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Hession on CPS

July 11, 2007 permalink

Massachusetts family lawyer Gregory Hession has written an article for the New American, a publication of the John Birch Society. While the mainstream press informs us of the antics of Paris Hilton, it is left to the specialty press to deal with the serious issues. Hession covers every stage in the protection process from the snitch network to the drugging of foster children to keep them docile.

There are reasons why the system does a bad job. Colleges churn out hordes of 23-year-old social-work graduates, childless and clueless, who are sent into homes to make life-changing decisions. Their formal education is grounded in doctrinaire Marxism and feminism, and they believe in their viscera that the state should communally raise children.

Another disincentive to changing the system is the fact that social workers are given legal immunity for almost any discretionary decision no matter what harm results to the children. Social workers exercise virtually unlimited power over families, with little accountability to anyone for overreaching or even for egregious offenses.



The New American — Cover Story — July 23, 2007

This is Child Protection?

Imagine your terror and panic: you are awakened by an armed SWAT team in the middle of the night, demanding to be let into your home to take your children away. The grim-faced agents show you no warrant, no court order, and no mercy. They give you no reason for their presence, other than having received an unspecified report about child abuse. They bark commands and menace you and your children with their weapons. The children are taken out of your home screaming, shoved into cars, and whisked away into the night.

This is not a Soviet-era movie script, but a reality in thousands of homes in the United States every year, courtesy of state child protective services agencies.

The least reported and understood social crisis of our time is the vast new police state run by these state social services agencies, which are generically referred to as “child protective services,” or CPS. The states have different names for them, such as Department of Social Services or Department of Children and Families, but they are all operating under a federal mandate. Whatever they are called, our next generation of children may never recover from their predatory intrusions into families.

Some may dismiss these concerns as hyperbole, but the numbers are appalling. In 2005 alone, over 3.3 million reports involving six million children were made to state child-abuse hot lines, the vast majority of which eventually proved to be untrue. Over 500,000 children currently are in foster care. Another 300,000 or so are forcibly removed from their homes by the system every year. Tens of billions of dollars are expended every year on the care of these children, and on the juvenile court systems which enable it, along with costs of therapy, drugs, lawyers, and related services.

This system is relatively new. In response to professional agitation to “do something” about the problem of child abuse, Congress set forth standards for state child protection agencies in 1974, in the Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act, also called the Mondale Act for its senatorial sponsor. If a state conformed their system to the federal mandate, it could get generous reimbursement from the feds. The states immediately complied, and modern child protection was born.

The system does not work, and never has. Thirty years, hundreds of billions of dollars, and millions of ruined families later, the problem of abuse is little improved.

Not one state has ever come close to meeting the bare minimum standards set out in federal law for CPS agencies. Of seven federal criteria that apply, only a few states have even met one, and no state even complies with a few of them.

In almost all cases, children are traumatized by their experiences in state custody. A large number of the children taken into captivity never return — many are adopted out to other families, killed, injured, or caused permanent psychological harm. Parents are rarely helped, even when they need some improvement.

Can this happen in America? It can, and it does. What follows is a brief tour through the seamy underbelly of the CPS system. That these agencies engage in such despicable behavior is often not believed by anyone who has not been directly affected by it. CPS structures and systems resemble those used by totalitarian regimes.

The Snitch Network

The entry point of most children into the child protection system is through a government-mandated “snitch network” consisting of 50-odd professions that are required by law to report any suspected child abuse or neglect to a state “hot line.” Teachers, police, therapists, doctors, nurses, even clergy, must report to CPS, under threat of prosecution. In addition, CPS propaganda has convinced many neighbors and friends and personal enemies to make such reports.

Once a report is made, the CPS agency has to decide whether it is credible, and if so, what to do about it. Of about 3.3 million calls to state hot lines in 2005, about 40 percent were screened out before going any further. For the remaining calls, the agency had to decide whether it was an emergency, or could be administratively investigated in due course.

Why are so many reports of child abuse being generated? A large contributing factor is that the legal definitions of abuse and neglect are so elastic as to encompass virtually any parental behavior, from spanking their children to letting them eat too much “fast food.” Also, supply sometimes creates its own demand, since an army of professionals has arisen to service the industry, and must be kept well fed.

In response to child-abuse emergencies, real or imagined, the agency usually sends CPS agents and police to a home. The police pry the children’s little fingers off their mother, with everyone screaming hysterically during the “pull,” as they call it.

