- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A South Carolina great-grandmother’s ties with a 2-year-old Wichita girl aren’t sufficient to negate a wide age difference and inadequate finances, a Sedgwick County judge said this week in denying the 67-year-old woman’s adoption request.

District Court Judge Robb Rumsey on Monday also denied a request by the girl’s foster parents, Andrea and Lance Dixon, to allow them to adopt the child immediately, The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/1fuoaIE ) reported.

Rumsey ordered that the girl, who has been with the Dixons for most of her life, remain in the custody of the Kansas Department for Children and Families at their home until the agency finds a suitable adoptive family.

The paternal great-grandmother has had custody of the girl’s 3-year-old brother since a DCF decision in November allowing her to adopt both children. The Dixons filed a lawsuit against that decision, saying they had bonded with the girl since bringing her home two days after she was born.

Rumsey suggested in his ruling that the Dixons, the child’s great-uncle and other family and nonfamily members might be possibilities for adoption.

The great-uncle, who lives in North Carolina, has adopted the girl’s three older sisters.

The children’s parents gave up custody in July 2012, nearly a year after the four oldest siblings were placed in police protective custody because of allegations of physical abuse, drug use and domestic violence, according to the judge’s ruling.

Lynnette Herrman, attorney for the great-grandmother, said her client was “heartbroken, incredibly saddened and disappointed” by the decision.

Rumsey agreed that the woman was willing to take on the responsibility of a second young child, and that the girl would benefit in “understanding her history, culture and race” by living with her great-grandmother. The girl and her great-grandmother are black, while the Dixons are white.

But Rumsey said the DCF’s placing of the girl with her great-grandmother was “overly influenced, if not controlled, by an abstract or arbitrary preference for blood.”

He said the great-grandmother was unfit because of the age difference, the woman’s restricted finances because she’s on a fixed income, and housing limitations of a two-bedroom home. He noted that the boy already in her care has special needs, and that she doesn’t have a driver’s license.

“I guess you have to be young and have a lot of money to keep your family together,” Herrman said.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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