CLEVELAND — A boy removed from his mother's custody over health concerns when his weight ballooned to more than 200 pounds will be taken from foster care and placed in the custody of an uncle, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge John Hoffman also said the boy, who celebrated his ninth birthday Wednesday but didn't appear in court, would be allowed a weeklong visit with his mother for Christmas. His name was withheld by Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court.
The mother left court without commenting, but the placement with her brother living in the Columbus area had been accepted by all sides before it was announced during a brief court hearing.
The court-appointed attorney representing the boy's interests, John Lawson, said he was sure the youngster would be happy with the agreement.
"This is only an interim plan because the real goal of everybody here is to get him back in his home with his mother and his sibling," a brother, Lawson said.
"He's a very smart boy and I think he's got goals about himself," Lawson said, including losing weight.
While in foster care, the boy's weight dropped from about 200 pounds to 192.
Mary Louise Madigan, speaking for the Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services agency that sought foster care for the boy over weight-related health issues, said having the uncle caring for the boy was part of the county's goal of getting him to a healthy weight and back with his mother.
"He's in a least restrictive placement with a family member and I think that's what the court was looking at," she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio joined the case on the boy's behalf and said he should be with his family.
"We think it's a fundamental liberty for a child to be brought up in his home among family and friends," said the ACLU's James Hardiman.
Taking a child from the home over weight issues could set a bad precedent, he said.
"We're concerned that if this were to establish a precedent that it would be a pretty dangerous precedent. So we take it as a basic fundamental civil liberties issue," Hardiman said.
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