Adoption Legal Cases in the News

Can't help it, I'm a law geek, so I have to share a couple of recent cases I've found interesting.

First, a biological family regains a child after a 6-year custody battle, from what looks to be an illegal adoption, if it's true that the adoptive family just changed the child's birth certificate instead of having a legal adoption proceeding:
Seven years after he was born, a Raytown boy is finally living with his biological parents. Noah Bond’s birth father fought all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court to get his son back.

Until August of 2011, Noah was living in Texas with a couple who wanted to adopt him and who had raised him since he was an infant. But the birth father, Craig Lentz had never agreed to the adoption and his girlfriend, Ebbie Bond says she only did so under duress.

Noah Bond is now seven-years-old, but his birthday in December was the first he ever spent with his parents. It was December 2004 when Craig Lentz filmed the birth of his son when his girlfriend gave birth. But during a bout of what she says was postpartum depression, Ebbie Bond agreed to give up custody.

Lentz’s name wasn’t on the birth certificate so he had no legal standing to stop the process.

“When we went to get it, there was no record that Noah was ever born.”

More than six years of legal battles followed with Stuart and Megan Taylor, who refused to talk with us the one time we caught up with them outside of court.

“Somehow the Taylor’s had changed Noah’s birth certificate without ever having an adoption and that if I died in the accident there would be no record that he was ever born and he would’ve just disappeared into Texas and that would’ve been that,” said Craig Lentz.

The accident Lentz refers to was a car crash on Highway 350 in June of 2010. He died on the operating table twice only to survive months of painful rehabilitation and more delays to his expensive custody battle.
Second, the Baby Veronica case. I was disappointed in the one-sided presentation of the issues in this Anderson Cooper piece (opinion pieces, clearly identifiable as such, can be one-sided, but straight news isn't afforded that luxury!), but even more disappointed in the fact that the "expert" (identified as an expert in disability law and as a child advocate, no mention of expertise in adoption law; still, a lawyer in any field should know better than relying on overruled law!) Cooper interviewed after showing the video (interview not on the video below) got the law wrong.  She says the South Carolina court hearing the appeal of this matter should follow a particular case decided by the courts of Kansas, without noting that the Kansas courts have since rejected that interpretation of the law as wrong! I blogged about the so-called "existing Indian family doctrine," the interpretation of the law the expert was talking about, here.

Third, in this Minnesota case, the appellate court ruled that an Ojibwe mother's rights under ICWA were not followed when she petitioned for custody of her son, who was adopted, and then the adoption disrupted, and the child placed in foster care:
A Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe mother with a history of substance abuse may petition to regain custody of her son, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The court cited the high threshold of the Indian Child Welfare Act in reversing an Aitkin County judge's decision to deny the mother's petition. She voluntarily terminated her parental rights to the boy, now 12, in 2006.

Under the act, which seeks to protect the rights of Indian tribes in retaining children in their society, a high set of standards must be met before determining the mother is not fit to regain custody. Not all of those standards were met, the court ruled. The case will now return to Aitkin County.

According to the order, the boy, who suffers from multiple behavioral disorders, was removed from his mother's care and adopted in 2008. A year later his adoptive parent sought out-of-home placement because she could no longer care for him due to his behavior. The boy was then placed in foster care with a Native American adult who is not a member of the boy's tribe. The adoptive parent terminated her rights and the boy seemed to thrive in foster care.