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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Should family tree overrule child's bond with foster family?



jjfamily.jpgIt's really heart-breaking to read this story today from our colleague Leonora LaPeter Anton about a judge forced to decide whether a boy who has lived and bonded with his foster parents for about two years should stay with them or be placed with a great-great-aunt he hardly knows. As Anton points out, the law is a good one to try to keep families together.

She writes: Family Finders, which in Hills­borough, Hernando and several other counties is funded by a federal grant, has produced heartwarming stories. A pair of teen boys reconnected in Texas with their father, who they thought had died. A toddler whose mother was in jail went to an older cousin in Tampa. A 9-year-old boy whose mother overdosed was placed with a Kentucky aunt within 72 hours.

As she points out, federal law wasn't followed in this case. If case managers had performed the search for J.J.'s relatives in the first 30 days, the emotional turmoil likely would have been avoided. No judge would have needed to decide whether J.J.'s bond with the Strawsers was more powerful than his genetic link to his great-great-aunt.

Read the story to see if you think the judge's decision is a happy ending. (I won't spoil it here) But I'm also curious about the comments from readers who think it's a mistake for the adoptive parents to try to retain ties with the family of blood relatives.

Is bonding more important than being connected to family or vice versa? Is it more important that a child be raised by someone of the same race and culture?

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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PHOTO: Rachell and Brian Strawser eat pizza at home with daughter Payton, 14, and J.J., 2½, in October, a month before a judge would decide whether the boy, with the Strawsers for about two years, would be placed with a great-great-aunt. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 4:28pm]


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