Monday, November 22, 2010
Another disrupted adoption case has arisen, and I am soliciting support for an amicus brief. There is in this case the usual prospect of a biological father forcing the separation of a child (two and a half years old) from the adoptive parent (a single woman) who has cared for the child since birth. The adopting mom is in California, the biological father is in Ohio, and as in other cases the interstate aspect has contributed to delay in reaching finality. What is unusual in this case is that the alternative to adoption for the child is not placement with a biological parent. An Ohio court has ordered that the child be transported to Ohio for placement in foster care, with the possibility that ultimately she will be placed with the biological father's mother (the child's biological grandmother, whom the girl has never met). The birth mother continues to support the adoption, and the biological father has a history of maltreatment with other children (as well as domestic violence against the birth mother). California courts are now addressing guardianship and adoption petitions by the girl's de facto mom. I was asked to write a brief just on the issue of what constitutional rights the child has in this situation. This inevitably entails also analyzing what rights the biological father has. My position is that the child's attachment and bond with the adopting mother is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment right of intimate association, and that the father is at most entitled to participate in a best interests determination as to the child's future family life. I have a draft ready to distribute. If any other law professor would genuinely consider signing on to the brief, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you the draft to review.
Thanks for considering it.