By Sharon Chen
Click here for updates on this story
GARDNER, Kansas (KCTV, KSMO) — John and Nicole DeHaven brace for heartbreak once again.
KCTV5 has learned that a Wyandotte County judge has overturned a decision by secretary Laura Howard, head of the Kansas Department of Children and Families, that would have allowed a Gardner family to adopt 3-year-old Mena.
Mena has lived with John and Nicole DeHaven since birth.
The DeHavens had fought DCF to adopt Mena. The state wanted to reunite the girl with her siblings and move Mena with a new family to Manhattan, Kansas.
In her ruling, Judge Jane Wilson wrote that Secretary Howard’s decision was made based on limited information:
“In his testimony, Secretary Howard read court reports and some court documents and heard the DeHavens’ testimony during a state legislative session. It is the opinion of this Court that the basis of the Secretary’s decision was limited to such information.”
Of Secretary Howard’s decision to order the siblings separated based on extreme circumstance, Judge Wilson wrote:
“Unfortunately, for families involved in foster care, this is hardly an extreme circumstance in this system. Foster parents often have children in their care since birth and for extended periods of time before they are adopted by another foster resource. It’s the hard truth about foster care and adoption. But these circumstances are by no means extreme.
Wilson also said that directly placing Mena in a home separate from her siblings and in a home that, by all accounts, would cut all ties to Mena’s biological siblings was not in Mena’s best interest.
The judge ordered Mena removed from DCF custody and placed her directly into the family’s custody in western Kansas.
Nicole DeHaven told KCTV5 that she and her husband will not be seeking an appeal, as custody cases cannot be appealed in Kansas. DeHaven said they are planning to fight the sentence and are looking into the next step.
Note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same marketplace as this article’s contributor, you may not use it on any platform.