C-section baby adopted says judge

Witney Gazette: "Good and loving people" have adopted the daughter of a mentally-ill Italian woman forced to give birth by Caesarean section in the UK "Good and loving people" have adopted the daughter of a mentally-ill Italian woman forced to give birth by Caesarean section in the UK

The daughter of a mentally-ill Italian woman forced to give birth by Caesarean section in the UK has been adopted by "good and loving people", the country's top family judge has announced.

The case, which first unfolded in secrecy, was later reported and commented on around the world and led to Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, calling for "radical changes" and greater "transparency" in the family courts.

Today Sir James disclosed for the first time that he had made an adoption order on April 1 this year.

He said: "This is the final chapter in the litigation relating to Alessandra Pacchieri and her daughter P."

Child P, who must not be identified, was born in August 2012 after a health trust looking after Ms Pacchieri since June 2012 under the Mental Health Act made the application to the courts for the C-section because of concerns about risks to mother and child.

Ms Pacchieri later told an Italian newspaper she had been left traumatised by the incident, adding: "I want my daughter back. I'm suffering like an animal."

But the final email from the mother which arrived on March 28 this year did not challenge the adoption of her daughter in the UK but said: "I wish for my daughter the best.

"Me personally I am trying to forget this bad experience I had in England.

"I love my daughter and I pray to see her one day again."

Ms Pacchieri, 35, who suffers from bipolar disorder, is reported to have come to Britain whilst pregnant to attend a training course with an airline at Stansted Airport in Essex.

After she stopped taking medication she had a panic attack and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The Court of Protection gave the health trust permission for doctors to carry out a Caesarean section, and the newborn child was taken into care by Essex social services.

Ms Pacchieri last had contact with her daughter on May 22 2013.

The following October, Essex County Council was given court permission to place Child P for adoption, and in November 2013 she went to live with "Mr and Mrs X", who have now formally adopted her and also must not be identified.

Sir James said both Ms Pacchieri and the child's father, who has never seen her, were sent written notice and emailed by the county council about the adoption hearing on April 1, but did not attend and were not represented.

No application of any kind had been made either by the mother or the Italian authorities.

The judge said it was clear the mother was "fully aware of the hearing and had not indicated any intention to seek leave to oppose the making of the order", and he had "no hesitation" in making it.

He referred to a 70-page confidential report stating that Child P had "a strong and positive bond" with both Mr and Mrs X and she presented as "a very happy and content little girl who is very affectionate towards both her prospective adoptive parents".

The judge said: "Mr and Mrs X are good and loving people. They are admirably equipped to meet P's needs now and in the future. P is obviously thriving in their care and doing very well."

In all the circumstances, "P's welfare throughout her life requires - demands - that she be adopted. Nothing else will do."

At an earlier hearing, the judge said said there were inaccuracies in media reports over Child P's birth because when the story broke "none of the relevant information was in the public domain in this country".

He asked: " How can the family justice system blame the media for inaccuracy in the reporting of family cases if for whatever reason none of the relevant information has been put before the public?"

He added: "This case must surely stand as final, stark and irrefutable demonstration of the pressing need for radical changes in the way in which both the family courts and Court of Protection approach what, for shorthand, I shall refer to as transparency."

Since the judge's comments last December, there has been increase in the number of family judgments made available to journalists and reported in the media.

For a long time the reasons for the Court of Protection decision to allow a C-section remained secret, and there was a long delay in the public learning a judge had declared that doctors should be allowed to force Ms Pacchieri to have a C-section because a natural delivery risked rupturing her womb.

The judge said there were also concerns that if Ms Pacchieri was unco-operative when she went into labour, doctors would be unable to monitor the baby's heartbeat and to see whether Ms Pacchieri's womb might rupture. He authorised "reasonable restraint" to perform the C-section safely.

According to social services, the mother had two other children which she was unable to care for due to orders made by the Italian authorities.

The children are being cared for by her mother in Italy. British authorities said they liaised extensively with Ms Pacchieri's extended family and that adoption was only considered after all other options were exhausted.

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