An 18-year-old mother who lost her legal battle to keep her newborn baby from being taken by Nottingham social services may have to wait months to find out what part she can play in his care.
A court ruling today returned the child, known only as G, to social workers at Nottingham City Council two days after the High Court declared the baby had been unlawfully taken and should be returned to its mother.
At Nottingham County Court, District Judge Richard Inglis said the four-day old baby should live in local authority foster care while futher enquiries were made and assessments carried out.
He said the mother, who has recently left local authority care, would be allowed frequent periods of contact with him.
The judge said: “When further enquiries have been made, the court expects to be in a better position later this year to make a decision about who should care for G and what part his mother and other members of his family should play in his future care.”
The child was removed without the mother’s consent early on Wednesday after hospital staff were shown a “birth plan” prepared by social workers.
It said the mother, who had a troubled childhood and suffers from mental health problems, was to be separated from the child, and no contact allowed without supervision by social workers.
The High Court was told that “on the face of it’” social services had acted unlawfully because they had not obtained a court order.
The council said it had made a decision at a meeting in December to seek an interim care order at which the mother and her legal representatives were present.
A statement issued today by the council said it was pleased its application for an interim care order, which was heard during a private hearing yesterday, had been successful.
It said the council and a range of other agencies had enough concern for the baby’s welfare during the pregnancy to believe that action would be needed to protect the baby when it was born.
“The law does not allow application for a care order before birth. The protection plan made in advance included the intention to apply for a care order immediately following the birth of this baby.”
The statement added: “The council is involved with many care proceedings every year and fully respects the legal rights of parents to be fully involved in decisions about their children and their right to have these decisions made by the court. It brings cases to court to protect the interests of both the child and the parent whenever this is necessary.”
Margaret McGlade, independent chairwoman of Nottingham’s local safeguarding children board, said it had agreed procedures for making pre-birth decisions in high-risk cases which took into account the legal rights of the parent as well as the need to protect vulnerable infants.
She said: “These are very difficult decisions to make and to implement and require great sensitivity by all the professionals involved.
“The local safeguarding board will review the communications between all parties, including the baby’s mother, particularly following the baby’s birth to see if there are any lessons to be learned.”
The council added it would continue to prioritise the baby’s welfare and provide continuing support for his mother.
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