Singapore

Court rejects natural parent's objections, allows boy's adoption

This article is more than 12 months old

It was a dilemma: Return a five-year-old to his mother with drug-riddled prison records or let his foster parents adopt him.

In a rare move, District Judge Shobha Nair overruled the objections and allowed the adoption based on the Adoption Act.

But the natural parents have appealed against her order, she said when giving the grounds for her decision last week.

She said: "The straitened choice before the Court was this - to endorse the request of foster parents to adopt a five-year-old twin boy they had been looking after since birth or to return him to his natural mother who is soon to complete an imprisonment term."

She added: "I allowed the adoption."

Born prematurely in September 2014, the boy had been fostered to the couple after he was discharged from hospital three months later.

Before she gave birth to the twins, the mother had been jailed for a drug-linked offence and released in February 2014.

The father of the children was in jail for drug-related offences at the time of their birth.

At issue was the mother's commitment to caregiving of the twins, a concern the medical social worker had raised to the Child Protection Services (CPS) wing of the Ministry of Social and Family Development in November 2014.

JAILED AGAIN

The mother and her husband agreed to foster care and signed the Voluntary Care Agreement, giving the boy to one pair of foster parents and the twin girl to another.

In 2015, both were jailed again for drug-related offences and after their release in September and October 2015, remained uncontactable until January 2016.

From May 2016, the parents could not be contacted until November 2016, when they were arrested. The mother got a five-year jail sentence on conviction and is now in a halfway house, from which she is due to be discharged in August this year.

The father is awaiting trial for a potential drug trafficking charge that carries the death sentence.

At the adoption hearing in November 2018, the mother expressed disbelief in having to "defend myself as a mother".

The father said: "Whoever gives them this power - the child is ours and how dare they, like giving out chocolates, they are giving out our child."

The director of Social Welfare as Guardian-in Adoption investigated the application and supported the adoption.

District Judge Nair noted the foster parents "only applied for adoption when notified by CPS that reunification efforts were not showing promise".

She added: "The boy's story speaks of the devastating impact of drug use on families. It is a story that must allow for a better ending. I am of the view that the applicants are better equipped to ensure the best outcome for the boy's future."

COURT & CRIME