08/23/2017 10:57 EDT | Updated 08/23/2017 12:22 EDT

'Judge-made vortex of uncertainty and delay' stalls N.S. adoption: appeal court

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's highest court has issued an unusually blunt rebuke to a judge who delayed an adoption application because of hypothetical constitutional concerns about whether the child's biological father had been given proper notice.

In a unanimous decision, the Nova Scotia Appeal Court says the adoptive parents of a young baby found themselves caught in a "judge-made vortex of uncertainty and delay" that stalled the adoption for almost a year at great expense and anxiety to the family.

Justice Cindy Bourgeois found that the adoptive parents "did everything right" but suffered a patent injustice due to the hearing judge's unfounded concerns and "intrusion" into the legislature's proper role.

At issue was a baby girl, born in March 2016, who was placed into the province's care shortly after birth by the biological mother.

The baby was placed with a couple, who soon filed an uncontested adoption application with the consent of the community services minister.

However, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court family division judge did not grant the application and instead, on his own motion, referred a number of constitutional questions to himself for determination.