Monday, January 12, 2009

What's Best for Payge?

Two-year-old Payge Pherigo has lived in six homes since her birth mother left the girl at a Newton hospital as a "safe haven" baby.

For the past 11 months, the little girl has been with her birth father. But he is in the county jail again, and the state is now faced with deciding whether it's best to keep Payge with a father who adores her but struggles with substance abuse problems, or to allow someone else to care for her.

The case is one that has left Department of Human Services staff members and a judge in a thankless position of balancing the girl's interests, the father's parental rights and the emotions of relatives, who believe they also could give the toddler the love she needs.

A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 6 so that Jasper County Judge Thomas Mott can review how Dustin Pherigo has been parenting since he was awarded permanent care of his daughter in September 2008. To sever parental rights, the law requires compelling circumstances, such as abuse, neglect or federal imprisonment.

Meanwhile, two aunts are willing to care for Payge: a maternal aunt who raised her as a baby for 13 months, and a paternal aunt who has baby-sat for the toddler over the last 11 months.

"Payge's crucial time is now," Mott wrote in a September 2007 court document in which he expressed doubt that Dustin Pherigo could provide her a satisfactory home. "A child's character and personality are formed during a very few short years at the beginning of life."

Both sides of Payge's family worry about how all the turmoil in the 2-year-old's life is affecting her.

Full Article and Source:
Family, state ponder: What's best for Payge?


Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the family (father and aunts) just settle it and then go to court with their arrangement?

This child has been through enough.

Sue said...

This news is so sad and hearbreaking and even worse, this is one case of how many? And what happens to these kids 10 to 15 years from now?

Anonymous said...

So why do they have to 'sever' the Dad's parental rights. How about shared custody with supervision for the Dad AND give him real TREATMENT. Some of these State run treatment plans are nothing but smoke screne: like getting assistance from "jake in the box".

Anonymous said...

I agree, he should have shared rights with other family members and get treatment. Taking Payge from him would cause more emotional problems for her in the long run if she isn't raised by the one parent that actually WANTED her. Think of all the lies that she could be exposed to over the years.