A Washington State court in Franklin County has reunited Olga and Boris Shved with their two children after the children spent over ten years in foster care. The court commissioner found that there was no longer a reason to keep the children out of the family home in Pasco and ordered their immediate return to their biological parents.
The Shveds’ two children, Ella and Ryslan, were taken away from their parents in 2006 after a doctor found several scratches on newborn Ella’s body, breaks in her arm, and severe head injuries. Ella and Ryslan were placed in foster care and charges were brought against their mother, Olga, for first-degree child assault.
Olga was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison, but on appeal her case was reversed and remanded to the Franklin County court. In 2014, that court found there was insufficient evidence to conclude Olga had abused her baby daughter, and the Shveds’ parental rights were reinstated.
Unfortunately, this ruling was not the end of the Shveds’ troubles. The Pasco couple sought family reunification in a Juvenile Court dependency case, but they were unable to convince the court they were fit parents, despite medical evidence indicating their baby daughter’s injuries could have been caused in the womb or during birth.
In the meantime, Ella and Ryslan had been with the same foster family since 2007, a family that had relocated from the Tri-Cities of Washington to a Minneapolis suburb shortly after the placement. The children had grown attached to this family, who fought the Shveds’ parental rights by seeking permanent guardianship of Ella and Ryslan. A permanent guardianship would have terminated the Shveds’ ability to contact their children ever again. There was also some evidence that the foster parents had given confidential information about the case to the children and to friends in Minnesota in order to solicit declarations urging the court to allow Ella and Ryslan to remain with their foster family.
In the recent hearing, however, the court commissioner found that although Ella and Ryslan had become attached to their long-term foster family, the two children should be returned to their biological parents. The commissioner also found it strange that Ella and Ryslan had been allowed to move out of Washington State with their foster family, despite having a father and other relatives closer to home who were available to take them. The commissioner said that although the children had been well-cared for in their foster family, such placements are meant to be temporary, and that the ultimate goal of foster care is to return children to their biological families whenever possible.