J, Re Freeing Without Consent [2002] NIFam 7 (13 March 2002)

Ref:    

GILC3596

 

 

 

Judgment: approved by the Court for handing down

Delivered:

13.03.2002

(subject to editorial corrections)

 

 

 

 

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE IN NORTHERN IRELAND

 

FAMILY DIVISION

 

______

 

IN THE MATTER OF J (FREEING WITHOUT CONSENT)

 

______

GILLEN J

 

JUDGMENT

 

            There is before the court an application by a Trust which I do not propose to name ("hereinafter called the Trust") for a Freeing for Adoption Order in respect of a child J (date of birth 4 June 1998) pursuant to Article 18 of the Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 (hereinafter called "the 1987 Order").  The parents of this child are H and J2.  There are also applications before the court on behalf of H for a Contact Order pursuant to Article 53 of the Children Order (Northern Ireland) 1995 ("the 1995 Order"), an application under Article 8 of the 1995 Order for a Residence Order on behalf of Mrs HT and finally a similar application for a Residence Order on behalf of J2.

PREVIOUS COURT HEARINGS

1.         On 21 May 1999 an Emergency Protection Order was granted in respect of J to the Trust.

2.         On 26 May 1999 an Interim Care Order was granted in respect of the child J. 

3.         Various Interim Care Orders were granted up until a hearing on 10 November 1999 when a Care Order was granted to the Trust in respect of J. 

4.         The present application to free the child for adoption was lodged by the Trust on 7 November 2000.

            Dr Blincow is an extremely experienced and expert in child and adolescent psychiatry.  He has a most distinguished curriculum vitae (found at booklet 1 page 259) and he is currently the clinical director of Child and Mental Health Services in Briton and Hove.  He made the following points, inter alia;

1.         Adoption for most looked after children is the preferred option.  It emphasises stability, commitment and security for the child involved.   It also provides a greater sense of belonging for a child and can in most respects substitute for the loss of a biological family until the mid teens.  In the case of J, his young age and the relative lack of sustained care by or consistent contact with his biological parents clearly suggest that a long-term adoptive placement would be in his best interests.  It was  Dr Blincow's that the earlier a child makes a move to secure placement the better the result.  Traditionally the critical age as been viewed as between 9 months and 2 years but some children can go on to make positive attachments beyond these years.

2.         The mother and father are unable to maintain consistency over long periods of time.  This is likely to lead to a pattern of anxious or avoidant attachment by the child resulting in him being hostile or withdrawn from his carers.  Children need sustained nurturing.  Ms Walsh QC, who appeared on behalf of H, in terms put to this witness that, if it was true, H is abstinence from alcohol and drug abuse since August 2000 should merit a change in his feelings about the need for this child be freed for adoption.  Dr Blincow countered this however by pointing out that even if this was true she still exhibited major problems in the rehabilitation programme by failing to consistently make contact with the child or to sufficiently monitor the quality of her relationship so as to avoid undermining her capacity to parent.  In terms he made the point, with which I agree, that even apart from alcohol H has got significant which crucially undermine her capacity to parent this child.

3.         In the context of J2, the witness considered the suggestion that he had been abstinent from alcohol for 6 months.  Dr Blincow has had considerable experience dealing with parents with alcohol problems and it was his view that 6 months abstinence in light of the previous long history of alcohol abuse was far too inadequate a period to lay a foundation for confidence that he would continue to do so in the future.  His experience was that relapse following abstinence was extremely common after only 6 months and confidence could only be generated after abstinence in the range of 18 months to 2 years.  In this context he felt that already this child has been the subject of significant delay.  The earlier the child is placed long-term the better and whilst the success of the present placement has protected him against some of the effects of the delay, any further delay should be minimised unless there are compelling reasons.  He unpersuaded that 6 months abstinence was a sufficiently compelling reason to justify postponing a question of permanency about this child.  He did not feel it would justified to test this child's capacity to remain unaffected for much longer notwithstanding that his present carers would require a further 3 month assessment before they would be accepted as adoptive were I to free this child.

