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Escape From Sarnia CAS
December 15, 2014 permalink
Mother Stephanie Hardy and her three-year-old son Matthew Chopp are missing from Sarnia. The police report enclosed is brief and requires reading between the lines. She "needs to be located to check on her and her son’s wellbeing". That most likely means she is being pursued by children's aid.
MISSING FEMALE AND CHILD
The Sarnia Police Service is requesting the public’s assistance in locating a missing 32 year old female “Stephanie HARDY” and her 3 year old son “Matthew CHOPP” from the Sarnia area. Both HARDY and CHOPP have been missing since Thursday December 11, 2014 and needs to be located to check on her and her son’s wellbeing.
HARDY may be operating or travelling in a Motor Vehicle: 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, blue in color, Ontario Plates “BVSF145″.
If anyone comes across “HARDY and CHOPP” or has any information in regards to their where abouts, please contact the Sarnia Police Service immediately at 519-344-8861 Ext:#5200.
Staff Sergeant Paul Mamak #123
Sarnia Police Service
B Platoon – Community Response Division
Tel: 519-344-8861 x 6123
Source: Sarnia Police
Saved From Cross-Dressing
December 15, 2014 permalink
Christle Prado punished her bed-wetting ten-year-old son by dressing him as a girl. In other circumstances social services are the champions of diverse sexuality. But Florida DCF has taken Prado's son and his siblings.
What is the punishment for bed wetting in foster care? Former foster child John Dunn was punished by having his head forced into a toilet until he nearly drowned.
Florida mom forced bed-wetting son to wear dress: cops
Christle Prado and her live-in landlord, Keith Driscoll, dressed the boy, 10, in a blue princess gown and posted the humiliating pictures on Facebook, relatives say. The mother and roommate face felony child abuse charges.
A Florida mom and her live-in landlord forced her son to wear a dress as punishment for wetting the bed, authorities said.
The two marched the crying 10-year-old outside in a low-cut blue princess gown so his friends could see, the child’s disgusted grandmother said.
“I’m mad,” grandmother Sherry Morden told WKMG-TV. “What right do you have doing this to your kids or allowing anybody to do this to your kids?”
Christle Prado, 34, of Winter Garden and her landlord, 26-year-old Keith Driscoll, were arrested Thursday on felony child abuse charges.
The boy’s uncle called police after spotting a photo of his nephew on Facebook.
The child is standing in a doorway with a lavender bow in his hair and tears streaming down his face in the humiliating pic.
“This puts so much abuse on a child,” Winter Garden Lt. Scott Allen told WESH. “It’s not fair for them to live like that.”
Prado admitted photographing her son and posting the pics online, authorities said.
She told investigators she was “frustrated” and turned to Driscoll for help after the boy urinated on himself several times, according to an affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
The bizarre discipline was Driscoll’s idea, the mother said, and she “went along with it because she did not want to cause problems and ruin her living situation,” the affidavit said.
The boy has a medical condition, and the bed wetting wasn’t his fault, grandmother said.
Morden now has custody of the child and Prado’s other two kids, WKMG-TV reported.
“It will get better,” Morden told the child during an interview with WKMG-TV. “I promise.”
Source: New York Daily News
Canada's Press Wakes Up
December 14, 2014 permalink
After years without serious investigative reporting on Ontario's children's aid societies, two of Canada's newspapers are launching separate series on the topic. The Toronto Star is running Society's Children while simultaneously the National Post is going with Canada's child-welfare crisis. Follow the links for the articles and fixcas notes.
Child With No Name
December 14, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker follows up on the case of the unnamed baby. British child protectors employed a so-called independent expert, actually a professional witness, to produce a report justifying permanently separating parents and children.
'Baby with no name’ judge defends the biased system
There has been a huge increase in the number of children being removed from their parents on grounds of 'emotional abuse', reports Christopher Booker.
Among the many serious puzzles raised by the peculiar workings of our “child protection” system, three continually recur. One is a huge increase in the number of children now being removed from their parents on grounds of “emotional abuse”. This has been by far the biggest contributor to the explosion in the numbers of children taken into care since the “Baby P” scandal in 2008, rising by 92 per cent. And most have not been for actual emotional abuse but simply for the possible “risk” of such abuse happening in the future. A second charge against parents which comes up too often is their failure to “co-operate with professionals”, such as the social workers who are tearing their family apart. A third, used to justify 90 per cent of child removals, is the role of those “independent” psychologists hired by social workers to report that the parents suffer from such vague conditions as “borderline personality disorder”, or “narcissism”, leading them to “put their own interests above those of the children”.
All three points formed the substance of a recent judgment in the Court of Appeal, in the very unhappy case I reported last May of “the baby with no name”. In 2006, the mother lost her child, by a man who walked out on her, after a psychologist reported that she suffered “intellectual impairment”, making her unfit to bring up the child on her own. When she happily married a devout British-born Hindu, producing two sons, Hertfordshire social workers again intervened – much to the growing impatience of her husband, a “lovely, peaceable man” who held a £90,000-a-year job as a senior manager.
Everyone agreed, as an earlier judge found, that the children were “thriving”, that the parents were devoted to them and had done them no harm. But the same psychologist again found the mother not fully fit to look after her boys and said there might therefore be a “risk” of future harm. When the social workers removed the children, relations between them and the father grew so fraught that, when he accused one of them outside a courtroom of lying, and the social worker pushed him, he took a defensive swing at the man’s head and was fined £430 for assault. The father then refused to allow his baby to go through a traditional temple naming ceremony because, in defiance of Hindu rules, the social workers insisted on being present.
When Lord Justice Ryder heard the parents’ appeal, he eventually, after eight weeks, came up with a judgment that surprised many of those present through the hearing. It was “a misapprehension of the law”, he said, that children should not be taken from their parents for only the “risk” of future emotional abuse. Anyway, the father had already abused his children, both by hitting a social worker in his older son’s presence (even though the boy had been yards away at the time), and then by refusing to allow the younger boy to be named.
Ryder emphasised that the father had shown no ability to “co-operate” with the social workers who had removed his children. He finally wished to make clear that the psychologist who had twice found so damagingly against the mother was genuinely independent – this was after it emerged that she was retained by Hertfordshire for up to 20 hours a week, 46 weeks of the year (for which the going rate can be up to £80,000). It was a mere oversight that this woman had been described in council documents as “Dr”, when she was nothing of the kind.
And, although the parents had wished the mother to be assessed by another psychologist, who found her quite capable of parenting, the lower courts had been within their right to appoint the expert the council wanted.
Thus on all three points, Lord Justice Ryder upheld the current system in a way that will have won plaudits from social workers and family lawyers across the land. Whether the review of his judgment hoped for by the parents, and their advisers from John Hemming MP’s Families for Justice, will agree, it remains to be seen.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Fake Social Worker
December 13, 2014 permalink
In Indiana a woman claiming to be a social worker showed up at the home of April Faulkner demanding custody of her two children. April shut the door in her face and kept her children.
Greenfield Police say woman impersonated DCS worker
GREENFIELD, Ind. -
Police are issuing a crime alert for parents after a Hancock County mother says a woman showed up and demanded custody of the mother's two children. The woman claimed to be with the Department of Child Protective Services.
It all unfolded earlier this week in a quiet residential community right off of Indiana 9, down Douglas Street in Greenfield.
Police say a young mother answered her door to a woman who identified herself as "Miranda" with the Department of Child Services; but as it turns out, there isn't a woman by that name with the department.
April Faulkner and her one-year-old daughter Aaliyah are all smiles after the scary visit from what police call a CPS impersonator.
"She was dressed to the T, very professional in a suit jacket and her hair was in a ponytail she said her name is Miranda and she had these piercing green eyes," Faulkner said.
April says that's what stood out the most. She ended up shutting the door in her face, after trusting what she calls a mother's intuition.
"Her eyes were almost the thing that set me off and I just knew there was something not right about her," Faulkner said.
She called the department, which told her there isn't an active case against the mother of two. Neighbors describe this is a safe and quiet community.
"I'm always cautious when opening my door, but it is usually men I am more cautious off. I don't think I would have been as cautious if a woman had been knocking on my door, but I will be from now on," neighbor Christina Coe said.
Police say to always ask for identification from anyone who comes knocking, especially when they claim to be from CPS.
"The protocol is for them to always have a police officer with them, and they should always have identification indicating where they are working and who they are," said Major Derek Towle with the Greenfield Police Department.
As for April, she can't stop thinking about the "what ifs" -- especially when it comes to her four-year-old son Karson, who can't walk.
"He is on oxygen at night and has sleep apnea so what if I had given her my kids he would have died," Faulkner said.
The suspect in this case, or "Miranda," is described as a woman standing 5'5" tall with an average build and her hair in a ponytail and driving away in a white sporty car.
If you have any information yours to call the Greenfield Police Department at (317) 477-4410.
Source: WTHR Indianapolis
HSLDA Opposes Medical Kidnap
December 11, 2014 permalink
The Home School Legal Defense Association is defending the family of Vanessa Wilson. Her four-year-old diabetic daughter was taken into custody on the opinion of a social worker, though within a day California CPS had three opinions by doctors showing the the girl was well cared for. CPS would not return the girl for 50 days.
Medical Kidnappings Must Stop!
We have all seen the stories of children being taken away from their parents because a doctor doesn’t agree with the family doctor’s medical treatments. These are not cases of medical neglect. They are arrogant abuses of power.
Today, HSLDA has filed a lawsuit against an even more outrageous abuse of power inflicted on a homeschooling mom, Vanessa Wilson.
Doctors were Ignored
On April 3, 2014, a child protective services (CPS) worker seized Vanessa’s 4-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son on allegations of medical neglect. Her evidence? The CPS worker, who had adult type 2 diabetes, looked at some archived results in the daughter’s blood glucose meter and—based solely on her own, personal experience with diabetes—determined that the readings were “dangerously high.”
No medical records were reviewed. No doctor was called.
Convinced of her own medical expertise, the CPS worker—who had two other caseworkers, a casework supervisor, and an armed police officer with her—removed the 4-year-old diabetic daughter from Vanessa upon threat of arrest. The CPS worker also removed Vanessa’s 7-year-old son, who was perfectly healthy.
Think this is outrageous? It only gets worse.
Vanessa’s daughter had been diagnosed only months before with new-onset type 1 juvenile diabetes. There is a significant difference between adult type 2 diabetes and type 1 juvenile diabetes. Since her diagnosis, Vanessa’s daughter had been under the regular care of a pediatrician, who had absolutely no concerns about Vanessa’s ability to care for her daughter. In fact, the blood sugar levels that the CPS worker thought were “dangerous” were perfectly appropriate for the daughter.
Donate to the Homeschool Freedom Fund.
We know this because the caseworkers took the girl to the hospital. There, at the request of the caseworkers, doctors with the requisite knowledge, training, skill, and medical licenses (all of which the CPS workers lacked) performed a hemoglobin A1C test. This is a long-range test that measures the average blood sugar level of the patient over the preceding three months.
