Adoption row child must have anonymity

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The child of a mentally-ill Italian woman forced to give birth by caesarean section in the UK must have anonymity throughout childhood if she is adopted, a senior family judge has ruled.

Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, yesterday said Child P, now almost 16 months old, must not be identified at least until she reaches her 18th birthday – although the order could come to an end if she is restored to the care of her natural mother.

Alessandra Pacchieri, 35, who has bipolar disorder, is reported to have come to the UK 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 took the unusual step of giving a health trust permission for doctors to carry out a caesarean section in August last year, and the newborn child was taken into care by Essex social services.

Ms Pacchieri, who can only be identified by her maiden name, told an Italian newspaper she had been left traumatised, adding: “I want my daughter back. I’m suffering like an animal.”

For a long time the reasons for the Court of Protection decision remained secret, and it was only recently that it was disclosed that the judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, 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.

In February, Ms Pacchieri, who had gone back to Italy, returned to the UK to request the return of her daughter, but a county court judge ruled that the child should be placed for adoption because of the risk that the woman might suffer a relapse.