Aunt and Uncle fail in cross-border custody battle
Following the allegations of a father’s domestic violence and lack of long term interest displayed in his children, the application of an adoption order of two British Pakistani children by their United States based great aunt and uncle was unsuccessful.
In Re S and T (Intercountry Adoption: USA)  EWHC 1753 (Fam) the two children were made wards of the court and appointed special guardians after their father had illegally removed them from their mother and taken them to Pakistan in 2012.
There were reports of their father’s domestic abuse inflicted on their mother who passed away in 2013 after battling cancer which led to the children returning to live in the UK with members of their mother’s family.
Despite the father opposing the adoption, the court had already granted permission for the children to travel to Illinois with their maternal aunt and uncle where they remained throughout the court proceedings.
In order to achieve parental responsibility the maternal Aunt and Uncle were required to establish residence in the UK under section 84 of 2002 Act, even if it was for a temporary basis, which caused difficulty to the proceedings. The father’s lack of consent to the adoption was another complexity although the court had power to waive the need for his permission.
An independent child welfare specialist appointed by the court reported that the children’s contact with their father had been positive, however he displayed very little understanding of the pain and suffering he had caused his children by removing them from their mother.
The specialist reported that he was able to meet their physical needs but did not appear to have an interest in the long term future of his children concluding that she could not recommend that they are returned to his care.
Despite the recommendation of the child welfare specialist the children remained wards of the Court and dismissed the great aunt and uncle’s application. The judges ordered the children to be returned to the UK in a phased manner and eventually to the care of the father.