Child Adopted While Mother Jailed For Illegal Immigration

The story of the four year old boy caught between his U.S. adoptive parents and his biological mother is heartbreaking. I don’t think there can really be a winner or a loser in this story.

Adoption is an amazing process that provides children without biological parents that are able to parent them, to have a family. Adoption is meant to be a final process, totally severing the legal parent-child relationship and creating a new legal relationship with new parents. The new parents and the child have all the same rights and obligations as a biological family. It truly can be a blessing to all involved in an adoption, especially the child. The process can also be a blessing to the biological family in desperate need of a good home for their child.

However, In this story the biological mother was residing in the U.S. illegally, arrested, and incarcerated. Her child was placed with various family members, but eventually adopted by the current adoptive parents.

From the media presentation, it is extremely difficult to know what problems may have existed in the legal process of this case. Typically, when a child is removed, the State must provide notice to the biological family. The State’s first obligation it to attempt reunification of the child with the biological parent. If this is not possible, the State’s policy is to find a relative placement for the child. If this is not possible, the State finds a non-relative placement for the child,which can eventually become permanent through adoption. There is a clear benefit to the child of moving toward permanent placement through an adoption.

Prior to reaching a permanent placement plan (adoption), the State should make all efforts to communicate with the biological parent(s), give them opportunities to resolve the problems interfering with parenting (crime, drugs, neglect) through services (release from jail, counseling, parenting classes). Usually the State gives numerous opportunities to parents to reunify with their children. It is not clear if the State provided this child’s biological mother with proper notification of Court proceedings and proper opportunity to reunify with her child.

It does appear clear that biological mother committed a crime. Does the punishment of this crime include having your child taken away forever? If the mother did not pursue timely reunification with her child and did not abide by the State’s recommendation for services, then shouldn’t her child be given an opportunity for stability and permanency with a good home? If she was not given proper services and did attempt to timely reunify but experienced discrimination, then does her crime alone warrant her child be taken from her forever?

I have had professional experience with the State and their interactions with illegal immigrants. It is my personal opinion that the State was not prepared to assist these individuals in the same manner as English speaking citizens. Due to the State’s lack of preparation, these parents were (inadvertently) discriminated against. I know there has been a significant effort in the past three years in the State of Indiana to rectify this problem and to provide all parents the right to parent their children.

Another issue that has become apparent in the Court systems is that some courts are biased for U.S. parents verses non-U.S. parents. I have observed and researched several cases in which a good parent was deported yet able to raise their child in their home country, but the child stayed in the U.S. and a U.S. family was given precedence over the biological parent. This is a significant issue of ethnocentricity that must be solved. I have traveled to over twenty-five 2nd/3rd world countries, and I am confident that a parent can provide for their child in these countries. To stay in the U.S. just for citizenship is not beneficial for the children.

There is always a balance that must be made between giving biological parents an opportunity to reunify and finding stability and permanency for the child. I am pro adoption. I love the process; I want it to be done well. I do not want there to be losers in the adoption process. Ultimately, this little boy will lose someone very special to him, whether it is his biological parent or his adoptive parents. I wish he was not in this terrible situation. The only solace for me is knowing that both parties appear to love him very much. My heart goes out to all.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.