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Noah Kirkman Before Court

April 9, 2010 permalink

According to the Calgary Sun, today a court was scheduled to hear the case of Noah Kirkman, an Alberta boy held in Oregon for two years. No word yet on the outcome.



Battle over foster child hits court

Noah Kirkman

Noah Kirkman turned 12 nearly two weeks ago.

The last time he slept in his own bed, back home in Calgary, he was ten.

If it started as a holiday, the boy’s trip to Oregon, it’s now become a two-year-long nightmare, rife with red tape.

And the strange case of Noah Kirkman is on the verge of becoming an international incident.

On Friday, a judge in Oregon will determine what to do with the Canadian child seized by the State of Oregon and placed in foster care, despite having a mother and family in Calgary desperate to get him back.

“We’re hoping the judge will back out of his position, but there’s also a chance he will say ‘screw you,’” said Lisa Kirkman, Noah’s 34-year-old mother.

Waiting on the sidelines, ready to throw the official weight of Canada’s federal government behind the Kirkman cause, is Calgary West MP Rob Anders.

Anders says he is ready to head south, with a tentative travel date of April 19, to collect Noah and bring him home to his family, depending on what the judge decides this week.

“We want the judge to see fit in his own good wisdom, that Noah should return home,” said Anders.

“We’re waiting to hear what the judge decides, and we don’t want to do anything that may jeopardize Noah’s case.”

Anders is all about diplomacy — but his involvement, as a sitting member of the ruling federal government, is a massive development in a case that’s dragged on, under the public radar, for nearly two years.

Noah’s family calls Oregon’s refusal to release Noah an abduction — but that word makes the case sound calculated, sly and sinister.

Really, it has a lot more to do with heavy-handed court orders and a stubborn bureaucracy run amok.

In the eyes of that state’s child welfare office, Lisa Kirkman is an unfit parent, or at least a mom too sketchy to trust with the child she raised and nurtured until September 2008.

That’s when authorities in Oakridge, Oregon took Noah into custody, after police found him riding in their town without a bike helmet.

Noah, a straight-A student who suffers from severe attention deficit disorder, struggled to explain who he was, and that he was on holiday in Oregon with his younger sister, staying with their non-legal stepdad.

The confusion led officers to run the boy’s name through the system, where they discovered his past history with Canadian social services, the result of Lisa seeking help with her son’s special needs.

The social service system doesn’t differentiate between parents seeking help with unique children, and parents forced into the system through abuse and neglect of their kids.

Hence, with no legal guardian and a suspicious background, authorities in Oregon took Noah and placed him in foster care.

A simple misunderstanding, in other words, with the boy’s best interests in mind. But untangling the red tape that snagged Noah has proved impossible.

Lisa’s own past is the major hurdle: She’s has a criminal record in Canada.

An outspoken marijuana crusader and pro-pot journalist, she was busted years ago for growing medical marijuana without a permit.

As a result, the court has forced her to undergo psychiatric evaluations, and parenting tests. Most telling of all, the court says she must swear off drugs before Noah can come home.

Though authorities in Oregon refuse to discuss the case with reporters, it’s clear Lisa is the reason Noah can’t escape the foster care system, which could ultimately lead to his permanent adoption in the U.S.

Thus, his Calgary grandparents have stepped forward, offering to care for Noah in Lisa’s stead, if only to get him back in Canada with the family who loves him.

Those grandparents, both working professionals, have undergone a complete assessment of their home and lives, to prove to Oregon that the Canadian child is headed to a good place — but the wait continues.

For Lisa, who last saw her son in July 2009, she’s afraid to even feel optimism over Friday’s hearing and the involvement of a federal Member of Parliament.

“I get my hopes up, and get all excited, and then something else goes wrong — I feel like a wound up spring.”

Source: Calgary Sun

Addendum: Result of the hearing:

Well, the results of the Disposition Review Hearing are in and they are... nothing's changed whatsoever. In fact, now the judge is saying he won't even consider sending Noah home before the school year's over, because it would "disturb" him too much. Like being held in a foreign country's foster care system for two years isn't disturbing enough.