A white couple who say they have been denied the right to continue fostering a black child have vowed to fight authorities to overturn the decision.
For five months, foster parents Ben and Sarah FitzPatrick, gave the child a loving home but on Monday were told the baby could be taken away as early as Friday. A pair of Norfolk social workers visited their home and said because their foster baby is black, the child would be better off with African-American foster parents.
The check the FitzPatrick’s received to take care of the foster child has also bounced, with the bank telling them there were “insufficient funds,” Sarah FitzPatrick said in all the months they have taken care for the child this was the first time any issue of color was mentioned.
A Norfolk City Council official says that his workers do not make race-based placement decisions, but they do consider “the will of the biological parents.”
WATCH NEWSCHANNEL 3 COVERAGE OF THE FITZPATRICK’S CASE:
The FitzPatricks, of Norfolk, VA, got this surprise announcement just a week after a local news station aired their complaints about a neighboring foster care agency and flaws in the system that lead to the death of baby Braxton Taylor. For seven months the FitzPatricks provided baby Braxton with a home but when he was transferred to another foster mother he endured abuse that killed him. The couple believes Norfolk’s move is retaliation for blowing the whistle on Virginia Beach social workers.
As the NewsChannel 3 investigation was set to air, the FitzPatricks got an email from their Norfolk social worker, which read
Your appearance…on tonight`s news has caused some concern here. I want to talk to you about what is in your interview so that we can be prepared for any calls we may get… We are anxious about what is to come.
A subsequent report by NewsChannel 3 says Norfolk allows biological parents who have lost custody of their child to ask for foster parents of a specific race and the investigation alleges this practice is highly unusual and it might even be illegal.
In the televised interview Norfolk’s Human Services director Stephen Hawks said, “we do have to consider the will of the biological parents as one of the factors in making a decision on the appropriate placement of the child.” He adds, “It’s not the only factor, but that is one factor in determining the appropriate placement for a child.”
Sarah FitzPatrick said she is contacting the baby’s court-appointed attorney Robert Smith to see if he can stop the child’s removal.
The subject of transracial adoption or fostering continues to be hotly debated topic, with opponents claiming it can cause difficulties while others say any loving parent, regardless of color, can provide a stable and nurturing home.
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