W (A Child)  Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Thorpe & Munby LLJ, Coleridge J 24 November 2010  EWCA Civ 1535
W was a five-year-old boy who had been removed from his mother's care at the age of 18 months as a result of her drug misuse. His mother had not had any contact with him since then and had not taken part in the care or placement proceedings. After a placement order was made the mother contacted the local authority and informed them that she was no longer dependent on drugs, but they took the decision that this was too late for W and placed him for adoption. A year later, the mother contacted the local authority again; she continued to abstain from drugs and wanted to resume her role in W's life. She was told that this was not possible.
An adoption application was issued, but the notice to the mother was sent to the wrong address and she was not aware of the proceedings. The mother did later instruct solicitors, who issued an application for revocation of the placement order, and it was then that she discovered that an adoption order had been granted. She made an application to set aside the adoption order and for leave to oppose the adoption application.
At first instance, the judge set aside the adoption order because the mother had not been given notice of the hearing but also granted her leave to oppose the adoption, considering that if she did not have that leave, the setting aside of the order would be pointless. He also considered that W's welfare in the future required him to know that the possibility of rehabilitation to his birth family had been fully investigated. The adopters...