Social services in Liverpool have returned a six-month-old baby boy back to his mother’s native country of Slovakia, after she decided that she could not raise him.
The Daily Mail reports that the baby – known as Benjamin – was flown back to Slovakia and handed to social services in Bratislava after his mother decided to remain in England without him.
It is reported that social workers from Liverpool had to comfort the baby boy during the 2 hour 40 minute flight to Slovakia because he is teething and was crying. Social workers in Bratislava collected the baby from the airport and took him to a nearby children’s home.
After collecting him from the airport, a social worker in Slovakia said:
“I hope that his life in his homeland will be good and he will be happy.”
Benjamin was born in Liverpool after his mother came to England from Slovakia.
A change in the law in 2006 means that a baby born to parents from the European Economic Area would only be given British citizenship if at least one parent had lived in the UK continuously for five years before the birth.
As a result Benjamin is a Slovak citizen and the responsibility of Slovakia’s family court – and as such had to be handed to Slovakia’s social services rather than being put up for adoption in the UK.
President of the Family Division of the courts in England and Wales, Sir James Munby, has previously called for courts to be “far more sensitive” to rights of other European countries regarding child welfare – with foreign authorities being given a say in the future of a child from a troubled family from another European country.
”It is one of frequently voiced complaints that the courts of England and Wales are exorbitant in their exercise of their care jurisdiction over children from other European countries,” Sir James said in January 2014.
He then ordered that no court in Britain could order a child who had citizenship of another country to be taken from their parents or given up for adoption in the UK.
As a result, Liverpool social services had no option but to return Benjamin to Slovakia to be taken into care by social services there.
It is reported that even before he was born his mother had told social services in Liverpool that neither she nor the baby’s father would be able to care for him.
Benjamin was taken into care in Liverpool before being flown back to Slovakia, after Liverpool social services contacted social services in Bratislava – he will be cared for by a surrogate family until he is adopted.
Andrea Cisarova of the Slovak Centre for International Legal Protection of Children and Youth said:
“The British informed us that the baby is legally our responsibility – the baby is small, but they decided to give it back to its homeland.”
John Hemming – a former Liberal Democrat MP who now heads the Justice for Families pressure group – has criticised the decision to return Benjamin to Slovakia, however, saying that the move “highlights the lack of transparency in the way families in trouble are dealt with in the UK”.
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