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Order to take baby from lesbian foster parents under review

  • A Utah judge ordered that a foster child be taken away from lesbian parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce
  • Judge Scott Johansen cited research that reportedly claims children do better when they are raised by heterosexual parents
  • The biological mother of the foster child and her lawyer both want the child to be with Hoagland and Peirce
  • The couple is also already raising Peirce’s two children, aged 12 and 14, and were hoping to eventually adopt their foster child 

By

Associated Press


Published:
20:19 EST, 11 November 2015

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Updated:
01:48 EST, 12 November 2015

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Utah state child welfare officials on Wednesday were reviewing a ruling by a juvenile court judge who ordered a baby to be taken from lesbian foster parents and instead placed with a heterosexual couple for the child’s well-being.

Judge Scott Johansen’s order Tuesday in the central Utah city of Price raised concerns at the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, agency spokeswoman Ashley Sumner said. 

The ruling came during a routine hearing for April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce. They are part of a group of same-sex married couples who were allowed to become foster parents in Utah after last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal across the country.

The couple are already raising Peirce’s biological children, aged 12 and 14 and were hoping to grow their family by eventually adopting their foster child.

A Utah judge ordered that a foster child be taken away from lesbian parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce (above)

A Utah judge ordered that a foster child be taken away from lesbian parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce (above)

Attempts to reach Hoagland and Peirce on Wednesday were unsuccessful, but the couple told KUTV that they are distraught after the ruling that calls for the baby girl they have been raising for three months to be taken away within a week.

They said Judge Johansen cited research that children do better when they are raised by heterosexual couples. Hoagland believes the judge actually imposed his religious beliefs.

‘We are shattered,’ she told the Salt Lake City TV station. 

‘It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.’

Judge Johansen is precluded by judicial rules from discussing pending cases, Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

A full transcript of his ruling has not been made public and may not be because court records of cases involving foster children are kept private to protect the kids, Sumner said.

Judge Scott Johansen (above) cited research that he claims stated children do better when they are raised by heterosexual parents

Judge Scott Johansen (above) cited research that he claims stated children do better when they are raised by heterosexual parents

Sumner said she can’t speak to specifics of the case but confirmed that the couple’s account of the ruling is accurate — the judge’s decision was based on the couple being lesbians. The agency isn’t aware of any other issues with their performance as foster parents.

The agency is tasked with trying to keep children with one family as long as the parents are providing adequate care.

All couples are screened before becoming foster parents.

‘We just want sharing, loving families for these kids,’ Sumner said. 

‘We don’t really care what that looks like.’

The ruling triggered a heated response from the Human Rights Campaign. The gay rights group called the order shocking, outrageous and unjust.

Judge Johansen previously made headlines in 2012 when he told a mother to cut of her daughter’s ponytail in court after the 13-year-old cut the hair of a 3-year-old girl at a McDonald’s.

The girl was also charged with making months of phone calls to another teenager and making threats of rape and mutilation. 

He said that if the mothercut her daughter’s hair he would reduce her sentence of 30 days in detention, paying restitution to her victims and serving 276 hours of community service.

The mother did so and the community service was reduced by 150 hours. 

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