Kathleen Parker

The custody case has dragged on so long that E has bonded with the Cubases, who have a home in upscale Coral Cables, a swimming pool and a boat. Life is good, and few dispute that the Cubases have offered a stable, nurturing home to the two children.

By contrast, E's father, Rafael Izquierdo, is a poor farmer who lives with his common-law wife and another child in rural, central Cuba. He is generally regarded as hardworking, though as Cohen wrote in her ruling, he is a "somewhat passive and unsophisticated individual who approaches life in very simplistic and concrete terms."

Projecting our own values, it's easy to imagine that E would be materially better off in America. We'd all prefer to live among prosperity in a free country than in relative poverty under a communist dictatorship.

But that's not the point. We don't disenfranchise parents or deny children their natural parents, assuming they're fit, based on politics, income or material goods.

In fact, Cohen ruled last month that Izquierdo is a fit father and that E should go home with him. But child welfare officials want to keep her here and have spent $250,000 to that end, by The Miami Herald's estimate.

On Monday, state attorneys filed a notice of appeal to try to overturn Cohen's ruling, claiming that E's removal from the Cubases would be damaging to her.

Separating E from her foster family now may indeed cause emotional trauma for all involved. But it's hard to imagine under what circumstances a child would be given to foster parents over a fit biological parent who wants to raise her.

The sad truth is that E should have been put on a plane back to Cuba as soon as her mother was determined unfit.

E had a father then. She has one now.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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