WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Tuesday, representative John Conyers Jr. introduced the "Rehab and Ahmed Amer Foster Care Improvement Act of 2012," a law that will place foster children in the care of willing and capable relatives. The act was spearheaded by Dearborn residents Rehab Amer and Ahmed Amer, whose children were placed with foster parents of a different religion and background, when the state suspected the couple over the accidental death of their 2-year-old son Samier in 1985.
The Muslim parents were later deemed innocent, but years of estrangement from their three children who grew up in a Christian evangelist household in Clarkston made the family's struggles all the more persistent. They were barely allowed to see their children and when they did, it was under strict supervision. The family claims the environment in which their children grew up in resulted in them losing identity with both their religion and cultural background.
“Although Rehab had been acquitted in August 1986 of any criminal wrongdoing in connection with Samier’s death, the State refused to return the Amers’ other two children to them and, in fact, removed a third child from the Amers’ custody four months after Rehab’s acquittal. As a temporary alternative, Rehab’s brother petitioned to be a foster parent to the Amers’ three children, but was denied his petition even though he had previously served as a foster parent for other children. It is important to note that the Amers are Muslim. Nevertheless, the State, rather than placing the Amers’ children with a foster family of the same faith and cultural background, sent them to live with an evangelical Christian family," Conyers in a press release.
“The Amer Law is consistent with federal foster care policy, which also seeks to give preference to a child's relatives and, for Native American children, a family of the same cultural background as the child, when making placement decisions. The Amer Law, however, has several provisions that go beyond current federal law to ensure due process. In sum, this law gives parents, relatives, guardians, and the child in certain cases additional procedural rights, including the right to written notice and an explanation of a placement decision. In addition, it authorizes judicial review of a placement decision by a foster care agency," Conyers added.
The new law requires that a state, within 90 days after it makes a foster care placement decision, to provide notice to the following parites; The child's parents, relatives who have informed the state of their interest in caring for the child, the guardian, the guardian ad litem of the child, the attorney for the child, the attorney for each parent of the child, the prosecutors involved and the child if he or she is able to express an opinion regarding placement.