Hooray West Virginia. Doing what's in the best interest of the child, keeping her in a stable, loving home - now there's an idea. Come on Florida...let's catch up.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Supreme Court has allowed an infant to stay with her same-sex foster parents in Fayette County.
In a unanimous decision released on Friday, the justices determined that Fayette Circuit Judge Paul Blake erred when he allowed the state Department of Health and Human Resources to approve the infant's removal from her foster home.
The child had lived with Kathryn Kutil and Cheryl Hess, a same-sex couple who had already been approved as foster parents, for her entire life after having been born to drug-addicted mother in December 2007.
Blake agreed with Thomas Fast, the child's court-appointed guardian-ad-litem, and the DHHR's recommendation to relocate the child, and decided that the child would be better off in a home with a "traditional" family, i.e. a married mother and father.
"Despite the number of times that this Court has stated the best interest of the child is the polar star upon which decisions involving children are to be based, DHHR did not even consider whether the individual needs of [the child] would be best served by removing her from [Hess and Kutil's] care, but instead opted for a swift and ready solution to the problem the agency created," the opinion states.
"The agency simply turned a blind eye to the fact that [the child] had been placed in the foster home a number of months before some of the other children then in the home, and ignored any consideration of the impact relocation would have on [the child's] emotional, physical and mental development."
Blake was not motivated to remove the child because she was receiving sub-standard care, the justices concluded.
"It is more than apparent that the only reason why [Kutil and Hess] were being replaced as foster care providers was to promote the adoption of [the child] by what [Blake] called in his November 12, 2008, order a 'traditionally defined family, that is, a family consisting of both a mother and a father,'" the opinion read