A foster family in New Jersey has been alleged to have converted a child in their care to a different religion. Though this would contravene public policy in the state, it is yet unclear how the courts in New Jersey will react. A Muslim child was taken into foster care and was given a Christian name and required to attend Christian services. Though his biological parents lost their parental rights concerning the raising of the young child, these parents never consented that their child would be brought up in a different faith.
Though the United States Supreme Court has provided some guidance concerning this matter, New Jersey law is indefinite as to providing guidance concerning the rights of parents losing their children to adoption. It should also be noted that there generally is a distinction between adoption, where the parents essentially give up all parental rights, and foster care where the biological parents have not abrogated every decision.
Though much more complicated than most child custody situations, there is unfortunately no simple solution to any child custody problem. Even under the best of circumstances there could be disagreements between the biological parents and the foster parents over fundamental decisions as to the way the child should be raised.
Able legal counsel is often required to mediate such disputes and to insure that the needs of each set of parents and their children are met. In this particular circumstance, legal counsel can meet and negotiate with all parties including the biological parents, foster parents and any governmental agency involved in the process.
Too often, parents of any type take actions that are not always in the best interests of the children. It’s the duty of the courts to make it clear to these parents that their number one primary concern is to make sure that the children are well taken care under any circumstance.
Source: Daily Record, “Should children in foster care be converted?” by Dr. Aref Assaf, Nov. 1, 2011