CARBON COUNTY – A Utah couple Beckie Peirce, 34, and her wife April Hoagland, 38, were married last year and decided that becoming foster parents was a great way to not only give back to the community, but also begin to expand their family of four.
Earlier this year the state of Utah officially licensed them as foster parents and Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) placed a one-year-old girl into their home, joining their two biological children.
On Wednesday, November 11, Utah 7th District Court Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen ordered that the infant be removed from their home because he felt the child would fare better in a heterosexual environment.
The judge told the courtroom that his decision was based on research stating that children do better in heterosexual homes, although when pressed by attorneys, he did not provide documentation to back that assertion up.
Hoagland talked to local television station KUTV, “I was kind of caught off guard because I didn’t think anything like that would happen anymore…It’s not fair, and it’s not right, and it hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Although no court order has been made public as of this writing, The Salt Lake Tribune was able to contact a court spokesperson and verify that the order had indeed been made.
Peirce and Hoagland are hoping to adopt the little girl, but now it seems as though a legal battle will have to take place.
"We have a lot of support," Peirce said. "DCFS wants us to have the child, the Guardian Ad Litem wants us to have the child, the mother wants us to have the child, so the only thing standing in the way is the judge."
DCFS is looking into the case and says they might appeal the order if they find that it is not best for the child to be without the couple.
However, in accordance with the judgment, DCFS has seven days to find another home for the child and is currently making those arrangements until a further assessment can be made.
Judge Johansen is known for his extreme court orders. In the past he has slapped a teenager appearing before him for being disruptive, ordered that a mother cut her daughter’s ponytail off as punishment in lieu of 150 hours of community service.
Peirce and Hoagland are heartbroken and confused as to why judge Johansen ruled to remove their foster daughter.
"We love her and she loves us, and we haven't done anything wrong," Beckie Peirce said Wednesday. "And the law, as I understand it, reads that any legally married couple can foster and adopt."
Timothy Rawles is Community Editor of SDGLN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @reporter66 on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.