Adoption mum 'let down' by law despite court order

By Dan Santy 22/02 Updated: 28/02 10:00

A WOMAN who adopted a baby girl and was then forced to fight a long legal battle against the birth mother over access rights feels let down by the law despite winning her case.

The Rugby mum, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her family was forced to mount a difficult year long legal fight before finally getting a High Court injunction in November banning the woman from contacting them without permission.

But even now the birth mother continues to try contacting the 13-year-old daughter over Facebook - going as far as to pose as a child on the social networking site and attempt to contact her through the girl's friends.

And the police have told the family they will not be taking action since they do not recognise their powers of arrest under the injunction as it was passed in a civil court, as opposed to a criminal one.

Last year the Observer reported how MP Mark Pawsey had taken what he described as a 'distressing' case to Parliament after finding the level of legal support for adoptive parents suffered major flaws.

The mother told the Observer: "The police have no intention of acting despite everything. I've tried to keep faith in the system but it's hard to when you feel like they've never stepped in to protect us.

"The lack of legal protection for adopters is shocking which is why Mark Pawsey - who has been amazing to us - raised our case in the House of Commons.

"During our time in the family courts we were treated appallingly. The courts know how to deal with birth families or professionals but our case was different and we were certainly not treated like the legal parents we actually are."

It started when the family adopted the girl, then aged 23 months, from a 13-year-old mother in London, in 2001.

The adoption was made anonymously - yet the birth mother managed to obtain the family's details and tracked them down to Rugby four years ago.

At first the birth mother was granted access, but as she became more aggressive the family alerted the police and cut off visits amid fears their daughter would be abducted.

It prompted the birth mother to pursue court action against the family. And while she was given legal aid and had everything paid for, the adoptive parents could not afford a solicitor and faced the daunting task of representing themselves in court on several occasions until Mr Pawsey and Brethertons Solicitors took up their case.

Eventually the case was thrown out and the High Court ruled the birth mother could not contact the daughter or the family and could be arrested if she did.

But according to the adoptive mother, the woman has tried to contact her daughter on Facebook yet the police will not act against her.

She said: "As the situation stands, the birth mother can harass me and as I am not rich enough to fund a civil case, I am powerless to stop it, even though a High Court judge ruled the birth mother had caused real emotional damage to our daughter and should not have unsupervised access.

"It took over a year to prove my case and yet all of the law should have immediately validated our family status.

"I had to be evaluated over a year to prove I was a supportive parent and in the end I was highly praised.

"It does not change the fact though that unlike a criminal, I was guilty until I could prove my innocence. It was the most distressing thing that's ever happened in my life.

"All I can do is highlight our case to try and force through some changes to stop this happening to other adopters."

A spokeswoman for Warwickshire Police said they had not taken action against the birth mother since there were no powers of arrest under the court order.

She added the birth mother's actions had been investigated thoroughly, with officers deciding no harrassment offences had been committed.

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