Utah Judge Rescinds Order Demanding Foster Child be taken away from Lesbian Couple

By Cheri Cheng - 13 Nov '15 14:39PM

The Utah judge who received backlash for taking away a foster child from a lesbian couple has rescinded his decision via a signed order that was released on Friday.

Judge Scott Johansen had concluded in court Tuesday that the nine-month-old baby had to be removed from the home of April M. Hoagland, 38, and Rebecca A. Peirce, 34, and into a home with a heterosexual couple.

"We are shattered," Hoagland had said to KUTV. "It hurts me really badly because I haven't done anything wrong."

In the judge's initial decision, he stated that children perform better when raised in a heterosexual household based on research. The ruling had read, "The Court orders the Division to place the child with a duly married, heterosexual foster-adoptive couple within one week. The Division's motion to stay the execution of this order until the best interest hearing is held is denied."

Hoagland and Pierce, who reside in Price, filed court challenges immediately after the decision. Although the decision has been rescinded and the content of the ruling changed, the baby girl's future with the couple, who has been caring for her since August, is still unknown. The judge has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 4 in order to decide what will be best for the baby.

"We are relieved that he judge vacated that part of the order that would have forced us to remove the child on Tuesday," Ashley Sumner, the spokeswoman for Utah's Division of Child and Family Services, said reported by the Washington Post. "This has bought us some time, and we'll see what happens Dec. 4 at a best interest hearing."

She added, "We want to keep children stable in their homes. Our position is that it's in the child's best interest to stay with the foster family."

After the initial ruling, the judge was heavily criticized.

"Removing a child from a loving home simply because the parents are LGBT is outrageous, shocking, and unjust," Human Rights Commission President Chad Griffin said. "It also flies in the face of overwhelming evidence that children being raised by same-sex parents are just as healthy and well-adjusted as those with different-sex parents. At a time when so many children in foster care need loving homes, it is sickening to think that a child would be taken away from caring parents who planned to adopt."

The American Psychological Association (APA) has previously concluded that there is no scientific evidence suggesting that heterosexual couples are better parents than gay couples.

Hoagland and Peirce are just one of several same-sex married couples who were allowed to become foster parents within the state after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all gay marriages across the nation will be legal.

The couple, who has been married for more than a year, had passed home and background checks, inspections and interviews before being approved. The couple is currently raising Peirce's two biological children.

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