4.         Dr Blincow recorded in his report of 6 November 2001:

"The prospect of rehabilitation appears to have the affect of drawing the parents together and stimulating self-destructive themes."

 

He dilated on this in front of me in the following manner.  He indicated that rehabilitation is itself a stressful concept where the parties must learn to work with others, cope in a consistent manner, be monitored actively and in terms acquire or demonstrate the ability to deal with dependency needs of the child and put the child's needs above their own.  When the stress of rehabilitation becomes a reality, it is his experience that many parents simply cannot manage it.  They have too many other needs to permit the child's needs to gain priority.  He is satisfied that that is what has happened in this instance in the case of H.  I am persuaded that this view is correct.  This explains why the efforts of rehabilitation although well intentioned, have completely failed.  It was his view that the prospects of successful rehabilitation now are very low and accordingly the potential for disruption of this child is considerable.

This Contact

            Dr Blincow is of the view that, contrary to what his report had said, he now thinks that within the context of contact being afforded to the maternal grandparents, there may be a facility to involve the birth parents.  If the adoptive and grandparents are agreeable it could be possible that he could have some contact with them by means of a direct channel of communication.  In his view there should be contact with the grandparents (each set) twice per year ie 4 times or thereabouts in all.  It would be helpful for the Trust to monitor this.  In other words if there is a Freeing Order come there should be direct contact with Mrs Turley within the context of the extended family.

 

Natural Parent

            The ideal situation is for the children to be raised by the natural parent.  He sees no one coming forward from the extended family.   He didn't know that John Turley's sister had put herself forward.  He had never heard of the grandparents putting themselves forward.  Customarily this would be explored by the Trust.  Placement within the extended family would be better than adoption depending on the commitment of the extended family.  Often they put themselves forward but when they are assessed they do not want.  There are problems arising from grandparents taking over because they find a conflict in loyalties between the children and the natural parent.  A commitment to the child must be primary.  The question arose in cross-examination as to what happens when the child wishes to find the biological parents and discovers neither wanted the adoption to proceed.  Dr Blincow said that the children do manage to resolve this eventually and almost always in favour of the adoptive family if has worked out.  Post adoption contact can help this.

 

Relapsing

            In answer to the Guardian ad litem the Doctor said that if there is a pattern of relapsing to alcohol dependence the relapse cycle is likely to go on.  Adults with alcohol dependency will abstain and remain abstinent after the first two lapse but other relapse long-term.  It is difficult to say when they will stop.  Ramifications from relapse make it very stressful.

            Mrs Turley's personality factors undermine her capacity namely:

a.         Alcohol.

b.         Involvement in relationships with parties with alcohol dependency make it more likely she will relapse.

c.         Neediness under stress needs to concentrate on her own needs.   Cannot help someone else.

            He concludes that the prospects of rehabilitation now are such that the likelihood of reasonably long-term success are very low.  This is not due to child factors.  The child is being put at significant risk.  The potential for disruption to him is considerable.  One would not want to add to the risks.

 

Adoption v Long-Term Foster Care

            The disadvantages of long-term foster care are that:

a.         There is intrusion.

b.         Drift can happen with the child moving from one place to another.  It is more likely to lead to breakdown.

c.         It reinforces impermanence.

d.         Matters such as surname can be important.  Self-image is important as the children get older.  It is significant now that he is starting school.

            He was not aware that the present carers are being tested for health issues.  They are 50.   Attachment here is primarily to the foster family.  75% of the time has been spent with foster parents.  So far as contact is concerned, 70% of the time there was inconsistent and only 38% of the time was there regular contact.  The contact level must therefore be secondary to the adoption and to the child being assimilated into the new family.


 
Rachel Hyndman

            This social worker was responsible for the Turleys, took over from Ms Mclaugh between 4 June 2001 and 10 September 2001. 