On April 4, 2014—the day after the children were taken from Vanessa’s home—these doctors concluded that the girl’s medical condition and blood sugar levels were stable. They also found that the daughter’s diabetes had actually improved since her original diagnosis in January.
Did this cause the CPS workers to relent?
Not even after a second doctor agreed on April 6 that the girl’s overall medical condition and blood sugar levels were stable, and that there was no medical reason why the girl could not be discharged from the hospital immediately.
Suppressing the Evidence
In spite of the clear medical evidence, the CPS workers kept the daughter in custody. On April 8, they went to a detention hearing before a Superior Court judge and asked the judge to keep the children separated from Vanessa. The CPS workers claimed that the daughter’s health had been seriously neglected. But they said absolutely nothing about what the doctors at the hospital had actually found.
What’s more, the lawyer for the State of California continued to argue that this girl was at risk when the CPS worker took her, citing only the inaccurate medical information that the worker had provided.
The silence of the CPS workers and prosecutor is inexcusable. Under California law, when CPS workers ask a doctor to examine a child for evidence of abuse or neglect, they have a statutory duty to disclose the results of that examination to the court and to the parents. Similarly, the Ninth Circuit has held that the United States Constitution places an affirmative duty on the prosecutor to find out what evidence has been discovered that might exonerate the parents, and to disclose it to all parties—especially to the court.
Both the CPS workers and the attorney utterly failed to follow these standards. The State of California’s officials knew the truth, but they remained silent. The court was kept in the dark.
And then the situation got worse.
Refusal to Hear Medical Testimony
HSLDA had an experienced local lawyer, Rex Lowe, appear before the judge to represent Vanessa. Lowe had a medical expert ready to testify during this hearing to explain to the judge that the girl’s blood sugar levels were perfectly appropriate and posed no reason for concern.
But the judge absolutely refused to allow any medical testimony.
Relying solely on the medical opinion of the CPS worker, the judge allowed CPS to keep custody of both the daughter and the son—even though no one ever argued, much less proved, that the son’s health was at risk.
The situation dragged on. Both children remained in CPS’s custody until yet another hearing was held 20 days later. During this time, the CPS workers enrolled the son in public school because they distrusted Vanessa’s home education philosophy. Not a shred of evidence was presented to the court to show that Vanessa had failed to educate her children.
And, yes, as you may have suspected, the injustice became even more blatant.
At the second hearing, HSLDA had two doctors standing by to testify that the girl was not at any medical risk. The two doctors—a pediatrician and an endocrinologist—had personally observed the daughter at the hospital. They were prepared to testify not only that she had not been in any danger at the time she was removed from her home, but also that her diabetes had actually improved while under Vanessa’s care.
Yet once again, the judge refused to allow any such testimony.
And once again, the prosecutor continued to sit silently, withholding the evidence of the state’s own medical evaluation by a qualified doctor, which showed that the girl was fine. Two additional CPS workers were brought into the case at this second hearing. They, too, kept both Vanessa and the court in the dark.
Vanessa’s legal team became suspicious when the family’s pediatrician mentioned that she had examined the daughter at the state’s request the day after CPS took custody. CPS never disclosed any records or reports to the team. Finally, Lowe was able to obtain the girl’s medical records directly from the hospital after an almost four-week delay.
Shocked, Lowe confronted the prosecutor with his discovery that the state had been hiding not one, not two, but three favorable medical examinations—undertaken at the request of CPS by their own licensed doctors—which all confirmed that on the day after Vanessa’s children were removed, CPS knew there was no medical reason to continue detaining them.
The prosecutor promptly dismissed the petition. But the damage had already been done. Vanessa’s 7-year-old son had been held in custody for a total of 29 days. Vanessa’s 4-year-old daughter had been held in custody for 50 days.
All this happened because government agents, who had the knowledge, power, and duty to act, chose to do nothing.
Protecting our Rights
HSLDA is fighting back with a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of this family. You can read the full complaint here.
This civil rights challenge is, first and foremost, for Vanessa and her family. But it is also for every American homeschooler. We cannot stand by when government agents treat any of our families in this outrageous manner.
In a larger sense, this lawsuit is for all American parents. Child welfare personnel and members of the medical profession do important services for our communities. However, this does not give them the power or right to seize children on the basis of preference and conjecture, rather than evidence and real science.
A New York statute says it well: If parents are seeking lawful medical treatment from a licensed practitioner, the government cannot remove the child without convincing evidence of serious harm to the child. That is a wise standard to follow.
In Vanessa’s case, the medical evidence was forbidden by the judge and withheld by the prosecutor. We cannot afford to let this sort of misbehavior pass by unchallenged. It is a threat to our families, our rule of law, and our cherished rights.
This must end. Will you help us with the costs of defending Vanessa and her children?
Baby Unharmed by Car Thief
December 11, 2014 permalink
There have been countless stories of mothers arrested for running into a store while leaving a child in the car. Sometimes child protectors, fearing danger in everyday acts, step in and take the baby. Yesterday there was a real crime.
A mother, unnamed by police but driving a car with Quebec license plates, filled up at a Mississauga gas bar and went in to pay, leaving her nine-month-old baby in a car seat. A thief stole the car. As soon as the thief realized he had taken a baby, he parked it across the street from the gas bar and fled. A building superintendent matched a car described on television with one in his parking lot and alerted police. The baby was recovered within an hour screaming, but unharmed.
So even in the rare case where a real criminal shows up while mom is running into a store, no harm comes to the child.
Baby boy found safe after car stolen from Mississauga gas station
TORONTO – A nine-month-old baby boy has been found safe after a car he was in was reported stolen from a Mississauga area gas station Wednesday morning.
Police say the owner of the vehicle had gone inside a Shell gas station located in the Malton neighbourhood at Rexwood and Derry Road around 9 a.m. when the car was stolen.
The vehicle, a grey Honda CRV, was seen traveling westbound on Derry Road.
But the car was found abandoned in an apartment complex a short distance away with the baby inside shortly before 10 a.m.
Derek Dorio, the superintendent of the building where the baby was found, called 911 to tell police. He said he saw the description of the van on television and noticed a similar van outside of the building.
“The van was out back of my building, so I ran out back, I opened the door and the baby was there. I called 911,” he said. “I was shocked. The baby was screaming, his car seat was almost tilted, he was lying on his side. He was screaming his head. The stereo was blaring.”
He said the car was only there approximately 40 minutes and didn’t see the suspect run away from the car. He noticed the car, he said, because it was parked in an odd place.
Police say the infant is in good health.
There’s no word yet on any suspects.
Source: Global News
Foster Care is Hazardous to Your Health
December 11, 2014 permalink
To the many failings of foster care research has added a new one: foster graduates suffer from poor health. It comes from a study in the journal Pediatrics, Health Outcomes in Young Adults From Foster Care and Economically Diverse Backgrounds. The health deficit of foster children is more than can be accounted for by the poverty of their origins.
Study shows former foster kids face higher risk of future health problems
According to a new study from the journal Pediatrics, adults who were raised in the foster-care system are more likely to have chronic-health problems than those not from foster backgrounds, even after controlling for economic security.
It has long been recognized that foster kids have high rates of health problems as children, but this study is the first to ask what happens when those kids reach adulthood. It considered cardiovascular risk factors and other chronic problems, and it compared three groups of young adults: those formerly in foster care, those from the general public with economically insecure backgrounds, and those from the general public with economically secure backgrounds. The results were graduated among the three groups, from foster care, to economic insecurity, to economic security.
In the paper, the authors explain why their findings are not surprising:
Foster youth are often exposed to poverty and many other adverse childhood experiences including abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and parental substance use, and many undergo frequent placement and school changes while in foster care. Several theories exist regarding the effects of chronic and early exposures to adversity, all of which suggest that the more stressors to which one is exposed, the higher the likelihood of a chronic physical or mental health condition later in life.
However, because these theories regarding adversity haven’t yet been adequately investigated, this study has important implications. Scientific evidence could influence policy-makers to address this problem, perhaps by continuing Medicaid access for former foster kids or granting it to those far below the poverty line, or by offering continued support from the foster-care system into young adulthood. Provisions for the first two changes were made in the Affordable Care Act, and the federal government does offer incentives for states to continue foster care until age 21, but due to technicalities and state-level laws, these benefits are not widely accessible.
The authors also offer a discussion on how the quality of medical care impacts foster youth:
Our access indicators suggest that former foster youth do not perceive a lack of needed medical care during young adulthood; previous analyses reveal that foster youth also perceive similar or higher rates of access to medical care compared with general population youth while they are still in care. However, it is important to note that access to “needed care” does not equate to access to high-quality, evidence-based care…. there is little reason to believe these problems improve as foster youth become young adults facing homelessness, unemployment, and other issues known to affect quality of health care.
Policies and programs may need to be tailored to the unique life experiences of foster youth to have maximal effect, for example, including individualized strategies to promote the formation of trusting relationships with health care and allied providers. Support to maintain these relationships across placement changes may also be beneficial.
The work was conducted by researchers from Seattle Children’s Hospital & Research Institute, the University of Washington School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.
Source: Stanford Medicine
Children Returned After Publicity Barrage
December 11, 2014 permalink
Cleave and Erica May Rengo have three children including twins, Morna Kai Grace and Daniel Clemente, delivered through home birth October second. Shortly after the birth of the twins the state sent workers suggesting a hospital check for the twins and prescribing steroid creams for the eczema of the older boy Levi. The parents refused to follow orders and the state took all three children into custody. The story appeared initially on the website Medical Kidnap, then spread to the mainstream press. In December a court ordered the children reunited with the parents, but still subject to state supervision. The parents did not want to send their babies to a hospital where they could be exposed to infectious diseases. During a month and a half in foster care, Levi has acquired pneumonia. Two articles are enclosed.
The parents are not married according to the laws of the state of Washington. (The state continues to call the wife Erica May Carey). Instead, they took their vows before God. There may be a lot more such couples in the future, conscientious objectors opting out of civil marriage in favor of God. The civil marriage contract can be breached by either party at any time, using the courts to turn the life of the other party into a nightmare. Worse yet, that kind of marriage contract provides no respect at all for the bond between parent and child. The religious marriage is for mutual support of the partners until death, and makes it their right, duty and privilege to produce and care for their own children.
Couple fights for custody of children after home birth
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Erica May Carey and Cleave Rengo haven't applied for a Washington state marriage license, but they said their vows before God.
"We just prayed and invited God to bless our relationship so we'd have a family built on a firm foundation," Rengo said.
They'd only known each other a matter of hours before they decided to spend their lives together. Soon after, they conceived their first son.
Almost immediately after his birth, Carey was pregnant again. This time, the couple's Christian beliefs influenced their decision to have an unassisted home birth.
"I've done a lot of research about other women who have done it and they said the spiritual experience was so much more wholesome," Carey said. "It was just us. We wanted to preserve that sanctity and sacredness in our birth."
To preserve the sacred space of her womb, Carey never even had an ultrasound. It wasn't until immediately after the birth of their second son that the couple realized a twin daughter was on the way.
"I said, 'Erica look!' and she looked at her belly. There was an outline of a small baby in her belly. That's when I discovered we were having twins," Cleave remembered.
