Health Service Executive -v- AM & anor (Care Order - Neo Natal Abstinence and ALTE)

CourtDistrict Court (Ireland)
JudgeHorgan P.
Judgment Date30 April 2012
Neutral Citation[2012] IEDC 9
Case OutcomeApproved
Docket NumberN/A
[2012] IEDC 9
30 April 2012
Background History Overview
1. This c ase is about two c hildren in respect of whom the HSE seek full care orders until each has reac hed their age of majority. T he
older child, Child 1, presents with some behavioural disturbance suggestive of a n insecure att achment. Arising from this, she requires
consistent care a nd attent ion and is very demanding. The younger child, Child 2, was born with mild neo-nat al abstinence s yndrome
and was removed from her parents at birth. She had one ALTE (apparent life t hreatening episode) but is meeting all her developmental
2. The f irst named Respondent is t he mother in this case, a nd she has three older c hildren Child 3, Child 4, and Child 5. Both Child 3
and Child 5 reside in the c are of relatives and Child 4 returns (with her own child) to t he shelter of the mother and the sec ond named
Respondent when she enc ounters difficulties in life.
3. The se cond named Respondent is the fat her of Child 1 and Child 2. He is originally from a foreign country. He arrived in Ireland
when he was 13 ye ars old and has worked since his arrival. He has an older daughter (with a c hild of her own) and she remains living
in the sec ond named Respondent’s c ountry.
4. The Respondents a re unmarried but have been residing together in a c ommitted relationship for some seven years. It is conc eded
that t here were flashpoints c aused by stress or alcohol misuse leading to serious arguments involving the assist ance of An Garda
Síochána. T hey have expressed t hemselves to the Court t o be committed to their relationship and united in their mutual desire to
have their children returned to t hem.
5. The mother presented t o both the social work tea m and the psychologist as a warm and open person who has an embedded history
of poly-subst ance abuse from her teenage years. T his has contributed t o her poor memory. She has, wit h a heavy heart , consent ed
to t he making of a Care Order in order to give spac e for her to grapple with her addiction. She hopes f or family reunification
thereafte r. She has a good relationship with bot h of her children in care and is ac knowledged to be at tuned to their needs. T he WAIS
IV assessment undertaken with the mother showed no inherent intellectual c apacity difficulties but indicat ed that she had poor insight
into her own history and t he difficulties c aused for her in life by her parents’ drug use. Prac tical memory difficulties c aused by her
embedded drug use might be assisted by formal memory test ing to develop more effect ive c ompensatory strategies. Her inability to
gain traction on her drug use in the period under assessment and during these proceedings is regrettable.
6. The f ather presented t o the s ocial work team as a hard working man with volatile t endencies and heavily reliant on the mother for
social organisation. Alcohol has c aused many problems for him: he has two drink driving convict ions and has lost his licence, and he is
on probation in relation to a public order offenc e. The conte xt of c oncern leading up to t he recept ion of Child 1 into care also
indicates a pat tern of traumatic events associat ed with alcohol in one wa y or another. T he father rejec ts t he label of ‘alcoholic’
because he can go w ithout alcohol for long periods. The psychological evaluat ion suggests that he is a concret e thinker with limited
insight into his children’s development and their needs. A lthough a full WAIS IV assessment was not possible due to t he fac t t hat
English is his sec ond language, clinical interviews prompted the psyc hologist to c onclude that he has relatively poor reasoning skills
and slowness in processing. In her professional opinion, this deficit is c ontraindicative of his having a primary care role in respect of
either of his c hildren, either alone or supported by the mother at t his time. He lacks insight into their developing needs.
7. The f ather opposed the making of a full care order proposing instead a supervision order for a period of one ye ar with an
acknowledgement of support needs f rom the HSE. It is his content ion through his legal representat ion that the HSE has not a chieved
the threshold c riteria to warrant either c hild being taken into the c are of t he HSE.
8. The Court had the benefit of Soc ial Work and Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Reports relevant to the earlier stages of this Application by
the HSE as well as t he Book of Reports for the Care Hearing. Reports 7-9 were admitted without f urther proof by counsel for t he
father. T he Court also heard the following witnesses:
a) Social Worker 1;
b) Social Worker 2;
c) Garda;
d) Doctor;
e) Psyc hologist;
f) Mother;
g) Father; and
h) GAL.

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