Woman who lost sight fights for right to adopt

A health service manager who lost her sight after brain surgery is mounting a High Court fight to keep a child she wanted to adopt.

The woman had been caring for the year-old girl for about two months when doctors diagnosed a brain tumour, a judge has heard.

A local authority said it intended to remove the baby from the woman’s care after an operation left her without sight. The woman then began legal action in an attempt to keep the baby.

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Detail has emerged in a High Court judge’s written ruling, published on a legal website.

The ruling showed that the woman won the first round, a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Mr Justice Cobb said he granted an injunction preventing the child being taken from the woman’s care. The judge said “proper” assessments were needed.

He said the local authority had ruled out the woman “summarily” and had shown a “worrying lack of inquiry” into her potential as a carer.

The judgment did not identify the child, the woman or the local authority.

Mr Justice Cobb said the girl was born in February last year and abandoned by her mother.

The local authority had identified the woman as a prospective adopter. The judge said the girl was placed with the woman – who was single and a National Health Service project manager – in late 2012 and “settled well”.

“The placement appears on all accounts to have been an extremely successful one,” added the judge. “Things then took an unexpected and wretched turn.”

The woman began to have sight problems and doctors said a tumour was pressing on her optic nerve and urgent surgery was needed.

“The surgery was in one sense successful; the tumour, which was mercifully benign, was removed,” said the judge. “Unfortunately the surgery has left [the woman] without sight. It is not yet known whether that loss of sight is temporary or permanent, and whether the optic nerve will recover.”

Mr Justice Cobb said a social worker visited the woman on the day she returned from hospital and made “some assessment”.

Six days later, after two more visits from a social worker, the local authority decided to remove the baby from the woman’s care.

The woman then asked for an injunction to prevent that at a private High Court hearing in London. Mr Justice Cobb said he had granted that injunction.

“This is an unusual and troubling case,” said Mr Justice Cobb.

“[The woman] has made entirely appropriate arrangements for [the baby’s] care, at least in the short term. Visual impairment does not of itself disqualify an adult from being a capable loving parent.”