Despite being a “a licensed foster parent with expertise caring for higher-needs children, and an experienced social worker steeped in supporting kids who’ve been separated from their parents,” Boone has been unable to adopt her two young nephews.
Since 2020, the six and seven-year-old boys have lived in four separate foster homes in Minnesota. Currently, they reside with a white woman, who has no relation to the family.
Civil rights leaders and Boone both suspect that systemic racial bias within both the state courts and Kandiyohi County child welfare agency is at play.
Minnesota chapter president of the NAACP Cynthia Wilson said, “When there’s a family member that’s able, with all of the tangibles that Ashley has, it’s kind of a no-brainer.” “When you have someone who has all of the things that are being requested, and then you’re still giving them a problem, something else is going on,” continued Wilson.
Boone spoke with the Sahan Journal about her nearly three-year-long struggle to reunite her family. “When they get older, they’re going to wonder why family didn’t want them,” Boone said, adding, “It’s not for lack of us trying…We’re fighting so hard for them.”
Earlier this year, it finally seemed like the wheels of justice were turning in Boone’s favor. “The Minnesota Department of Human Services voided the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services’ plan for a foster-parent adoption.”
In addition, state officials were extremely critical of the agency, even going so far as to mention a “minimization of the importance of relatives and cultural concerns that the bi-racial children are not with relatives and placed in a non-relative, Caucasian home.”
But that brief glimmer of hope was soon abolished. Of note, the two children were removed from their parents’ home because of “extreme neglect” allegations in 2020. Because of that, Boone’s lawyer Kelli Thiel says she’s has been facing down “a pervasive notion that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
The white foster parent is trying to argue that their bid for adoption should be accepted due to the fact that the two boys are “too attached to be separated from her.” But it’s a quagmire of sorts: the longer the case continues, there is more time for the bond to increase.
Deena McMahon was brought on as an expert witness for the foster parent. Unusually, she only reviewed files instead of directly observing the children with each prospective caregiver in this case. McMahon used the attachment theory and her perceptions of Boone that she gleaned from observing her at court in making her recommendation.
Apparently McMahon took issue with the fact that Boone allegedly rolled her eyes once during a hearing. McMahon also relayed to The Imprint that “She was disrespectful, she was bored. Her whole demeanor was less than invested.”
As the legal saga continued, Judge Hanson ruled to cancel the adoption agreement between Boone and the child welfare agency. Even worse, the judge also ordered to temporarily halt her visits with her nephews.
This isn’t the first Black family to be kept separated by the Minnesota courts. There are numerous situations where “white foster parents [are] being chosen to care for children of color over their Black relatives.”
Now, Boone and her attorney are bringing the case before the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Boone is not going to allow these setbacks to cause her to give up. “Not having my nephews,” she stated, “I think about it every single day.”