Pubdate: Thu, 08 Apr 2010
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2010 The Calgary Sun
Author: Michael Platt


Noah Kirkman turned 12 nearly two weeks ago.

The last time he slept in his own bed, back home in Calgary, he was

If it started as a holiday, the boy's trip to Oregon, it's now become
a two-year-long nightmare, rife with red tape.

And the strange case of Noah Kirkman is on the verge of becoming an
international incident.

On Friday, a judge in Oregon will determine what to do with the
Canadian child seized by the State of Oregon and placed in foster
care, despite having a mother and family in Calgary desperate to get
him back.

"We're hoping the judge will back out of his position, but there's
also a chance he will say 'screw you,'" said Lisa Kirkman, Noah's
34-year-old mother.

Waiting on the sidelines, ready to throw the official weight of
Canada's federal government behind the Kirkman cause, is Calgary West
MP Rob Anders.

Anders says he is ready to head south, with a tentative travel date of
April 19, to collect Noah and bring him home to his family, depending
on what the judge decides this week.

"We want the judge to see fit in his own good wisdom, that Noah should
return home," said Anders.

"We're waiting to hear what the judge decides, and we don't want to do
anything that may jeopardize Noah's case."

Anders is all about diplomacy - but his involvement, as a sitting
member of the ruling federal government, is a massive development in a
case that's dragged on, under the public radar, for nearly two years.

Noah's family calls Oregon's refusal to release Noah an abduction -
but that word makes the case sound calculated, sly and sinister.

Really, it has a lot more to do with heavy-handed court orders and a
stubborn bureaucracy run amok.

In the eyes of that state's child welfare office, Lisa Kirkman is an
unfit parent, or at least a mom too sketchy to trust with the child
she raised and nurtured until September 2008.

That's when authorities in Oakridge, Oregon took Noah into custody,
after police found him riding in their town without a bike helmet.

Noah, a straight-A student who suffers from severe attention deficit
disorder, struggled to explain who he was, and that he was on holiday
in Oregon with his younger sister, staying with their non-legal stepdad.

The confusion led officers to run the boy's name through the system,
where they discovered his past history with Canadian social services,
the result of Lisa seeking help with her son's special needs.

The social service system doesn't differentiate between parents
seeking help with unique children, and parents forced into the system
through abuse and neglect of their kids.

Hence, with no legal guardian and a suspicious background, authorities
in Oregon took Noah and placed him in foster care.

A simple misunderstanding, in other words, with the boy's best
interests in mind. But untangling the red tape that snagged Noah has
proved impossible.

Lisa's own past is the major hurdle: She's has a criminal record in

An outspoken marijuana crusader and pro-pot journalist, she was busted
years ago for growing medical marijuana without a permit.

As a result, the court has forced her to undergo psychiatric
evaluations, and parenting tests. Most telling of all, the court says
she must swear off drugs before Noah can come home.

Though authorities in Oregon refuse to discuss the case with
reporters, it's clear Lisa is the reason Noah can't escape the foster
care system, which could ultimately lead to his permanent adoption in
the U.S.

Thus, his Calgary grandparents have stepped forward, offering to care
for Noah in Lisa's stead, if only to get him back in Canada with the
family who loves him.

Those grandparents, both working professionals, have undergone a
complete assessment of their home and lives, to prove to Oregon that
the Canadian child is headed to a good place - but the wait continues.

For Lisa, who last saw her son in July 2009, she's afraid to even feel
optimism over Friday's hearing and the involvement of a federal Member
of Parliament.

"I get my hopes up, and get all excited, and then something else goes
wrong - I feel like a wound up spring." 
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