A 3rd District judge has issued an order preventing the Division of Family Services from removing a handicapped 4-year-old girl from her foster home pending a review of legal briefs.
Judge Michael Murphy granted an injunction Thursday that allows Fred and Linda Bullock to care for "J.J.," to whom they've been foster parents for three years - at least until he can decide if they can appeal a decision by state adoption officials that the Bullocks cannot adopt the child.The Bullocks filed the petition because an adoption committee from the Department of Social Services said the couple could not adopt the child and she was to be removed from the home and placed with another couple who had been approved to adopt her.
"This is not a decision in the case," said Linda Luinstra, assistant Utah attorney general. "The injunction was granted with several conditions. Murphy wants more briefing on whether an adoption can be issued without the state's consent."
Luinstra said the case had already been presented to Judge James S. Sawaya and part of the state's brief will deal with whether his decision in the case should be binding.
Murphy cautioned the Bullocks that the injunction can be lifted at any time and was based not on the adoption itself, but on issues their attorney, F. Zane Gill, raised about the adoption procedure, including whether a state adoption decision should be subject to judicial review.
Luinstra said that, by statute, the state agency that has custody of the child (the Division of Family Services) must consent to an adoption.
The division rejected the Bullocks as adoptive parents, but cannot discuss its reasons because of confidentiality laws, according to Julie Bradshaw, constituent services specialist for the Department of Social Services.
"There's not much I can say about a specific case or why we reached this decision, but it was not a decision made by one person. And no one making this decision had a vested interest or anything to gain from denying this family. We are trying to do what is best for the child, based on confidential information," Bradshaw said.
Luinstra said the state has five weeks to prepare the briefs requested by Murphy when he granted the injunction.