The death of a 3-year-old boy in Texas in January has gained international attention. The boy, who was adopted from Russia, was found unresponsive at his home by his adoptive mother on Jan. 21.; he was then transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Although no arrests have been made, Texas Child Protective Services officials are investigating allegations of possible abuse and neglect, and a Russian governor is seeking the return of the boy’s brother, who was adopted by the same family.
It is not unusual for allegations of abuse to impact the outcome of a child custody case. Not only is a parent accused of child abuse at risk of losing custody and visitation rights, concerns of child abuse may lead to termination of all parental rights as Russia is now seeking with respect to the boy’s brother. Here, not only is the Texas family impacted, but the abuse allegations are impacting other international adoptions. The Texas death has led one Russian region to temporarily suspend all international adoptions while the case under review.
The case presents an important reminder that parents must be ever-vigilant for issues of child abuse that can impact the outcome of child custody disputes and other family law proceedings. One’s parenting skills easily can come under scrutiny during an emotionally charged time. Actions and behavior that call one’s parental judgment into question or that give rise to concerns about the child’s well-being can negatively impact the outcome of a case.
When child abuse allegations are raised in a family law proceeding, it may be necessary to seek legal support. A qualified family law attorney may help protect both a parent’s rights and the child’s best interests.
Source: CNN, “Russians meet with adoptive parents of dead boy; U.S. urges no rush to judgment,” Elise Labott, Alla Eshchenko and Marlena Baldacci, Feb. 19, 2013