The young couple now had three children, all under the age of one year. Erica breastfed all three. Soon after, however, paramedics showed up when someone reported the birth.
According to Carey and Rengo, the paramedics suggested taking the newborns to the hospital for a check up, but they refused, worrying about the twins' health with fragile immune systems among patients fighting disease.
The next day, CPS showed up for the first of several visits.
Officers noticed the 10-month-old's eczema, the couple says, which they treated with natural remedies like probiotics and coconut oil.
They say CPS pushed them to switch to steroid creams, which the couple refused as well.
"It's a very harsh treatment and can have very negative side effects. It can cause damage to bones, the muscular system and liver," Carey said.
"They wanted the authority in my household. I told them, 'I'm a Christian and God gave me the authority in my household'," Rengo said.
Soon after, CPS took all 3 children.
In a petition filed Tuesday, the couple's attorney calls the seizure "unlawful, unconscionable, and inexcusable." Though there were calls to the home about domestic issues prior to the children's birth, the petition claims no evidence of "clear and present danger," rather that CPS is trying to impose their standards of "proper parenting."
Except now, as the petition continues, the couple's oldest son not only has eczema, he is also "suffering from pneumonia" while in state custody.
"That's our flesh and blood," Carey said.
Rengo and Carey missed their son's first birthday last week, and they see their children only once a week.
"Every time it's like torment to my soul when they pull them away from my breasts," Carey cried. "Those are my babies. They're our children. They have no right to them."
DSHS sent the following statement to KING 5:
"Due to confidentiality, we cannot discuss details, except to say that a court determined a child's safety required removal from the home.
No policy of Children's Administration would allow a child to be taken due to a home birth. A home birth is not in any way a child safety risk factor in the view of Children's Administration."
Source: KING-TV Seattle
Judge returns kids to Bellingham parents
Three Bellingham children taken from their parents will be allowed to go back home, but they are still under state protection. Alison Morrow reports. KING
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Three Bellingham children taken from their parents by CPS are now home, but they are still under state protection.
Erica May Carey and Cleave Rengo appeared in court on Friday. Within an hour after the judge's ruling, they picked up their 1-year-old son and 8-week-old twins from the Bellingham CPS office.
"It's amazing," Carey cried. "There were times I was overwhelmed with doubt."
The state's case against the couple focused on domestic calls to police and their medical choices.
The judge called the couple's home "chaotic" and "unstable." He ordered both parents to seek counseling as part of the conditions of the children's return.
Two of those concerns over medical choices for their children include the couple's refusal to take their newborn twins to the hospital after paramedics had recommended a checkup immediately after the babies' unassisted home birth. The couple also stopped using a recommended formula for the children to gain weight and instead went back to using breast milk.
"They projectile vomited that formula and it made them very sick. It's not meant for babies, it's meant for cows," said Erica May Carey in court.
"If I had the choice, we would have chosen to keep them inside the house due to the sensitivity of the newborn baby to outside contaminants," said Cleave Rengo in court.
The couple attributes many of their choices to their Christian beliefs, including their decision to have an unassisted home birth for their twins as well as using probiotics, coconut oil and other natural remedies to treat their 10-month-old son's eczema instead of the recommended steroid cream.
The wife says she made several calls to police about the couple's arguments believing they could help find mediation.
The state has said it would not take children from a home because of a home birth.
It has been about a month and a half since the children have been living with their parents. The couple missed the one-year birthday of their oldest son. Now their attorney says that son, who was diagnosed with eczema and is now in state custody, is also suffering from pneumonia.
While the state attorney's office confirmed in court that CPS originally visited the couple's home when they refused a paramedic's recommendation to have a hospital check-up for the newborns, the judge said his decision to keep the kids under state shelter care had nothing to do with home birth or the use of natural remedies. His biggest concern is what he called an unstable, chaotic home environment.
The parents have been ordered to see counselors and follow other instructions to care for their kids.
"I definitely want to be a better parent," Rengo said.
Source: KING-TV Seattle
Teenager Seized on False Medical Diagnoses
December 9, 2014 permalink
Marc (Marcky) Herrman, who was born prematurely and nearly died in his incubator, has never been in excellent health. In 2009 Marcky's family fled to Canada to escape German persecution of home schoolers. Three years later they took ailing Marcky to Alberta Children's Hospital. His medical history since then has been one of repeated erroneous diagnoses:
Three steps into this list child protectors took over and revoked parental custody. While he was being treated for the eating disorder Marcky was forced to eat large quantities of cheese and milk. It took doctors a year to acknowledge that he was lactose intolerant. The last diagnosis, retard, will be the pretext for holding him as an incompetent adult next year when he reaches age 18.
Medically Kidnapped Teenager In Canada Pleads To Be Returned To His Family
Marc Herrmann is a teenage boy who desperately wants to go home to his family who loves him, but apparently he cannot. The 17-year-old feels he is trapped in what he sees as a cruel system that won’t let him go, and now he is crying out for help. He says he is just “A child in Canada,” who has no voice, who feels like no one is listening.
Teen Speaks Out: Sees Himself as a “Medical Lab Rat”
Marcky, as he is known by those who love him, is not just experiencing normal teenage angst. This is apparently so much more than that. He has allegedly experienced horrendous trauma, not at the hands of his parents, but at the hands of a broken system via Alberta Health Services and Child and Family Services. After a couple of alleged wrong diagnoses, and complications from treatments, he is now in the custody of the Child Protective system in Calgary, Canada, with no end in sight for him.
He says he is tired of being a medical lab rat for research projects to which neither he nor his parents ever agreed. He has been sending messages written in the third person that have been posted on a Facebook page created by friends of his, called “A child in Canada.” Despite the possible risks to himself in coming forward with his story, he says he is ready for his story to be told. He wants somebody to listen and just let him go home to his family.
Being Persecuted in Germany for Homeschooling
Marc and his identical twin were born prematurely in Germany, and faced a number of health issues. Marcky was the sicker of the two babies. It was his mother’s tireless advocacy that ultimately made the difference in his survival. The standard practice in that German hospital, as in many facilities, was to separate the twins in two different incubators. Patricia Herrmann, who grew up in Burma before marrying her German husband, Gottfried, strongly believed that the babies needed to be together. It was only after the doctors had given up hope for Marc, and with prayerful intervention from an elderly priest, that the doctors agreed to put the twins together. It worked like a miracle, and Marcky got better. The boys came home.
Their health was still delicate, however. Marc’s lungs functioned at only a 10 to 20% capacity, and he has a number of health issues, including being lactose intolerant. The Herrmanns are a close-knit, devoutly Christian family. Largely because of Marc’s health, they made the decision to homeschool the twins. They had a lung specialist’s recommendation to do so after he prescribed oxygen machines for Marcky.
According to Dr. Wilfred Saldanha, Patricia’s brother, “Pat and Gottfried have one main passion in life: to do the very best for their children … [they] have done absolutely everything in their power to make life better for them.”
However, families do not have the freedom to choose homeschooling in Germany, even for health or religious reasons, and they often face persecution and even seizure of their children by the government. Because of that fear, the Herrmanns left Germany and arrived in Canada in 2007 as refugees.
They were safe, they thought.
They were apparently wrong.
Living in Canada as a Refugee with Health Problems
In 2012, Marc’s health, which had never been good, suddenly took a turn for the worse. On November 20, 2012, his uninsured parents took him to Alberta Children’s Hospital because his eyes were crossing. He grew weaker while they waited in the emergency room. After a series of tests, he was diagnosed with Miller Fisher Syndrome, which is a variant of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. According to Right Diagnosis, the standard treatment is IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin), which was started immediately.
Miller Fisher was allegedly a misdiagnosis, however, and the side effects of the IVIG treatment were reported to be significant. Marc began to experience high blood pressure, fever, nausea, rashes, and sensitivity to light.
He was then allegedly diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy. He got to the point where he couldn’t even walk, and was discharged a few days later in a wheelchair. He began fainting and losing weight, but the Herrmann’s report that the doctor wasn’t concerned, saying that it was a part of the Wernicke’s.
Despite several months of follow-up by the same physician, Marc was still losing weight, no matter how much he ate. They returned to the hospital in September of 2013, very concerned about the weight loss and a low heart rate. They learned that the Wernicke’s was again allegedly a misdiagnosis. They just wanted to figure out what was actually wrong and asked to transfer to a different hospital for a second opinion.
Social Service Agency Seizes Custody for Seeking a Second Medical Opinion
That is when Child and Family Services (CSFA) allegedly took over and seized custody, citing that Marc’s parents were neglectful and caused his weight loss. The doctor who had misdiagnosed him twice was allowed to stay on his case, and reportedly changed the diagnosis to EDNOS – Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Marc was reportedly sent for treatment at the Eating Disorder Program in Unit 26 of the Foothills Medical Centre, which is part of the Alberta Health Services. He was eventually placed in foster care.
Marc Becomes Subject of Medical Research
According to messages that were sent to family and friends by Marc, once the state took over his care, he was subjected to a number of questionable practices. He was allegedly entered into research studies without his or his parents’ consent. Marc, a vegan by choice, was put on a high-calorie diet and told that he was not lactose intolerant. He was compelled to eat large amounts of cheese and drink lots of milk. When he had severe stomach pain and bloating from the dairy products and huge volume of food, he says that “no one cared.” It was after almost a year that the doctors allegedly acknowledged that Marc was, indeed, lactose intolerant, just as he and his parents had said.
To date, no one has reportedly discovered why Marc continues to have weight loss problems. The Eating Disorder Team has retracted their diagnosis of the eating disorder, changing it to yet another illness called ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, allegedly never even running tests to see if there is a physiological basis for his symptoms.
Persecuted for Christian Beliefs?
While he was in treatment, Marc reportedly put up Bible verses on the walls in his room in Unit 26. Those were allegedly removed by the staff. Marc was allegedly told that he didn’t have approval for them and that they “contradict the treatment plan.”
He was allegedly told that his Christian mother was a bad influence because she was always talking about God. Patricia Herrmann reports that Marcky has long supported ministries like In Touch Ministries with Charles Stanley, and others, with his own money. For that, Marc has been ridiculed and even allegedly been called mentally ill because he believes in God. His parents have allegedly been called crazy by the CFSA because they believe in miracles, including the one that saved Marcky’s life as an infant.
Isolated from Family and Friends
Marc has been denied access to a phone or to the internet, where he wanted to research the various diagnoses and treatments to which he was being subjected. He has also sought to research the various medications that he has been given. A teenage boy has been taken away from his friends and family, and kept away from his twin brother and older sister. He hasn’t seen his parents alone for a year. When he does see them, he is forbidden to hug them.
He also has not been permitted to attend school for the past year.
Labeled as “Retard” – State to Retain Custody After Age 18
Marc is fluent in two languages, and his writings, albeit with spelling and grammatical errors, reveal a deeply philosophical, intelligent young man. Despite this, at some point during his captivity, he underwent an assessment that allegedly has labelled him as “Retard.” Because of this diagnosis, he may not be free to leave state custody when he turns 18 in a few months, because he would become a ward of the Office of the Public Guardian indefinitely. The state has allegedly already made application to be his Public Guardian and had a representative present at Marc’s latest hearing.
