What are the issues?
Many children who find themselves in adoptive situations are statistically more prone to developmental issues and mental health concerns. Such stakes put these children at risk for abandonment, neglect, and abuse. Left untreated in foster care, these conditions can worsen.
Contrary to the best interests of both children and parents, courts often punish divorced or single parents with mental illness by restricting or taking away custody of their children without encouraging or providing space for treatment and recovery.
Why are they important?
As the most vulnerable members of society, we have an obligation to protect our children. The state has a duty to see that children in its care are receiving the treatment they need. Adoption is a wonderful opportunity to end cycles of neglect and facilitate the transition to a life of healing, but we must ensure that adoptive families are fully equipped to care for adopted children to avoid further harm.
We must also seek to reinforce the bond between children and their parents. Discriminatory child custody agreements may reinforce negative relationships. Rather than breaking up families, courts seek to enforce the “best interests of the child” legal standard, which includes a healthy relationship with their parents.
How does iustitia advocate and educate on these issues?
iustitia encourages regular access to mental health care services for youths in foster care. Through litigation and advocacy, iustitia seeks adequate training and preparation to equip adoptive parents to competently handle worst case scenarios involving their child’s mental and developmental health and any consequential behavioral issues. iustitia encourages stronger post-adoption services regarding mental health and behavioral issues to prevent disrupted adoptions. Better regulated tracking of cases post-adoption is vital to protecting adopted children with mental health conditions from dangerous situations.
Children with mental illness and intellectual disabilities are not the only ones stigmatized in family law proceedings. Parents with mental illness are often discriminated against in adoption and custody proceedings. Through its litigation, iustitia seeks to encourage treatment and recovery for parents, rather than punishment, so that they may foster loving and caring relationships with their children.
- Wisconsin passes “Adoption Protection Package” legislation, requires registration of adoptions and increases pre-adoption training requirements, among others.
- Progress seen as rapid growth ceases of antipsychotic medications prescriptions to children living in foster care and poverty.
- United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health reports on the right of adolescents to the enjoyment of the the highest attainable standard of mental health care.
Mental Health Service Provider(s):
Read more about related issues on our blog.