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Blood-Tie Preservation as Paramount: Best Interests of the Child Outweighed?

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Abstract

In terms of the need to preserve blood-ties via family reunification, the various strands of case law seem to fall into three, occasionally overlapping categories; a Constitutionally protected right to not be deprived of parenthood, consent to relinquishment that is flawed, absent or subsequently revoked, and a statutory duty to protect tribal cultural heritage.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    McGillivray (1983–1985), pp. 437–467 at p. 449.

  2. 2.

    See for example United States case law such as Thurnwald v A E (2007) UT 38, 163 P 3d 623; Sanchez v LDS Social Services (1984) 680 P 2d, or In Re Custody of MCC (A Minor) v Aisha Umer (June 27, 2008) 06 D 79411 (No 1-08-0203) and the Irish case N v Health Service Executive & Ors [2006] IESC 60 (the ‘Baby Anne’ case).

  3. 3.

    See for example English authorities Re F (R) (An Infant) [1970] 1 QB 385; Re RA (Minors) (1974) 4 Fam Law 182; Re F (Infants) (Adoption Order: Validity) [1977] Fam 165 on ‘procedural irregularities’ e.g. failure to serve notice of proceedings upon birth parents or parental ignorance of proceedings. See also Webster (The Parents) v Norfolk County Council & Ors (Rev 1) [2009] EWCA Civ 59 however for the Court of Appeal’s discussion of ‘natural justice’ in relation to the question of allowing birth parents an opportunity to object.

  4. 4.

    See for example Re Bridget R et al (Minors) (1995) 25 USCA 1901 BO93520 (the ‘Rost twins’ case); see also Nelson v Childrens Aid Society of Eastern Manitoba [1975] 5 WWR 45, 56 DIR (3d) 567, 21RFL 222 (Man CA) [1974] 5 WWR 449, 46 DIR (3d) 633 (Man QB) on whether the child’s ‘Indian status’ heritage would be extinguished by adoption. See also Adoptive Couple v Baby Girl (2013) No. 12-399 (The ‘Baby Veronica’ case) Opening day oral transcript hearing available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/12-399.pdf (accessed 16.04.13) which, at the time of writing, is being heard by the US Supreme Court, on appeal from the Supreme Court of South Carolina (Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 398 S.C. 625; 731 S.E.2d 550 (S.C.) (2012).

  5. 5.

    Baldassi (2004–2005), pp. 212–265 at p. 219.

  6. 6.

    See however Cahn (2002) 163 who has noted that post-adoption contact agreements may be protected by statute, at least to an extent, within some US regions.

  7. 7.

    In re Jasmon O. (1994) 8 Cal.4th 398, 419 (citing In re Marilyn (1993) H., 5 Cal.4th) at p. 306.

  8. 8.

    Baldassi (2004–2005), p. 75.

  9. 9.

    N v Health Service Executive & Ors [2006] IESC 60.

  10. 10.

    Article 40.4.(1) and (2). provide that ‘No person shall be deprived of his personal liberty save in accordance with the law’. Articles 41 and 42 provide that ‘The State recognizes the Family as the natural, primary and fundamental unit group of Society…possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights’.

  11. 11.

    N v Health Service Executive [2006] op cit n 9 p. 15.

  12. 12.

    Northern Area Health Board v An Bord Uchtála [2002] 4 IR 252.

  13. 13.

    N v Health Service Executive [2006] op cit n 9 p. 1 per McGuinness J.

  14. 14.

    She therefore could claim a right to custody under Article 40, but had no entitlement to the ‘protections and presumptions which benefit the married family under Articles 41 and 42’. Northern Area Health Board v An Bord Uchtála [2002] op cit n 12 Per Murray CJ.

  15. 15.

    In Re JH [1985] IR 375.

  16. 16.

    Ibid pp. 388–389.

  17. 17.

    s.3 Guardianship of Infants Act 1964.

  18. 18.

    In Re JH [1985] op cit n 15.

  19. 19.

    N v Health Service Executive [2006] op cit n 9 p. 22.

  20. 20.

    Ibid p. 23.

  21. 21.

    Ibid p. 24.

  22. 22.

    See further Caballero (2005–2006), pp. 291–313.

  23. 23.

    N v Health Service Executive [2006] op cit n 9 p 30.

  24. 24.

    Re G (Children) (residence: same sex partner) [2006] 4 All ER 241.

  25. 25.

    Ibid per Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead p. 243.

  26. 26.