Physician Uncle is Concerned
His uncle is a physician in the United States, and has followed Marc’s health reports since his birth. But he has been denied access to any of the medical and psychological records since CFSA took custody, even though he has the full consent of Marc’s parents. When he traveled to Canada for a visit last summer, Dr. Saldanha was only allowed a supervised visit with his nephew, and was forbidden to speak with him about his medical status, CFSA, or the foster home. When Health Impact News spoke with Dr. Saldanha, he expressed great concern about the well-being of his nephew. He says that, “up to this day, I do not know what exactly is going on with [Marc] and what the real concerns and reasons from the Canadian authorities are” which are keeping Marc in state custody and away from his family. He believes that Marc belongs with the parents who love him.
Canadian Foster Care System Criticized for Deaths
Canada’s foster care system has come under sharp criticism in recent years. The Edmonton Journal published a series of articles exposing the fact that 741 children in the Alberta, Canada, child welfare system died between 1999 and 2013. As recently as July 2014, it was illegal for parents to name or post pictures of their own children who died within the system. Canadians apparently do not speak freely about alleged abuses within the CFSA system. There are rumors that speaking out may be very dangerous.
Cost of Legal Fees Prohibitive
That is why it is remarkable that Marc Herrmann is speaking out now and sharing his story publicly, in the strong hope that people will stand up for him, and others like him.
During the most recent hearing on November 12, CFSA was allegedly awarded permanent guardianship. The cost for his parents to appeal the decision is prohibitively high in Canada, and even then, justice is allegedly elusive in this particular family court. Families are required to pay 50 cents per word for the transcript of the hearing before an appeal can be filed. There are more than 2,000 pages in the transcript. The deadline for appeal is December 12.
Marc’s Public Statement for Help
Marc cannot do anything to get himself free, and he is pleading for help. This is his letter to all of us:
To Whom It May Concern:
This is Marcky Herrmann (Marc Herrmann)
It has been a really long time and there has been little to no justice for my Family!
All the good positives was ignored and My family and I were not listend to.
I have no life anymore , no phone , no friends because of all the ‘restrictions’ to the so called “safety” of CFS. They dont let me talk to anyone bassicly..
I feel like im in prison I WANT TO GO HOME I WANT TO GO BACK TO MY FAMILY.
I want to go home I want to be with my family
I do not want to be in care , in Foster care or in Child and Family Services care.
They have done nothing but try to rip me and my family apart.
My mom and dad are good parents and know me better than anyone else.
I want to go home and i want to be with my family.
I do not deserve to be or want to be in Foster Care.
Foster care is not my home.. Home is my home with my Family i grew up with that i love and care about.. I am very sad about not being at home this is my life this is my body anhd i want to treat my body the way i want to treat it.. I want to be healthy and my parents know how to make me healthy.
But were never given a chance because of the lies and minuplations by Child and Family Services..
Please i need this court appealed , the judge did not make the right desicion and i need to be with my parents. i want to be with my parents.
I have never had any unsupervised contact even with mom and dad even though all is fine. All the accusations and assumeations by CFS are lies! and If mom and dad wouldve beeen allowed to be part in taking part in Doctor appointsments and stuff .. My life is not nromal anymore I am sad and I want to be with my family.
and EVEYRTHING with me and my family is positive.. I feel like we do not have any privacy! I am not even allowed to have my phone or anything .. I HAVE NO LIFE NO FREEDOM IM NOT IN THE PLACE WHERE I WANT TO BE I WANT TO GO AND LIVE HOME Please do something about this! MY SOCIAL WORKER DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO HELP ME AND MY FAMILY.
Here are some people that may be contacted about Marc’s story. International phone rates apply from the US.
Family Court Judge Larochelle 403-297-3937
Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuck 780-455-7979. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and she has a Facebook page and Twitter account @HeatherKlimchuck.
Human Services Associate Minister Naresh Bhardwaj has a Twitter account @MLA_Bhardwaj.
Office of the Public Guardian 888-357-9339 or 877-427-4525
Two Babies Lost to Motherisk
December 9, 2014 permalink
Christine Rupert is a mother who lost her two children because of the tests performed by Motherisk.
Hair drug tests: A mother’s anguish over losing her girls
An unknown number of parents lost their children based, in part, on the Sick Kids’ hair drug tests now under review. Christine Rupert is one of them.
The last time Christine Rupert saw her daughters was in a dingy church basement in Kitchener, surrounded by awkward and emotional reunions between other parents and their kids.
It was September 2008. Molly, a tentative 18-month-old with fine brown hair and wide eyes, sat as if glued to her mom’s lap. Emily, 6 months, mainly snoozed in her car seat.
Both girls, whose names have been changed to protect their identities, were removed at birth because of their mom’s suspected cocaine use, though both newborns tested negative for drugs. They remained in foster care based, primarily, on hair tests that showed Rupert was a heavy cocaine user — a finding she fiercely denied and was going to great lengths to disprove.
Rupert acknowledged she had previously done cocaine recreationally, at parties, a few times a year. However, she was adamant she had not taken the drug since fall 2006, and had always been a good mom to her kids, including two older sons and a brother she took in as her own.
The two-hour visits were supervised by the Children’s Aid Society, and always unfolded the same way. Molly might loosen her grip enough to play with a toy or eat a snack, but when it was time to say goodbye again, she would start wailing.
Rupert waited until the girls were out of sight before she let her own tears flow. It always felt as if she was losing them for the first time.
By the time the case was decided, Rupert had produced nearly 70 clean urine tests, cut ties with an abusive ex, and had ample money and space to care for the girls. But in April 2009, a judge made both Molly and Emily wards of the province. They were adopted by separate families, without access to their mom.
The main reason the judge gave for his decision: Positive cocaine hair test results from the Motherisk laboratory at the Hospital for Sick Children.
Child protection cases are inherently messy. Using their best judgment, children’s aid workers make life-changing decisions for families based on real and perceived risks to kids in circumstances that often fall short of typical, middle-class expectations.
Until recently, Motherisk’s hair drug and alcohol tests have been accepted without challenge as evidence of parental substance abuse in Ontario courts, where they are seen as a rare, quantifiable measure in a sea of intangibles, which family lawyers say can easily tip the scales.
In November, amid an ongoing Star investigation into the reliability of Motherisk’s analysis, the province appointed retired Court of Appeal Justice Susan Lang to probe five years’ worth of hair drug tests performed by the lab. The independent review is a first step that could lead to a much larger inquiry into individual cases.
Lang is specifically investigating hair drug tests from 2005 to 2010, before Motherisk started analyzing samples using a technique widely regarded as the gold standard, to determine whether the results were used appropriately in child protection and criminal proceedings.
During this period, an unknown number of parents lost their kids based, in some part, on Motherisk’s hair drug tests.
Christine Rupert is one of them.
Strict privacy rules, intended to protect the kids involved, prevent children’s aid societies from discussing specific cases and anyone except the parties involved from accessing related court files.
But the copies of court documents Rupert provided for this story — including affidavits from children’s aid workers, drug test results and the final judgment — state that the battle over her daughters began in September 2006, when she was in the early stages of her pregnancy with Molly, her first girl.
The hospital in Kitchener alerted Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region after Rupert was brought in for treatment upon “passing out in a car,” according to the 2009 judgment. She tested positive for cocaine.
Rupert, who disputes many of the claims children’s aid and the court outlined in the documents, says she fainted during a heated fight with Molly’s father, John.
She says the last time she did cocaine was at a party, before she realized she was pregnant — a fact she says she shared with children’s aid. But she says John, whose name has been changed, was a heavy user. She believes her exposure to him may have played a role in the positive test.
Their relationship, which was on-and-off by that point, was her first real exposure to hard drugs, she says. He had violent mood swings, and physically overpowered her on several occasions.
It was a rare rough patch for Rupert, 44, who had spent the bulk of her adult years as a hard-working single mom, juggling multiple jobs to provide for her two boys and younger brother.
But as soon as she found out she was pregnant with Molly “she was straight as a judge,” says her brother, Mike Ouimet. She gave up drinking and smoking, Ouimet says, but remained concerned about the effects of the cocaine she used before she knew about the baby. “She was pretty torn up about that,” he says.
According to a letter to Rupert’s lawyer from a drug-testing consultant who testified at court, she started submitting to urine drug screening in December 2006, and tested negative for drugs throughout the pregnancy. (The negative urine screens during this period are also noted in the 2009 judgment.)
Motherisk’s first documented involvement in the case was when Molly was born in the spring of 2007. The lab tested the baby’s hair and first stool for drugs. Both tests came back clean.
However, Molly was apprehended at birth, according to the judgment, “when the mother would not sign a temporary care agreement” so she could “attend for drug treatment and secure housing.”
Rupert says she did not need drug treatment because she was not using drugs. She had the means to rent a place but had moved into Anselma House, a crisis centre for abused women, where she says children’s aid told her she had to stay “or they would take the baby.”
The discrepancy, she says, is an example of how the Children’s Aid Society refused to consider evidence that did not support their suspicions.
“They nailed me to the flipping wall,” she says. “I had nowhere to go.”
She says she rented an apartment but stayed at Anselma House, in large part to convince children’s aid that she was not using drugs and was protected from John, and kept fighting to get Molly back. (In an affidavit filed in court, a children’s aid worker confirmed he visited her at a two-bedroom townhouse later that year.)
The first hair drug screen mentioned in the documents was performed in June 2007 at the request of children’s aid, through Life Labs, then called MDS, and came back positive for cocaine. Subsequent hair drug tests conducted through Life Labs in October, January and February were positive for cocaine, but the concentrations varied widely.
As a result of the January 2008 hair test results, the society amended its protection application for Molly to seek to make her a Crown ward with no access to her mom “for the purpose of meeting her need for permanency through her being adopted,” according to a worker’s affidavit.
Rupert, who consistently maintained she was not doing drugs, was determined to prove the tests wrong. She soon enlisted the help of Motherisk, which she believed would prove her case.
The positive hair tests baffled Rupert, whose 70 urine tests had come back clean for drugs in all but one instance over the course of several years.
In early 2008, she did some research and learned that because hair grows at about one centimetre per month, the hair matrix can be tested in one-month segments, to reveal historical drug use.
Motherisk performed these segmented hair tests, and she hoped the results would disprove what was coming back from Life Labs.
The pressure, meanwhile, had ratcheted up: Rupert was due to give birth again in the spring.
“As soon as she found out she was pregnant, it was like a quest for her. She was going to be able to keep (the baby),” her brother recalls.
On Feb. 5 and April 18, 2008, by her choice and at her expense, she submitted hair samples to both Life Labs and Motherisk, so two independent facilities could test her hair.
All the tests came back positive for cocaine, with varying concentrations between the medium and high ranges.
It is not clear if the tests were conducted independently. Life Labs spokesman Mitchell Toker told the Star in an email that, from 2007 to 2009, his company collected samples and sent them either to Motherisk or another lab for “testing and analysis,” depending on how the request was made.
