Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Finalizing BEFORE an appeal is heard and decided?

United States Supreme CourtImage by onecle via Flickr
Sounds like something that would never be done right?  um WRONG.  Imagine my surprise this morning reading about this here:
In two Washington state cases last year, higher courts overturned decisions to terminate parents’ rights, but the children had already been adopted by other families.

“We are victims, as are birth parents, as are the children,” said Jill Mailloux, of Richland, who with her husband, Jim, adopted two brothers, ages 5 and 7, in February 2010.

Seven months later, the boys’ biological mother, who is from Snohomish County, successfully argued in Court of Appeals Division I that her rights to her sons should never have been taken away.
“The social worker said, ‘Yes, there is an appeal, but they never get granted, don’t worry about it,” Mailloux recounted.

In a separate case in June, the state Supreme Court overturned the 2006 termination of a father’s right to his 10-year-old daughter, who was adopted more than four years ago.
Both cases have resulted in a legal morass likely to result in the children being taken away from their adoptive families.
I will be the first to admit that I'm not one to be altruistic most of the time.  While I was waiting for the hearing that ultimately terminated the parental rights of Tigger's biological parents, and the excruciating wait throughout the appeal period window, all I could think of was wanting everything to be over and not to worry about that anymore.  But, the process is there for a reason.  Terminating parental rights (as opposed to parents relinquishing) is a very very grave and permanent order.  The basis for that should be documented well and ALL chances given to the biological parents to work a case plan or show that they are working on being appropriate parents by themselves (if a child is #6 in a long line of children in which parents received caseplans) and that when available, suitable relatives are found before others.  If an appeal is filed, then yes we as licensed foster parents have to wait it out and see the outcome before finalization.  Even in the long time between termination of parental rights on Tigger's biological parents and finalization, I recognize, that I can't have it any other way or rush the process because it wouldn't be right and I would always wonder.  Further in the article it says:
In several other cases, the state Supreme Court declined to review parental terminations after the children in those cases were adopted while their parents appealed
The only reason they declined to hear the appeal was due to the children already being adopted?  That just has to be wrong.  I'm hoping that laws change so the proper order of events happen before a family is allowed to finalize an adoption.  We need to make sure every decision is made in a way that is above reproach. 

Enhanced by Zemanta


DeeChloRox said...

Wow! I wouldn't believe that could happen. They just need to make sure appeals happen quicker. The kid needs to end up where they are going to end up...birth family or adoptive family...as quickly as possible.

Unknown said...

Very sad. Just a reminder to all that everything must be done absolutely right.