In other cases, children are snatched from school or from buses after school, without notice to parents frantically waiting at bus stops. Often they are taken late on a Friday afternoon, so parents cannot challenge the action in court over the weekend, and so that the children can be held incommunicado and given medications — drugged — during that time. The goal is to soften the kids up to make “disclosures” about parental abuse in order to allow CPS to get a court order for custody. Sometimes CPS agents go to court to get an order before taking the children, but when they do so, it is almost always done in secret in a closed courtroom, without the parents or attorneys present.

Unfortunately, CPS often gets it wrong both ways — genuine abuse is often missed or ignored, while most of what is reported as abuse or neglect does not rise to any reasonable level of seriousness. (See chart below.)

Into the Belly of the Beast

After the snitch network does its part to get the children into the CPS pipeline, the cases either go into an elaborate administrative process, or to a so-called “shelter” court hearing, held within a few days in order to determine whether the removal of the children from the home was proper. At that court hearing, usually conducted in secret without the press or public allowed, the court will appoint separate lawyers for the mother, the father, and the children. Many of these hearings are conducted so quickly that parents do not have time to prepare a defense, and the lawyers often cut corners by telling their clients to just agree to keep the children in custody until a trial, which could be a year or more away. Only later do the parents find out that they had agreed that their children needed state protection and had waived any possibility of getting them back quickly, or even at all.

The cases that do not go to court are shunted into a surreal, nightmarish administrative system, and the children are often allowed to stay at home or with relatives while the bureaucrats dither.

A social worker will eventually make up a document called a “case plan” or “service plan,” in which the alleged failings of the parents are summarized. The case plan includes a set of tasks and social services intended to “fix” the parent, much like one might repair an appliance. In order to get the children back home if they were taken, or to foreshorten an administrative case, the parents must do all the activities mandated on the plan, such as going to parenting classes, meeting with a social worker, going to substance-abuse treatment, or getting psychological evaluations.

Social workers, often severely maladjusted and working out their own tortured past vicariously through their clients, frequently treat the parents with whom they work as property, ordering them around at whim. They set up services to be done during work hours, causing people to lose jobs and placing the family in financial distress. They can order that a man suspected of spanking his children must leave the home, putting additional emotional and financial burdens on a family.

As with most government programs, there are unintended consequences that no one considered when putting the scheme together. Since social workers are so easily duped, divorcing spouses have made extensive use of CPS reports as a weapon in family court. Want to get custody fast? Just call CPS and accuse the other spouse of abuse. CPS will also do the bidding of schools that have trouble handling difficult children, and will threaten parents who do not want to drug their children with ADHD chemicals.

When children are placed in foster care, the agency usually treats them with mercenary callousness. Social workers and foster parents do things to children that if done by parents would likely have triggered removal of the child. Children are routinely kept out of school for weeks, are denied needed medical care, and are even abused physically and sexually. Children with asthma are often placed with heavy smokers, and children with speech impediments are often placed with immigrants who struggle with English. Almost all children are heavily drugged, with up to six powerful mind-bending medications, in order to ensure their docility.

Even in little ways, the system continually shows contempt for its captives. Social workers leave a home without putting the children in car seats, cancel visits with the parents if they have better things to do, or place the children in homes far from the parents in order to make it harder to have visits. The grinding banality of socialist-spawned child care is soulless, loveless, and arbitrary.

Abuse committed against a child while in foster care is supposed to be investigated by a special outside unit, similar to an internal-affairs division in a police department. However, mindful of potential lawsuits if abuse were discovered, the investigators usually don’t find any. Statistics reported to the government about abuse in foster care are low because the agency gets to do its own investigations. In my experience representing parents, most of whose children have been actually abused in foster care, the CPS usually sweeps the allegations under the rug and fails to stop the abuse.

Outcomes of Child-abuse Investigations

pie chart

Though states' "child protective services" intervene readily in family situations, using as a guideline for intervention whether a child "is at risk of maltreatment," even after 40 percent of allegations of child abuse are initially screened out, a further 66 percent of the remaining allegations of child abuse are found to be unsubstantiated. (This number includes the cases labeled on the chart as "Alternative Response Nonvictim," where no investigation of the reported child abuse was undertaken, yet it was determined that there was no abuse.)

