An application for the adoption of A, the child of the applicant’s cousin, was made when A was 17, she reached her majority in September 2020. Born in St Lucia, A was brought to England in 2002 by Z at the request of the parents to bring her up alongside her four children. A’s parents signed a deed akin to a document delegating parental responsibility under s.2(9) Children Act. Since then, A has remained in Z’s care and obtained a residence order to counteract her father’s wish, expressed during a 2010 visit, that she return to St Lucia.

As a non-agency adoption, s.44(3) Adoption and Children Act 2002 dictated that a notice of intention to adopt must be given to the local authority “not more than two years…before the date on which the application for adoption is made. In this instance, Z spoke to the local authority about the proposed adoption in June 2018 but applied to adopt in May 2020. This application was returned to the court, owing to a number of errors and in incomplete sections. A second application, supported by the adoption social worker, was made in August.

Keehan J held that it was “manifestly in the welfare best interest of A” for the adoption order to be made in favour of Z, whom A “considers to be her mother” [48]. Applying a purposive reading of s.44(3) Keehan J found that the failure to comply with s.44(3) of the 2002 act was a purely “technical failure” with which the local authority took no issue [13]. Alternatively, A’s Article 8 rights required him to “read down” s.44(3), as to “deny A the transformative benefits of an adoption order such an outcome would be nonsensical and affront to public policy” [50].

Full judgement here.