 

Background

            Mrs Turley said she had abstained from August 2000.  There was a rehabilitation programme.  Booklet B1452 letter of 28 February 2001 to Mrs Turley indicates that there were positive developments.  The Trust was keen to offer support and suggested that a number of issues were addressed.  These include:

a.         To plan with Ms Mclaugh social worker to re-establish her independence in her home.  The Trust assisted and indeed paid 750 to set up a new flat for her.

b.         To discuss her long-term housing needs.

c.         To attend Community Addition Team.

d.         To attend monthly drug screening at the GP.

e.         To attend Dr Pollock for a psychological assessment.

f.          If she engaged in all of these a referral to the Simpson Family Resource Centre to assess the capacity to care for J in the longer term.  She signed that on 9 March 2001.

She secured private rented accommodation through a local estate agent and signed a 6 month lease.  The property was well proportioned and child friendly.  She continued to utilise CAT services addressing relapse management.  Tests for drug abuse were negative.  (There was one finding in Opiates in                     but I was not satisfied that this necessarily showed that she had taken drugs).  The Simpson Family Resource Centre contacted her on 26 March 2001 to work on her ability to meet J's needs and exploring issues of domestic violence.  She also explored issues of domestic violence attending group sessions with Women's Aid.  Contact between J and her mother increased to twice weekly at Mrs Turley's new home.  All looked positive in terms of the experience.  At a meeting on 14 June 2001 it was agreed to increase the contact to twice weekly full days ie 10.00am 6.30pm. 

            Accordingly in a report of 18 June 2001 Rachel Hyndman that in view of her programme of assessment, rehabilitation of J to his mother's care was a realistic option and one that should be progressed without delay.  The Trust therefore recommended that the application for a Freeing Order be withdrawn.  If I were to support in the process of rehabilitation and ensure appropriate monitoring, the Trust continue that the Care Order should be retained.  This coincided with the view of Dr Pollock who had commented:

"Mrs Turley expresses her motivation to change and her application towards this goal will require monitoring on a longitudinal basis.  She agrees to continuing involvement with professional services her repeated failures to achieve change have not engendered a pessimism, which might affect her chances of success although her behaviour will require monitoring over an extensive period of time."

 

            Sadly the evidence before me, which I accept, is that a fundamental change in circumstances occurred in or around 19 June 2001.  This had been a date fixed for a meeting between Miss Hyndman and H.  However on that date when Miss Hyndman went to H's home, she discovered J in the house smelling strongly of alcohol and who acknowledged he had been drunk the previous evening.  He told Miss Hyndman that he had simply bumped into H in Bangor the previous day, that he had nowhere to stay and that H had agreed that he could stay at her home until the next morning.  However the whereabouts of H could not be determined despite extensive efforts by Miss Hyndman.   The clear concern was that she had failed to follow through on her strategies to protect herself and J in that she had not kept T away from her home, she had apparently not sought legal advice regarding her application for a Non Molestation Orders and she had not sought other support necessary to keep J away eg Social Service, police or Women's Aid.   At a meeting on 21 June 2001 between H and 2 social workers namely Karen McShane and John Devaney she proved evasive at that meeting but eventually admitted that she had met J in the park on that occasion and although he was drunk, she had permitted him to stay in the house.  She also that on the prior occasion he had come to her home.  Needless to say she had not called the police to seek advice and assistance nor had she accessed the various supports available to her.  Nonetheless the Trust advised her that they would thereafter closely monitor the situation over the summer months and would review the plan for rehabilitation at the end of the summer.

            Thereafter things went from bad to worse.  Information was disclosed to Rachel Hyndman by a friend of H during the course of an interview on 9 July 2001 that H had now resumed her abuse of alcohol and her relationship with J.  It is clear that she did not maintain her plan for her son's rehabilitation which was at a vital stage in its progression and was moving toward overnight stay in an effort to proceed onto shared care and ultimately full time care as soon as H felt ready.  Clearly the Trust were concerned for her safety and ability to protect herself let alone a child.

