- “After the termination of reunification services, the parents’ interest in the care, custody and companionship of the child are no longer paramount… in fact, there is a rebuttable presumption that continued foster care is in the best interests of the child.” (In Re Stephanie M)
- “Parental rights do not spring full-blown from the biological connection between parent and child. They require relationships more enduring…the mere existence of a biological link does not merit equivalent constitutional protection. If the natural father fails to grasp the opportunity to develop a relationship with his child, the Constitution will not automatically compel a State to listen to his opinion of where the child’s best interests lie.” Lehr v. Robertson (1983)
The biological father did not relinquish his reunification services for Lexi at the time of need (before removal). Instead, he waited until she was already living with the Pages for nearly a year— when he failed to reunify. Only THEN did he choose to try to control the situation by negating his own responsibility and agreeing to placement with a family member. “After reunification efforts failed, the father, the tribe, and the Department of Children and Family Services (Department) recommended that the girl be placed in Utah with a non-Indian couple who are extended family of the father.” (Page 3) “By September 2012, he had communicated to the Department that he no longer wished to continue reunification services. “ (Page 7) That is not looking out for Lexi’s best interests, but rather looking out for his own interests, hoping that he would be able to continue a relationship with her without bearing the responsibility.
Some even go so far as to claim that Lexi is ineligable for adoption simply because the father’s parental rights have not been terminated. This is clearly a misguided notion. At this moment, the court is considering which adoptive placement is right for Lexi. A lack of TPR does not prevent the court from choosing an adoptive home for the child. As we see from the judges’ comments during oral arguments, the court will decide what is best for Lexi, and give very little regard to what he thinks about where his child should be placed.