Re D. (an Infant)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
Judgment Date28 November 1958
Judgment citation (vLex)[1958] EWCA Civ J1128-2
Date28 November 1958
Re The Adoption Act
Re "D" An Infant

[1958] EWCA Civ J1128-2


Lord Denning,

Lord Justice Hodson and

Lord Justice Ormerod.

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

MR RUSSELL VICK (instructed by Messrs William Sturgcs & Co.) appeared for the Appellant, Applicant below.

MR FRANCIS (instructed by Mr J.E. Barr, Solicitor to the London County Council) appeared for the Respondent, The London County Council.


In this case the mother of an illegitimate child seeks an adoption order. The Judge has refused it. She appeals to this Court.


The facts are these. The mother is 34, the child, a girl, was born on the 14th January, 1956, so the child is 2 years old, nearly 3. The father was a married man living with his wife. The mother has had no communication with the father since the child was born, and she has not tried to make him responsible for the support of the child.


The mother, when the child was 18 months old, obtained employment as resident housekeeper with a lady who lives in the south of London. The mother receives a wage of £2. 10s. Od. a week and full keep of her daughter and herself, The child and the mother each have a bedroom, and the child's room has been completely decorated and furnished by the employer. There is a good garden. There is another lady who lives in the house with the employer, and there is no doubt that these two ladies are very attached to the child and very interested in her welfare and education and want the mother and the child to continue to live with them.


When the mother applied for an adoption order so that the child could be adopted by her, the case was enquired into, as the rules provide, by the Welfare Officer of the London County Council, who reported, after stating the facts, that the care bestowed upon the infant was satisfactory, and that the adoption order would appear to be in the infant's best interests, and he recommended that a full order should be made. But when the case was enquired into by the County Court Judge, he refused to make the order. He pointed out that the Welfare Officer in his report had said that the mother was anxious to remove "the stigma of illegitimacy" from the child. He said: "No other reason for, or advantage to be gained from, the proposed adoption was advanced either by the Applicant herself or by the Welfare Officer". He refused to make the order because he said the Adoption Act, 1950, was not "designed or intended to be used for the purpose of removing the stigma of illegitimacy, and that if an adoption order were granted in this case it would no doubt become common form and illegitimacy would automatically be abolished in this country".


I find myself unable to agree with the reasoning of the Judge. If one reads the words of section 1 of the Adoption Act, 1950, it is plain to my mind that it contemplates an adoption order being made in the circumstances which are now before the Court. Section l(3) says: "An adoption order may be made authorising the adoption of an infant by the mother or father of the infant, either alone or jointly with her or his spouse". Section 2(1) says: "An adoption order shall not be made in respect of an infant unless the applicant" is over a certain age or "is the mother or father of the infant". Those sections seem to me to contemplate this very case. But the matter is carried much further by section 12(2) of the Act which says: "Where an infant… is adopted by his mother and the mother is a single woman" and has obtained an affiliation order against the father that order "shall not cease to have effect…. upon the making of the adoption order". That shows that if the mother of an illegitimate child gets an affiliation order against the father, and afterwards gets an adoption order herself, the order against the father still operates, so as to make him pay for the child.


The Judge has asked what advantage is gained by making an...

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