Your Day in Court

Juvenile or family court is where the fate of millions of children is decided. Not many years ago, these courts were a sleepy sinecure for a few political hacks. Now, with the child-abuse industrial complex in overdrive feeding them, juvenile courts have come into vogue. Crowds of sad-faced parents shuffle around the court’s waiting areas, lining the halls. Lawyers, forgetting the indescribable pain that their clients are enduring, openly laugh and gossip with CPS attorneys and therapists.

At court hearings, the parents usually cannot speak, and the children’s wishes are almost never heard or considered. Hearings often last only a few minutes, or even seconds. The traditional rules of evidence and notions of due process are rarely observed in these special courts, which are neither criminal nor civil. Hearsay on top of hearsay, sometimes three or four layers deep, is often admitted into evidence, which would never be allowed in any traditional court.

The burden of proof for taking children away from parents on a temporary basis is merely to show by a “preponderance of evidence” that the child was abused, which is a weak and ill-defined standard. By contrast, the state has to prove guilt in a speeding ticket case beyond a reasonable doubt. A final termination of parental rights requires that the state prove unfitness by “clear and convincing evidence,” still well short of the quantum of proof required to prove jaywalking.

Most juvenile cases end with a judgment against the parents, allowing CPS to keep the children until they are 18, or to farm them out for adoption. The home team — that is, the CPS prosecutor and social workers — are in front of the judge every day. The process becomes a choreographed dance, like a Mozart-era minuet, with all the players moving in lockstep and the outcome often determined before the first witness is called.

By looking at the numbers, one would conclude that there is an epidemic of child abuse in America. However, the evidence shows that there is actually an epidemic of hysteria about child abuse, because most of the official complaints are either false or greatly exaggerated. It is a squalid business. Big “non-profit” companies have arisen to service the insatiable demand for warehousing children and providing therapy, education, and other services. Special needs children can sometimes fetch thousands of dollars per week for these sub-contractors from the state and the feds, which make millionaires out of the subcontractors owners and officers.

Tens of thousands of parents have their parental rights terminated every year, and their children taken for adoption to other persons or families. In 2005 alone, 67,000 children were removed for adoption. Another 110,000 were waiting for adoptive homes. Each of these children has been through a painful removal from parents, a lengthy court process, numerous foster homes, large amounts of drugs and therapy, and sometimes years of waiting.

The Adoption and Safe Families Act, passed by Congress in 1997, sets out adoption quotas for the states, with money bonuses for exceeding them, and even larger bonuses for processing a larger number of “special needs” children. Thus, adoption becomes the goal for many children who should not be taken from families in the first place. For CPS, it becomes just a commercial sales transaction: meet the quota, collect the cash.

Some parents do abuse children, and states have comprehensive criminal laws to deal with those cases. Most persons would likely disagree with CPS in how it defines abuse or neglect. Families are attacked for home-schooling or spanking their children, for not overseeing all play activities, or for when a child has an accident. Sometimes a child’s illness, poverty, or parents who are going through a time of conflict will trigger CPS involvement. There is also a palpable animus against families who are religious, or who do not like state interference. Only a very small percentage of the 3.3 million reported cases annually prove to be genuine abuse, and the system does a bad job of sorting them out.

There are reasons why the system does a bad job. Colleges churn out hordes of 23-year-old social-work graduates, childless and clueless, who are sent into homes to make life-changing decisions. Their formal education is grounded in doctrinaire Marxism and feminism, and they believe in their viscera that the state should communally raise children.

Another disincentive to changing the system is the fact that social workers are given legal immunity for almost any discretionary decision no matter what harm results to the children. Social workers exercise virtually unlimited power over families, with little accountability to anyone for overreaching or even for egregious offenses.

Federal reimbursement is the locomotive that drives the child-protection business. Regardless of what families actually need, CPS determines where to place its resources based on what returns the most reimbursement. The vast percentage of federal reimbursement (90 percent) comes from taking children into custody, while only a tiny fraction (10 percent) is available to help intact families. In other words, taking children pays, helping families costs.

The game of cadging federal CPS dollars has become so intense that states often hire multi-million dollar consultants to assist them in maximizing federal reimbursement for the children they take. For instance, Massachusetts hired the now-defunct Arthur Anderson Consulting, at an estimated fee of about $8.6 million, to structure the state program to take advantage of as many federal reimbursement categories as possible.

What Can Be Done?

