The rare verdict is the latest twist in the ongoing legal battle between an Afghan and US couple over a three-year-old girl.
In a highly unusual ruling, a Virginia state court judge has ruled out the adoption of Afghan war orphans by the U.S. Marines more than a year after they separated a 3-year-old girl from a fostering Afghan couple. I made it
However, the girl’s future remains uncertain. For now, she will remain with Marine Major Joshua Mast and his wife, Stephanie, under the temporary custody order they obtained prior to their adoption. You must re-certify to the court that you should.
Despite the uncertainty, Thursday’s ruling was a welcome move for the Afghan couple, who were identified as relatives of their child by the Afghan government in February 2020 and raised her for 18 months.
Mr. and Mrs. Mast left the courtroom shortly after the hearing, surrounded by their lawyers. Parties are barred from comment by oral argument.
The ongoing controversy has set alarm bells at the highest levels of government, from the White House to the Taliban, with an Associated Press news agency investigation in October revealing how Mast rescued the baby and criticized the Christian faith. It became clear that he decided to take her home as an act.
But to this day, the adoption order remains intact.
Justice Claude V. Worrell Jr. said Thursday, “We’ve never had a case like this before.
The girl, who will turn 4 this summer, was still an infant when she was found wounded in the rubble after a US military raid in rural Afghanistan in September 2019. .
She spent more than five months in a US military hospital before the Afghan government and the International Committee of the Red Cross decided she had living relatives and united her.
Unbeknownst to them, Mast found out about the baby while in the hospital and decided that he and his wife should be her parents.
The Masts previously told Virginia Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore that she was the daughter of a temporary “terrorist” who died in combat and was therefore a stateless orphan.
Mast claimed the Afghan government was ready to relinquish jurisdiction over her, but never did.
The Masts first contacted the couple in Afghanistan and offered to help treat the girl. helped
Upon their arrival, Mast took the child using an adoption order, and the Afghan couple have not seen her since.
In court filings, the Masts argue that the Afghan couple’s accusations of legally adopting their child and of kidnapping her are “outrageous” and “unjustified.” They have repeatedly declined to comment to AP.
Judge Worrell, who took over the case after Moore resigned in November, said the Afghan couple “were de facto parents when they arrived in the United States” violated due process.
Worrell said from the bench that the Masts never told the court, especially knowing what was going on in Afghanistan around the same time a Virginia judge was allowing adoptions. .
He said he wasn’t sure it was intentional, but “the fact of the matter is that the court didn’t have all the information it knew. [the Masts] at the time the order is entered”.
The ruling is another twist on an already outstanding case.
Virginia attorney Stanton Phillips said, “Once an adoption is finally decided, it is very difficult and very rare to reverse it.
“This is really, really unusual,” said adoption attorney Barbara Jones. “You just haven’t heard about this incident.”
A Pentagon spokesperson told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Pentagon is aware of the decision and has referred the media outlet to the Justice Department, but the Justice Department declined to comment.
Another hearing is scheduled for June.