He said he could not discuss the specifics of the case and none of the documents the Star obtained, including the 2009 judgment, mention a connection between Life Labs and Motherisk, which declined to comment for this story.
When Emily was born, Rupert says she refused pain medication, believing it could taint future drug tests.
But despite dozens of clean urine tests — she tested positive once, before she was pregnant with Emily — the newborn was taken from her, “due to the results of the hair screens,” the 2009 judgment states.
Documents in Christine Rupert's home related to the removal of her children by Children's Aid Society.
Like her sister, Emily’s hair and first stool tested negative for drugs, according to Motherisk’s analysis. And like her sister, she remained in foster care anyway.
“Christine was literally incoherent for about a week,” her brother says. “She was in her room, pretty much just sobbing uncontrollably.”
Two crucial, largely unanswered questions in Rupert’s case are how her hair was tested for cocaine, and the reliability of those tests.
The province decided to probe Motherisk after the Star reported on questions surrounding the accuracy of the type of hair drug test the lab performed in 2005 and presented in a 2009 criminal case. The Court of Appeal tossed the cocaine-related convictions in that case in October, after fresh expert evidence criticized Motherisk’s hair tests as “preliminary.”
Although forensic standards stipulate hair tests presented in court must be confirmed with a gold-standard test, Sick Kids has said Motherisk did not start using the confirmatory test until 2010, casting doubt over at least five years of analysis.
However, in a letter to the children’s aid worker in Rupert’s case during her final hearing, Motherisk manager Joey Gareri stated that a sample collected in January 2009 had been tested with one of the gold-standard tests “as pertinent to the case history involved with this client.”
It appears that test was done at U.S. Drug Testing Laboratories in Des Plaines, Ill., which Gareri referred to as “Motherisk’s reference laboratory.” Gareri also stated that several samples identified during the court proceedings “had not previously been confirmed with secondary analysis.”
One of those samples did not have enough hair remaining for further testing, he said. In the other case, he said the amount of hair was “borderline sufficient and successful analysis may not be possible.” The outcome of that effort is not known.
Gareri said the analysis performed on the hair sample from January 2009 showed “significant cocaine exposure” during the previous six-month period.
“The result falls into the ‘high’ range of exposure, indicating it is about the 75th percentile for positive cocaine findings in our laboratory’s client population,” he said.
Toker said he “cannot speak to how hair samples were analyzed” through Life Labs.
Although Emily’s hair tested negative for cocaine at birth, it tested positive for the drug six weeks later and again in October 2008. (Molly’s hair never tested positive.)
Rupert, whose urine screens continued to be clean throughout this period when she never had custody of her daughter, wondered if perhaps the baby had somehow been exposed to the drug at the group access centre, where supervised visits were held with other parents.
At the hearing, Gareri testified that if the mother didn’t do cocaine until the final days of her pregnancy, it was possible for the baby’s first stool and hair samples to test negative, but there could be “a positive result on more hair that grew out from the scalp following the birth.”
About six months before her final hearing, Rupert’s visits with the girls at an access centre stopped, following an emotional breakdown in fall 2008.
A letter to her lawyer from children’s aid stated that visits were being temporarily suspended until she recovered. In an affidavit, a children’s aid worker said he was advised in November 2008 that Rupert “wished to have no contact” with him. She says she later tried to resume visits, but children’s aid told her lawyer to hold off until court proceedings were through.
Rupert says the breakdown was due to the anxiety of trying for years to prove her innocence.
“They kept saying, ‘Stop doing drugs.’ I kept saying, ‘I’m not on fricking drugs. Somebody please help me,’” she recalls. “I kept going back for these stupid tests. But these stupid tests kept coming back worse. I was digging a hole.”
Karen Spencer, the acting director of Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region, said she could not respond to specific questions about the case, but in general, said hair drug tests are “one factor out of many factors” that are considered in child protection cases.
“We would never made a decision to apprehend children or take parents’ rights away — to make kids Crown wards — based on a positive hair test alone,” she said. “It really is based on the parents’ ability to safely care for their children.”
Spencer also said it is relatively rare for the agency to use drug screens in child protection matters. She said she has no plans to discontinue the relationship with Motherisk in light of the review, or any concerns about past cases that may have relied on the lab’s analysis.
The judge that made Molly and Emily Crown wards cited several factors in his decision, including the “emotional breakdown” and the recent lack of contact with the girls, which he claimed Rupert initiated “to meet her own emotional needs.”
“To abandon them completely indicates that she could not really have been concerned about the care they were receiving in their foster homes,” he wrote.
However, he said he believed she had overcome other challenges, including ending all involvement with their father, and taking “appropriate steps to ensure her safety from him.” The judge said he had “no doubt” she had “appropriate accommodation” for the girls and the “appropriate furnishings to meet their needs.”
From the time Rupert had Molly, reasons children’s aid cited for seeking protective custody did not include observations of visible impairment or drug use, according to the documents obtained by the Star.
International experts, a British high court and a U.S. government department have raised questions about the reliability of hair drug and alcohol tests in general, as the Star has previously reported, but it does not appear doubts about the effects of hair products, colour or other concerns were considered in this case.
Despite Rupert's insistence she had not done cocaine since fall 2006, the positive drug hair tests remained the major sticking point.
Gareri and another expert (who Rupert called) testified that the levels of cocaine in her hair could not have been caused by passive exposure unless she were living in a crack house or processing cocaine daily, which there was “no evidence” she was doing, the judgment states. Hair tests, unlike urine tests, could not be falsified, they said.
“The difficulty with her plan is whether the children can be protected from harm in her care. I find they cannot,” the judge wrote. “Ms Rupert is either using cocaine, is accidentally ingesting cocaine regularly or is in an environment regularly that is producing high amounts of cocaine.”
The girls, the judge noted, were “both thriving and are adoptable.”
“Any access order to Ms Rupert . . . would impair the girls’ opportunity for adoption,” he wrote. “They are very young and should not spend a moment more in temporary care, but should become part of a permanent family home.”
On a recent afternoon, Rupert sat at her dining room table in Bracebridge, sipping coffee and flipping through old photos of her daughters.
For the purposes of the visit, she had hauled out all of her files from storage, which fill about a dozen bankers’ boxes.
After she lost the girls for good, she had to leave Kitchener, because she couldn’t stop looking for them, in the faces of the babies in strollers at the grocery store, in cars, on the streets.
“I wasn’t having a normal day-to-day life,” she says. “I couldn’t function.”
When she heard about the province’s review, she started to cry.
“This wrecked my life,” she says. “The girls — I don’t even know where they are. I don’t even know if they’re OK.”
It is difficult to think about where to place her hope if the review leads to a larger inquiry — if a court decides she was right all along.
“I can’t say that I would go back in and remove them from where they are now. Does the selfish person in me want to? Oh yeah. But the loving mother in me also says that I can’t disrupt their lives even more than what’s already happened,” she says. “I don’t even know what the answer is.”
Source: Toronto Star
Family Raped by ACS
December 9, 2014 permalink
A lawsuit says battered drug addict Joanna Bernal went to New York's Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) for help with her family of three children. Instead of helping, worker George Alejandro kept her sedated with prescription drugs and got her pregnant. He tried to induce an abortion, but the baby survived. In a later encounter with ACS, psychologist Juanita Guerra tried to hypnotize the grandmother. When she refused, Gurrra had the children placed in an abusive foster home.
Are these accusations the truth or the delusions of a woman on drugs? Borrowing a phrase from their own jargon, the accusations are "consistent with social work practice".
Suit reveals wild abuse claims against Children’s Services
A family desperately seeking help from the city Administration for Children’s Services endured years of abuse from the agency’s workers — including a counselor who impregnated one member and a cruel hypnotist who wouldn’t take no for an answer, a new lawsuit charges.
Queens mom of three Joanna Bernal was battered and drug-addled when she sought help from ACS-contracted counselor George Alejandro, the $20 million suit says. But instead of aiding Bernal, Alejandro allegedly kept her sedated with prescription meds and exploited her sexually.
“George is a very, very bad man,” Joanna’s sister Diana told The Post. “He abused her. He got her pregnant. Then he tried to take the baby out of her.”
When Bernal became pregnant, the court papers say, Alejandro told her she needed to abort the child and took her to a hotel to “to rip the baby from her insides.”
She bled so heavily afterward that Alejandro got nervous and rushed her to Jamaica Hospital, the suit charges. Doctors were able to save her and she gave birth to a healthy girl.
Alejandro denied to The Post on Sunday that he fathered the child and that he attempted to abort it himself.
“No way. I’m a Christian,” he said. “I don’t know if you know what that means. We believe in pro-life.”
Years later, the family sought help once again from another ACS contractor, psychologist Juanita Guerra, who tried to force the grandmother into a hypnotism, the suit claims.
She resisted, and Guerra moved to take the children out of the home in retaliation, according to the lawsuit. The kids were transferred to a foster home, where one was sexually abused by another child in the home, the suit says.
Guerra did not respond to a request for comment.
ACS said it is “committed to protecting” the city’s children, and “will review this matter.”
Source: New York Post
Judge Reverses His Own Gag Order
December 6, 2014 permalink
When the Connecticut Law Tribune wanted to print an article on a civil case involving a juvenile, a judge issued a gag order preventing publication. Nothing unusual so far. But when the journal decided to appeal the decision, the judge vacated his own order, leaving it free to publish the story.
Judge Lifts His Order Barring CT Law Tribune From Publishing Story
NEW BRITAIN — A Superior Court judge lifted his own ruling Wednesday that prohibited the Connecticut Law Tribune from publishing a story about a child protection case, saying the order no longer made sense because information about the case had already been published by other media outlets.
"If we don't get a ruling from the Supreme Court that clarifies what the rules on prior restraint are in Connecticut or even clarity that this prior restraint wasn't OK under federal law, then what is going to stop this judge or any trial court judge in the future from issuing a similar order without that clarity?" said Sandra Staub, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.
Wednesday's order followed an emergency hearing Frazzini held Monday in Superior Court in New Britain about his decision and a move last Friday by the state Supreme Court to transfer the Law Tribune's appeal of Frazzini's order "to itself." Last week, Daniel J. Klau, the attorney representing the Law Tribune, filed a motion asking the state's appellate court to stay Frazzini's order.
That prior restraint order — which Frazzini issued orally from the bench and later explained in a 17-page ruling that was unsealed late Wednesday — was sharply criticized by free-speech advocates but lauded by those who argue that privacy issues in child protection cases trump First Amendment rights.
Late Wednesday, the state Supreme Court ordered all parties in the case to file written briefs by Dec. 10 that explain why the appeal should not be dismissed as moot in light of Frazzini's reversal of the prior restraint and his decision not to put a stay on that reversal, Klau said.
"The Supreme Court should hear the case and issue a decision that explains clearly that the First Amendment does not allow what Judge Frazzini did in this case, so no judge does something similar," Klau said.
The Law Tribune's appeal is supported by a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, two open government organizations, three media organizations and more than a dozen media outlets, including the Hartford Courant.
