July 16, 2014

Wichita foster parents’ bid to stop transfer denied; girl could go Thursday to North Carolina

A girl raised by a Wichita foster family for more than two years will likely join her sisters in North Carolina on Thursday.

A girl raised by a Wichita foster family for more than two years will likely join her sisters in North Carolina on Thursday.

A Sedgwick County juvenile court judge denied the foster family’s request, filed this week, to issue an order temporarily stopping the transfer to members of the girl’s extended biological family who are adopting her.

The foster family, Lance and Andrea Dixon, had raised the toddler since she was 2 days old, their attorney, Richard Macias, said.

Motions that the couple filed to ask the judge to reconsider are still on file, and there might be further hearings. But Judge Robb Rumsey, at a hearing on Wednesday, denied Macias’ request to issue a temporary stay. He didn’t ruled on the other motions.

The judge’s decision means the girl will likely be sent to her North Carolina family on Thursday, said Daniel Radford, an attorney for the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Macias, with Andrea and Lance Dixon beside him, told Rumsey in court on Wednesday that his clients “didn’t get a fair assessment” from the state. And, he said, the Dixons had raised the child her entire life, 32 months. Parting will cause harm, he said.

But Radford disagreed that the Dixons hadn’t received a fair assessment from the state. And no one, including Macias, raised any objections about the family the child is likely going to on Thursday.

Her great-uncle, a 39-year-old research scientist for a pharmaceuticals company, has signed papers to set in motion an adoption of her, state officials said. He had adopted her three sisters a year ago.

At the request of the great-uncle, his name is not being used to protect the children’s identities.

The state took custody of the four oldest children in September 2011 and of the girl when she was born two months later, citing extreme neglect. The mother and father gave up parental rights to all five children in July 2012. The extended family adopted four of the children, but the toddler became the subject of a custody dispute.

The case was complicated in part because the Kansas Department for Children and Families was conducting an internal investigation of its Wichita regional office as well as of a nonprofit headed by the foster mother, Andrea Dixon of FaithBuilders.

Race became a topic in the trial because the Dixons are white; the girl, her siblings and biological family are black. Representatives of Wichita’s NAACP attended the hearing on Wednesday.

Macias said after the hearing on Wednesday that the Dixons hope for the best for the child and wish her well. He would not say whether they would press forward with hearings.

Contributing: Rick Plumlee of The Eagle

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