Mother ‘too stupid’ to keep child

By Daniel Foggo

May 31, 2009 / The Sunday Times

A MOTHER is taking her fight to the European Court of Human Rights after she was forbidden from seeing her three-year-old daughter because she is not “clever enough” to look after her.

The woman, who for legal reasons can be identified only by her first name, Rachel, has been told by a family court that her daughter will be placed with adoptive parents within the next three months, and she will then be barred from further contact.

The adoption is going ahead despite the declaration by a psychiatrist that Rachel, 24, has no learning difficulties and “good literacy and numeracy and [that] her general intellectual abilities appear to be within the normal range”.

Her daughter, K, was born prematurely and officials felt Rachel lacked the intelligence to cope with her complex medical needs Baby K was released from hospital into care and is currently with a foster family. Her health has now improved to the point where she needs little or no day-to-day medical care. Rachel said last night: “I have been totally let down by the system. All I want is to care for my daughter but the council and the court are determined not to let me.

“The court here has now ordered that my contact with my daughter must be reduced from every fortnight until in three months’ time it will all be over and I will never see her again.”

Rachel has now lodged an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights, which has the power to stop the child being given to another family. She has also applied for a judicial review of the adoption order.

Her attempts to fight Nottingham city council’s adoption of her daughter have been hampered because her case was taken over by the official solicitor, the government-funded lawyer who acts for those unable to represent themselves. He was brought in to represent Rachel’s interests because she was judged to be intellectually incapable of instructing her own solicitor. He declined to contest the council’s adoption application, despite her wish to do so.

After the psychiatrist’s assessment of Rachel, the court has now acknowledged that she does have the mental capacity to keep up with the legal aspects of her situation. It has nevertheless refused her attempts to halt the adoption process.

John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, who is campaigning on Rachel’s behalf, said: “The way Rachel has been treated is appalling. She has been swept aside by a system that seems more interested in securing a child for adoption than preserving a natural family unit.”

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