White Foster Family Gets Custody of African American Sisters, Not Biological Grandparents

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The Supreme Court in Minnesota ruled that two young African American sisters be raised by white foster parents instead of their biological grandparents who fought to have custody of them for three years.

Steven and Liv Grosser, from Plymouth, have been caring for the girls ever since they were born. Authorities put the sisters in their care after they both tested positive for cocaine when they were born. 

Because they ingested the drug while they were still in the womb, they suffer from developmental difficulties. The court believes the Grossers can provide a better environment for them.

Princess and Dorothy Knox, ages three and two, respectively, are the granddaughters of Dorothy and Lawrence Dunning. 

They decided to fight for the girls in court, saying that their blood relations, love and heritage should be considered.

Laws indicate that race can not be a factor in adoptions but they do require that a child's "cultural needs" be considered.

Wright Walling, the Grosser's attorney, said that they were not certain what "culture" meant.

"From my perspective, it was never about race, except to the extent that their race and culture is who these children are," he said. "But what does culture mean? My clients living in the suburbs? My clients being white? Mrs. Dunning living in rural Mississippi? The kids living in Minnesota? Those issues have yet to be flushed out."

Michael Perlman, the Dunning's attorney, said that race should have been a factor in the adoption.

"Even if their hearts are in the right place, they can't give these children the same culture, the same history, the same experiences that relatives can," he said.

It started when Princess was born in 2009 and tested positive for cocaine. She was placed with the Grossers immediately. The Dunning's attempted to adopt her, but they were "stalled" by paperwork.

Then Dorothy came in 2010, and was also placed with the Grossers. 

Judge Kathryn Quaintance said the girls should stay with the Grossers as the couple could help them more with their special needs and it could be traumatizing for them to move away from the only family they've ever known.

The Dunning's said they could provide just as good of a home as the Grossers.

Dorothy Dunning made YouTube videos and appeared on television to tell her story. She received great sympathy, but the court ultimately decided to give the girls to the Grossers.

They ruled on Wednesday favoring the Grossers 5-2.

"Justice has been done for two little girls to stay with the only family they have ever known," Liv Grosser wrote on Facebook after the ruling.

"I know Dorothy is feeling sad and my heart is heavy for her … We will continue to honor her as the girls' grandma and we hope we can become friends soon. Please pray for Dorothy as she comes to grips with this decision that she can see that it is best for the girls."

Sources: Star Tribune, MSR News