Uncertain future for parents with disabilities

(translation from Danish)

April 13, 2015

The new principled judgment on forced adoption of a daughter from her brain-damaged mother. The Department is concerned about the future for parents with disabilities.

The High Court has chosen to affirm the District Court’s decision in a case of a brain-damaged mother and her daughter by which the municipality wanted to forced adoption. This means that the 8-year-old girl will now be forced to be adopted by the foster family. Matter of principle, because it is one of the first cases of forced adoption services for a child with a mother with disabilities.

Chef Maria Ventegodt Liisberg at the Institute for Human Rights considers the decision problematic because the High Court has not made ??it clear why forced adoption services are needed.

“Forced adoption services are so intrusive that it must never be done as long as there are other options available. It is therefore worrying that the court did not do more to explain what is special in this case, what makes it necessary to disregard and adopt the child, “says Maria Ventegodt Liisberg and adds:

“With the limited information the Land Court gives, it is not predictable what this fundamental judgment means by affecting other parents with disabilities and their children.”

New law to relax the requirements for forced adoption services

Parliament handles these days a bill that aims to make forced adoptions easier. In the Institute’s consultation response to the bill, which now looks to be adopted, we stressed that it is necessary to strengthen the support for the right of parents in exercising parenting. Today it is largely up to the individual municipality to decide whether to give support to exercise parenting. Although the government has strengthened the manuals of Social Services, the right for support js not of the legislation itself.

“The judgment confirms the concern we have always had about the bill. Municipalities must on the one hand stand to strengthen and preserve the bond between parent and child, but on the other side the opportunity to choose forced adoption services. There is a risk that the first part of the task is not handled properly, “says Maria Ventegodt Liisberg.

The Supreme Court should be consulted

In the current case, the biological mother voluntarily placed her daughter with the foster family, since her daughter was five days old. Mother and daughter have been in contact with each other since the placement and the child has never been damaged by their mother. In its decision on forced away adoption the High Court puts inter alia as reason that the mother will permanently be unable to care for her daughter, and the child perceives her foster parents as her parents and feels that she belongs with them.

Maria Ventegodt Liisberg believes that the High Court should explain how this case differs from other cases of parents with disabilities who permanently will need support to care for their children and therefore have children voluntarily placed outside the home.

Institute for Human Rights urges that the case should be forwarded to the Supreme Court.