    Ibid per Hardiman LJ.

  27. 27.

    See Professor Iwaniec’s Report (for the Respondents) as cited by Fennelly J.

  28. 28.

    In Re JH [1985] op cit at n 15 per Finlay LJ p. 394.

  29. 29.

    Webster v Norfolk County Council [2009] EWCA Civ 59.

  30. 30.

    N v Health Service Executive op cit at n 9.

  31. 31.

    Media reaction has been fairly unequivocal in its criticism of the decision; see for example www.independent.ie/ntional-news/baby-ann-returned-to-parents-693265.html; or www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article641483.ece (accessed 16.04.11).

  32. 32.

    Webster v Norfolk op cit at n 29 para 204.

  33. 33.

    Haley A Mark et al v Elizabeth L. (1996) Contra Costa County Superior Court No. 9400055.

  34. 34.

    Ibid p. 11.

  35. 35.

    Ibid.

  36. 36.

    Re Bridget (1995) op cit n 4.

  37. 37.

    Ibid per Kline J at p. 25.

  38. 38.

    Ibid.

  39. 39.

    Ibid.

  40. 40.

    Clayton (2007–2008), pp. 249–266 at p. 249. See also Lehr v Robertson (1983) 463 U S 248.

  41. 41.

    See for example Thomas v Childrens Aid Society of Utah (1961) 364 P (2d) 1029; see also however Stanley v Illinois (1972) 405 US 645 (which held that the presumption that unmarried fathers were automatically unfit to parent was unconstitutional); Ellis v Social Services Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (1980) 615 P 2d (Utah) (which created an exception for putative fathers who could show that they had not been afforded reasonable opportunity to object, for example where the birth mother had not informed him of the relinquishment); Wells v Childrens Aid Society of Utah (1984) 681 P 2d (Utah) (where the Court found that public policy demanded that prospective adoptive parents be protected and encouraged to come forward); Sanchez v LDS Social Services (1984) 680 P 2d (where the father had demonstrated profound commitment and found out about the birth mother’s relinquishment only days after the event, as cited by Clayton ibid).

  42. 42.

    In Re BGC (1992) 496 NW 2d 239 (Iowa).

  43. 43.

    In re Kirchner (1995) 649 N E 2d 324 (Illinois).

  44. 44.

    Ibid per Heiple J.

  45. 45.

    Troxel v Granville (2000) 530 U S 57, 147 L Ed 2d 49, 120 S Ct 2054.

  46. 46.

    Paras 68–69. This presumption was used to invalidate the court’s statutory power to order contact (visitation) between kin, on the basis that the legislation permitted the court to second-guess the decisions of a fit parent. See further Wickham v Byrne (2002) 199 Ill 2d 309.

  47. 47.

    In re Marriage of Carey (1989) 188 Ill App 3d 1040, 1046 544 NE 2d 1293.

  48. 48.

    see also In Re Marriage of Sechrest (1990) 202 Ill App 3d 865, 875 560 NE 2d 1212; where a non-parent lacks standing to petition, they must rely upon proving unfitness of the ‘natural parent’.

  49. 49.

    In Re RLS 218 2d 428 per Thomas CJ.

  50. 50.

    Thurnwald v A E (2007) UT 38, 163 P 3d 623.

  51. 51.

    Ibid at p. 635. This case turned on the question of the legality of the statutory time limits which unmarried fathers must satisfy in registering their objection to the adoption (i.e. before the mother has formally agreed to relinquishment). Here, the father was prevented from complying because the relevant offices were closed over a holiday weekend.

  52. 52.

    Clayton (2007–2008), p. 264. See also the Dissenting opinion of Justice Wilkins in Thurnwald op cit at n 50, p. 636.

  53. 53.

    In Re Custody of MCC (A Minor) v Aisha Umer (June 27 2008) 06 D 79411 (No 1-08-0203) per Garcia CJ.

  54. 54.

    re RLS op cit n 46.

  55. 55.

    see In re Custody of Ayala (2003) 344 Ill App 3d 574 588 800 NE 2d 524.

  56. 56.

    Ibid p. 7. See also In Re AWJ (2000) 316 Ill App 3d 91 96,736 NE2d 716.

  57. 57.

    See also In re Custody of Peterson (1986) 112, Ill 2d 48, 53-54 491 NE2d 1150; In re Custody of ORourke (1987) 160 Ill App 3d 584 587-88 514 NE 2d 6 (1987).

  58. 58.

