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Council refused to let us adopt my cousin's little girl; But Stacey won court fight for Jada and new family are happy in Singapore.

Byline: Neil Atkinson Head of News neil.atkinson@examiner.co.uk

A COUPLE have won a custody battle to give a little girl a new life - on the other side of the world.

Former Fartown High School student Stacey Lawson and her partner Adam Davey are teachers in Singapore and are now facing a new life with their own daughter Lila and adopted toddler Jada Louise.

They have adopted her but only after a costly and lengthy battle with Calderdale Council.

The authority were intent on putting Jada Louise up for adoption and her story might have been very different if her mother's cousin and her partner had not been passionate about her staying within her extended family.

The couple are in their early 30s.

Stacey is from Huddersfield, a former student at the Fartown High School, while Adam was brought up in Yeovil.

They now work as teachers at the International School in Singapore and see their future in staying and working in education in Singapore.

Early last year, they heard that their very young relative, Jada was in foster care. She couldn't be cared for by her parents. Members of her extended family in England had been assessed and ruled out as carers.

Adam and Stacey were never asked to be assessed - and they had no idea about the events unfolding in Calderdale.

By the time they found out, a court had agreed to an application from Calderdale for Jada to be placed for adoption. Undeterred, the couple began a long and expensive fight to get her placed with them in Singapore.

Their Huddersfield lawyer, Nigel Priestley, said: "They began by simply asking to be assessed as carers even though a final order had been made. The local authority refused. An application was made to court to put the local authority plans on hold and a judge agreed. They came back to York-York shire to make sure they were available to be assessed.

shire to make sure they were available to be assessed.

"As the Tour de France whizzed past their Barkisland cottage they were seen by a social worker and introduced to the child. In a process that made pulling teeth seem a painless alternative, the local authority were eventually made to accept that placement of Jada in her extended family was the best option.

their Barkisland cottage they were seen by a social worker and introduced to the child. In a process that made pulling teeth seem a painless alternative, the local authority were eventually made to accept that placement of Jada in her extended family was the best option.

"It took the encouragement of a judge who knew Singapore well to help the Social Services team to think again - and some remained determined to the last to pursue their own plans for adoption.

"But it wouldn't have happened without skilled and determined legal representation - and their commitment to change the local authority's plans".

Stacey said: "Adam and I are so happy having Jada living with us.

"She attached to us very quickly and she fell in love with our biological daughter Lila almost immediately. She constantly asks for Lila when she is napping and she likes to kiss and cuddle her. She is such a great big sister. Of course, the two of them like to fight over toys on occasion but I think this just makes them true sisters!

"Jada enjoys receiving all the love and affection and attention that we offer her at home.

"It is so nice to see her giggling when she is happy. It was such a great privilege to see Jada meeting her extended family, some of whom had never met her before.

"It is difficult to remember life without Jada. She truly is and always will be a part of our immediate family."

Mr Priestley, senior partner at Ridley and Hall Huddersfield, a law firm which specialises in supporting kinship carers, said: "We had to move very quickly in this case.

"Calderdale wanted to have Jada adopted and simply wouldn't back down. They claimed that they had a family waiting for her.

"But my clients were convinced that Jada would be a perfect fit in their family. Adam and Stacey are remarkable.

"They committed time and a large sum of money to make sure Jada stayed in her extended family. They dropped everything to make themselves available for assessment.

"The council's attitude was bizarre. Thankfully they eventually saw sense - but must now contribute to my clients' costs".

"They were eventually made to accept placement of Jada in her extended family was the best option" Solicitor Nigel Priestley

CAPTION(S):

| Stacey Lawson and her partner Adam Davey, |with girls Jada Louise and Lila as they begin their new life in Singapore (right)
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:9SING
Date:Jan 17, 2015
Words:793
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