Monday, May 7, 2012

Khalil Wimes

There has been a great deal of talk lately here in Philadelphia about the story of little Khalil Wimes. Khalil was found dead from head trauma March 19 when his birth parents brought him to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His corpse weighed only 29 pounds and bore scars across his face and the rest of his body. Authorities believe Khalil suffered beatings at the hands of his parents for as long as two years. He had been removed from their care one week after his birth on Valentine’s Day 2006. By that time, the Department of Human Services had already removed seven of his older siblings from his parents’ care for neglect.

Khalil lived in the loving care of his foster parents until he was 3. They eventually hoped to adopt him. In 2008, over the objection of his social worker, his child advocate, and his foster parents, Khalil was returned to his birth parents. According to Family Court transcripts, the Department of Human Services endorsed reunifying Khalil with his parents since the couple had stayed off drugs for a six-month period, took a parenting class, and got an apartment. DHS monitored Khalil for one year after he was returned to them. Investigators believe the abuse started immediately after the monitoring ended.

Who’s to blame here? Clearly these individuals were unfit parents, yet a judge ordered Kahlil be returned to his birth parents, rather than stay with the loving foster parents who wanted to adopt him. When is reunification not in the best interests of the child? How can tragedies like this be avoided in the future?

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