services involvement due to a variety of concerns about her, her siblings and her mother and step-father.

None of this is A's fault - she is a victim of the way in which she was raised.

Judge Justice O’Hara

An educational psychologist's report on her mathematical ability found only 3% of pupils the same age would have scored the same or lower on a numerical operations test and just 16% on reasoning.

She produced stronger results on reading and spelling abilities.

With staff at her children's home categorising her as "a very vulnerable young girl", the judge also detailed a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist's report which "sets out in grim detail how miserable A's life has been".

The expert stated: "A is not in a position to fully understand the possible consequences of the various decisions which have to be made for herself and for J.

"A's reluctance to fully engage in the assessment process is one manifestation of this but the history and her responses during interviews have also informed my opinion in this regard."

Based on her reports Mr Justice O'Hara ruled that the mother is not competent to make a decision on whether J should be adopted.

It is hard to identify any positive life experience which she has enjoyed.

Judge Justice O’Hara

In a judgement made public last week he said: "A is undoubtedly capable of making some decisions as is shown by some elements of the psychological assessment but not a decision which is of a magnitude and which has the consequences of the present one.

"It appears to me that this finding on her competence undermines the proposition that she can be properly regarded as unreasonably withholding her agreement to adoption."

The judge confirmed: "I am satisfied that the agreement of A to the making of an adoption order for J should be dispensed with because A is incapable of giving her agreement."

© UTV News
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25 Comments
Claire in Belfast wrote (74 days ago):
Tragic. It's not worth thinking about the kind of life these kids had. I feel sick to the stomach. Belfast in Belfast. I doubt very much this happened because their parents were at work. It seems they've had a terrible start in life. We have no idea what they've been through. I hope they can all move on and build lives for themselves now.
andie66 in belfast wrote (74 days ago):
no body can pass judgement on this brother and sister except for social services and the judge. we dont know what went on in the family. we dont know the background. we dont know if there were mental health/disability issues. all we can do is hope that the teenagers and baby j get all the help they can, in order to live some type of supportful life, knowing there is help and supportort and adults to point them in the right direction. no one can judege except those directly connected. belfast in belfast some families need 2 wages to be brought in to raise their families.
Letterkenny in Letterkenny wrote (74 days ago):
Poor girl sin so it is
Mandy in Templepatrick wrote (75 days ago):
I agree that this decision is right for the baby but what is happening to the girl and the brother? I know she is now in care but what's been done if anything for the rest of the family? The brother now 17-18 obviously will need help too as his view of the world is damaged to an extent, we don't know what's happened him within the home!
darzo in Co Down wrote (75 days ago):
Very sad story! If these were my kids ok i would be abit annoyed but i would support them as best as i could help them and teach them to look after a child etc! The parents of these two kids should be a shamed of themselfs as thats there grand child
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