A failure of sufficiently rigorous processes within our adoption services.

7
Found 6th Nov 2017
How was this case allowed to reach a successful conclusion? During the 9 months prior to formal adoption, while in the care of the prospective parents, this young girl had incurred significant injuries to her leg and head on 3 separate occasions. Despite this, the adoption was completed and within 2 weeks she had been murdered by one of the adoptive parents.

I have no experience of the adoption system, but does anyone have a personal knowledge of the process as a child or parent, or a perspective as someone working within the service? Is it as rigorous as it should be, or lacking in certain aspects?

Yes this was a rare outcome, and it is of course hard to have a system that is guaranteed to be 100% safe at all times. However this must have rang alarm bells for those responsible for monitoring matters before an adoption is formalised. No-one would want unnecessary obstacles to stop children and loving parents being brought together. Children can have accidents even with good supervision, but 3 significant injury events within the first 4 months in this person's care surely should have been a major cause for concern and investigation.
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This truly is an horrific incident.
However, until recently I was a Magistrate in the family court proceedings, part of my remit was to approve adoptions or guardianships.
In my experience the child is well represented by social workers, foster careers, local authorities, health workers and legal teams.
Unfortunately professionals can only report on findings if the prospective adoptees volunteer information and go from there. If the incidents happened during the months the child was in the care of the prospective parents and they chose not to inform the team surrounding the adoption then everyone gets duped and the outcome inevitably ends in tears.
I haven't read the BBC report but my first thought is that there was a coverup by the adoptive parents. I can't see how any professional would knowingly endorse an adoption with 3 incidents in such a short space of time.
Original Poster
Toptrumpet35 m ago

This truly is an horrific incident.However, until recently I was a …This truly is an horrific incident.However, until recently I was a Magistrate in the family court proceedings, part of my remit was to approve adoptions or guardianships.In my experience the child is well represented by social workers, foster careers, local authorities, health workers and legal teams.Unfortunately professionals can only report on findings if the prospective adoptees volunteer information and go from there. If the incidents happened during the months the child was in the care of the prospective parents and they chose not to inform the team surrounding the adoption then everyone gets duped and the outcome inevitably ends in tears.I haven't read the BBC report but my first thought is that there was a coverup by the adoptive parents. I can't see how any professional would knowingly endorse an adoption with 3 incidents in such a short space of time.


That is more concerning than I anticipated. Unbelievable that in 2017, there is no formal communication process between Health and child-related services. Although not adoption cases, one would have thought after Baby P and Victoria Climbie, (and many others no doubt) that there would be automatic reports generated between relevant agencies. I would have been sure that there was some form of regulated procedure in place for health professionals to follow when a child presents with injuries and no other witnesses to the event. To have a system where duping is possible in the way that you describe is deplorable.
But what if the adoptive parents presented themselves at a&e and gave false names/details. The hospital wouldn't verify any details before treating the child, they would just go ahead and treat the child. The second instance, they may have gone to a different hospital and again given false details, the child would've been treated and discharged. The powers that be can't always be blamed and an expectation of trust from those that present themselves for emergency care is not unwarranted.
Despite the Victoria Climbie and Baby P case, procedures may have been changed, but if parents are hell bent on refusing any intervention by any professionals then these horrific crimes against children unfortunately will reoccur.

Also, the length of time between court appearances to allow for different reports (psychiatric, paediatric etc) can sometimes be months apart and then if say the dedicated social worker is off sick or the foster parent does not turn up then the proceedings are put back once again. Sometimes adoptions can take years to come to fruition, especially if it involves more than one child.
So many people "desperate" to be adpopted that pressure is, sadly, going to force some down the wrong hole.
Original Poster
Toptrumpet21 h, 34 m ago

But what if the adoptive parents presented themselves at a&e and gave …But what if the adoptive parents presented themselves at a&e and gave false names/details. The hospital wouldn't verify any details before treating the child, they would just go ahead and treat the child. The second instance, they may have gone to a different hospital and again given false details, the child would've been treated and discharged. The powers that be can't always be blamed and an expectation of trust from those that present themselves for emergency care is not unwarranted.Despite the Victoria Climbie and Baby P case, procedures may have been changed, but if parents are hell bent on refusing any intervention by any professionals then these horrific crimes against children unfortunately will reoccur.Also, the length of time between court appearances to allow for different reports (psychiatric, paediatric etc) can sometimes be months apart and then if say the dedicated social worker is off sick or the foster parent does not turn up then the proceedings are put back once again. Sometimes adoptions can take years to come to fruition, especially if it involves more than one child.


I am not contesting your input, but in terms of 'joined up' safeguards, the calls made to 999 after one of the earlier incidents would have surely identified the number and location. If an ambulance attended the home, this alone would / should have led to some details being verified and entered by the operator. Deception is always a possibility, and I am unsure how much may have been involved in this case, but I still feel there were enough opportunities for alarm flags to have been raised in the few short months before formal adoption, and her tragic death soon after.

Sentencing has taken place today, and he will serve a minimum of 18 years. Not sure why this does not meet the requirement for a life sentence, but I am sure there are technical and legal reasons for this.
Don't forget that this man's husband had no idea or suspicions that he was harming the child. I find that more astounding than NHS employees not putting the pieces together
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