Anita Lumpkin, a Special Education Teacher’s Aide, is the best solution for making a stable and loving family for her grandchildren, but certain judges in Family Court — Robert Teuton and Hearing Master Thomas Kurtz in particular, with the help of Family Services and Child Protective Services—are more interested in “uniting” her grandchildren with strangers.
A Clark County Family Court has denied, for the second time, a petition from Anita Lumpkin, a grandmother seeking to adopt her three grandchildren, after she had them for two years prior to Family Services giving the kids to foster parents along with eighteen hundred dollars ($1,800) a month to support them.
The father had custody of all three children for a year and a half when attempts at unification were unsuccessful and the Department of Family Services placed the children with the paternal aunt.
Court records show during the pending of the termination of the parents’ rights, Anita filed a motion for adoption on June 7, 2013.
On July 30, 2013, Hearing Master Thomas G. Kurtz heard evidence and DFS informed the court that it conducted a background check and determined that Anita could not be a placement option if her husband was residing in the home due to his criminal history.
Anita told the court that she immediately complied with DFS’s request to have her husband removed from the home and continued to foster the children until reunification with the father failed. He had custody of all three children for a year and a half.
Kurtz stated that based on NRS 432b.550, there is a preference for placing the children with relatives within the 5th degree of consanguinity.
According to court documents, DFS requested a continuance to review the file prior to the Court making a decision.
Two months later, represented by Attorney Cuthberth Mack, Anita filed a second petition for adoption.
Anita is willing to take care of her grandchildren, but said, “Early on, the DFS came to me with the idea to let me adopt my grandchildren and they would let the parents visit them.” Anita added that she had no interest to do that in the beginning because she believed her son would be willing and able to step up to the plate and reunite with his
children. “Those are my grandchildren and I did not want to step in between my son’s responsibilities as a father. I’m never going to stop fighting for my grandbabies,” she said.
“The judges in Family Court on Bonanza and Pecos Roads are letting Family Services have their way without consideration that the maternal family also wants me to have the children,” explained Lumpkin.
It would seem to just be common sense that if a blood relative is willing and able to care for children in the foster system that the kids would be awarded to that relative.
Even Clark County, in its official policy on foster care, states,“Relatives are first sought to care for the children.” But
Judge Teuton didn’t see it that way.
Judge Robert Teuton ruled that the grandchildren should be placed with the current foster parents as in his opinion it was in the “best interest of the children.”
“If you really want to do what’s in the children’s best interest, why not give them to their family?” said Anita. In the initial court ruling against her, the Clark County justice told Anita that because her husband is a criminal, she must not be fit to raise her grandchildren.
Lumpkin reminded the Las Vegas Tribune that she immediately complied with DFS’s request to have her husband removed from the home without hesitation because her grandbabies come first.
From the very beginning Anita has been fighting to be involved with her grandchildren, although the statute clearly says the children should be placed in her custody over that of any non-related foster parents; and Anita was mandated to complete foster care certification, which she did.
Her home was approved for care and it was stated by Clark County that the grandchildren should be placed with their grandmother for permanent adoption, but Judge Teuton ruled differently. What is in dispute is whether Anita can have her wish to have sole custody of her grandchildren granted after filing a second petition for adoption.
Thus far, Judge Teuton has ruled against her. She is hoping the Nevada Supreme Court will not do the same when it hears her.