The attorney for the mother involved in the family case, Steven Dembo, who requested the injunction, did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.
Dembo Monday had urged Frazzini not to vacate his ruling, saying the court needed to follow state laws regarding the privacy of juveniles in court to ensure that no further information was published about the case. The father wants his children removed from the custody of the state Department of Children and Families and has filed documents in court that have since gone public.
In juvenile cases in Connecticut, judges have the discretion to allow only certain participants to attend court proceedings. State law says the court "may, for the child's safety and protection and for good cause shown, prohibit any person or representative of any agency, entity or association, including a representative of the news media, who is present in court from further disclosing any information that would identify the child, the custodian or caretaker of the child or the members of the child's family" involved in the hearing.
Klau had objected to the mother's motion, saying a prior restraint on the publication was a violation of the First Amendment. Prior restraint orders are often found to be unconstitutional. A widely recognized exception is in cases that involve national security.
In issuing the prior restraint, Frazzini said in his decision that he weighed the confidentiality of juvenile records and proceedings and protecting the identity of children in the case against the Law Tribune's right to publish their story, Klau said.
Frazzini decided that the confidentiality of the children and the potential for harm to them if their names were made public outweighed the First Amendment rights of the Law Tribune to publish, Klau said.
But after his ruling, news outlets wrote about the child protection case and in some cases, published a document related to the case that was once made public but was later sealed.
At Monday's hearing, Frazzini questioned his initial ruling, asking attorneys on both sides of the issue whether his order still protected the interests of those he set out to protect in the first place since information about the case has been published.
Though widespread news coverage related to the child protection case has focused on the judge's controversial ruling, some stories have included details about the case and identified the family members involved.
Frazzini said Wednesday that the the order served no particular purpose any longer, given what had already been published and how widespread the story had become, Klau said.
Klau said it was unclear late Wednesday when the Law Tribune would publish the story.
William V. Dunlap, a professor of constitutional law at Quinnipiac University School of Law, said he expected Frazzini's prior restraint order to be reversed by Frazzini himself or a higher court because it was so "patently unconstitutional."
Frazzini "probably would prefer just to settle it now and not have it go up on appeal, but the parties involved and the press in general have an interest in getting a broader decision on it," Dunlap said.
Source: Hartford Courant
Alberta Bureaucrat Resigns in Frustration
December 6, 2014 permalink
Dr Lionel Dibden has resigned as chair of Alberta's Council for Quality Assurance. With the diplomatic restraint of a professional public servant he said: “Regrettably, I feel that under my direction the council has been unable to fulfil its mandate effectively and I am no longer able to hold the position.” And: “I have experienced frustrations, which have in part contributed to my decision to leave the role.”
Before resignation he advocated for “fully transparent,” “comprehensive and robust” internal quality assurance investigation after every single death or serious injury of a child whose life was touched by the intervention system. He did not get it. Research by fixcas has shown that in the US, official statistics on foster child deaths are misrepresented to absurdly low levels. There is no comparable research for Canada, not because Canadian numbers are more accurate, but because so little Canadian information is published that no such analysis is possible. With Dr Dibden's resignation the tradition of concealing deaths in foster care can continue.
Attempts to improve child death reviews thwarted, documents say
Respected pediatrician quits council in frustration
EDMONTON - A high-profile pediatrician and child abuse expert has resigned from a government council after efforts to improve Alberta’s internal child death investigation process were rejected by ministry officials.
In a resignation letter dated Nov. 27, Dr. Lionel Dibden stepped down as chair of the Council for Quality Assurance, a quasi-independent expert committee with a mandate to help strengthen the province’s child intervention services. The council also has the power to convene expert panels.
“Regrettably, I feel that under my direction the council has been unable to fulfil its mandate effectively and I am no longer able to hold the position,” Dibden wrote in the letter.
“I have experienced frustrations, which have in part contributed to my decision to leave the role,” Dibden added when reached Tuesday evening.
“That’s no surprise to anybody.”
Internal government documents obtained separately by the Journal show the council recommended government conduct a “fully transparent,” “comprehensive and robust” internal quality assurance investigation after every single death or serious injury of a child whose life was touched by the intervention system.
The council insisted that “failure to respect these guiding principles will be seen by many as a way to reduce accountability and potential learnings from an incident.
“The integrity of the process may easily be brought into question,” the council said.
Yet sources close to the council say the ministry maintains that some deaths — such as those of medically fragile children — do not merit review. Further, ministry officials believe there is no need to conduct an investigation when the Child and Youth Advocate or the Fatality Review Board are reviewing the case — even though the advocate and the courts have substantively different objectives than an internal review.
Barring a thorough review of every case, the council said the government ought to publicly explain why the ministry decided for or against a review — another recommendation that was rejected.
The council also said reviews should include the child’s entire experience in the system, insisting a limited scope would “damage the integrity of the process.” The ministry elected instead to limit case reviews to the two-year period preceding a child’s death or serious injury.
Finally, the ministry has failed to establish two expert panels called by the council nearly one year ago.
Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuk dodged questions about Dibden’s resignation and what it says about the ministry’s ongoing rejection of the council’s recommendations. She thanked Dibden for his service and said she has laid out new expectations for the council, but did not elaborate except to say “it will become very clear soon.”
“I’m still working through the process with them, so it’s early days,” Klimchuk said.
Acting chair Donna Wallace declined to comment on the leaked documents, but lamented Dibden’s departure as chair.
“We’ve lost a very strong leader of our council, who had enormous valuable experience, well-respected in his field and in government,” she said.
“It’s a huge loss for the council, a huge loss for the government, and it’s a loss for all the vulnerable children who are in care.”
Source: Edmonton Journal
The New Dark Ages
December 6, 2014 permalink
Lenore Skenazy writes in Time on the absurdity of today's over-protective culture towards children.
The Cult of Kiddie Danger
We think we are enlightened in this quest to keep kids safe. Actually, we have entered a new Dark Ages, fearing evil all around us.
The Richland, WA, school district is phasing out swings on its playgrounds. As the district’s spokesman recently told KEPR TV: “It’s just really a safety issue. Swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment on a playground.”
Ah yes, those dangling doom machines. All they sow is death and despair.
But while this sounds like yet another example of how liability concerns are killing childhood (seen a see-saw anywhere in the last 20 years? A slide higher than your neck?), it’s deeper than that. Insurance underwriters are merely the high priests of what has become our new American religion: the Cult of Kiddie Danger. It is founded on the unshakable belief that our kids are in constant danger from everyone and everything.
The devout pray like this: “Oh Lord, show me the way my child is in deathly danger from __________, that I may cast it out.” And then they fill in the blank with anything we might have hitherto considered allowing our children to eat, watch, visit, touch, or do, e.g., “Sleep over at a friend’s,” “Microwave the macaroni in a plastic dish,” or even, “Play outside, unsupervised.”
The Cult’s dogma is taught diligently unto our children who are not allowed to use Chapstick unless it is administered by the school nurse, nor sunscreen, lest they quaff it and die of poisoning, nor, for the same reason, soft soap in pre-k. It doesn’t matter that these fears are wildly at odds with reality. They are religious beliefs, not rational ones.
What’s more, this is a state religion, so the teachings are enforced by the cops and courts. Those who step outside the orthodoxy face punishment swift and merciless.
You can’t step outside at all, in fact. Americans are not allowed to believe any public place is safe for their children, ever, without constant supervision. Trust is taboo.
The logical under-current is illogical, as it’s based on a hapless understanding of basic statistics. How many children are kidnapped by strangers in a year? About one in 1.5 million — those are incredibly great odds. But odds don’t matter when we’re evangelizing about a vision of death and destruction.
That’s why, last winter, when a New Jersey mom left her sleeping 18-month-old in the car for 5-10 minutes while she ran an errand at an upscale shopping mall, she returned to find herself under arrest. Though the child was completely fine — he seems to have slept through the whole “incident” — the mom was found guilty of abuse or negligence. An appeals court of three judges upheld this conviction with the comment, “We need not describe at any length the parade of horribles that could have attended [the child’s] neglect.”
In other words: The judges need not spell out their Boschian fantasies. If an authority can envision something “horrible” happening — and even turn that adjective into a noun — it doesn’t matter how farfetched any actual scenario is. (In fact, the danger of dragging your child across the parking lot is larger than letting him wait in the car a few minutes.) Anyone doubting constant danger is a heretic. The mom is now excommunicated — that is, she’s on the New Jersey Child Abuse Registry. Good luck to her if she hoped to work with kids, at least while the case makes its way to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
And if you can stand to hear another one of these, a similar case concerns a Chicagoland mom who let her young son wait in the car for less than five minutes this September while she, too, ran an errand. An onlooker alerted the authorities, which brought not only the police but also the paramedics, who proceeded to examine the child as if he had been in grave danger. Sure, it’s the same grave danger any of us face when sitting in traffic — four minutes in an unmoving car. But magically, because the mom was not directly supervising the child, it transmogrified into a near-death experience.
Zero Tolerance laws are another code of the Cult, stemming from the same belief that while the danger to a child might seem minimal to the point of non-existent, to true believers it looms large and immediate. And so children have been suspended around the country for a plastic gun the size of a toothpick, a Lego gun the size of a quarter, and the infamous “gun” made out of a Pop Tart. And by “made” I mean “bitten into the shape of, by a 7 year old.”
How can we explain any of this hysteria if not by religious fervor? To see danger where there is none is no longer considered crazy, it’s a mission. Many authorities seem to believe the more danger they can imagine, the holier they are. In a letter home to parents, the principal at the Pop-Tart school wrote, “While no physical threats were made and no one [was] harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom.”
Had to? Because…he had a Pop Tart? Or because the boy with the pastry pistol was magically dangerous, like a witch with her cat?
In a society that believes children are in constant danger, the Good Samaritans are often terrible people. So, recently, when a woman in Austin noticed a 6-year-old playing outside, she asked him where he lived, walked him home (it was just down the hill), and chastised the mom — Kari Anne Roy — for not being careful enough.
Then this Samaritan called the Inquisitors. Er…cops.
An officer showed up at Roy’s doorstep and despite the fact that the crime rate today is at a 50-year low, a CPS investigator was also dispatched to interview all three of Roy’s children. She asked Roy’s 8-year-old if her parents had ever shown her movies with people’s private parts. “So my daughter, who didn’t know that things like that exist, does now,” says Roy. “Thank you, CPS.”
It was almost seven years ago that I let my nine-year-old ride the subway alone and wrote a newspaper column about it. The result? A media firestorm. Back then I thought my crime, in the eyes of the public, was putting my child in danger.
But gradually I’ve come to realize my real crime was that I publicly disavowed the state religion. Talk show host after talk show host tried to get me to recant, asking: “How would you have felt if he didn’t come home?”
I could have sobbed and fainted, claiming it had been only a momentary lapse when I’d trusted my son in the world. Instead I said, “I wasn’t thinking that way. If I did, I could never let him do anything.”
Today it is a sin — and sometimes a crime — NOT to imagine your children dead the moment we take your eyes off them. The moment they skip to school with a Chapstick, wait in the car a minute, or play at the park.