Is the system really as corrupt, incompetent, destructive, and ineffective as this article portrays it? No, it’s actually far worse — if you ask a parent whose children have been victimized by it! The public perception is that CPS is doing a tough job, and standing against child abuse. However, any family caught in its web would testify to a completely different reality. When I take on a new case and forewarn a family about CPS dirty tricks, they usually think I am exaggerating. Surely it can’t be that bad. However, after the first court hearing, or if their children are removed, those families uniformly confirm that I didn’t tell them the half of it.

What should be done to address the problem of child abuse and the problem of abuse by the system of parents and children? It won’t be easy because CPS policies and actions are based on a deeply flawed world view. Moreover, the agencies are run by inept and agenda-driven managers and social workers, and are enabled by a dysfunctional legal system.

Real reform would cut at the very heart of the premise of child protection — that the state is a better parent, a legal doctrine called parens patriae in Latin. Some fixes are obvious — end federal standards for and funding of state child protection agencies, set objective standards for child abuse, require traditional due process in juvenile courts that are open to the public, and eliminate immunity for social-worker malfeasance.

Millions of children are imperiled by this imperious, abusive CPS system, which works quietly without much public scrutiny. Change will likely come only when its cruelties have been exposed, and the public reaffirms that raising children is the responsibility of families, not the state.

Source: John Birch Society

Families Separated by the State

Neil and Heidi Howard with Gregory Hession
Victims of false allegations: Neil (right) and Heidi Howard review with their lawyer Gregory Hession the documents that the Department of Social Services used as a basis to take their children. The documents allege that the Howards had the messiest home one social worker had ever seen — failing to mention that their kitchen was in the midst of being remodeled.

The nightmare started when nine-year-old Tevania Tranberg fainted momentarily for no apparent reason when she and her family were at a Trader Joe’s store near their Brookline, Massachusetts apartment. The father, Steven Bennett, went with Tevania in an ambulance to nearby Children’s Hospital to get her emergency care, and hopefully discover the source of her brief collapse. They were joined shortly by the mother, Heidi Tranberg, and Tevania’s four siblings, including 12-day-old Evanna.

At around 10:00 at night, after seven hours in the hospital and many tests, they discovered that Tevania had a low calcium condition. A resident also did some neurological tests and suggested that the situation was not that serious.

Another resident, Catherine James, M.D., then told the family not to listen to the first resident. Not knowing which doctor to believe, the parents asked for a second opinion. Big mistake. Dr. James snapped that she was going to get a restraining order and turned on her heels to go see the legal department. She returned and explained that her request was denied, and the family asked if they could go. At the family’s request, Dr. James prepared a discharge summary, in which she told the parents to get the child to her pediatrician within 48 hours and to watch for any further signs of problems. They took the paper, waited for a ride for half an hour, and left the hospital about 11:30 p.m. that night.

Unbeknownst to the parents, Dr. James called the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS) immediately after they left. DSS told the police and the court that the parents had “fled the hospital,” based on Dr. James’ report, even though she had told them that they were free to leave. Dr. James later admitted to the court investigator that she had never said the parents “fled” the hospital and that “DSS was wrong.”

The SWAT Team Swings Into Action

The next day, the father immediately obtained an appointment with their pediatrician, and both parents were attentive to Tevania’s condition. Thirty-six hours after they left the hospital, several carloads of armed police removed the children to the police station, where half a dozen DSS agents took them, without a warrant or an explanation. Later, the police log showed that DSS had lied to the police by claiming that there had been “injuries from child abuse,” as well as sexual abuse to the children. There was no mention of low calcium, since that might not have seemed quite as urgent.

Families can no longer feel safe, because a state child protective services agency, often generically referred to as “CPS,” may decide to swoop in and take their children into captivity at any time, for any arbitrary reason. Once the children are in their system, it is difficult or impossible to get them back. It usually does not matter if the condition that led to removal is resolved, because there is money to be made in warehousing children — lots of it.

Before I got involved as counsel, Steve Bennett and Heidi Tranberg’s court-appointed counsels told them to waive a temporary custody hearing.

What the lawyers didn’t tell them was that such a waiver means they have no legal means to get the children home for at least a year, if not two. When I came on the case, the damage was done, and every request to return the children is met with a smug, “They waived their hearing. We have custody.”

