Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
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Mrs Arlene Small (Direct Access) for Y
Z In Person
Hearing dates: 15th & 16th July 2020
Crown Copyright ©
Mrs Justice Theis DBE:
Discussion and decision
(1) Whilst I accept the importance and the need for X to have information about her background and identity, including her genetic identity, that is not a right that exists irrespective of her welfare, It is an important part of any welfare evaluation.
(2) I accept the evidence of Y that she has sought and taken advice about how to meet X's needs in relation to her background. Her oral evidence about the book she created, how she has read it with X and it is available to her was compelling and supported by the observations of Ms Adams. I have no doubt she will continue to support X in this sensitive and age appropriate way which meets X's welfare needs. I have every confidence that if X said she wanted to meet or have some contact with W Y would take such steps, in consultation with Z, to meet that request from X in accordance with her welfare needs.
(3) Having listened to the evidence it is clear that whilst W has made significant steps in his own life that he is rightly proud of, such as gaining his nursing qualification, it was equally clear that his views, as expressed in 2015, that he regarded the arrangement the parties entered into as a co-parenting relationship were not far below the surface. For example, he sought to question Y during this hearing about why she had withdrawn from that arrangement. That raises the real risk that if he did have any time with X it is very likely he would seek an increase in the time and his involvement in X's life, which would, in my judgment, put at risk her current stability.
(4) I agree with Ms Adams recommendations and her evidence, including her assessment that it is difficult to get W to engage with the issues in this case that are particular to X. He maintained his position that he regarded the orders that he sought as X's right and how he should be treated the same as other donor fathers in his position. I have fully taken into account the fact that he is a litigant in person although he has shown no difficulty in engaging with these proceedings and articulating his position in his documents, and to the court in his evidence and during the hearing. However, his somewhat blinkered reliance on general rights has meant he has been unable to engage with X's reality now and the steps Y is taking to assist her. Although he has said he would follow professional advice there is a real risk that he would only follow it if it was what he agreed with.
(5) I regard there has been limited change in Y's mental health condition, until the recent health restrictions she was still receiving weekly support from a psychologist. I agree with Ms Adams that her recovery has been hampered by the continuation of these proceedings and it is likely to be further impacted by an order being made for X to spend time with W. Y being unable to recover properly has a direct impact on X's welfare and the stability of care Y can provide.