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Two girls, ages 2 and 4, were about to find a home, but a judge ruled that the adoptive mother who’s taken care of the girls almost their whole lives is just too old to make them hers for good. The New York Daily News reports that Melba Haynes, 72, a longtime foster mother, tried to adopt the sisters in her care but the judge said no based on Haynes’ age. The girls have two weeks to find a new home.

Haynes may be older than the average parent, but she loves those two little girls. She told the Daily News, “They would fall apart. I’m the only home they’ve been in. Both of them will miss me very much. That, I know.” Haynes has the support of the Catholic Guardian Society, the organization that first put the two girls in her care. Plus, her son Dale, who lives a floor above her in their Bronx building, offered to adopt the girls and have his mom help. That wasn’t good enough for the judge, either.

Age was a big factor in the ruling, but on the day of the hearing, it was also brought to light that years ago, one of Haynes’ former foster children complained of abuse. Haynes responded this was a trumped-up charge from 10 years ago that came from a “disgruntled” person. She argues that if things had really been as bad as the allegation, she wouldn’t have been allowed to continue caring for children.

This is all pretty sad. There just aren’t enough foster parents in New York City to care for children and it’s seems likely these two girls will end up in a group home. Being taken from a home is hard enough for any child; imagine how a child with autism would experience that. The ability to love a child doesn’t stop just because you get an AARP card. If Haynes is healthy and her son is available–literally next door–then what’s the problem? Besides, plenty of children are raised by grandparents when mom and dad aren’t around; this would essentially be the same thing. Family Court Judge Carol Sherman told Haynes “Nobody lives until they’re 100,” but the kind of love she’s offering these two little girls will last them for the rest of their lives.

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