Case Brief: Baby “Richard” by O’Connell v. Kirchner, 513 U.S. 994 (1994)
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Read the Illinois Court of Appeals, Illinois Supreme Court, and United States Supreme Court case known as the Baby Richard, which is actually cited as In re Petition of Doe, 254 Ill App 3d 405 (1993), subsequently overturned at In re Petition of Doe, 159 Ill 2d 347 (1994), and subsequently heard in the United States Supreme Court at: Baby “Richard” by O’Connell v. Kirchner, 513 U.S. 994 (1994). This case raises difficult questions about the meaning of biological parenthood and the weight that should be given to this connection. Find the case using the LexisNexis CALR database.
This assignment will require you to upload two documents, a case brief of In re Petition of Doe, 159 Ill 2d 347 (1994), and a legal memorandum. First, brief the case, uploading a legal brief using the FIRAC methodology. Next, answer the following questions using a Legal Memorandum format including the FIRAC components:
(1) Do you think Baby Richard should have been returned to his birth parents, or would you have allowed him to remain with his adoptive parents?
(2) Assuming both that the father was wrongfully deprived of his opportunity to develop a relationship with his child and that removing the child from his adoptive family would be harmful to the child, how do you go about resolving this case?
(3) What factors take precedence?
(4) Can a child’s best interest and a parent’s rights be balanced against each other in order to arrive at a solution?
Case Brief: Baby “Richard” by O’Connell v. Kirchner, 513 U.S. 994 (1994).
John and Jane Doe filed a petition to adopt a newborn baby boy, Baby Richard. During the adoption proceedings, the biological mother to the new baby, Daniella Janikova, gave consent to have the child adopted four days after birth without the biological father, Otakar Kirchner, knowing. The mother initially lied to the father that the child had died shortly after being born. When the biological father discovered that the child was alive, he filed an appeal to contest the adoption. The trial court granted the adoption by stating that the biological father was an unfit parent as per Section 1 of the Adoption Act. The trial court indicated that the biological father did not show a reasonable degree of interest in the baby within the initial 30 days of his life. The intermediate appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision. The State Supreme Court held that there was no evidence to support the finding that the biological father had not shown a reasonable degree of interest in the child. The adoptive parents filed petitions in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to stay and overturn the enforcement of the Illinois Supreme Court decision.
Was the biological father an unfit parent hence rendering the adoption proper?
The Protected Liberty interests and granting the writ of habeas corpus principle.
The petitions were based on the procedural due process theory where Baby Richard has the constitutionally protected liberty interest if remaining with his adoptive parents. The adoptive parents do have the liberty interest of maintaining their relationship with the baby. Following this theory, no writ of habeas corpus would be ordered (Justia, n.d.). However it is prudent to note that the state court did pass the adoptive parents’ claim. The underlying liberty interests within the applicants’ claim were already subject to exhaustive processing in Illinois courts leading up to the decision made by the State Supreme Court, the outcome from these proceeding was the determination that the biological father was entitled to present custody, the writ of habeas corpus proceeding from which the adoptive parents were now seeking relief was an actual execution of the previous decision made by the court which ordered the adoptive parents to surrender custody. The applications made by the adoptive parents underwent due process as per federal law and their petitions were denied.
The Supreme Court denied the adoptive parents’ petitions and called for a stay of the State court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus directing that the custody of Baby Richard be transferred to the biological father.
Justia. (n.d.). O’Connell v. Kirchner, 513 U.S. 1303 (1995). Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/513/1303/
RE: Case Questions related to O’Connell v. Kirchner, 513 U.S. 994 (1994)
1) Do you think Baby Richard should have been returned to his birth parents, or would you have allowed him to remain with his adoptive parents?
Baby Richard was brought to his adoptive home shortly after being born by Jay and Kim Warburton of Schaumburg In Illinois. The adoptive parents had pursued a private adoption with the consent of the child’s biological mother, Daniela Janikova, alone. The biological father, Otakar Kirchner, was not aware of the adoption proceedings happening at the time. It is only after a friend of the biological mother told him the truth that he intervened in the adoption process seeking custody of the child.
Birth Parent Rights
As the biological parents, both the father and mother had the right to make decisions that relate to the child’s care, choosing whether to keep the baby or put them up for adoption. The termination of birth rights requires both parents to legally consent to the adoption process (Justia, 2021). Thus, if both parents had legally consented to Baby Richard being adopted, then he would have stayed with the adoptive parents. Nevertheless, the circumstances in this case was that the father was not aware of these adoption proceedings meaning he .was denied his legally awarded parent rights given for the biological father,m
Baby Richard needs to be returned to his birth parents as they do have legal custody over the child. The adoption needed to have been legally consented by both parents since the two had the capacity to do so.
2) Assuming both that the father was wrongfully deprived of his opportunity to develop a relationship with his child and that removing the child from his adoptive family would be harmful to the child, how do you go about resolving this case?
The biological father to Baby Richard was wrongfully deprived of the opportunity of developing a relationship with the baby. However, removing the child from the adoptive family will be harmful to the baby.
Involuntary Termination of Birth Parents Rights
There are cases where birth parents’ rights could be terminated involuntarily because particular conditions are met (Findlaw, 2016). The best interests of the child are given priority hence determine whether the biological parent will have a relationship with the child. In this case, the biological father will have their parental rights involuntarily terminated due to the possible harm that the child is more likely to suffer.
It would be recommended that the adoptive parents remain in the custody of the child with the biological father being given some hours of interaction with the child under supervision to ensure that the child is never harmed.
(3) What factors take precedence?
The child’s interests take precedence when it comes to determining if a child gets to stay with their biological or adoptive parents. The biological parents’ rights and adoption parent’s rights are determined depending on how best they could uphold the Child’s interest.
The Child Rights
The interests of the child take precedence in all circumstances. The parents that will get custody are those that are able to best provide these interests and end up getting custody of the child. Thuis, it is possible for the biological parent’s rights to be denied custody of the child if it is proven that the child will be at potential harm if the child were to remain with them, the biological parents will need to be aware of the legal adoption proceedings happening.
The child’s interests and the ability of parents to uphold them determines who ends uo gaining custody of the child.
(4) Can a child’s best interest and a parent’s rights be balanced against each other in order to arrive at a solution
Rule: Balancing the child’s interests and parents’ rights.
It is not possible for the child’s best interests and parents’ rights to be balanced. Parents need to show their capability of showing that they will uphold the child’s best interests. This capability will demonstrate whether they could exercise their rights. The child’s best interest needs to be at the forefront when deciding on their lives. Trying to balance their interest with the parents’ rights will only jeopardize upholding the child’s best interests.
Findlaw. (2016, April 4). Birth parent rights. Retrieved from https://www.findlaw.com/family/adoption/birth-parent-rights.html
Justia. (2021, October 18). Adoption information for biological parents. Retrieved from https://www.justia.com/family/adoptions/biological-parents/