*The sitting was held in the Family Law Court held at Ennis Courthouse.
A MOTHER was not sure if a 12-year old girl was her daughter or not after not seeing her since she was a baby, a court has heard.
At the Family Law Court, a senior social care worker for TUSLA told the court that the mother and daughter were re-united here in August after the daughter was trafficked here from a country in Asia.
The TUSLA worker said that the girl was trafficked here by a missionary group after the girl’s grandparents saved up the money to pay the group to reunite mother and daughter.
During an Interim Care Order (ICO) application by TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency (CFA) for the girl, the TUSLA worker said that the trip from the girl’s native country to Ireland took eight months for her to complete.
Judge Mary Larkin commented, “The mother must be overwhelmed. She didn’t see her child all her life and all of a sudden she is presented with her daughter – it doesn’t bear thinking about”.
The TUSLA worker said that after the reunification here, “there was a query from the girl’s mother that she might not be her daughter and couldn’t say for sure at the time”.
He said, “She wanted to believe the girl was her daughter but couldn’t say for sure. She felt that she was a lot taller than a daughter of hers would be”.
The care worker said, “The mother hasn’t cared for her daughter since she was a baby and has spent the last 10 years seeking refugee status in various countries in Europe before coming to Ireland four years ago”.
He said that during that time “they didn’t have any contact with each other and had no form of communication whatsoever in all those years”.
The care worker stated that the mother was initially separated from her daughter a number of years ago when the mother “was trafficked for sexual exploitation into China and managed somehow to escape”.
In response to the mother’s maternity concerns TUSLA sought a DNA test which confirmed that the two are mother and daughter.
The senior care worker told the court, “The mother took great joy and satisfaction in that and was very happy that it was confirmed.”
The care worker added that the girl has been in her mother’s care from August up until last Wednesday when the mother consented to the child going into voluntary care.
The care worker said, “We were made aware of worries about the mother’s mental health and in a conversation with a volunteer worker she said that she was so overwhelmed and stressed with the parenting associated with minding her daughter that she felt like killing herself and her daughter”.
The care worker said that mother’s mental health has since improved and has expressed the wish that she would be reunited with her daughter before Christmas.
He said, “She is feeling much better and is very motivated and will do what it takes to get her daughter back”.
He said that the girl – who doesn’t speak any English – is currently in a general foster placement.
He said that during a recent access for the two “there were hugs and kisses and they were very happy to see each other”.
Judge Larkin said that she was satisfied that the threshold for an Interim Care Order was met and granted the order to TUSLA to December 28th and also appointed a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the views of the girl.