The Supreme Administrative Court’s call represents a step forward for the 38-year-old woman and her 35-year-old husband in their lengthy struggle with the authorities over their right to become parents.
The couple’s clash with the authorities began two years ago when their home town of Gävle in eastern Sweden denied them the right to adopt. The verdict came as a major blow to the pair after a kidney specialist had vouched for the woman, certifying that she was in good health and would live a normal life for the next ten years if she continued to take her medicines.
The couple appealed to the County Administrative Court, which ruled in December 2007 that Gävle’s social services committee had not provided sufficient reasons for its decision and ordered the local authorities to process the case again.
But in January 2008, Gävle decided once again to reject the couple’s application on grounds that the 38-year-old had undergone two kidney transplant operations and only had one functioning kidney.
For the second time, the couple turned to the County Administrative Court for assistance, but this time the judges came down on the side of the Gävle officials and refused the couple the right to adopt, basing their decision partly on an advisory opinion from the National Board of Health and Welfare.
The court wrote in its verdict that both parents must be of sufficient good health that they can function as parents for the whole of the child’s upbringing. Citing the opinion of an expert doctor, the court ruled that this was not the case for the 38-year-old prospective mother.
Unhappy with the decision, the couple turned to the Administrative Court of Appeal. But in April 2008, the appeals court decided there was not sufficient cause to reevaluate the verdict of the lower court.
All appeared lost for the couple until the Supreme Administrative Court stepped in this week and gave the court of appeal a rap on the knuckles for failing to take up the case. The upper court said the couple’s case deserved to be heard “immediately” as there was very little legal precedent regarding the evaluation of the health situation of people wishing to adopt children.