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‘She’s so happy’: Birth parents plead for toddler to stay with foster family
The birth parents of a Metis toddler who’s being uprooted to live with her siblings across Canada are pleading with social workers to leave their daughter with the foster family she’s known her whole life.
B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development thinks the two-year-old girl, who can only be identified by the initials S.S., would be best served growing up with her sisters in Ontario.
Her biological parents, who can’t be named either, told CTV News they understand where the government is coming from, but they believe the move would be traumatic because their daughter has been living with the same couple since she was born.
“She does have two sisters there but she’s never met them, they’ve never met her and [S.S.] has been in the foster home now for two years,” the girl’s father said.
“To take our daughter away from that now… I think that’s going to be more traumatic and hurt her more, mentally and emotionally, than anything else.”
The birth parents are also concerned that the Ontario family isn’t Metis, while S.S.’s foster mother is.
“The foster parents are amazing. They’re wonderful people,” the birth father added. “I wish they were my own parents in some ways.”
The couple lives on Vancouver Island, as do the foster parents, and they believe keeping the daughter in B.C. would give them a better chance to have a relationship with her.
“We love our daughter very, very much. And she needs to stay here. She needs to stay where her home is,” her father said. "She's so happy."
The Ministry of Children told CTV News it can’t comment on specific cases, but said it always looks out for the best interests of kids in its care.
It acknowledged the Adoption Act states preference should be given to putting First Nations children in First Nations homes, but noted it can pursue other options with approval from a committee that includes First Nations representatives.
The Metis Commission for Children and Families is represented on that committee, and said it supports the plan to move the little girl to Ontario.
“A cultural plan has been worked on for several months to ensure that the Metis community remains involved in this child’s life,” it said in an email statement.
But the organization also said it wishes the ministry had acted sooner, and called on the province to “put measures in place to ensure that these placements are completed in a more timely manner.”
The B.C. Metis Federation, meanwhile, is fully opposed to the move, and said it wants to see the girl stay.
S.S.’s foster parents are petitioning B.C. Supreme Court this week to allow them to adopt the child, arguing the little girl has already formed a strong emotional bond with them.
The government is fighting the bid, arguing it’s an abuse of the court process because another judge already sided with the ministry last year.
The foster family’s lawyer, Jack Hittrich, said the new petition must be considered because it includes an unheard argument over S.S.’s constitutional rights.
The Metis Federation of B.C. has also applied to intervene in the new case, but the application has yet to be approved or rejected.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Mi-Jung Lee