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Latvia complains to House of Commons about adoptions of non-UK citizens

The Guardian reports on letter by Latvian parliament

The Guardian reports that the Latvian parliament has formally complained to the House of Commons that children of Latvian descent are being illegally and forcibly adopted by British families.

The complaint has been issued following the granting of permission to Latvia to intervene in an appeal in the case of LB v The London Borough of Merton [2013] EWCA Civ 476 which concerns CB, a six-year-old girl, who has been removed from her mother. The further appeal is to be heard this month.

According to The Guardian, the letter from the Latvian parliament states that there is "insufficient cross-border cooperation in relation to the UK's national procedure of placing Latvian citizens up for adoption without parental consent". Furthermore, the Lavtians complain that they were aware of "several cases in which UK authorities have acknowledged that obligations [to inform other countries] … stipulated by international treaties and EU legislation have not been fulfilled".

In LB v Merton the Court of Appeal heard that the mother had come to the United Kingdom from Latvia in 2008 and was joined here shortly afterwards by a daughter, who was then 16.  At the time of mother's immigration she was 5 months pregnant with CB.  CB's father remained in Latvia and is said to have a child by another partner.

In September 2009 the police responded to a report to discover mother intoxicated and walking barefoot with her daughter in a buggy in the middle of a road in the London Borough of Merton.  Mother was arrested and CB was placed in the care of MZ.  Mother was subsequently cautioned for the offence of being drunk in charge of a child under the age of seven.

The local authority undertook an assessment which was not completed until 18 January 2010.  The author expressed the opinion that mother's behaviour was out of character, that CB was usually well cared for and loved by her mother and sister and that on the basis the incident was a mistake, CB would be well cared for in the future.

In February 2010 there was an anonymous referral to the local authority's children's services department reporting that CB was "up all hours, running and screaming around the flat at 2 a.m. nearly every night".  The landlord called the police to the family home on 5 March 2010.  The police found CB at home without an adult at the age of only 21 months.  The police officer's description was set out in the Court of Appeal judgment. 

"I then heard a whimpering sound from the door directly in from of me.  Once I opened the door I saw a room.  In the left hand corner of the room was a wardrobe and there were toys all over the floor.  In the right hand corner of the room against the window was a double bed that looked very soiled.  On the wall beside the bed was a large area of damp in the wall and the wallpaper was coming away.  There was a very strong and overpowering smell of urine and faeces in the room.  I saw the child curled in an almost foetal position on the bed lying on a pillow.  She sat up when we came into the room and she was holding an empty pink bottle.  I went towards the child.  She stood up and came towards me.  I saw that her clothes were wet and that she was wearing a nappy that had fallen off between her legs.  Once in a different room I could see the child's clothes were wet and she was shivering.  The strong smell was coming from her and it was clear that she had not been changed or cleaned all day.  I removed the child's nappy to find dried and fresh faeces.  The nappy was so swollen with urine that the child was unable to walk properly.  There was also dried faeces on the child's body and her skin was soaked in urine that had leaked from her nappy and gone through her clothes."

Although the mother disputes the above findings, CB has been continuously in the care of the local authority since March 2010 when she consented to the accommodation of CB under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 (the 1989 Act). More than once since then the mother has intimated that she wished to end the section 20 accommodation but, the Court of Appeal found, has never acted on her intentions before the local authority issued public children (care) proceedings on 15 June 2011. 

In 2013 the Court of Appeal approved the order placing the child for adoption. The mother is now challenging the adoption of her child.

For the Court of Appeal judgment and summary by Thomas Dudley of 1 Garden Court, please click here. For the article in The Guardian, click here. For an article by Michael Jones of 15 Winckley Square Chambers entitled Care Proceedings: The European Dimension, click here.