Gratitude & Pride: Reflections on My Career Choice

Gratitude & Pride: Reflections on My Career Choice by Joshua Katz

{4:30 minutes to read} March 25, 2016, was a typical, average day, but it was significant for me. It was one of those rare days that confirmed that I love what I do.

I was in court handling three (3) cases where the court had to determine the best interests of three (3) very distinct children. Despite the very challenging and heart-rending circumstances to which I am privy on a daily basis, I am proud when my job makes a difference in the world — as a child advocate.

In this line of work, there are often no clearly defined “right answers.” Regardless of a case’s complexity, the child’s wellbeing is paramount. On March 25, 2016, I felt great about my career choice.

Case 1: Kidnapping and Re-connection

Twelve years ago, a mother in Peru forged government documents, kidnapped, and absconded with her infant daughter.

The father was bereft and without any information as to the whereabouts of his daughter. He spent more than 10 years desperately searching and never gave up. Interpol issued an international arrest warrant. Finally, a private investigator located the child. She was 11 years old and living in New York.

It is at this the point where the father retained me. Not to bring his daughter back home to Peru, not to arrest the mother, but to seek visitation and attempt to establish a relationship with his daughter.   

After an arduous and lengthy ordeal, the case culminated March 25, 2016, when my client arrived in New York and addressed the judge, in person, for the first time. He thanked the court, and the court thanked him for his perseverance and refusal to give up the search for his daughter.

The court ruled that this 13-year-old girl would determine the extent to which she pursues a relationship with her father after one therapeutic session.

After court, under the supervision of a trained therapist, my client was reunited with his daughter that afternoon. My client called me that night, extremely pleased, and shared with me that the visit went very well.

Case 2: Uncertainty with Private Adoption

This private adoption case seemed straightforward.

A couple from New Jersey adopted a baby and began to assume the role of parents. By statute, the birth mother, from New York, had 30 days to cancel her consent to the adoption.

On day 30, in the final moments, the birth mother canceled her consent and asked the court to return her baby.

On March 25, 2016, the court held a hearing to determine custody between the birth mother, who carried the baby for nine months, and the adoptive parents — who had bonded, nurtured, and cared for the baby since birth.

There is no preference under the law; the court examines what is in the best interest of the child given the totality of the circumstances. The decision, in this case, is still pending.  

Case 3: A Child’s Right to Choose

Eight years ago, a young boy was removed from his mother’s care by ACS (Administration for Children’s Services) and was entered into the foster care system. At the time, the biological father could not be located.

As a result, his parental rights were terminated in absentia.

Ultimately, the foster family adopted the boy.

Recently, the boy — a very troubled 14-year-old — ran away from his adoptive family and located his biological father (something ACS couldn’t do). The boy was determined to live with his father, who retained me to get custody of his son. For various reasons, the adoptive parents came to agree that the best interest of this boy is that he is reunited with his biological father. On March 25, 2016, they consented to my client’s petition.  

Complex and heartbreaking, these cases demonstrate the difficulties of analyzing the best interests of children. I am thankful to have a career that affords me the privilege to make a difference.

Plaine & Katz, LLP
80-02 Kew Gardens Rd.
Suite # 1050
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

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