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Mariëlle Bruning on exceptional juvenile court ruling

A pregnant woman from Drenthe will lose her baby directly after it is born. A juvenile court has already ruled during her pregnancy that the infant will go to a foster family. The court believes that the child would risk physical neglect.

Mariëlle Bruning

The woman is already known to the child protection authorities. She comes from a problem family and went to live with her partner at a young age. There is domestic violence in her relationship. Her first child was admitted to hospital twice in infancy with malnutrition problems and died after eight months. Her second child was placed with a foster family directly after its birth and the same occurred shortly after the birth of her third baby.

Now with her fourth pregnancy, the court has already decided before the birth of the baby that it will be placed in care. This is an exceptional ruling, according to Professor Mariëlle Bruning in Dutch newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden (€). 'The termination of parental authority is a very far-reaching measure. By doing so, you are saying that there is no possibility whatsoever that this child can be raised by these parents.  This measure is rarely imposed during a pregnancy or in the case of a mother who has just given birth to her baby. I think it happens a few times a year at the most.  In principle it is not done in the case of a newborn and certainly not in the case of a baby that is still to be born.'

Bruning says this is the most severe measure that can be imposed.  'Certainly, in the case of a newborn baby the decision to separate the child from its mother must meet the highest requirements. The juvenile court has therefore extensively motivated and clarified all considerations. The court’s decision was motivated among other things because two children had already been put in care and according to professional experts the mother and her partner do not appear to have learned from the past. For example, they do not keep to agreements made with the welfare services. In this case the court’s decision would appear to be legitimate. Seen from the perspective of the parents’ rights however, it is very far-reaching.'

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