Family Law

80-Plus = Too Old to Raise Grandchild?

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A Philadelphia couple, aged 85 and 89, have at least temporarily lost custody of their 5-year-old grandson, whom they had cared for since his birth, apparently because a family court judge considered them too old to handle the hyperactive boy.

Although the city’s Department of Human Services recommended that the boy stay with his grandparents, who took him in for lengthy periods throughout his life after he was born prematurely to their mentally ill son and a crack-addicted prostitute, the judge apparently found more persuasive the grandparents’ inability, after a two-hour wait, to keep him from running around the courtroom, reports Reuters. Hence, DHS had to comply with the judge’s order and remove the boy to a foster home last month.

The Brasovankins admittedly couldn’t run after Steven and corral him in the courtroom, so their lawyer had to do so, says the Philadelphia Daily News. Likewise, they can’t lift him into a swing, at the park, or a shopping cart, and rely on help from kind strangers. But they love him and he loves them, the grandparents point out.

A court-appointed advocate for Steven Brasovankin pushed for a foster placement for him. She did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment, but Marc Collazzo, a lawyer for his grandparents, said Judge Ann Butchart didn’t give a reason for her decision but apparently accepted the advocate’s argument that Steven’s grandparents, as the news agency puts it, “were simply too old to care for a young child who has special needs and who might have to be moved if one of them becomes ill or dies.”

A hearing is scheduled next week on whether Steven’s removal to foster care will be permanent. Meanwhile, his grandparents reportedly are allowed to visit him for one hour per month.

“The more I think about this situation, the angrier I get,” his grandmother, Mildred Brasovankin, tells Reuters. “Look at the trauma they have placed on that child.”

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