We think we are enlightened in this quest to keep kids completely safe. Actually, we have entered a new Dark Ages, fearing evil all around us.
If we want the right to raise our kids rationally, even optimistically, it’s time to call the Cult of Kiddie Danger what it is: mass hysteria aided and abetted by the authorities. But as earlier holy books so succinctly instructed us, there is a better way to live.
Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range kids. Her show “World’s Worst Mom” airs on Discovery/TLC international. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.
CAS Forcibly Separates Parents
December 5, 2014 permalink
The Midland Mirror has a CAS story sympathetic to the impacted family, though with names altered. The father has been forced out of the family and has to sleep in a friend's truck. The mother has to care for their two children alone.
Penetanguishene couple fighting Children’s Aid Society order
Man says past drug addiction, mental problems no reason to keep him from kids
* Editor's Note: The names of the family members have been changed to protect the identity of the children *
PENETANGUISHENE – Tim Lansing is not allowed to see his children.
Within the last year, the 31-year-old Penetanguishene man had a mental breakdown, was addicted to drugs, and spent time in jail and mental-health facilities.
He also underwent rehabilitation treatment and completed programs for substance abuse and is now drug-free.
But the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of Simcoe County will not allow him to see his two children – something he and his wife, Angela Baker, 27, are fighting.
“I’m not scared of him. I don’t hate him. He’s the father of my kids,” Baker said. “We’re not bad people.”
CAS could not release specifics regarding their case for privacy reasons. A spokesperson could only speak in general terms about the organization’s policies.
Lansing is also not allowed to be in their shared home while the children are there, so he is sleeping in a friend’s truck. He said he has spent $500 on gas from running the engine overnight for heat.
The couple said they believe the CAS is focusing too much on him and not their children, and they want him to be allowed to come home.
The trouble began in March when Lansing had what Baker describes as a “mental breakdown.”
He said he became hooked on crushed Ritalin, which he compared to cocaine, and started to become depressed and paranoid.
“I was just so high all the time,” said Lansing. “She saw the snowball effect.”
Baker said he was always pacing and trying to explain things to her, but it came out half-baked like he had already run through part of the conversation in his head. When she would walk away in frustration, he grabbed her face to make her listen.
“It became intimidating,” she said.
Baker said she explained to children Sharon, 6, and David, 4, that “daddy was sick in the head.”
Baker knew he needed help, so she called 911 one day to get him to a hospital for a mental-health assessment. Police arrived and arrested him after she explained what had been going on at their home.
Lansing said he was only taken to a doctor after he repeatedly smashed his head into the plastic partition in the police car until he bled.
“Otherwise I would be going to jail,” he said. “They arrested me in front of my daughter’s school at 3 p.m.”
Lansing was taken to Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, where he stayed for six weeks. He said he was diagnosed with “major depressive disorder,” commonly referred to as depression.
He was charged and taken to Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene. He later went to a facility in Brockville, where he completed several rehabilitation programs. When he got out, he lived at a friend’s house for about a month and then went home.
“There was no issue. The kids were extremely happy because they hadn’t seen their dad in six months,” said Baker.
An anonymous person alerted the CAS Lansing was back home, she said. Once the organization became involved, she said, she tried calling their caseworker several times, but could almost never reach him.
CAS arranged a meeting with the couple and several community supports, but Lansing said he felt “judged.”
Baker said they were told they could be with their children separately, but not together as a couple. Now, she said, the CAS has banned Lansing from seeing his kids at all.
This has presented problems for the couple, as Baker does not have a job and the family lives off Lansing’s disability cheque. He has the only driver’s licence and vehicle in the household.
When one of their kids was sick recently, Lansing had to pick up the medication and quickly drop it off. Otherwise, Baker would have had to take a cab to a pharmacy – a cost they cannot afford.
‘It’s like living two lives,” said Lansing.
Anne Burgess, communications co-ordinator for the Simcoe County CAS, said she could not comment on Lansing and Baker’s case.
“Every file is different. We look at what strengths (families have) and work with (them) to protect children,” she said. “We work with families very closely. We only work with children through their parents.”
Burgess said the organization refers families as needed to community services, including for mental-health issues, and to shelters for housing.
Children are typically taken out of a home in severe situations where there is a “concern of harm,” she said, but “we like children to see their parents.”
“Often, when parents are separated, there are reasons they can’t be together,” she said.
If parents have a problem with their caseworker, a team of supervisors becomes involved. It is “fairly rare” for a family to get a new caseworker, Burgess said.
The CAS has a “full complaint process” that begins internally, she added. It can go from caseworker and supervisors to the organization’s executive director and a review panel of board members. If issues cannot be resolved, a complaint can be filed with the provincial Child and Family Services Review Board.
“Ideally, we want to work with families,” Burgess said. “We don’t want to have a confrontational situation with them.”
Source: Metroland/Midland Mirror
December 5, 2014 permalink
Karyn Bower's granddaughter Meghan may be spending Christmas alone in foster care if a pending appeal for home leave is turned down.
A meeting was held at CAS today. It was to determine whether or not my grand daughter will be able to leave the group home and come spend Christmas with her family. This would be the first Christmas she is away from all of us. Her therapist at the home tells me that most of the kids go to family at Christmas and if she can't come home she would be sitting there with some volunteers ( not even staff she knows) alone at Christmas. Then she would get to feel the hurt when the other kids come back and talk about the Christmas they had with their families. In light of our conversations, the phone calls and a good visit , Meghan's therapist is recommending she be allowed to come home. My worker is the one putting up resistance. I have no idea what they have to gain, and it will be me who does the 4 hours of driving on Boxing day to bring her home. Things are not going to go well if they hurt her like this , this Christmas.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
December 5, 2014 permalink
The latest pretext for snatching a baby — checking out of the maternity ward early. Tiffany Langwell took her baby girl home twelve hours after birth. She was no novice, she had alreadry raised two of her children from an earlier marriage. But the next day California CPS showed up to remove her newborn. Back at the hospital inept workers made eight attemps to catheterize the baby for a urine test before giving up. The baby was returned to her mother a week later, but only after social workers compelled father David Hodek to leave the home.
This Mom Checked Her Newborn Out of the Hospital Early, The Next Day Her Baby Was Taken Away
Tiffany Langwell was thrilled to find out she was pregnant again at the age of 38. She had two children from her first marriage — a 15-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. After separating from their father, she had reconnected with a high school boyfriend, David Hodek, and they had gotten engaged. In August of this year, their baby girl was born healthy, at 8 pounds, with bright blue eyes and a full head of downy hair. Langwell and Hodek had what they describe as a blissful first night home.
The next day, a representative of the child welfare agency in Riverside County, California, took the infant into protective custody.
Unhappy stories about child welfare agencies typically focus on instances of their failure to protect a child from harm at the hands of its parents, as in the recent Colton Turner case in Texas, in which three Child Protective Services (CPS) workers were fired after a boy left in his mother's care died. These stories raise the question of why more wasn't done to prevent such tragedies. What we don't hear about as often are the cases in which parents and their lawyers say social workers have done too much.
Langwell recently moved into a new house, across the street from her mother. It's a one-story, three-bedroom house in the Palm Springs region, surrounded by palm trees and breathtaking hills. She has a gap between her front teeth, dark red, shoulder-length hair, and she wears jeans and a stretchy shirt over her athletic frame. While nursing her baby, Langwell sits on her couch, surrounded by a bassinet, ExerSaucer, and Pack 'n Play. She describes her daughter's first week as a living nightmare.
Langwell had been having contractions for two days when she told her fiancé at 11:30 p.m. that it was time to head to Desert Regional Medical Center, which she'd chosen because it allowed rooming-in and she didn't want the baby to leave her side. Once there, she asked for an epidural, but by the time everything was in place for her to receive one, it was too late. She delivered the baby naturally at 2:34 a.m., and around noon was put in a room with two other new mothers and their babies, including one who Langwell says kept talking loudly on her cellphone.
Later that afternoon, Langwell decided to check out and go home. Langwell said the baby was breastfeeding well and was healthy, and she preferred to take her home early "AMA" (against medical advice) so they could all get some sleep. When she left, a member of the hospital's staff called and reported her to the county's child welfare agency.
"Desert Regional Medical Center takes very seriously its commitment to the health of mothers and infants in our care," Richard A. Ramhoff, the hospital's marketing director, told Cosmopolitan.com, after saying that the hospital could not comment specifically on Langwell's case. "As mandated by state law, the hospital calls the County of Riverside Department of Public Social Services hotline when staff believe the situation warrants a referral. This reporting is not done lightly. Our staff reviews the details of each situation individually before fulfilling our responsibility to refer a case to child protective services for further review."
According to the child welfare agency's report, a hospital staff member described Langwell as "hostile" and suggested that her behavior was "consistent with someone with substance abuse issues." (According to a representative from the county's child welfare department, the majority of the cases they see are neglect cases, and most of those are related to substance abuse.) The staff member said the couple and Hodek's mother seemed shaky and had rapid jaw movement, and that Langwell put two pill bottles in her bag. Langwell says the only pills she had in her bag were her iron supplements. She says she was severely sleep-deprived from her two days in labor and upset that she never got her epidural, and that her fiancé and his mother can be abrasive and were also exhausted, but beyond that, she doesn't know what about the trio's behavior could have sent up a red flag. "I never cussed anyone out or anything," she says.
The report notes that Langwell refused a drug test. Langwell remembers being offered a drug test while in labor and says her response was, "How much does the test cost?" Langwell, a former bank teller, has been unemployed since January, and her fiancé, a former medic and water-park manager, is also unemployed. He says he was injured on the job some years ago and received a settlement.
A child welfare agent came to the house the next day to check on the baby. The home had a security fence, and Langwell and Hodek did not hear the knocking at the gate, which was some distance from the front of the house. The agent called the police. When Langwell eventually appeared at the security gate, she saw two police officers and the welfare agent, who told her that the hospital had alerted the agency when she checked out early. Langwell refused to let the police and welfare agent inside the house but brought the baby out so they could see that she was OK. The agent noted in her report that the baby had good coloring. Langwell submitted to an on-the-spot drug test, but according to the report, the test was inconclusive, because her saliva sample was too thick — "which may have had something to do with the fact that I had just given birth and it was 110 degrees," Langwell says bitterly.
The agent returned later that day with a warrant to take the baby — just to the hospital for a full exam, Langwell and Hodek initially thought. Langwell insisted on riding along in the car with the baby. Hodek and his mother followed behind. Hodek says hospital workers then attempted to catheterize the baby to procure a urine sample for a drug test. "I've worked as a medic and seen a lot of terrible things, but this I can hardly even talk about," Hodek says. "They tried eight times to catheterize my one-day-old baby." Hodek's mother covered her own head with a blanket to try to block out the baby's screaming. The hospital couldn't comment on particulars of Langwell's case, but according to the welfare report, "The hospital was unable to secure a urine sample from the infant."
