Groups file amicus brief in adoption case

By Kelly Holleran
Jan 22, 2009 / West Virginia Record
CHARLESTON -- Two groups have submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the state Supreme Court asking that a 14-month-old be adopted by a married man and woman rather than the two women who are fighting to adopt the baby girl.

State law determines either a single person or a married couple is eligible to adopt. The Alliance Defense Fund and the Family Policy Council of West Virginia claim there should be no exceptions to the law. They filed the amicus brief Jan. 20.

"Any exception ultimately undermines what's best for the baby and children in general," ADF Senior Legal Counsel Brian Raum said. "The law is designed to ensure that children are placed in homes with a married mom and dad whenever possible. In this instance, it's possible."

The controversy began after a Fayette County couple -- Kathryn Kutil and Cheryl Hess -- fought against a judge's orders that the little girl they had been raising since birth be placed in a home with a married man and woman.

The girl temporarily was placed in the same sex couple's home after her mother's parental rights were terminated due to substance abuse problems. The location of her father was unknown.

However, the child's court-appointed guardian filed a motion saying it was in the best interest of the girl to be placed in a home with heterosexual parents. Fayette Circuit Judge Paul Blake granted the motion.

Kutil and Hess appealed Blake's decision to the state Supreme Court, which determined the child should be returned to them pending the court's final decision.

They say Blake's decision is setting a dangerous precedent for non-traditional families who wish to adopt.

The Family Policy Council contends the child should be placed in a home with heterosexual, married parents.

"The law is simple and clear when it comes to adoption," Jeremy Dys, president and general counsel of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, said in a news release. "It's designed to ensure adopted children are placed in homes with a married mom and dad. In this case, there are several qualified married couples willing to adopt this child, so there is no reason whatsoever to ignore the simple and clear law."

Foster parents cannot demand to become adoptive parents, Dys said.

"Foster parenting is, by definition, a temporary arrangement," he said. "Under West Virginia law, people who enter the foster parenting program understand this."


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