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Child custody evaluations could impact adoption case

Many Louisiana residents have read about an emotionally charged child custody battle currently playing out between an adoptive family and a biological father. The case has made headlines across the nation, and offers an example of the custody matter in which there cannot be a true "winner" or "loser." As the court struggles to reach an outcome that is both fair and in line with the best interests of the child, the matter highlights the complexities involved in certain adoptions. Child custody evaluations are almost certain to come into play as this case moves forward.

At the heart of the matter is little girl who is just 3 years old. At the time of her birth, her biological mother was struggling with drug addiction. The infant was removed from her care and placed into a foster home; those foster parents eventually adopted her with the support and consent of her biological mother. At that time, the biological father was incarcerated, and his parental rights were terminated as part of the adoption process.

Upon his release from jail, the biological father appealed that decision. He was successful, and the adoption was overturned. The adoptive parents are now placed in the difficult position of engaging in a child custody battle with their daughter's biological father. Both sides seem to have a sincere interest in providing a loving home for the girl, yet one side will inevitably be heartbroken when the case comes to an end.

In cases in which an adoption is challenged, child custody evaluations often play a central role. Evaluators meet with all parties as well as the child or children involved, searching for information that will help them to make a determination as to what is in the best interests of the child. The fact that this little girl has grown up in a loving adoptive home with caretakers that she knows as her mother and father will be balanced with the fact that her biological father has a legitimate claim in the matter. Many Louisiana parents feel strongly about this issue, and will watch to see how the matter is resolved.

Source: ABC News, "This 3-year-old is at the center of a custody battle between her adoptive parents and birth father", Candace Smith, March 3, 2017

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