A young mother who claims her troubled childhood in the care system meant she was given no fair chance to prove she could be a good parent to her baby daughter has had her complaints dismissed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The woman, in her early 20s, accused the United Kingdom Government of violating her fundamental rights. However, her campaign to get back her three-year-old daughter failed after the Strasbourg court ruled that her right to a fair hearing and respect for her family life had not been breached.
In its ruling, the court said that the mother had spent much of her own childhood moving between foster homes after suffering physical and emotional abuse. She became pregnant in 2008, aged 19, after a one-off sexual encounter with her sister's boyfriend.
After her daughter's birth, efforts were made to give her the parenting skills she needed to look after her baby. However, after a series of parenting assessments, social workers decided it was unlikely that she would be able to give the little girl the care she required.
Concerns were raised that she was unable to respond to her daughter's needs for sleep and food. Suffering from post-natal depression, it was noted that the mother sometimes delayed feeding her baby for fear that she would 'become fat'.
The little girl was seven months old when she was taken from her mother and placed with foster carers and, in 2010, a family judge made a permanent care order and directed her placement for adoption.
The mother took her case to the ECHR after all domestic appeals against that decision failed. She claimed that she had not been given a fair hearing and the removal of her daughter from her care breached her right to family life.
Insisting that her daughter would, in the long-term, be better off with her birth mother, she also argued she had been discriminated against because of her own difficult childhood and history in the care system.
However, dismissing her case, the court ruled that the various assessments and orders made were all designed to safeguard the little girl's well-being and her adoption outside her natural family was ‘not disproportionate to that aim’.