The Bennett/Tranberg’s five children, including the 12-day-old baby, have been gone since February 23, 2007, with no return in sight. Some calcium supplements were all the children needed. However, the Massachusetts DSS decided to lock four of the five children under 24-hour armed guard for five weeks in the hospital, all courtesy of the taxpayers. For calcium pills.

These parents are not accused of substance abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse, or anything which would raise a caution. They live in an expensive, spacious apartment in a swanky Boston suburb, and are self-employed professionals. The children are receiving no benefit from being in DSS custody that would be an improvement over their own home. However, when the parents ask DSS why their children can’t come home, they get no answers, other than the continual refrain, “Because we have custody.”

The parents wake up each morning, sick at heart, wondering how to cope with another day of worry about the well-being of their children and how their children will bear up under the stewardship of parents who are not their own. The experience of these parents is not unusual. When children are taken this way, they are often permanently traumatized.

My experience as a lawyer defending parents against false allegations of abuse has thrust me into a world of arbitrary state power and lies, and parents with crushed hopes. The child protection business generates so much money, and employs so many social workers, therapists, lawyers, and other professionals, that it has to continue to obtain fresh meat every day for its gaping maw in order to feed all those who prey on the system.

In the tiny state of Massachusetts, more than 70,000 calls are made every year to the state child-abuse hot line. Thousands of social workers oversee more than 40,000 cases per year, and the state keeps nearly 10,000 children in custody at any one time. Most of these children are heavily drugged, placed in special education classes, and given therapy. When you add up the cost of all of these services in Massachusetts alone, it amounts to billions of dollars per year, which the state can leverage to obtain prodigious quantities of federal reimbursement.

Anything to Take Children

No aspect of life is too remote, and no angle is too obscure for the state to investigate in its fanatic desire to get children away from parents. Neil Howard and his wife Heidi lost their three children to the Massachusetts DSS in October of 1999, when DSS alleged that their home was too messy. Neil had gutted the kitchen, and the new cabinets and flooring were in boxes waiting to be installed in the next few days.

Their severely brain-damaged baby, Faith, was about to come home from the hospital, and DSS took upon itself to send a visiting nurse to their home prior to the child returning. The nurse took a look at the kitchen project, and noted that the home was “the messiest she had ever seen,” without mentioning the remodeling. Things went downhill from there, with DSS interviewing the children, who made vague “disclosures” like the father tapped the son on the head with a book once.

But that was enough to get DSS to swing into action. First, they demanded that Heidi throw her husband out and get a domestic-abuse restraining order against him, even though she told the judge that there was no abuse and DSS was making her do it. After Heidi decided to defy the agency and remove the order, two DSS agents walked into their home without permission, got the police to arrest Neil for violation of the non-existent restraining order, and took the distraught Heidi to a locked hospital psych ward, after promising her she could come right back. Then, of course, they took their two boys, eight-year-old Christopher and four-year-old Ethan, into captivity. For two years.

As happened to the Bennett/Tranberg family, the Howards’ court-appointed lawyers told them to waive their custody hearing, without explaining the consequences. When I later began to represent them, much damage had been done that could not be fixed.

Four daughters of Heidi Tranberg (back)
They’re waiting to come home: Four daughters of Heidi Tranberg (back) enjoy a family outing in Lexington, Massachusetts, prior to being taken into captivity by children’s social services because a doctor had reported the parents for not immediately following her advice after one child was found to have low calcium levels.

Poor little Faith died in the hospital on her first birthday, alone because the parents were prohibited from visiting her. The gracious DSS personnel gave custody of Faith back to the parents after that. The two boys, Chris and Ethan, were kept at foster homes, where Ethan was consistently abused. While in custody, Ethan suffered a broken arm, bruises in many places, wounds on his face, and other medical problems. His day care reported that the bruises were covered up by makeup. Despite all this being reported to DSS, it was all swept under the rug.

In order to provide a pretext for continuing to hold the boys, the DSS bored in on Ethan, who had a pervasive developmental disorder, and worked him over. Therapists hired by the agency elicited patently false and absurd “disclosures” from Ethan, like his daddy cut off his “peewee” with scissors. After continual badgering by another therapist, Chris also made some equally fatuous disclosures.

Meanwhile, Heidi had another baby named Jessica, and DSS wanted her, too. The Howards decided to not turn over the child, so DSS used high-tech GPS and a helicopter to locate her and take her from the arms of the Howards’ pastor, with whom she was staying. The judge also threatened to put me in jail for refusing to disclose Jessica’s whereabouts.

