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New York law is instructive. 'Best interest(s) of the child' is a term that pervades the law relating to children--appearing innumerable times in the pertinent statutes, judicial decisions and literature--yet eludes ready definition. This is not a pure 'best interests' hearing, where biological parent and foster parents stand on equal footing and the child's interest is the sole consideration. (see, Matter of Spence-Chapin Adoption Serv. v Polk, 29 NY2d, at 204, supra; People ex rel. Kropp v Shepsky, 305 NY 465, 469). In cases controlled by Social Services Law § 392 (6), analysis of the child's 'best interest' must begin not by measuring biological parent against foster parent but by weighing past and continued foster care against discharge to the biological parent, or other relative or suitable person within Social Services Law § 392 (6) (b) (see, Matter of Sheila G., 61 NY2d, at 389-390, supra; see also, Mem Accompanying Comments on Bills, NY State Dept of Social Servs, A Int 12801-B, July 14, 1976, Governor's Bill Jacket, L 1976, ch 667).


Under Social Services Law § 392, where a child has not been freed for adoption, the court must determine whether it is nonetheless appropriate ...

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