[caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”250″ caption=”12-year old Noah Kirkman”][/caption] Since it’s Mother’s Day, I thought I’d add a few details to what I’ve already written about Noah Kirkman and his mom, Lisa. Noah is the 12-year-old Canadian boy who went to Oregon two years ago to spend some time over the summer with his stepfather, John Kirkman. John and Lisa are married and have a daughter together. Noah is Lisa’s son with another man who’s been out of the picture since Noah was two.
John has been Noah’s only father since then. While in Oregon, the police picked up Noah for things like riding his bicycle without a helmet and eventually placed him in foster care. He’s been there ever since – four different families in two years. Why are Oregon authorities holding Noah in foster care? What form of abuse or neglect did he suffer at the hands of John and Lisa? None whatsoever. You read that right – none whatsoever. Noah has been diagnosed with ADHD, and so he has a file with Canadian child welfare authorities, but there’s never been an allegation of abuse or neglect. One remarkable conclusion by Oregon judge Kip Leonard and Oregon DHS was that John Kirkman lacked parental authority over Noah. He’s been the boy’s only father for 10 years and he’s married to Noah’s mother, but somehow that counts for naught with the powers that be in Oregon. And because John had no “parental authority,” that meant Lisa had “abandoned” Noah in Oregon. I know; you think I’m making that up, but really and truly, it’s what happened. This article gives us a few more interesting facts about the arrogance and overreaching by Judge Leonard and the State of Oregon (Salem News, 5/9/10). It’s the best article I’ve read to date on the case. Consider this:
Lisa hasn”t seen her son since July, 2009, and the family is only permitted one 15-minute supervised call with Noah every two weeks during which they are not allowed to say anything to Noah about coming home or how much they miss him. When they have, their calls have been cut off. “It is literally easier to visit someone in prison, than to schedule a phone call so that he can speak to his sister on the phone,’ his aunt said.
Everything his mother and family send to him is screened by DHS, and they do not know how much of it he receives.
Though Noah is computer literate, his foster parents do not make one available to him, so he also doesn”t have access to email.
Lisa was mandated by the Lane County Judge (Leonard) to participate in Home Studies, parenting classes, and months of therapy, and when those things were completed, the Judge”s response was, “This is not a checklist. I’ll decide when he gets to go home.”
All of which raises the question “Is Noah in foster care or prison?” As his aunt points out, it’s easier to contact an incarcerated felon than it is for Noah’s own mother to speak to her son. As I said, this is not the first time I’ve written about Noah, Lisa and John Kirkman. I wanted to give readers a link to the new article because it gives a better sense than anything I’ve read on the case of the arbitrary power wielded by child welfare authorities and judges in juvenile proceedings. Let me be clear; the State of Oregon kidnapped Noah Kirkman. It has done so with complete impunity. Let no one believe that this situation is unique. It may be worse than most cases, but more and more, states are reaching into families, substituting their own decisions for those of parents and taking children from them. Of course sometimes that’s appropriate; sometimes it’s necessary. But what Lisa Kirkman can tell us on this Mother’s Day is that there’s no brake on state power to take children from parents. Once the decision is made, parents, even good ones like John and Lisa have little recourse. Listen.
“I have been investigated by Canadian social services and found to be a good parent who provides a good home to her children and they have no concerns, so they closed my file. I’ve never lost custody of my daughter, who is 7,’ Lisa Kirkman said. “None of my family has been criminally charged with anything and their big complaint against me is that I “abandoned my son in Oregon” and left him with someone who technically, has no ‘parental authority,’ namely my husband, the only father has ever known.” By these standards, parents “abandon” their children when they send them to summer camp, as no person there would have legal “parental authority.”
Friends and gentle readers, make no mistake; if it can happen to the Kirkmans, it can happen to you.