The Minnesota Supreme Court recently decided that a local foster couple was better suited to care for a pair of children than the children’s maternal grandparents. The young girls, now ages 2 and 3, were initially placed in foster care after police discovered traces of cocaine in their system. The mother lost custody as a result, but that did not stop her parents from fighting for child custody of their granddaughters. Nevertheless, the foster parents ultimately prevailed and will now be able to keep the girls.
The case has raised questions on the consideration of race in a custody dispute. The foster parents in this case are white while the children are black. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that blood relatives should be given first consideration, but not necessarily preference, in adoption proceedings. Legally, race is not a factor in determining custody. At the same time, “cultural needs” is a consideration.
This ambiguity can be difficult for the grandparents to accept, especially after an adverse custody order. The result, however, is not atypical of child custody cases in general. There are a number of factors that go into these determinations. There can be a mix of positive factors for the children, as well as some negative factors. In the end, difficult determinations must be made.
Without help, parents may risk their rights to the whim of a decision maker who cannot fully grasp all of the dynamics of a parent-child relationship. Whether adopting, divorcing or seeking a formal parenting plan, family law issues can be complex and getting the right information about all of the available options can help parents secure the future of their family.
Source: Mail Online, “Court rules white foster parents should raise sisters, 2 and 3, over black grandparents that have battles for them,” March 28, 2013