            Miss Hyndman depicted the events that occurred after 19 June and they present as a very sorry tale of deterioration in the case of H.  Numerous unannounced visits to her home found her not there, letters left requesting that she contact the social workers were ignored, and information from other sources corroborated the evident picture of deterioration.  On 4 July 2001 a telephone call from Women's Aid revealed that 2 members of staff had seen H and J together.  On either 25 or 26 June 2001 a hostel worker had walked past them on Dufferin Avenue, Bangor and she noted that H's eyes "were rolling in her head" and she did not recognise this woman whom she knew.  On 3 July 2001 another hostel worker observed H and J going into a diner on Dufferin Avenue, the worker believing they had been drinking from their gait and demeanour.  On 9 July 2001 when a social worker did manage to make contact with H, she alleged she had been beaten up by J on 3 July 2001 although she did not seek medical or police intervention.  At that stage she indicated she did not want contact with J until her injuries were gone.  She agreed an appointment with the worker for that day but needless to say did not attend.  Unsurprisingly a home visit by the social workers with a friend of H's revealed information that she was now drinking extensively.  Contact on a home visit with J1 revealed that he was spending time with H.  In the wake of yet another failure to attend a LAC care review, H told the social worker on 23 July 2001 that he had forgotten about the meeting but at that stage alleged that H had, during the course of the above assault, placed a knife at her throat.  She again indicated she wished to have no face to face contact with J until her injuries were healed.  A further appointment was arranged but she did not attend.  Information from H's mother at this stage revealed a similar pattern of erratic behaviour.  It is significant that during this time she never phoned J or wrote to him or made any form of indirect contact whatsoever as to his well-being.  This of course parallels her failure to attend the LAC reviews.  It is not without note that she told the Guardian ad litem that she did not bother going as thought someone was judging her at these meetings.  I reject this as a reason because whilst these LAC reviews may well be stressful, the fact remains that for several months before this she had been having an extremely good relationship with most of those who were going attend.

            On 22 August 2001 she met with a number of social workers to update her on the Trust's plan for J.  She produced a photograph of her face which evidenced severe bruising which she alleged had occurred 2 months before.  She admitted having allowed J into the house and alleged that he then went on to assault her using a knife during the assault.  Thereafter he again came to her house where she alleged where he slapped her, spat on her and threw lit matches at H.  She admitted that she had been very low going off her anti-depressants but denied that she was drinking.  She denied the instances where witnesses had observed her intoxicated.  I carefully read the account of this interview and I believe what the social workers have said about her.  I am satisfied that she was attempting to deny that she was meeting J1 on various occasions.  I reject her suggestion that she did not contact the police to help her manage J1's actions because she feared retribution from J1's family.  I believe that she had plenty of help available to her in terms of the social workers and Women's Aid.  She availed of none of the supports.  Her attempts to explain why she had ceased contact with J from 2 July 2001 are unacceptable.  She attempted to make the case that she had been assaulted on 18 June 2001 but I reject this given that I accept the evidence of Miss Hyndman that she had seen her on 2 July 2001 and she would have noticed any marks thereon.  Moreover her explanation that she failed to visit J because she wanted the injuries to heal does not explain her failure to make any contact with and whatsoever or to avail of the requests that she attend on social workers despite numerous letters and messages from the Trust.  Accordingly on 24 August 2001 she was informed by the social workers that she was clearly not able to protect herself and J from J1's actions and that the Trust was now proceeding to seek a Freeing Order to place J in an adoptive home.  Even thereafter, her conduct did not change.  She had been asked at the meeting on 22 August 2001 to present for 2 meetings with Social Services to demonstrate her commitment and suitability to have contact with J.  The first meeting was arranged for 21 August 2001.  She did not present for the meeting at 10.00am and only turned up after she had been telephoned and prompted by Miss Hyndman.  A second appointment was agreed for 29 August but she did not attend.  On 4 September she contacted the office indicated that she had had a meeting at Bangor Tech.  The Trust called in evidence Mr Kerr who is a senior lecturer at the college and he had no recollection or record whatsoever of having met her on that date.  Moreover even had it been necessary for her to meet Mr Kerr at the Bangor Tech, it would have been quite easy to have altered the arrangement to permit her to meet the social workers.

