After getting married last year, Utah couple Beckie Peirce and April Hoagland decided they were ready to welcome a foster child into their home. And even though the baby's biological mom, the child's court-appointed representative, and Utah's Division of Child and Family Services are all in support of them officially adopting her, one judge is preventing Peirce and Hoagland from expanding their family — solely because of their sexual orientation.
Once the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, Peirce and Hoagland's quest to foster a child was no longer an issue for Utah child services officials. Along with their two biological children, Peirce and Hoagland brought a 1-year-old girl home earlier this year and planned to move forward with adoption proceedings. However, Judge Scott Johansen not only put a stop to their plans, he also ordered that the child be removed from her foster home because he said it was better for her to be with heterosexual parents.
"I was kind of caught off guard because I didn't think anything like that would happen anymore," Hoagland told KUTV. "It's not fair, and it's not right, and it hurts me really badly because I haven't done anything wrong."
According to Hoagland, Johansen said that through his research he had found out that kids in homosexual homes don't do as well as they do in heterosexual homes. Yet the judge was unable to provide Peirce and Hoagland with any research to back up his claim.
The judge's ruling has caused a problem for Utah child services officials — they can't ignore a judge's order, but it also might not be a legal decision. "On the one hand, I'm not going to expect my caseworkers to violate a court order," said Brent Platt, director of the Utah's Division of Child and Family Services. "But on the other hand, I'm not going to expect my caseworkers to violate the law."
Utah state child welfare officials are currently reviewing the ruling, which is currently set to take effect in seven days. "We just want sharing, loving families for these kids," CFS agency spokeswoman Ashley Sumner said. "We don't really care what that looks like."