FASD & the Justice System

TLRB (Re), [1995] YJ No 94 (TC) (Faulkner J.); TLB (Re), [1996] YJ No 145 (Stuart J.):

Application for permanent care – child with FAS – mother murdered before hearing – father seeking custody – father not being realistic about how could cope with work and a special needs child – RR with alcohol problem and past child protection concerns – an attempt to let him parent would be dangerous and unwarranted experimentation – permanent care.

Subsequent application to terminate permanent order – father had made material changes – no concerns about alcohol – has done everything possible re anger – expert witness saying father had potential to care for child – father knows what kind of home is required, but cost concerns – this not adequate reason to deny opportunity to parent and magnitude of changes sufficient to set aside permanent order, but would need ‘trial placement’ to ensure safety of child– balance against fact that father’s ability unproven, that child has thrived in foster home and foster parents willing to adopt – on other hand staying with father will allow child to develop his identity as Aboriginal person – joint custody would be best solution but no jurisdiction –  either that or open adoption, but also no jurisdiction – safest thing is to maintain status quo.