Scott Hardie | November 24, 2005
A) State awards custody of baby to couple after she is left with them for four months with no word from the biological parents. They show up shortly afterward, court struggle ensues. Five years later, it still goes on. Is either of them in the right? Does a case like this depend on the individual circumstances? Is the initial four-month abandonment overshadowed by the commitment demonstrated by the biological parents in trying to get their daughter back for five years now?

B) The biological parents are Chinese immigrants. The adoptive parents are white Americans. The former alleges racial bias on the part of the court system, charging that if they were white Americans too that they'd have their daughter back by now. What do you think?


Kris Weberg | November 24, 2005
A) A case like this is anomalous, so I'd think it just about has to depend on individual circumstances. That said, precedent in both intra- and international cases support the rights of biological parents (remember Elian Gonzales?), so I imagine the real issue here is whether or not the abandonment is considered sufficient cause to declare the original parents unfit 5 years after the fact.

B) If they were white and rich, sure. Or, for that matter, Asian and rich. If not, I suspect we'd be in the same situation.

Amy Austin | November 24, 2005
I agree that "rich" is more a factor than race... although, presumably, if the parents were rich it probably wouldn't have happened in the first place. Unless, perhaps, they were taking an extended stay abroad and forgot to tell the nanny about it... ;-D But I tend to think that a lack of means is exactly what leads to this sort of situation.

Aaron Shurtleff | November 29, 2005
Well, the article states they thought they were placing the child in a temporary foster home. Not to be the devil's advocate, but what if they really didn't understand what they were doing? It's kind of hard to discern what people understand...and their being immigrants (which I assume to mean that English is a second language to them) doesn't help matters. I think we don't have enough information to really weigh in on such a case properly.

That said, I think (I hope) both sides truly think they have the 6 year old's best interests in mind. So, I don't think either side is really in the wrong, based on what I know.

Michael Paul Cote | November 29, 2005
My question is why, after having other children, did they wait so long to get their first born? It would seem to me, and this might be part of what the court is basing its judgement on, that if they could "afford" to have other children, they should have taken care of the one they already have first.

Aaron I agree, if both sides truly have the best interest of the child in mind, then at least the child won't lose.

My true gut feeling is that if for no other reason than heritage and race, that the child should ultimately go with the biological parents. If both families were common racial background, the decision might be more dificult.

I also feel that the other children should be looked at as to their upbringing. If the Hes are "good" parents, maybe it was a misunderstanding. And if it were supposed to be a temporary foster situation, the foster parents should understand about having to "give back" the child.

But, ulitmately, I again agree with Aaron in that we don't know all the facts which makes it very dificult to make a sound determination.

Kris Weberg | November 30, 2005
I actually disagree with you in a lot of ways -- you're talking about uprooting a five-year-old child from the parents the child's known for five years and giving the kid to comparative strangers.

I realize most American case law strongly disagrees with me here, but I tend to feel that a child's parents are the ones who raised the child, not the ones who did the nasty and then ditched the results.

Scott Hardie | December 5, 2005
I'm with Kris on this one. Here in Florida, I've heard the laws are almost universally in favor of the biological parents, even when they're abusive and/or junkies. Shit, let's slap a GPS-equipped ankle bracelet for life on every poor schmuck who thought she was eighteen at the time so he doesn't go running loose in the streets violating our children, but then ship the kids home sweet home for some punching, kicking, starving, and neglect by parents we know will do it again. Great system we've got.

Michael Paul Cote | December 5, 2005
I wasn't suggesting putting the child into a dangerous or harmful situation, God knows that there are enough situations like that already. But, from the info we have, we don't know that that is the case. I also don't think that it should be an overnight exchange. Proper procedures should be followed to allow the child to make the adjustment as painlessly as possible.
It is also possible in Florida for anyone to call Family Services, make an anonymous accusation and have parents investigated by the state. I know this because it happened to me.
We were "visited" by the state, complete with Pinellas County Deputy, at 11:00 PM on a Friday night, they checked our refrigerator and cupboards, woke up our (at that time) 9 year old son to question him, and grilled us about our religious beliefs. All this because someone with a grudge stated that we were practicing witchcraft. Which in itself is true, but not in the horror story connotation that many people picture. We were cleared without question, but the worst part is that the officers were not even allowed to tell us who filed the complaint. It was easy enough for us to figure out, but still...I thought all accused had the right to face their accusers. We were only inconvenienced, but how many families should have intervention that don't?
So all in all, Scott, I agree. The system sucks.

Scott Hardie | December 8, 2005
Oh... I wasn't trying to argue or suggest that you were wrong, Mike. I was only stating my opinion on the topic. :-)

I have heard of similar anonymous, false allegations being filed, especially by divorced parents fighting over custody. It doesn't seem to matter that you're given a clear report, only that DCFS was sent to your home to investigate charges of abuse or neglect, as if that alone proved it. It's a shame that our system allows kids to be used as weapons. (I don't mean laws so much as our society.)

Amy Austin | December 9, 2005
Being from Florida myself... ditto on knowing about false allegations with regards to the treatment of children -- one's own or otherwise.

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