Sunday, March 9, 2014

Commentary: Love must be more important than race in determining custody of a baby

Read the story: COURT ROW OVER FOSTER BABY
On Tuesday a couple from Central Trinidad will be in court fighting to keep a baby they cared for for one year, giving the child all the necessities and comfort any parent would provide.
 

What makes this case noteworthy is the circumstances and the background to this unfortunate drama. The Sunday NEWSDAY newspaper has the full details in its story headlined: COURT ROW OVER FOSTER BABY.
 

Based on the report it appears that the couple - Cindy Rakhal and her husband Donald, of Carapichaima - previously adopted a baby after satisfying all the requirements for adoptive parents.

Then in March 2013 the Foster Care Unit asked them if they were interested in taking care of another abandoned baby girl. The couple were more than happy to oblige and the new baby became a part of their family.

Now the Foster Care Unit wants the baby back to hand over to adoptive parents who have been approved. According to the Newsday story, the director of the Foster Care Unit, Vidya Pooransingh, called last Thursday to tell Cindy that the Adoption Board has decided "to place the baby up for adoption and that a couple, who was first on the list of people waiting to adopt, will get the baby".

That shattered Cindy's world. She asked the Board to give her an opportunity to seek legal advice, which she did. Meanwhile, according to Cindy's report in Newsday, police were snooping around asking questions and causing her great embarrassment.

Her lawyers filed an injunction in the High Court (these things cost big money - like $25,000) to prevent the Adoption Board from proceeding with the decision to take away the baby. The court refused the request but the couple won on appeal. Now they have to go to court to fight the authorities to keep the child who is now a part of the family.

There is one detail about the child that appears to be the fly in the ointment - the couple are Indians and the child isn't. So, according to Cindy, the adoption board asked her this question: “How do you think the child will feel when she grows up and realises that she does not look like you all?” Excuse me, but why on earth is that even raised?


There is one other important detail. Cindy had signed a document stating that her guardianship for the child would be temporary and she had asked about whether anyone was interested in adopting the baby.

But time and circumstance change many things; she has now got close to the child who calls her mummy and she has accepted the child as a part of the family along with the other child, whom she adopted legally after the adoption authorities agreed that the couple were fit to be adoptive parents.

She has put race aside and is fighting all the way to prevent the authorities from snatching her baby. She is making an appeal to the state to give her custody of the child on compassionate grounds. 


I have some questions about this matter:
  1. Why are the authorities making race such an important issue? The couple have no difficulty with it and there are mixed-race families everywhere in our country
  2. Why issue a directive to seize the baby when there could have been dialogue leading to an amicable solution?
  3. This couple had been previously approved as proper parents for an adoptive child. Why treat them as if they won't be good parents for this child who is from a different race?
  4. Why didn't the authorities give the couple "a first right of refusal" on adopting the child?
It seems to me that a board that is supposed to be humane and compassionate in dealing with children and the rights and protection of children prefers a high-handed manner in treating with cases that need a sensitive touch. 

Since last year the child in this unfortunate drama has been cared for by Cindy and her husband with no complaints from anyone; obviously they are good parents but nobody appears to have taken that into consideration. 

From the newspaper report it seems that the authorities are more preoccupied with race than the suitability of the parents. And that is most unfortunate in a country where we should be encouraging ethnic diversity instead of building walls of separation.  

The adoption board should be paying attention to the great number of "at risk children" instead of trying to break up a family where the child is happy, comfortable and loved. 

I trust the the judge hearing this case on Tuesday will do the right thing and leave the child where she is - in the home where she has lived for more than a year, getting love and attention that every child deserves and too few get.


Jai Parasram - 09 March 2014

1 comment:

Dean Glover said...

Yeah. It's tough how acts of kindness will get tied up in these kinds of complications, with regards to custody in general. Which is why we should settle the legal issues first, before heading straight into something as inherently touchy and complex as adoption, considering all the key players and ties that it is going to involve. Yeah. It's tough how acts of kindness will get tied up in these kinds of complications with regards to custody in general. Which is why we should settle the legal issues first, before heading straight into something as inherently touchy and complex as adaption, considering all the key players and ties that it is going to involve.

Adoption Network

Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai