During what could be times of severe stress for children in Pennsylvania, there are often foster homes willing to step in and provide stability and love. While in many cases, these homes are a temporary stop, others could turn into a more permanent arrangement through adoption. One out-of-state family was hoping for this outcome in regards to their now 6-year-old foster daughter. A recent court ruling, however, appears to make it unlikely that this will happen.
The family claims that the young girl had been in two previous foster homes before she came to live with them at the age of two. In 2012, there were reportedly some plans developed that would result in the girl living with her biological father, but those plans fell through, prompting the foster family to work to retain custody. Although they have fought to keep her, the family recently lost their last appeal, meaning they will have to turn custody over to distant relatives of the girl who live out-of-state.
Because the girl is part Choctaw, she falls under the Indian Child Welfare Act. That law, created in the 1970s, attempts to keep children with Native American heritage with tribal families. While the foster family thinks it an injustice to change the girl’s custody arrangements, a court-appointed attorney for the young girl disagrees, explaining that the family members wanted custody three years ago but were denied as the foster family initiated court proceedings to prevent that from happening. During that time, the extended family members reportedly traveled from Utah to California every month to visit with the girl who also visited them at their home.
It is understandable that families who have raised a child as part of a foster program for several years would want to investigate their adoption options. However, the impact of blood relatives also cannot be overlooked. When a situation such as this results in the inability to come to an agreement regarding the best interests of a child in Pennsylvania, families can request court intervention, prompting many to seek the guidance of an attorney to help them better understand the legal process.
Source: abc7.com, “INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT SEPARATES FOSTER DAUGHTER FROM SANTA CLARITA FAMILY“, Amy Powell, March 19, 2016