    Cahn (2000–2001), pp. 1–27 at p. 26.

  59. 59.

    Barton (2003–2004), pp. 113–148 at p. 113.

  60. 60.

    See Caban v Mohammed 441 US 380 (1979); Quilloin v Walcott 434 US 246 (1978).

  61. 61.

    In re Doe 627 N E 2d 648 [1993] (Ill. App Ct 1993) 656 (as cited by Barton 2003–2004).

  62. 62.

    Barton (2003–2004), p. 128. Responsibility for registration (and for subsequent consent or objection to the adoption process) is placed upon the birth father; this aims to protect the privacy rights of the birth mother, the father’s interest in receiving notice of the proceedings and the child’s right ‘to a secure adoption’.

  63. 63.

    Troxel v Granville 530 US 57 (2000).

  64. 64.

    Lehr v. Robertson (1983) 463 U.S. 248, 256 [77 L.Ed.2d 614, 103 S.Ct. 985].

  65. 65.

    Washington Rev. Code § 26.10.160 (3).

  66. 66.

    Ibid Per O’Connor J p. 5.

  67. 67.

    See also Stanley v Illinois (1972) 405 US 645.

  68. 68.

    Toxel v Granville op cit at n 63 pp. 8–14.

  69. 69.

    Barton (2003–2004), p. 140. The four competing party interests are listed here as birth parents, adoptive parents, the State and the relinquished child.

  70. 70.

    Ibid p. 143. See also Hilderbran (1988), p. 1217.

  71. 71.

    Ibid p. 83. See also SKK v JS [1999] NWTJ No 94 (SC) (QL) [SKK] on the issue of the termination of birth parents’ rights and obligations post-customary adoption.

  72. 72.

    McGillivray (1983–1985), p. 450.

  73. 73.

    Section 3 of which states that, ‘it is the policy of this Nation to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families and the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture..’ Pub L No 96-608, 92 Stat 3069 (1980).

  74. 74.

    See Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v Holyfield [1989] 490 U S 30 which ostensibly placed tribal interests on a par with the best interests of the child.

  75. 75.

    See for example the evidence given in Re Bridget R et al (Minors) [1995] BO93520 B093520 (Super. Ct. No. BN1980 consol. w/BC114849): ‘During these weeks and months, the relationship between Richard and Cindy was deteriorating…Cindy obtained a restraining order, which required Richard to remain at least 100 yards from Cindy and their two sons, Anthony and Richard Andrew. In a declaration in support of her application for the restraining order, Cindy related that on numerous occasions during March, Richard hit and kicked Cindy and pushed her down, broke furniture, and abused the one-and two-year-old children by picking them up by the neck and shaking or dropping them, poking them in the face, or hitting them in the head. On at least one of these occasions, Richard was intoxicated.’ Para 42.

  76. 76.

    Washington (2005–2006), pp. 1–56 at p. 3.

  77. 77.

    Ibid p. 41.

  78. 78.

    Ibid p. 4.

  79. 79.

    Ibid p. 26 Arguably, norms and policies in relation to anonymous gamete donation have also followed this approach, in terms of matching with recipients racially or ethnically.

  80. 80.

    Ibid p. 33. See further Woodhouse (1995), p. 107 (as cited by Washington 2005–2006).

  81. 81.

    Ibid p. 35. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act 1994 Pub L No 103-382, 551-55 108 Stat 3518, 4056-58 (October 20, 1994).

  82. 82.

    See further Howe (1999), p. 677 (as cited by Washington 2005–2006, p. 36).

  83. 83.

    See also ‘The Small Business Job Protection Act 1996 Section 1808 (‘Removal Of Barriers To Interethnic Adoptions’) Pub L No 104-188, 110 Stat 1755 (1997) and 42 USC 671 (a) (18) (A) (2001).

  84. 84.

    See also Hawkins-Leon and Bradley (2002), pp. 1227–1233; Kennedy (2003).

  85. 85.

    McGillivray (1983–1985), p. 440.

  86. 86.

    Hollinger (1989), pp. 451–501 at p. 453.

  87. 87.

    See also In Re A M (A person coming under the Juvenile Court Law) Yolo County Dept of Employment and Social Services v M W and Pit River Tribe (April 11, 2013) C070782) Sup Ct No JV08500 in respect of ‘Indian family’, available at http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C070782.PDF (accessed 15.04.13).

  88. 88.

    Re Bridget op cit n 4.

  89. 89.

