A parent's love is forever...until it's not.
In Idaho, a parent can legally relinquish their rights to their child, regardless of the child's age, right up until the day they turn 18.
According to Title 16 Juvenile Proceedings, Chapter 15 Adoption of Children in the Idaho State Legislature, there's no specified age limit for adoption.
On one hand, you can look at the provision like a beacon of hope for children from trouble. On the other hand, this bizarre law enables parents to absolve themselves of their parental duties on a whim. Sadly, child behavior experts agree this sort of trauma can lead a displaced child feeling abandoned, unloved, and unsure of themselves for years to come.
My friend's parents abandoned her when she was 12.
As a mother and Idaho resident of nearly 10 years, this is the most heartbreaking state law I've learned of to date. But you might say how I found out about it is even more heartbreaking.
At the age of 12, amidst her parents' painful divorce, it was decided that neither parent wanted my sweet friend. We were sitting at Panera off Franklin, spooning at our bowls of broccoli-cheddar soup and catching up, when she opened up about the experience.
Shocked, I whimpered an empathetic "I'm so sorry, honey," followed by a rather blunt "But, why?!" She responded with a simple "I dunno," and continued eating her soup. Her nonchalant delivery of the news left me speechless as I listened to her elaborate on what she knew of her parents' reasoning.
In so many words, they were two educated and financially secure adults desperate to escape a failing marriage and the responsibility of raising their daughter.
When no one in her extended family stepped forward to adopt her, she was placed into foster care until she reached adulthood. And that was that. It was legal then and it's legal now.
Do you have a story or opinion about Idaho's foster care system to share? Email them to email@example.com.
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