A Métis toddler living on Vancouver Island is caught up in a bitter legal fight between her foster parents and B.C.’s child protective services over her future — and the future of other foster children like her.
The Métis foster couple are fighting to adopt the 27-month-old girl they have raised since infancy.
But the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) plans to remove the child and settle her in Ontario with a non-Métis couple that is already raising her two siblings, who she has never met.
“A child’s best interest must be the first and foremost consideration in permanency planning,” the ministry said in a press release Monday, but could make no further comment on the specific case for privacy reasons.
Foster parents ‘legal strangers’
The couple’s lawyer argued in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday to allow the girl to stay with her Métis foster family until the court considers a constitutional challenge revolving around the rights of foster children.
“The province is arguing that they are legal strangers. They are only paid caregivers. That is actually nonsense. These are de facto parents,” said Jack Hittrich, who represents the couple.
They are launching the legal challenge because they believe this child’s “best interests” should be determined in an open court by a judge, not by MCFD in closed-door meeting, said Hittrich.
“This little girl wakes up every morning and says ‘Hi Mommy! Hi Daddy!’ to the foster parents. These are the foster parents that she has bonded with all her life,” said Hittrich.
“[This is] a situation where foster children are deprived of their fundamental constitutional rights to have their best interests considered … and that’s a travesty,” he added.
‘She feels like our daughter’
The Métis foster couple who actually raised the girl — referred to as S.S — cannot be identified under court order.