In Re: Santiago
A court can find that intervention by the "psychological parent" is not in the best interests of a minor child. In April 2009, Melisa E., a 14-year-old orphan in Guatemala, gave birth to a baby that she gave up for adoption. An American couple, Maria and Henry, paid Melisa E.'s hospital expenses and adopted the minor child. Maria and Henry were unable to obtain a visa from the U.S. embassy. Allegedly, they paid $6,000 for a forged passport. In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security questioned whether Maria and Henry engaged in human trafficking and smuggled the minor child into the U.S. The Department of Children and Families filed a neglect petition and obtained an order of temporary custody. Maria attended a hearing and filed a motion to intervene. The Department of Children and Families ordered an intervention study and moved to cite in the biological parents. Lorena Velasquez Montero, who was Maria's attorney in Guatemala, testified that the biological mother gave Maria and Henry "acting," or temporary, custody. Maria was charged with a felony for bringing the minor child into the U.S. and with forgery, or false use of, a passport. The biological mother decided to transfer her legal rights to Maria. A psychologist recommended visitation with Maria and claimed that interactions between Maria and the minor child were extremely positive. The minor child was against visiting or returning to Maria. Intervention is permissive and not a matter of right. Courts may consider the best interests of the minor child, the intervenor's interests, the adequacy of representation by individuals who already are parties, the prejudice to parties and the value of intervention. The court found that although Maria is the psychological parent, Maria does not qualify as a parent. "Only the child, his mother, his father, and the department have direct and immediate interests at stake in this neglect proceeding," wrote the court. The minor child's biological mother can represent Maria's interests. Maria's intervention will not help to expedite a resolution and is not in the best interests of the minor child. The court denied the motion to intervene.