    The Indian Child Welfare Act 1978 A 25 U.S.C.A. 1901. The Bureau of Indian Affairs must also be informed.

  90. 90.

    ICWA (1978) 25 U.S.C.A., Section(s) 1913, subd. (a).

  91. 91.

    (See, e.g., In re Adoption of Crews (1992) 118 Wash.2d 561 [825 P.2d 305]; Matter of Adoption of Baby Boy L. (1982) 231 Kan. 199 [643 P.2d 168].

  92. 92.

    B093520 (Super. Ct. No. BN1980 consol. w/BC114849).

  93. 93.

    Re Bridget op cit n 14 p. 4.

  94. 94.

    In Re Jasmon O (1994) 8 Cal.4th 398, 419.

  95. 95.

    Citing Quilloin v. Walcott (1978) 434 U.S. 246, 255 [54 L.Ed.2d 511, 98 S.Ct. 549]; see also In re Marilyn H. (1993) 5 Cal.4th 295, 306.

  96. 96.

    Citing Michael H. v. Gerald D. (1989) 491 U.S. 110, 123 [105 L.Ed.2d 91, 109 S.Ct. 2333.

  97. 97.

    Stanley v. Illinois (1972) 405 U.S.

  98. 98.

    Ibid. at p. 651.

  99. 99.

    Lehr v. Robertson (1983) 463 U.S.

  100. 100.

    Ibid at p. 257.

  101. 101.

    Bakeis (1996). See also Hollinger (1989), pp. 450–501.

  102. 102.

    See further Hazeltine (2002), pp. 58–84.

  103. 103.

    Hollinger (1989), p. 453.

  104. 104.

    Ibid p. 459.

  105. 105.

    Ibid p. 438. See also The Indian Act RSC 1970 c 1-6, s 11(1) (e) and 12 (2); The British North America Act 1867 30 & 31 Victoria c.3 (UK). The benefits which attach to being a person ‘of Indian blood, reputed to belong to a particular tribe, band or body of Indians..and their descendants’ include rights to own tribal land, to hunt, fish and shoot, to access improved medical benefits and health care, tax exemptions, and greater educational support (to gain voting rights however, ‘Indian status’ would have had to be renounced).

  106. 106.

    McGillivray (1983–1985), p. 447.

  107. 107.

    Ibid p. 448. See also Ladner (1977) and House (1997), pp. 333–363.

  108. 108.

    See for example Re Adoption of Katie E7-1807 (1961) 32 DLR (2d) 686 38 WWR 100 (NWT Terr Ct).

  109. 109.

    Baldassi (2006), pp. 63–100 at p. 64.

  110. 110.

    As Aboriginal status rights under s.35 of the Constitution Act 1982; Re Tagornak [1984] 1 CNLR 185; (1983) 50 AR 237 (NWTSC); see also Re Katie (1961) 32 DLR (2d) 686; 38 WWR 100 (NWT Terr CT) per Sissons J on Inuit customary adoption; Re Deborah (1972) 6 RFL 299 [1972] 5 WWR 203 (NWTCA) where Inuit custom adoption was challenged by birth parents, per Morrow J and on appeal at (1972) 28 DLR (3d) 483 (NWTCA) per Johnson J p. 488.

  111. 111.

    Casimel v Insurance Corp of BC (1993) 82 BCLR (2d) 387; 106 DLR (4th) 720 (CA). See also The Aboriginal Custom Adoption Recognition Act SNWT 1994 of the North West Territories.

  112. 112.

    House (1997), p. 333. See also Lomax 1997, 14.

  113. 113.

    ANR and SCR v LJW (1984) 37 RII 2d 181 Man Civ Supreme Court.

  114. 114.

    Ibid. See also Opinion of Matas J from the lower Court at p. 179.

  115. 115.

    Ibid per Wilson J.

  116. 116.

    H v M [1999] 1 SCR 328; see also [1999] 1 SCR 761 where the Court dismissed an application to permit representations from the birth grandfather’s First Nation. See further Lazarus (1997), p. 255 (as cited in Mossman 2004) p. 178.

  117. 117.

    Mossman 2004, p. 178.

  118. 118.

    C (JMN) v Winnipeg Child and Family Services (1998) 33 RFL (4th) 175; Man. R (2d) 81 (QB).

  119. 119.

    See also Natural Parents v Superintendent of Child Welfare (Sub Nom Re Adoption Act) [1976] 1 WWR 699 where the best interests principle was applied by viewing the child as an individual rather than as belonging to a specific racial or cultural grouping, with a ‘good home’ taking precedence over the need to preserve heritage.

