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Utah Judge Allows Lesbian Couple's Adoption to Proceed

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on November 17, 2015 10:59 AM

A Utah judge rescinded his order removing a foster child from the home of a lesbian couple. The order originally mandated that the child be placed with a heterosexual couple within one week, but now the kid can stay home as the prospective parents move forward with adoption, as planned, reports CNN.

Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen rescinded the order after rights groups national outcry about his decision. He cited the legal standard "best interests of the child" but based his initial decisions on his "belief that research has shown that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home."

Best Interests of the Child

When making determinations that affect children, courts always apply the same standard. Decisions are to be made with the best interests of the child foremost.

But social norms change, as do notions of what is best for kids. The judge's amended order "struck the sentence about the best interest of children and scratched out 'belief' and replaced it with 'concern,'" according to CNN.

In doing so, Johansen was responding to criticism from around the country that his decision was based on his religion -- not the law or the child's needs. Whatever Johansen's personal beliefs, he is required to decide based on the law.

"I expect the court and the judge to follow the law. He may not like the law, but he should follow the law," said Governor Gary Herbert. "We don't want to have activism of the bench in any way, shape or form."

In this matter, where the baby's birth mother supports an adoption, and the couple is already raising two children that belong to them, the order to place the child with new parents did seem strange. Would the baby be more emotionally and mentally stable leaving home to live with strangers?

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, an initiative by the Department of Health and Human Service's Children's Division to bring attention to children and youth looking for families. If you are interested in adopting a child, or just want to know more about the process, speak to a family law attorney.

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