            This degeneration into unstable and inconstant behaviour had also been reflected in various non-attendances with the Community Addiction Teams from in an around late May of 2001.  Ursula Collins the social worker from the Community Addictions Team gave evidence before me and she recorded that her failure to attend various appointments during June and July made it difficult to assess her in light of this erratic contact and lack of engagement with the service.  In total she was seen on only 2 occasions when she reported 8 months of sobriety.  Work has started on relapse management and the relationship difficulties that she was having and her future with the children.   I am satisfied that she chose to abandon this resource once she resumed her relationship with J and her abuse of alcohol.  A witness from the Simpson Family Resource Centre provided a similar tale of failure to attend at arranged sessions in July leading to a closure of her case because of her failure to make contact.

            I must say that saw in this sorry pattern precisely the problem raised by Dr Blincow.  He made the telling point that rehabilitation itself can be stressful and is a determining moment in the process.  The stress of learning to cope in a consistent way, being monitored actively and learning to work with others is often all too much particularly where there has been a pattern of relapse in the past.  I believe that that is what has happened in this instance.  Those who may have had good intentions, when put to the test, her attempts at rehabilitation have collapsed in disarray.  Whilst she may have seemed clear at one stage in the strategies for managing her life and for ridding herself of contact with J she had proved unequal to the task.  As late as the 14 June 2001 (as is evidenced in Book 3 page 378) she had been in discussion with her solicitor to seek Non Molestation Orders against J.  That fact of the matter is that irrespective of whether or not she was able to obtain such orders, it is clear to me that she willingly engaged with J at a time when she could have availed of the assistance of social workers, Women's Aid or the police. 

            Ms Hyndman was involved in the case between 4 June and 9 September 2001.  She met with J on several occasions.  She did not observe contact between him and J but from the record she was able to observe the inconsistent contact between them and felt that J was not likely to develop a significant relationship with his father in light of this.  She has 2 years post qualification experience and had worked for 3 years in a children's home.  She makes the case that although he now wants to be considered as a carer (and I had raised this on 26 March 2001), this view has changed on a number of occasions.  There has been a fluctuation in his feelings about rehabilitation.  His commitment to a rehabilitation plan has never really been demonstrated.  The Trust's idea was that if rehabilitation with J to H failed, J should have been aware that he could be in the frame.  However he did not take up any of these offers eg the arrangement to see Dr Pollock.  He was asked to abstain from alcohol and he did not.  He was offered work to be assessed but did not take up the offer.  The case put to the witness was that up until April 2001 he wanted a secondary role but when H was on the rocks, he put himself forward.  The focus earlier had been on H.  Miss Hyndman said look at his behaviour on 30 July 2001 when he telephoned to say:

a.         He did not think there was any point going ahead with contact with J.

b.         He had an injury to his face from slipping and falling in Ward Park when drunk.

c.         He said he found H on Monday and Tuesday completely drunk.

d.         On an office visit he had an eye injury and bruising to his arm.  He said it was his belief that it would be better for J to be adopted as if he had J he would "never be rid of H".  He did not wish to have contact. 

            Late 2001 he did approach Karen McShane and asked to be reassessed.  It is J's case that she told him that he would have to arrange a meeting with Dr Pollock.  It is the case of the Trust that he was told he would have to be abstinent for initially 12 weeks but even then we worried it was too late given that the child was 3 years.  It is important to recognise there are other issues involving him apart from drink namely domestic violence and the long-term pattern of relapse.  Miss Hyndman said that he was told a lot work on his lifestyle would be necessary and it would take a long time.  The case made on behalf of J is that he really has not relapsed but has been on drink continually since the age of 14.  He says that the end of July was a turning point and he has now put his life in order.  Miss Hyndman's view is that whilst she is always hopeful, she thinks it is unlikely that he will change.  The case is made on his behalf that attends AA every day, that he has a part-time job, he goes to a gym.  Miss Hyndman's view was that one has to take a global view.  Previously he had had 18 months abstinence and one must look at J's needs.  It must also be noted that at Bundle 5 Dr Pollock at page 42 had taken the view that he had formally been admitted on a number of occasions for substance detoxification. 


