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W.Va. Couple
Battle for Adoption Rights

W.Va. Couple
Battle for Adoption Rights

A lesbian couple who have been raising a foster child since December 2007 are being blocked from adopting her by the child's legal advocate, who argues that she would be better off with a "traditional" married couple.

A lesbian couple who have been raising a foster child since December 2007 are being blocked from adopting her by the child's legal advocate, who argues that she would be better off with a "traditional" married couple. Kathryn Kutil and Cheryl Hess will go before the West Virginia supreme court March 11 to appeal a November decision by a lower court, according to the Associated Press.

The child was born to a drug-addicted mother last year and had experienced narcotic withdrawal following her birth. The Charleston Daily Mail reports that she was found with cocaine, opiates, and benzodiazepines in her system. Fayette County circuit judge Paul Blake terminated the biological mother's parental rights; no other blood relatives of the child could be found. Since Hess and Kutil took the child in, raising her for nearly a year, the Department of Health and Human Resources moved to let the couple adopt the girl. They were also deemed fit as parents two years ago when they started fostering a girl who is now 12.

However, the court-appointed legal advocate, Fayetteville attorney Thomas Fast, filed a motion January 24 to remove the younger girl from Hess and Kutil's care because she was living in a "homosexual household." In November the judge affirmed that DHHR had failed to seek a "traditional most family-like setting with a mother and father." According to the order, DHHR can place a child in "nontraditional" settings only after a search is exhausted to place the child in a "traditional" home. Blake has since ordered that the child be moved to a second foster home, but the supreme court ordered her to return to Kutil and Hess.

Current West Virginia law allows single people and married couples to adopt children, with no specifications for same-sex couples. Kutil and Hess argue that the lower court's decision infringes on their rights and is the gateway for other groups to lose adoptive rights.

"What I can say about these two women is that they are far and above, based on my experience in dealing with them," their attorney Anthony Ciliberti told the Daily Mail. "They are far and above conceivably the best foster parents we have in this county." (Advocate.com)

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