September 18, 2005
Case Law Development: Removing Children to Kinship Care in Another Country Superior to Termination of Parental Rights
The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the termination of Mother’s parental rights in a case with international and cultural implications. The termination of Mother’s parental rights was based on her conviction of the federal crime of misprision of felony (not divulging information about a crime committed by the father of her children). The trial court’s best interests of the child determination disregarded the option of allowing the children to live in Mexico with Mother’s sister during the brief period of mother’s incarceration, because, during the 18 months the children were in five different foster homes in Iowa, they had “bonded into the English-speaking, Iowa culture.”
The court of appeals noted the overwhelming evidence that termination would not be in the best interests of the child and reversed. That evidence included favorable reports regarding the suitability of placing the boys in sister’s home -- reports that came from sources as diverse as the Mexican consulate, social workers in both countries, and even the boys’ current foster mother. In addition, all evidence pointed to the existence of an extremely strong mother-child bond, an “impeccable parenting history”, and the adaptability and resilience of the children. The court concluded that, while a conviction and sentence can serve as grounds for termination, in this case a termination would not serve the best interests of the children.
In the Matter of B.A. and R.A., 2005 Iowa App. LEXIS 1148 (September 14, 2005)
Opinion available on the web at http://www.judicial.state.ia.us/appeals/opinions/20050914/05-0011.asp (last visited September 17, 2005 bgf)