 
Dr Pollock

            He considers that a relapse in the case of J is a probability.  It is not a certainty, some can resolve, but the number of times of relapse with intensive and repeated help makes the probabilities higher in his case.  Why would this occasion be any different?  The decision to rehabilitate to his son would be illogic.  It would be based on the longest period of abstinence.  He has a pattern of severity of misuse.   There have been repeated periods of relapses.  At page 42 v5 he records:

"Mr Turley has been formally admitted on a number of occasions for substance detoxification (Downshire Hospital and Sister Concilios) with relapse to misuse occurring repeatedly.  I note that Dr D Hughes (SHO to Dr McFarland in Downshire Hospital) states in letter form dated 27 June 1997 that Mr Turley had been afforded both in-patient treatment, education, intensive group psychotherapy, individual counselling and community follow-up after admission.  He relapsed following this comprehensive treatment package.  A number of medications have been prescribed for his difficulties over the years.  He has typically failed to maintain community support with professionals.  His latest admission to the Downshire Hospital followed a stage when Mr Turley recalls:

"I was in a bad way with the drink, I have been on a binge for a while, I had fits, I wasn't really aware of anybody else around me if I started to drink I really can't stop". 

 

He claims now that he has gained profound insight as a result of his latest admission to Downshire Hospital in September 2001.  He acknowledges that he has not been actively involved in the parenting or care of his son to any substantial extent to date.  He does report that "I looked after him for the first three months of his life, all day and all night, I was up twice every night, I was making up bottles etc."  He acknowledges that he has failed to sustain devoted contact with his son since his reception into alternative care management.  He said he had not had contact with J for 5 months.  He admits maintaining contact has been affected by his substance dependency taking priority status and also his periods of imprisonment.  To this affect he stated:

"Contact with J has always been on and off, I have either been in jail or on the drink, I can't remember how long I have been seeing him in one go, there is big chunks of my memory missing, I know I need to get regular contact with him and not leave him any more, I have to be sure I put his feelings first."

 

He therefore acknowledges he is prioritised his lifestyle and desire to abuse alcohol above the needs of J in the past. 

            Dr Pollock thinks that he has very little child care knowledge or skill, he has been irresponsible, immature and dysfunctional and one must query if he is capable of assuming a responsible, consistent, confident parental attitude.  The child's primary attachments are with his carers.

            In cross-examination he accepted that there was a positive contact on 19 December 2001.  The case is put on his behalf that he has turned the corner, he has had no criminal activity for 3 years, he sought voluntary treatment and he has good contact with the boy.  Dr Pollock said the dilemma was that there was so many implications if it goes wrong.  He has relapsed before even with treatment.  This is very early days for him. 

            In cross-examination by Mr Long he agreed that inconsistent contact can have an affect on the child making the child fretful and have a detached pattern treating the parent as a stranger.  The child can have significant difficulties making sense of what is happening if the parents do not turn and he can either switch off or become upset and preoccupied.

 

Karen McShane

1.         She considered that adoption is in the child's best interest.  It provides stability and a sense of permanence.  Considerable amount of research including local research from Gregg Kelly in the 1980s suggests that 25% of long-term foster care placements broke down over 2 years whereas the overall breakdown rate in adoptions is only 1 or 2%. 

A Residence Order can still be challenged.  It does not give the same stability.

