Attorney Vivek Sankaran, director of the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic at the University Michigan Law School, has written an excellent piece that was published in The Chronicle for Social Change titled: Termination of Parental Rights: What’s The Rush? Vivek writes that family courts today are too quick to remove parental rights when one parent is deemed "unfit." An attorney himself who has represented children in foster care, Vivek gives an example of a father who was incarcerated for drug usage, and yet stayed involved in his daughter's life for the 8 years he spent in prison, and even helped fund her time in law school, where she was able to finish her degree and graduate. He was able to stay involved in his daughter's life because his parental rights were not severed, which is what happens in most states, sadly, when a parent is deemed "unfit" to parent. Vivek writes that in one state, Utah, the Court of Appeals has questioned the necessity of terminating parental rights so quickly, and that this ruling could serve as a model for other states.
When Michael and Chelsea Wolken of Canyon County, Idaho, picked up their 5 month old baby last month from the babysitter's house, they were concerned that she wasn't acting right. Now, the babysitter has been charged with felony injury to a child and accused of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Now that the parents are no longer being blamed, their baby should be home. Child Protective Services doesn't see it that way, and they appear to be looking for any reason they can find to keep the child in their custody. The parents are devastated and just want Baby Rylee home, where she belongs.