Flintshire Council has been praised for its handling of the
internet adoption case involving the Kilshaws by the high court
judge who ruled the twin girls should return to the United States,
writes Clare Jerrom.
The social services department took an “entirely responsible and
proper step” in making inquiries into the case as soon as the story
broke in January, according to the ruling by Mr Justice Kirkwood,
published this week.
The council was congratulated for applying for emergency
protection orders, which resulted in the twins, known as Belinda
and Kimberley, being taken into care by emergency foster
A short, medium or long-term placement with Judith and Alan
Kilshaw would not be in the interests of the twins’ welfare, the
“I am fully satisfied of the likelihood of future harm to the
twins in terms of impairment of their intellectual, emotional,
social and behavioural development,” the report said.
The judgement was delivered at a private hearing, and the report
was published this week on the internet subscription service
‘Family Law Reports’.
The report found the arrangements for the twins by Judith and
Alan Kilshaw were ill conceived, ill thought out and poorly
implemented. The couple demonstrated a clear lack of empathy with
the twins, and had poor recognition of their priority needs.
While in the care of the Kilshaws, the twins were subjected to
chaos and had no consistency of care, the judge said.
The girls, born prematurely, were brought to England on December
29 2000 by the Kilshaws. The story was subsequently sold to a
tabloid newspaper and the family fled their home in Buckley, north
Wales, and booked into a hotel in Chester.
There, Belinda and Kimberley were left with five different
minders while the couple conducted interviews with the media,
according to observations from social workers.
It was noted that when a paediatrician was trying to undertake
health checks on the girls, Judith Kilshaw was trying to usher an
American film crew into the room.
“Mrs K shouts and says the most bizarre things, and does not
seem to know what she is doing. She is childlike, as if she can say
anything, do anything without any consequences and then walk away
from it at the end,” a social worker noted.
The ‘adoptive’ mother’s behaviour was not
modified around the babies, and there was at least one incident of
“heavy handling” of the twins. No affection towards or interaction
with the twins by the Kilshaws was observed.
In the furore of the media circus, one of the couple’s
sons was not collected from school until late, and there were
heated talks between the Kilshaws, including one occasion where
Judith said she would leave the country with the children, and
divorce her husband.
The social services department was already aware of the couple
from previous incidents, which revealed concerns about their
parenting towards Judith’s daughter Kaley in 1996 and the two
boys in 1999.
The judge was also highly critical of a private study from an
unqualified social worker commissioned by the Kilshaws to show a US
court they would be suitable parents.
“It is in many respects superficial and shallow. It scarcely
addresses the suitability of Mr and Mrs K to parent a black child.
It says nothing about their suitability to manage twins,” the
The judge urges overseas courts to view any future independent
reports with extreme caution, and suggests a department of health
certificate is sought.
On 23 January, the twins were taken into care. After a
fortnight, each child became more responsive and alert than
previously, vocalising frequently and smiling when interacted with.
Each twin was more relaxed when held close, according to social
After the ruling by Mr Justice Kirkwood in April, Belinda and
Kimberley were returned to their home state of Missouri by three
At the time, the council’s chief executive Philip McGreevy
said: “We are pleased that Mr Justice Kirkwood publicly confirmed
that the council has acted appropriately, and that the foster
arrangements provided by us for the children worked very well to
meet their needs and promote their welfare.”