2.         Contact

She agrees with Dr Blincow.  The most important thing is to establish a stable home environment to look after the child into adulthood from the emotional point of view.  Continued contact with Mr and Mrs T is not in the child's best interests as the contact is not being consistent.  It causes confusion within J emotionally and causes instability in the placement.  Indirect contact could benefit J with cards and letters.  She agrees with direct contact with the siblings.  Post adoption contact must flexible.

3.         The assessment process with Mr and Mrs Heron is ongoing.  There are health issues.  One parent has got high blood pressure.  This assessment will take 3 to 4 months to complete. 

4.         Turley's sister was not assessed as a long-term carer as one of her own children was involved with the social services and she has 5 children in any event.  No one else has come forward from either side. 

5.         It would taken 18 months to 2 years to see if Mr T develops.  If he was off drink for 2 years the Trust would need a further assessment to see if long-term assessment is good and to identify needs.  Family Care Centre would take basically 12 weeks.  He has never sustained the relationship with a child or prolonged parenting to J.  I had made it clear to him that he could put himself forward as a parent about one year ago.  We asked him to attend with Dr Pollock for an assessment. 

6.         She attended the meeting on 21 June 2001 with Helen at B1459.

7.         The witness said she told Mrs T to keep away from Mr T.  It was necessary to maintain her own safety and to be in a position to protect J.  She told her this on 29 June 2001.  She became distressed (see page B1462).  Witness thought she was having difficulty with this.  I suggested she spoke to Josie Shields who would deal with domestic violence.  I felt it was difficult for her to break her emotional attachment with John.

8.         There was considerable conflict between Mrs Turley and her mother.  The latter was very critical including in front of Jade and Abbey. 

 

Cross-Examination of Mrs Quinn

            Mrs T had been assessed at Thorndale as a capable mother if she kept off the drink and drugs in a supported environment at Thorndale in October 1998 and early 1999.  After this she had J at home with support from Mr and Mrs Turley for almost one year.  This was important bond with the child. 

            When she broke up with her husband in the summer of 2000 she was significantly better than he was at contact.  She gave up the drink and drugs.  She tried to maintain her sobriety.  Supports were identified as including Women for Sobriety (an umbrella organisation for AA). 

            The decision was made in February 2000 to pursue adoption.   The adoption panel was approached.  Mrs Turley consented to a Care Order.  The plan was to be concurrent rehabilitation and other alternatives.  Mrs Turley always stated that her goal was for J to be rehabilitated.

 

Autumn 2000

            Helen was in a state of greater stability and sobriety.  The letter of 28 February 2001 found at B1452 dealt with the issues she had to address.  One of the measures was that J was not to be contacted.  Unfortunately this was not included in the letter.  If contact was resumed there would be a fundamental reassessment by the Trust. 

            Helen is going to send evidence that she was unaware that re-attachment with JT would have any such consequence.  The witness was certain this would have been mentioned to her.  She was consistently advised that he presented a risk to her.  We had wanted her to attend the Simpson Family Centre where they would look at the abusive relationship/parenting and strategies to protect her (as well as Women's Aid).  Women's Aid have an outreach support and drop-in centre and give emotional and practical help.

            The Trust arranged accommodation away from where she had been living.  The Trust provided an excess of 750 in terms of deposit and rent.  We felt she needed to prioritise J and make a significant stable home before considering reunification with the 2 other children.   Helen was anxious to include Jade and Abbey in some contacts.  She did continue to attend the Community Addiction Team until the end of June.

            Helen's case is that these were simply stages and once one stage was completed she could move onto the next and was not required to continue with the others.  The witness says this is quite wrong and is a misunderstanding on her part.  It was never expressed to her that she could simply put one aside as each was finished.  Miss McShane thought that this was highly unlikely.  She acquired every support available Women's Aid, Women for Sobriety, CAT, GP etc.

            It was put to the witness that she met Helen in the car park at the Simpson Family Resource Centre and Helen asked was it necessary for to go on with the testing.  The witness said she told her that if she desisted she should discuss it with Ursula Collins at the Community Addiction Team.  The witness may have said that it was going on

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