OREGON – Almost two years after a 12-year-old Calgary boy was whisked into foster care in the United States in a bizarre custody dispute, an Oregon court judge has decided he’s coming home.
Noah Kirkman will be back home in Canada in a few weeks, but there was no suggestion that anything was amiss that caused the youngster to be kept from his family for almost two years.
“Noah was happy,” said Tony Merchant, the Regina-based lawyer for the family of the boy, who will finish his school year in Oregon.
Mr. Merchant, who has been involved in the case for the last few months, said that something was truly “bizarre” in the handling of this case. But he didn’t blame the judge who led it.
“I don’t know how things went wrong before I was involved,” Mr. Merchant said. “I don’t think Judge Leonard is at fault.”
Noah also met with his grandparents Thursday night, looked at his Calgary home on Google Earth and is excited to be reunited with his parents and sister, Mr. Merchant said.
The court acknowledged that there are still transition issues, but Oregon officials have been told to work them out.
The boy, who had been caught in bureaucratic limbo since the summer of 2008, will be returning to his Canadian family in a few weeks, the judge ruled.
The legal nightmare began when Noah was vacationing with his stepfather in small-town Oregon, while his mother and younger sister remained at home in Canada.
The boy was riding his bike without a helmet when he was stopped by police, but had trouble answering questions. He has severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but maintains an A average in school. Officials checked out his background and found an open social services file in Canada, which was the result of his special needs assistance, and that he was in the U.S. without his mother, his legal guardian and deemed her note permitting care by his stepfather wasn’t enough.
Noah was taken into custody to protect his welfare, although Oregon’s Department of Human Services won’t talk about the case citing privacy rules.
Noah’s mother, Lisa, and stepfather, John, who now resides with the family in Calgary and is the father of Noah’s sister Mia, (he and his wife for a time lived in different cities) have been fighting to be reunited with Noah ever since.
Last month, Oregon’s Lane County Circuit Court Judge Kip Leonard ruled that he might be open to sending the boy back to Canada when the school year ends, but there was no guarantee.