ANNAPOLIS – In court papers, he’s called “M.C.,” a 13-year- old boy in search of a family to call his own.
When he was 6 years old, Anne Arundel County officials took M.C. and four siblings from his biological mother’s home and placed them in four different foster homes. But in 1990, the county juvenile court decided that the children needed a more permanent placement and ruled that they would be available for adoption. According to the social services report submitted to the court, “The first priority will be a home for all of the children together.”
A year later, a Port Deposit couple known as the “C.s” in court documents opened their home to four of the five siblings. In 1993, their adoption was finalized.
But the story does not end happily there.
In 1996, the Circuit Court for Cecil County terminated the C.s’ parental rights over M.C., because of what court records term “serious mistreatment.”
M.C., while he doesn’t want to live with the C.s, wants to keep them as his legal parents to maintain ties to his three siblings.
The story took another twist Friday when the Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued an opinion sending the boy’s plea to vacate the termination ruling back to Cecil County’s Circuit Court.
After the adoption, M.C. had problems adjusting to his new family, according to briefs in the case. The C.s struggled to maintain the stability of their home.
But in 1994, Cecil County’s Department of Social Services removed M.C. from the C.s’ home and placed him in shelter care. According to court papers: “Evidence presented to juvenile court showed serious mistreatment of M.C. by the C.s – including forcing him to eat cat food as a method of discipline.”
The Cecil County Foster Care Review Board recommended that the C.s’ parental rights to M.C. be terminated. The board also recommended that the C.s be “followed closely by Protective Services,” for the board had “grave reservations about the ability of these adoptive parents to care for any children.”
However, M.C.’s three siblings still live with the C.s. For several months after his removal from their home, M.C. visited on a regular basis. But, according to court records, in 1995, “the C.s ceased cooperating with visitation between M.C. and his siblings.”
When the circuit court granted social services’ petition for termination of parental rights, neither M.C. nor his court- appointed Child Advocacy Group lawyer was notified. Nor was there a hearing.
The appeals court based its decision on that failure to notify. The unsigned opinion sent the case back to the lower court “so that [M.C.] will have an opportunity to oppose the Department of Social Services’ petition.”
Social services terminated the C.s’ rights, in part, so that M.C. could be freed up for another adoption and could “carry on with his life.” But M.C. has no desire to be adopted again.
Pending his circuit court hearing, M.C. is under the legal guardianship of the Cecil County Department of Social Services, which has placed him in the foster home of the “M.s.”
As stated in court papers: “M.C. is reportedly functioning well in that loving stable home. According to his counsel, he does not presently want to be adopted by the M.s. “However, his counsel stated that he might change his mind in the future.” -30-