Missouri Supreme Court declines review of adoption case

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The Missouri Supreme Court declined to review a family law case in late December that touches on a variety of issues. In 2007, a woman, who is from Guatemala, was detained in Missouri after immigration raid. The woman had a young child. She allowed her brother to take the child. While the woman was still behind bars the child was transferred to another family member, then to a non-relative before being put up for adoption.

A Carthage, Missouri, couple—the adoptive parents—have been raising the child for roughly 6 years. The child is now 7-years-old. The case has been through many levels in Missouri courts. In fact, the case has already gone before the Missouri Supreme Court, which previously ordered a new trial on two complex issues.

On remand, a two-week trial was held to determine whether the biological mother’s parental rights should be terminated. The adoption issue was also presented before the court. Termination of parental rights is a legal process that may arise in a number of ways. Biological parents accused of abuse or neglect may face these kinds of proceedings from state officials. In the recent case, the trial judge found (in part) that the biological mother had abandoned the child.

The abandonment was based upon evidence that after being detained the woman made no effort to contact or provide for the child. Other issues were involved in the court’s decision dating back to shortly after the child was born. Overall the judge terminated the parental rights based upon abandonment, neglect and a finding that the biological mother was an unfit parent.

The Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the decision. The state’s highest court declined further review. The case could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The typical adoption is usually among the happiest of all legal proceedings. The recent litigation involved competing challenges. In any adoption case, addressing the legal issues are vital. The termination of parental rights also was a factor in whether the child could be legally adopted.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Missouri Supreme Court won’t hear adoption challenge from Guatemalan mother,” Associated Press, Dec. 27, 2013; The Joplin Globe, “Missouri Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to adoption decision,” Susan Redden, Dec. 26, 2013

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