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Family Law: termination of parental rights, rights of the child, child support. (Ukraine)

Question

Good afternoon, Karina. I am the editor of the show “хххххххххххх” on the nationwide broadcast channel “хххххххххх”.

We are searching for the American family that adopted three children from Ukraine and then returned them to their grandmother.

We know that this grandmother, to whom the children were returned, is going to file action against the people who adopted the children. I have the information that you are aware of this situation. If you possess any information, please right me a letter. We need to find out the opinion of the foster parents.

Answer

The following is the professional opinion of Karina Duvall (aka Karina Krasnova), Attorney at Law.

Recently the international adoption became the most popular topic on the both coasts of the Atlantic. I am the attorney who specialize in the sphere of matrimonial law and on the daily basis I receive from foreigners a lot of inquires seeking help in resolution of their family issues. One of the delicate subjects is the issue of cancellation of an adoption.

Is there the possibility to terminate a legal bond between foster parents and an adopted child? Yes there is. If the cancellation of the adoption takes place, the ones should take delicate acts, that fully protect interest of an underage child. The question that was addressed to me by the editor of the show, is indeed within the scope of my expertise, moreover I was fully involved in this case.

The following is what happened.

Naturally below I will not mention any names. The basis for this story was the inquiry of the grandmother to mass media. In this case the honor, dignity and reputation of my client shall have the first priority. Thus I will have to shed light on this story.

In year 2006 the public attorney applied to the court with the lawsuit to terminate the parental rights for the three children. The ground for the lawsuit was the fact that the toddlers who were then abandoned by his mother and were sent to a hospital. Upon the audit it was revealed that the mother of the children is a habitual drunkard, leaved her children unattended; the apartment that was occupied by her family was kept “in terrible insanitary conditions” [cited from the court decision].

At the same time it is established that the father of the children did not live with the family, and he resided in Saint-Petersburg, and he did not participate in the lives of the children.

It should be noted that notwithstanding the fact that the father lived in the different country, he was able to appear at court in order to present his opposition to the action of cancellation of parental rights. He explained that the children were relocated to the foster house without his consent, and that he lived in Saint-Petersburg, and worked in the military academy, and he wanted to earn money in order to raise his children.

Did the aforementioned legal grounds justify the cancellation of parental rights? – Absolutely not.
Considering this the court established that the father did not participate in the lives of the children due to reasonable excuse; undoubtedly the court should have dismissed the case. Nevertheless the relive sought in the action was granted and the parental rights of both of the parents were terminated.

The interests of the close relatives were not considered as well, including interests of the children’s grandmother who in case of the cancellation of parental rights had the 1st priority to obtain custody over the children. But in contrary to the law of Ukraine and reasonable expectations, once the grandmother returned to Ukraine she found out that the children are far away and the contact with them was lost.

In order to establish the contact with them the five years of time was needed. When the grandmother managed to have a telephone conversation with the older granddaughter, she found out that the children remembered her and loved her and they dreamed to return to their home in Ukraine.

Five long years have passed without the trace for the foster parents. The foster mother almost lost her sight which made her disabled pursuant to the 1 degree of the sight disability, and also she suffered serious terminal sickness pursuant to the 1st degree of the general disability. The foster father who had relatively better health conditions also acquired several serious illnesses.

Aforementioned led to the following. From the one side, there are seriously ill foster parents, that literary could not properly took care of the children; from the other side – grandmother who had strengths, energy who was really anxious to have these children back, who promised to send children to an English learning school, to provide the children with learning of three languages – Russian, Ukrainian and English. Thus “the children can be integrated into Ukrainian society and share their experience and knowledge obtained through the years of living in the USA” [cited from the case documents].

From this stand of view our complex action began.

The court considered this matter closely and meticulously. The public attorney was involved to the case, as well as the representative of the child protection agency, the children were asked to testify in the court hearing; their opinions were considered as decisive for the decancellation of the court. The numerous subpoenas were issued and audits were held. From the letter of the governmental authorities of the Ukrainian Ministry of External Affairs in the USA was uncovered that “the physical condition of the children complies with the standards established for children of their age. The children were properly nurtured; there were no serious problems with the children’s health. All three children were studying in school” [cited from the documents of the case]. The representative of the Ukrainian consulate had conversation with children via telephone, and he was convinced that the children really wanted to return to the home in Ukraine; this also was cited in the court decision.

The children testified in the court saying that they “want to return to Ukraine because they really missed their birth family”[cited from the case documents].

“Resolving issues of the matter the court determined that the bad health of the foster parents will prevent them from properly raising the children, therefore the bad health of the parents undermines interests of the children; therefore the dismissal of the action for cancellation of parental rights may be harmful for the children who are the citizens of Ukraine. Also the court considered that the children desired to go back to Ukraine and live there with their grandmother; therefore granting relief sought in the action will correspond with interests of the children” [cited from the case documents].

Thus the adoption was terminated. What next?

Once all necessary documents were executed, the grandmother became a legal guardian of the underage children; and she filed the action with court seeking the child support in form of the lump sum to be paid by the former foster parents. The grandmother undertook to spend this money in order to purchase the house for the children which they will share equally. She explained that she had personal income and she was receiving social benefits, therefore she was capable to provide the children with the good standard of living, but she could not provide them with the good housing.

My clients gladly helped her with this. The court decision was issued and the uncontested relief was granted and the child support was paid in from of lump sum that was used in order to purchase the house. “It was impossible to purchase the house for the benefit of the children due to the absence of the court decision granting the collection of the child support from the former foster parents” [cited from the case documents].

Within one and a half month from the moment when the court decision was entered, the clean, worm and spacious home was purchased for the benefit of the children.

This is the story with the happy ending. The former foster parents showed themselves as highly responsible and honest people. They acted pursuant to law. All their actions were justified by the respective court decisions. The grandmother was highly trusted – the government trusted her to raise three children, and the former foster parents provided the children with the specious and cozy house. Now, two years after the arrival of children home to Ukraine, we will see how grandmother will use the trust and opportunities that were granted to her.
Karina Duvall
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