A Colchester couple claim that their fight to adopt their granddaughter was made deliberately more difficult by Essex County Council. Even though they were related to the child, they discovered that they had no legal rights in matters relating to children, claim that the council sought to discredit them and ultimately faced an 18-month battle to secure a position of guardianship.
The girl, now 2 years old, was taken from her mother by social services. The grandparents, initially unaware of the move, discovered that they had no rights to guardianship despite their relationship. The child was placed in foster care and adoptive parents were sought, but the couple claim that council did not inform them of the process of guardianship, did not invite them to meetings regarding their grandchild's welfare and cited their non-attendance as cause to consider them unsuitable adoptees. The couple appealed and were granted permission to seek guardianship.
The details of the case, heard in secret in the Court of Protection, were not permitted to be reported until after the Colchester couple finally won their battle in August. They are still only allowed to speak of their experiences in a limited capacity, but told reporters that they did so as because they felt that the situation must change.
In all matters relating to children, any agreement should be made with the best interests of the child in mind. The clarification of visitation rights, grandparent's rights and child custody agreements, when arising due to divorce or separation, are vital to ensure a continuing relationship with any child. Indeed, irrespective of income or any other circumstance, the best interests of the child should always be of paramount importance.
Source: The Telegraph, "Secret courts: couple tell of their struggle to adopt granddaughter", Amy Willis, December 11, 2013