CELINA — Despite an appeal to Ohio’s 3rd District Court of Appeals, a former foster child at the center of a jurisdictional dispute between Mercer County Probate Court and Allen County Juvenile Court is staying with her adoptive family.
After a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court in December returned the former foster child, referred to in the appellate court decision as M.S.A., back to former foster parents Brian and Kelly Anderson, of Celina, an appeal of the decision was made by the child’s aunt, Patricia Framak, of Indiana, to the Court of Appeals, saying that the Mercer County Probate Court did not allow her as the child’s guardian to intervene in the adoption. M.S.A. was given to Framak by Allen County Children Services on orders from Allen County Juvenile Court despite a petition from the Andersons in Mercer County Probate Court to adopt the child.
For adoptive father Brian Anderson, the hope is that the ruling will allow his family to move on from what has been a lengthy, 18-month legal battle.
“We’re very happy it was upheld,” he said. “We’re just happy to be able to move on with our adoption of [M.S.A.] and let our family move past this point and all the legal cases and trials that have surrounded the adoption.”
In the decision, Judges John Willamowski and William Zimmerman wrote that Framak, as a legal custodian, had no legal standing to attempt to block the adoption.
“The rights of a legal custodian are ‘subject to any residual parental rights, privileges and responsibilities,’” the decision reads. “Framak neither has an unconditional right to intervene conferred by statute nor an interest in the subject matter of the lawsuit that is direct, substantial and legally protectable.”
The adoption dispute was the focus of the “Bring Maddy Home” campaign, a movement that caught the attention of many in Celina and the surrounding area and prompted criticism of Allen County Children Services and subsequent coverage of the event. A recent post on the “I WILL SPEAK” Facebook page questioned Allen County Children Services’ actions concerning the adoption after it fulfilled its jurisdictional obligations in delivering the child to Framak.
“The Director was quoted in the Lima News saying they were out of our case. However, on December 9th Allen County Children’s Services supervisor Brent Bunke was sitting in the hallway when we got to court in Mercer County. This was at his free will. He was not required to be there,” the post reads.
Allen County Children Services Director Cynthia Scanland issued a statement reiterating its status regarding the appeal of the adoption decision and taking issue with continued criticism of her agency’s conduct.
“The agency was not part of the appeal,” she said. “Allen County Children Services case was closed last year following the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision on Mercer Probate Court’s Request for Reconsideration. It is unfortunate that the foster parents have continued to make misrepresentations against the agency and its staff members. The continued accusations do not support child protection or better enable child protection staff to do their jobs.”
M.S.A. is doing well in her new home, according to Anderson.
Framak’s attorney, Eric J. Allen, could not be reached for comment.