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NI Judge rules child (5) may attend church with foster parents against wishes of biological mother

A senior Northern Ireland judge has ruled that a five-year-old child can be taken to regular church services and activities by his Christian foster parents [1] against the wishes of her natural mother, who is an agnostic.

The High Court in Belfast heard the mother objected to the child receiving any form of religious instruction, while the foster parents were very active members of the Pentecostal Church.

The judge accepted evidence from the trust and the guardian that the child was well-settled in the placement and is receiving excellent care.

“The child’s emotional needs are clearly catered for in the placement,” he said.

“She has now achieved a stability in her current placement that was absent for the recent period in the mother’s care.

“Any change of placement would bring challenges. The child would lose the companionship of the children within the foster placement and her friendship group within the school setting.

“A critical factor is the lack of any continuity in contact with the child’s maternal family. There is none and nothing likely on the horizon.

“The current foster placement is a welcome port in the storm for the child.”