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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

The Family Reunification Act

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This guest blog post was written by Azeb Gebretsadik.


20130226_ramsey-county-attorney-john-choi_33.jpeg [Photo of County Attorney John Choi by Sasha Aslanian for MPR]

"The Family Reunification Act could restore parental rights in some lost custody cases" by, Sasha Aslanian Minnesota Public Radio.

The article discussed about how the Act would allow the option of reversing TPR, which before this act was impossible to do. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says county attorneys formerly opposed efforts to reunify families after parental rights have been terminated because they wanted to avoid creating false hopes for children to move on to permanent homes. But older teens face long odds for adoption and Choi said reunification with birth parents who have overcome their problems may be the best outcome for some of them. (MPR Sasha Aslanian)

I am interning at Ramsey County Permanent Connection Unit. The past week adoption workers have been asked to consider their caseloads to see if the youth over age 15 who have no interest in being adopted or their adoption fail for various reasons who fit the description of Family Reunification Act to help support the Act and maintain relationship with their biological family. The basic intent of the Act is that for any adolescent over age 15 who has been in foster care for over three years, has no prospect of being adopted, and maintained a relationship with his or her biological family, if Human Services and the County Attorney agree, Ramsey County could approach the court to reverse the TPR.

Youth in the foster care system deserve to have connection with their families who have been looking to be reunited once they leave the system. I am working with a youth who 16 and don't want to be adopted, but have contact with his birth mother. Mom lost custody over educational neglect. This youth is doing really well in his current foster home and they are supportive of his contact with his birth mom. I think now with Family Reunification Act may be there will be a chance for him to be back with his mother and older brother. The Family Reunification Act encourages parents who lost legal right of their children to have hope. There might be another chance if they are able to change and bring positive outcome to show the court that they are doing everything that is expected of them.

As Aslanian reports, "Gina Evans of Forest Lake is one mother who for six years has pushed for a chance at redemption. Evans, now 39, lost custody of her son and daughter in 2001 due to neglect. She left her children in the care of her parents, sometimes for long periods of time, when she was using drugs. Evans said the state had every right to terminate her parental rights. She went through treatment and has been clean for nine years. She was able to overcome her felonies to find work again, but when she talked to child protection workers, her county attorney and state lawmakers, she learned there was no second chance at parenthood." However now after this Act there might be a chance for some.

On the other had the Family Reunification Act has very strict guidelines. Even the biological parents who overcome their problems wouldn't be able to get the chance of reunification if the child is under age 15 or been in the foster care system for less that there years. I believe that while the act has strength in connecting families again, it also has limitations, which are the very strict guidelines hard to reveres. The Reunification Act addresses only some part of permanency issue in the system. Shouldn't all families who lost custody of their biological children get a second chance if they turn their lives around to be better parents? What is the best interest of the child?

You can read the article here.

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