Foster parents say child removed from their home because they are gay
April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce of Carbon County said the baby they've loved and raised for the last three months will be removed from their home and sent to heterosexual foster parents because a judge said the baby would be better-off.
"We are shattered," said April. Judge Scott Johansen ordered the baby removed from their house in seven days.
The women, who are legally married and were approved as foster parents in Utah earlier this year after passing home inspections, background checks and interviews from DCFS, said the judge told them there was a lot of research that indicated children who are raised in same-sex parent homes do not do as well as children who are raised by heterosexual parents.
Their plight drew the attention of Hillary Clinton, who tweeted her support to the couple.
"It hurts me really badly because I haven't done anything wrong," said April.
The women say the baby has thrived in their home since she arrived three months ago. They want to adopt her and grow their family. They are already raising Beckie's children who are 12 and 14.
They say the foster child's state-appointed attorney supports them as does the biological mother of the baby - she wants her child to stay with her foster mothers.
Attorney Mandie Torgerson, who represents the baby's biological mother, said Johansen did not cite the research he referenced in court saying only that there are "a myriad" of studies that support his order.
Torgerson said her client is upset. She will appeal the judge's order at a hearing has been set for early December.
Brent Platt, Director of the state's Division of Child and Family Services, said he had not seen the judge's order - but his caseworkers must comply. At the same time, he wants to make sure his caseworkers don't break the law by removing the child. He will have his division's attorneys look at the judge's order.
"For us, it's what's best for the child," he said.
He said the state does not track the number of same -sex married couples who are fostering children but the state needs as many married couples as possible to help raise the state's 2600 children now in foster care.
"Any loving couple if they are legally married, and meet the requirements, we want them to be involved," he said.
Deborah Lindner, spokesperson for the Utah Foster Care Foundation, which trains foster parents for DCFS, said that agency doesn't keep track of the number of same-sex couples who are fostering children but said a rough estimate is about 20 couples.
April and Beckie feel the judge imposed his religious beliefs on their family without examining their record as foster parents and the well-being of the baby.
"He's never been in our home, never spent time with the child in our home or our other children so he doesn't know anything about this," said Beckie.
The mothers said they will look for any attorney who will help them fight for their foster child.