Halfway through a trial, after much of the DSS wrongdoing had been exposed on the witness stand, the three remaining children came home. What started with a bang, ended with a whimper, as most of these cases do. The family will never forget their experience, and they mourn Faith each year on her birthday.

No Checks and Balances

How does this happen? Virtually no checks and balances are in place to ensure that these rogue agencies are accountable. Courts are supposed to perform that function, but rarely dare to defy the plans of child protective services. Although laws in every state comply with the federal requirement that CPS use “reasonable efforts” to keep children with families before taking them, CPS rarely does so.

In my 12 years of doing CPS cases, I have seen enough mockery of the law and harm to families to dissuade even the most hardened believer in the effectiveness of government intervention and to convince any honest person that such a system is incapable of reform.

Fraud is never far away in child protection practice. Kay and Slade Henson were persecuted by CPS in Wisconsin when Kay spanked her disobedient 10-year-old boy with her hand. As a result, Walworth County Department of Health and Social Services took her four school-aged children from their school, and their two toddlers at home. Reports indicated that someone else re-spanked the 10-year-old, in order to exaggerate the damage. After some complicated legal machinations, Kay was jailed for four months.

Kay stood up and spoke out on the abuses perpetrated on their family by Walworth County CPS. She brought a film producer, Suzanne Shell, to Walworth County so she could investigate and document the case in March of 2003. Shell uncovered tampered evidence in Kay’s criminal file, which she filmed. Shortly thereafter, as she was quietly interviewing Kay in a hallway of the courthouse, she was assaulted by deputies, falsely arrested, and her tape confiscated — all of which was captured on videotape. I represented Mrs. Shell in a lawsuit in federal court, where she won a settlement against the county for its officers’ brutal treatment of her based on the video evidence.

Although the six children were returned home in 60 days, they exhibited signs of sexual abuse, which had never been an issue prior to their abduction by CPS. Slade and Kay remain vigilant against further attacks on their family.

The System Attacks Its Own

Many families who try to help children in the system get ground up by it themselves. Kevin Cross, a Baptist minister living in semi-rural Wales, Massachusetts, and his wife Linda have adopted seven children through state social services in several states, including Massachusetts. Records show that they are an exceptionally loving, nurturing family to their multi-cultural adopted brood and their two biological children, and that myriads of social workers had praised their parenting over the years.

Continuing their commitment to helping children, they took in a Russian foster child, who had some behavioral difficulties stemming from early mistreatment. While hospitalized for psychiatric treatment, the child accused Kevin of hitting him. The hospital immediately called the Massachusetts DSS, which concluded that the troubled young man was telling the truth, even though all the other nine children in the home were interviewed separately and denied that there had been any abuse, as did the parents. To CPS agents, disclosures are almost always true, no matter how implausible.

A social-worker intern at the hospital where the foster son was taken told DSS that the parents were “overwhelmed with the care of their nine children and day-to-day tasks.” However, this intern had never met the family and never been to the home. She also noted that the family home-schooled their children and that the father was (horrors!) a Christian minister.

Kevin and Linda Cross and family with Gregory Hession
A unified front: Kevin and Linda Cross and family with their attorney Gregory Hession (left). Though the parents received many accolades from social service workers in the past, one child’s allegation of abuse would have resulted in all the children being abducted by child protective services if the children hadn’t supported the parents 100 percent.

When a DSS investigator demanded to again interview all the children, I got involved. We arranged all nine children and the parents in a circle around the living room, and when the DSS social worker came in, she was greeted by the silent stare of all 12 of us. After just a few minutes, she could tell there was strength in numbers, and she departed, never to be seen again. Although their children were not removed from the home, it was a terribly unnerving experience. “We truly felt like we were in a communist country,” sighed Linda.

All of these stories are true, and happened to families who never expected the club of the state to come crashing down on their heads. The feelings of heartache that these parents experienced can never be fully expressed by mere description in an article. Nor can the sense of disillusionment and betrayal by a system that they thought they could trust.

A lawyer who fights these agencies, rather than simply giving up his clients’ rights (as their previous attorneys often did), is a lonely figure. The one thing that continues to supply me with energy and hope is the knowledge that I can save some families from losing their children, and can help reunite other families that have already been torn apart, for no reason other than the state decreed it be done.

Gregory A. Hession practices constitutional and family law in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Source: John Birch Society