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Adoption of Odetta (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-068-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   14-P-211                                        Appeals Court   ADOPTION OF ODETTA.[1] No.  14-P-211. Bristol.     April 9, 2015. – June 26, 2015.     Present:  Grainger, Rubin, & Blake, JJ. Adoption, Visitation rights. Parent and Child, Adoption. Minor, Adoption, Visitation rights.       Petition filed in the Bristol County Division of the Juvenile Court Department on March 30, 2009.   The case was heard by Robert F. Murray, J.     Afton M. Templin (Belle Soloway with her) for the father. William Cuttle, Assistant Attorney General, for Department of Children and Families. David Jonathan Cohen for the child.      BLAKE, J.  In a case of first impression, we determine that under the limited circumstances present in this case, it is in the best interests of the child to enjoy postadoption visitation with a relative who is neither a de facto parent, sibling, or grandparent. The father and the mother were the unmarried parents of Odetta, born in September, 2005.  The father and the mother separated when Odetta was an infant.  While Odetta lived with her mother, the father and his brother (the paternal uncle) assisted in raising her, including attending doctor appointments.  The father and the mother did not have a formal parenting schedule, but Odetta spent time with her father and his wife, as well as with the paternal uncle and his family.  Odetta also spent time with the mother’s extended family. In March, 2009, the mother was found strangled to death.  Three days later, the father was charged with and ultimately convicted of her murder.[2]  The Department of Children and Families (department) placed Odetta with her maternal aunt and uncle.  It then sought to terminate the father’s rights and place Odetta for adoption with her maternal aunt and uncle.  Initially, the father filed a guardianship petition requesting that the paternal uncle be appointed Odetta’s guardian.  Thereafter, the paternal uncle, a Muslim, petitioned for guardianship of Odetta.[3] Following a lengthy trial over multiple days, a judge of the Juvenile Court terminated the father’s parental rights, approved the department’s plan for placement of Odetta, and ordered monthly visitation between the paternal uncle and Odetta.  The visitation order was largely based on a determination that Odetta’s best interests will be served by allowing “her to have some contact with her father’s family, the tenets and practices of Islam which are part of her family heritage and […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 26, 2015 at 8:32 pm

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