British Court: Mother May Conceal Fact of Birth from Father and Put Child Up for Adoption

A British Appellate court has ruled that a mother should be allowed to prevent a father from learning of the birth of their child and to secretly put the baby up for adoption.In September, a local court ordered that the 19-year-old woman’s family and the baby’s father have protected interests in the case and should be told. The woman claimed that this was a one-night stand and no one should be told.She appealed and won. Three appellate judges ruled that she alone determined who could be told in the case. They ordered that the father not be told and that the child be put up for adoption quickly and secretly. They further prohibited the local officials from determining if her own family would want to support the baby. Her family had found out about the child during the proceedings after the local authority wrote to them by mistake.Lady Justice Arden said: “In my judgment, when a decision requires to be made about the long-term care of a child, whom a mother wishes to be adopted, there is no duty to make inquiries which it is not in the interests of the child to make, and inquiries are not in the interests of the child simply because they will provide more information about the child’s background.”Lord Justice Thorpe: “I need only refer to the mother’s success in concealing the pregnancy from her family, her employers and her fellow employees . . . Her immediate request that her daughter should be placed for adoption at the earliest opportunity was entirely consistent with all that she had done and all that she had not done prior to the delivery. . . Given the difficulties that have been caused for the appellant by the local authority’s mistaken approach to her parents it is particularly important that this court should not by its judgment exacerbate the mother’s difficulties.”It is a difficult ruling to square with the most basic concepts of parental rights. First, the court’s decision goes beyond one-night stands. The court has no way of knowing that this was a one-night-stand from the account of one person. Second, the father intentionally or unintentionally produced an offspring. Fathers can be held for parental support under such circumstances if the mother choses to keep the child. Yet, they are denied the right to care for the baby or even have knowledge of the baby. After all, if this was a one-night stand for both parents, neither intended to have a child. However, a child was produced. They each have responsibilities and each should have a right to help decide the future of the child. This does not mean that the father’s wishes must prevail, but the decision to keep him from knowing of his offspring seems quite harsh.For a prior story on parental rights, click hereFor the full story, click here

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