Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dad out of prison, gets Sonya back

CNN TV's Anderson Cooper has taken up the cause of helping Magic Johnson run the Jewish owner of the NBA LA Clippers out of the league, and now he also siding with Sonya's adoptive parents:
Dickson, Tennessee (CNN) -- The last time Sonya's adoptive parents heard her voice, the girl was begging to return to the only home she'd ever known.

"What did you say, baby doll?" asks Kim Hodgin, in a recording of the phone call.

"I want to you to come and get me," responds Sonya.

She describes her biological father's home as dirty, with mold and cigarettes everywhere. The girl complains he doesn't have clean water, but says he's being nice to her.

Her adoptive father tells Sonya everything is going to be OK. "You just stay strong," says Dave Hodgin.

That call took place January 30, one day after Sonya was removed from the Hodgins' home in Tennessee.

Sonya, now 9, had been in the Hodgins' care since before she was 2, and was adopted by the family in 2008.

Before the adoption was finalized, her birth father pleaded guilty to transporting firearms -- a felony -- and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

Under Tennessee law, his parental rights were automatically terminated because state law does not allow anyone incarcerated for more than 10 years to have rights to a child under the age of 8.

However, her birth father later cut a deal using information he had about a homicide. His sentence was reduced to just 7½ years, allowing John McCaul to assert his parental rights and fight to reverse the adoption.
This seems like a simple matter to me. The natural father has done everything required of him under Tennessee law to assert his parental rights. So he should have sole custody. The Hodgins should not get any custody of visitation. They did an adoption without the consent of the father, and should have gotten legal advice about extinguishing the father's rights.

The Hodgins have permanently lost custody for several months now, but tell CNN that they are trying to get a BIOTCh hearing to determine the best interest of the child. The implication is that Sonya is better off in a home that is cleaner, and has no one with a criminal record. But it should not be up to judges to decide that.

CNN never explains Cooper's biases. He is gay, and Magic Johnson is a big gay hero. Even weirder, Cooper's mom was Gloria Vanderbilt, the subject of the most famous child custody dispute in American history. I don't know whether he has ever talked about it, but he surely has some strong personal views about child custody.

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