  120. 120.

    See Baldassi (2006), p. 214. See also Mossman (2004), p. 169.

  121. 121.

    See for example Mooswa v Minister of Social Services for the Province of Saskatchewan (1977) 30 RFL 101 wherein the Court ordered the return of a Native child to her birth mother on the basis that she should be ‘raised if possible by (her) natural mother…amongst people of her own race and culture’ See also for example The Ontario Child and Family Services Act 1985 s 53(5).

  122. 122.

    See for example CAD v VG [1992] NWTR 236, 33 ACWS (3d) 90 (NWTSC).

  123. 123.

    Baldassi (2006), p. 71.

  124. 124.

    Re Tucktoo et al and Kitchooalik et al (Sub Nom Re Deborah) (1972) 27 DLR (3d) 225 [1972] 3 WWR 194 (N W Terr Ct). This was the first case of customary adoption where the court was required to consider the content of the process rather than merely the issue of whether or not the parties’ qualified for ‘Native status’.

  125. 125.

    See further Baldassi (2006), p. 82.

  126. 126.

    CAD v VG op cit n 19.

  127. 127.

    Baldassi (2006), p. 82.

  128. 128.

    Op cit n 4.

  129. 129.

    Transcript of opening oral arguments available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_ arguments/argument_transcripts/12-399.pdf (accessed 17.04.13).

  130. 130.

    Zug (2013), pp. 46–54 at p. 47.

  131. 131.

    Holyfield Op cit n 75.

  132. 132.

    See for example In Re The Adoption of Baby Boy L 643 P.2d 168 (Kan. 1982); If the child had never been part of an Indian family, the ICWA would not apply. Zug further notes the divisiveness of this test and argues that there is now a near-universal acceptance that it offends against the spirit and legislative purpose of the 1978 Act.

  133. 133.

    Zug (2013), p. 49.

  134. 134.

    Ibid p. 51.

  135. 135.

    Ibid p. 52.

  136. 136.

    See further Howe (2013), available at http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/04/argument-recap-no-easy-answers-in-indian-adoption-case (accessed 17.04.13).

  137. 137.

    Section 1912(d) and (f).

  138. 138.

    Op cit n 130 p. 42.

  139. 139.

    Ibid p. 54.

  140. 140.

    See comment by the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/us/justices-hear-case-of-adopted-indian-child.html?ref=us&_r=0 (accessed 16.0.13).

  141. 141.

    In relation to the controversies surrounding the ICWA generally see Atwood (2002), pp. 587–676.

  142. 142.

    Op cit n 130 pp. 36–37.

  143. 143.

    Op cit n 130 p. 24.

  144. 144.

    Washington (2005–2006), pp. 1–56 at p. 26.

  145. 145.

    Ibid p. 41.

  146. 146.

    Woodhouse (2005–2006), pp. 297–329 at p. 316.

  147. 147.

    Ibid.

  148. 148.

    See for example Lofton v Secretary of the Dept of Children and Family Services 358 F 3d, 804, 811-12 (11th Cir 2004).

  149. 149.

    Woodhouse (2005–2006), p. 319.

  150. 150.

    Loving v Virginia (1967) 388 U S (1) on the illegality of miscegenation laws.

  151. 151.

    Woodhouse (2005–2006), p. 324.

  152. 152.

    See further In the Matter of Adoption of J.J.B. (1995) 119 N.M. 638 [894P.2d 994, 1008-1009]; Bookert v. Roth (1995) U.S. [133 L.Ed.2d 110, 116 S.Ct. 168]; In the Matter of Custody of C.C.R.S. (Colo. 1995) 892 P.2d 246, 257–258.

  153. 153.

    Ibid.

  154. 154.

    See further Bojorge (2002), pp. 266–291; see also In Re RMG 454 A2d 776, 791 (DC 1982) where a three-part analysis was suggested for determining disputed adoptions.

  155. 155.

    Nagarsheth (2005–2006), pp. 45–68 at p. 67.

  156. 156.

    Caballero (2005–2006), pp. 291–313 at p. 312.

  157. 157.

    Ibid.

  158. 158.

    McGillivray (1983–1985), p. 454.

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Diver, A. (2014). Blood-Tie Preservation as Paramount: Best Interests of the Child Outweighed?. In: A Law of Blood-ties - The 'Right' to Access Genetic Ancestry. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01071-7_8

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