Recent changes in Florida law have taken away the judge's ability, in dependency court, to make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child.
In Florida, children that are in loving, caring, pre-adoptive homes, often for several years, are being abruptly removed and re-traumatized. These children were initially removed from their parents due to abuse, abandonment, and neglect and are all in various stages of healing from their previous ordeals.
In most of these cases, after years of unsuccessful completion of their case plans, parents are facing a trial for the termination of their parental rights. But rather than go to trial, parents take advantage of a recent change in Florida law, which gives the parent the right to sign over their parental rights upon stipulation that the child goes to the family of their choosing. (This law was enacted to give parents whose children who have just entered the dependency system, the chance to opt out and sign over rights if they are unwilling or incapable of making the necessary changes.)
Courts view best interests differently between family law cases and dependency cases (when a parent has abused, neglected or abandoned their child). The current law permits the parent to choose who their child will be placed with, even if the parent has murdered a spouse, committed egregious acts against their children, or who wishes to punish a foster parent that has provided a caring home for their child for a lengthy time. The law prevents the court from considering what is in that child’s best interests, as it would for any other child in the dependency system.
Through the 2012 adoption intervention law, the Florida legislature has given the biological parents the ability to once again traumatize their children, whether intentional or not. The unintended consequence of this law is wreaking havoc on the lives of many children within the system of care. When a child has already found safety, love and a healthy attachment, he should be removed from his pre-adoptive home, to be adopted by a different family, only if it is in the child's best interest.
A child's right to a future free of further trauma, and to a safe and loving home should outweigh the right of a parent who faces a Termination of Parental Rights trial. This law negates the essential truth that blood doesn't make a family, love does.
Urge the Florida legislature to change the statute governing adoption intervention and allow judges to apply the child’s best interest standard. Demand an amendment which prevents children from being unnecessarily traumatized: These children deserve the best possible adoptive family.
For further information, go to http://sffapa.org/a-note-from-alan-abramowitz/
Urge FL Legislature to Allow Judges to Give Abused Children the Best Adoptive Family
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