Abuse of power to sever family bonds – Research

“Davis goes on to talk about the perils of permanence – placing children “in limbo” in foster care into adoptive homes – and questions the sanity behind severing biological ties.

It’s important to note that at the time Davis was writing, a lot of research on how separation affected children had not been done, and so her analysis reflects some of those gaps, through no fault of her own.

What is astounding though, is her innate, instinctive understanding of the damage the system was, and is, doing to children, after just a few short years as a judge, and without the benefit of a body of sophisticated research to tap into.”

Researching Reform

Welcome to another week.

As we slide into our second national lockdown, we thought we would share this piece of research we came across last weekend, which is now almost 40 years old, but sadly still relevant to many of the world’s family courts today.

The research, called “Abuse of power to sever family bonds” is an extraordinary look at the changing views of a New York family court judge, Peggy Cooper Davis, on the accepted wisdom around children in care, and adoption.

Davis, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1968 (as a woman, of colour), and then went on to practice family law for a decade, before a three year stint as a family court judge in New York, reflects on the cruelty of the family court process, the many occasions she spoke to children who asked to be reunited with their birth parents, and adoption breakdowns.


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