September 15, 2010 in City

Foster care flap crosses border

William Mccall Associated Press

PORTLAND – In a rare international legal battle, the state of Oregon and a Canadian mother are fighting over the costs of nearly two years of foster care in Oregon for her 12-year-old son.

Lisa Kirkman lost custody of the boy in 2008 after she left him with his stepfather to spend the summer in Oregon. She regained custody in June.

The state is seeking to have her pay for the foster care, which averages about $24,000 a year. She is contesting the claim in a Canadian court.

“Not only were we dragged into a broken system, now they’re saying, ‘You must pay for this,’ ” Kirkman said in phone interview from Calgary.

A judge in the Provincial Court of Alberta in Calgary delayed a ruling Tuesday until another hearing, probably in April, she said.

The Calgary Sun reported that family court Judge Gordon Burrell ordered Oregon to provide more information and granted permission for Kirkman’s lawyer to file a claim in the U.S. to dismiss the state’s request and seek legal costs.

Experts say such a cross-border fight is rare. It’s more common for state governments to seek reimbursement in other states.

Kirkman’s son, Noah, was in Oregon state care for about two years after Kirkman left him to stay for the summer with his stepfather, John Kirkman.

When she returned to take Noah home to Canada, she said workers for the Department of Human Services showed up to respond to Oakridge, Ore., police reports the boy had been seen unsupervised, doing things such as riding his bicycle on a highway without a helmet and playing alone in an industrial park.

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