Langwell and Hodek thought at that point that the baby was coming home with them, but the caseworker said the baby was being placed into protective foster care. Langwell, who now understood they thought she was on drugs, says she fell to her knees in the hospital. "Drug test me right now!" she said. "I can prove I'm not on drugs!" According to the agent's report, Hodek, who is 6-foot-4, seemed to be under the influence and became "hostile." He denies the first charge, but not the second. "Was I hostile?" he says. "Sure. They were taking my baby girl."
Langwell describes the seven days that followed as the worst of her life. "They took my baby from me. I sat there for a week and just cried," she says. "Some days I didn't get dressed. I didn't eat. I made myself eat one meal a day to keep up my strength and to keep my milk supply up." She and Hodek stayed in constant touch with the agency, trying to get the baby back, and attended a hearing at which she learned that the court had appointed separate lawyers for Langwell and her baby. She pumped regularly, and the caseworker picked up the milk. Langwell says she thought, "If she can't have my arms, she can have my milk." But according to the report, her caseworker told her that the milk would be kept frozen until the mother produced a negative drug test.
Langwell's mother, Jean Cinq-Mars, says that week was "heartbreaking" and describes her daughter as "a wonderful mom." When her two older children came home from a vacation with their father, they were confused about why the baby wasn't there. "We were running through the house looking for her," says Langwell's teenage daughter. Langwell's son reports that he was "really mad that they took [his] sister." Both say they are fond of Hodek and excited about the new baby. After a few days, Langwell says, "It was almost like being pregnant and giving birth had been a dream, like it wasn't real."
Sara Ainsworth, the director of legal advocacy for the group National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), says Langwell's story is an example of how the behavior of new mothers, especially poor ones, and especially those of whom drug use is suspected, can come under intense scrutiny. In a 2011 statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists wrote, "A disturbing trend in legal actions and policies is the criminalization of substance abuse during pregnancy." Ainsworth says Langwell's story is also an especially vivid example of how traumatic CPS involvement can be to a new mother.
"We often see the extremely problematic 'If you test positive for a drug, we're going to take the baby' cases," Ainsworth says, "but this is a next step: 'If we think you used a drug because of your poverty or your conduct, then we're going to step in.'" As described in a recent New York Times op-ed, NAPW has documented hundreds of cases in which pregnant women have been charged with crimes based on the rationale that "fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses are persons or at least have separate rights that must be protected by the state." In July, Tennessee began enforcing a new law under which women can be prosecuted for assault if they use drugs during pregnancy. Since December 2013, Alabama has formally accepted the judicial interpretation of the word "child" in its child abuse law to also mean "fetus." As a result, in that state, there have been some 130 arrests of pregnant women and new mothers in the past 12 months.
New mothers suspected of drug use do not face criminal justice or child welfare involvement only in conservative Southern states. In September, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Trenton heard the case of Y.N., a new mother who was charged with child abuse when it was found that she had taken oxycodone and methadone during her pregnancy. "You have laws in conservative states that you're not going to see pass in more liberal ones," says Ainsworth, "but child welfare is operating under the radar." Ainsworth says there are no good numbers, but that anecdotally, NAPW has seen a surge in both criminal prosecution and child welfare involvement for new mothers.
While arrest is generally considered a more extreme response, child removal can prove at least as upsetting to a family. According to the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, cases like Langwell's are not uncommon. According to one of the group's position papers, "Contrary to the common stereotype, most parents who lose their children to foster care are neither brutally abusive nor hopelessly addicted. Far more common are cases in which a family's poverty has been confused with child 'neglect.'" The group's rough estimate is that half the children in foster care on any given day could be safely in their own homes if the right kind of help were available to their families.
During that first week of her baby's life, in the course of the phone calls and appointments with the caseworker, Langwell was given a criminal background check and a hair follicle drug test (which can determine if someone has used any drugs in the prior 30 to 90 days). Eventually, there was another court date and Langwell's baby was returned to her. Langwell never met the foster mother with whom the baby spent her first week. "They just handed us back the baby by the parking lot," says Cinq-Mars, Langwell's mother. "'Here's your baby,' like, 'Here's that thing you ordered.'"
"It's legalized kidnapping," Langwell says. "I thought it was some horrible joke. You are guilty until you prove your innocence. Who cares that they slandered my name? But they took my daughter for the first week of her life and put her with a stranger." Ironically, among the paperwork Langwell has received from the court are several pages about baby care that included a section titled "Bonding." The paperwork also includes a mention of Langwell's hair follicle drug test results: negative.
"Getting her back was the happiest thing," Langwell says, "but sad too, because her dad had to move out." (According to the caseworker's report, Langwell said Hodek lives in Los Angeles, but she says the caseworker misunderstood her.) The agency has yet to complete its investigation of the baby's father, who revealed to investigators that he takes prescription medication for his work injury and for anxiety. When the caseworker asked about his criminal history, Hodek admitted to a petty theft conviction. Court documents in the child welfare case list several additional arrests from his past, including two for drug possession. He now lives in a motel and is allowed to see the baby twice a week for an hour at a time, in a CPS meeting room. In the meantime, he scrolls through photos of his daughter on his phone and makes an effort to comply with CPS's directives, which include going to therapy and getting new prescriptions for his medication. (He says the pills he has now were prescribed two years ago.) "When you're dangling someone's child on the end of the hook, you'll do or say anything," Hodek says. "'I stole the Lindberg baby! I was on the grassy knoll! Now can I see my baby? Every day that goes by I'm missing more firsts." Langwell says she's been told Hodek may be permitted to move back home this spring if he complies with all the agency's requirements.
Now at home with her mother, sister, and brother, the baby, who is calm and smiley, is already sitting up in her purple Bumbo chair, ignoring Baby Einstein videos to gaze at her mother's face, and laughing in the car seat when her siblings tickle her feet. Cramming groceries into her already-stuffed freezer, Langwell says, "You know what's funny? They [the welfare agency] were here two weeks ago for a house check and said they needed to make sure there was enough food for 24 hours. I said, 'I shop at Costco. I can barely fit anything else in my fridge. I have two weeks' worth of barbecue sauce alone.' They also made me undress the baby all the way to show that she didn't have any bruises. I said, 'Couldn't you have thought of that a few minutes ago when I was changing her diaper?'" She doesn't know how much longer the monthly checks will last.
When I approached the child welfare agent who made the removal in Langwell's case at the Riverside County office, she said that confidentiality regulations prohibited her from discussing specific cases, but Jennie Pettet, assistant director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, Children's Services Division, did speak to Cosmopolitan.com about the county's child removal process.
"The Juvenile Court upholds approximately 98 percent of our actions to remove children from their homes based on evidence presented," Pettet says, meaning that in about 2 percent of the cases where a removal has occurred, the judge will return the child to the home of a parent. She explained that "a lot goes into the decision to remove," including the social worker's risk and safety assessment, consultation with a supervisor, and — in cases like Langwell's, where a warrant is needed — a judge's sign-off. According to Pettet, there is a "global assessment," and no single issue — drug use, leaving the hospital early — would be considered in and of itself sufficient to warrant removal. "We work closely with families to prevent removal of a child whenever possible," she says.
And yet, Ainsworth of NAPW says Langwell's case is emblematic of something she sees happening with increasing frequency around the country. "Women — even women in more politically liberal states like California and even women who have broken no laws — can find themselves trapped in this kind of nightmare scenario," Ainsworth says. "This really could happen to you, and it's really unfair even if it doesn't happen to you."
Ada Calhoun is a 2014 Alicia Patterson fellow.
Strategic Timing Keeps Girl from Dad
December 4, 2014 permalink
The girl wants to return to her father, her good parent. On November 19 she was in court on an application brought by Toronto's Catholic CAS through its worker Karen Saligman. Her children's lawyer did not show, so the girl tried to address the judge herself.
107. A child in care has a right to be consulted and to express his or her views, to the extent that is practical given the child’s level of understanding, whenever significant decisions concerning the child are made, including decisions with respect to medical treatment, education or training or work programs and religion and decisions with respect to the child’s discharge from the placement or transfer to another residential placement. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 107; 2009, c. 2, s. 10.
Source: Child and Family Services Act
Instead of speaking, she was silenced by judge Roselyn Zisman, herself a former CAS lawyer. This hearing date was strategically selected by CAS to be eight days before the girl's sixteenth birthday. That way she lost the protection of another legal provision:
43. (1)In this section, “parent” includes, (a) an approved agency that has custody of the child, ...
Warrant to apprehend runaway child
(2) A justice of the peace may issue a warrant authorizing a peace officer or child protection worker to apprehend a child if the justice of the peace is satisfied on the basis of the sworn information of a parent of the child that, (a) the child is under the age of sixteen years; ...
Source: Child and Family Services Act
The court has ordered the girl into CAS custody, and issued a restraining order against her father. Now if she runs away and rejoins her dad, he will be arrested. As she left the courtroom police asked whether she intended to cooperate with social workers. When she refused she was humiliated as police paraded her through two public buildings in handcuffs.
On November 27, her sixteenth birthday, she took advantage of the law exempting her from apprension as a runaway, and left foster care. The affidavit does not say where she is now, but even after age sixteen she is prevented from returning to her father through CAS strategic timing.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Addendum: In an additional document (pdf) the same girl says legal aid staff at the 47 Sheppard Ave East courthouse refused to notarize her affidavit. Her document includes a photo of a court staffer.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Blameless Mother Loses Children for Six Months
December 3, 2014 permalink
Milwaukee mother Natisha Street disagreed with a social worker's assessment of her ability to care for her children and took her case to a jury. The jury ruled in her favor, and the family was reunified. But even being ruled in the right, she lost her children for six months.
Child taken from mother for 6 months
MILWAUKEE -- Natisha Street appreciates every hug from her son, Samuel. The 9 year-old is back home now. But for six months Street was denied the right to talk to and even see her son.
“The state came between us unnecessarily,” Street said.
In April the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare suddenly called Street.
“We got a complaint stating you didn’t want your kid and that you’re threatening to shoot him or leave him in a park, I said are you serious,” explained Street.
BMCW removed Sam from school and placed him in foster care for six months.
“I missed her and I knew she missed me,” Samuel Street said.
Records show the boy’s teacher made a complaint to BMCW. His mother said that complaint came the same day she and the teacher had disagreement over the phone.
“She called him a name and I went off on her. I did not cuss her out,” Street said.
A judge denied the I-Team access to review this particular case. But this mother copped every notice, appeal and complaint. She provided us a chance to review the case file. In a petition filed by the BMCW for protection it stated the following: Her son was “profoundly fearful of home situation.” It went on to say Ms. Street “attempted to give Samuel then 5 years old up for adoption. It concluded by saying “Without CPS intervention there will likely result in severe harm or death.”
Street denied all of the allegations. She refused to admit to any of the claims which lead to six months of no visits, no conversations or any contact with her son. She decided to fight and racked up $12,000 in attorney fees to prove BMCW did not do a thorough investigation.
“This is the first time I've ever experienced a mother really not having any contact with her child until a jury said this is wrong,” said Thomas Kurzynski, Street’s attorney.
Kurzynski said it wasn’t until after a three and half day trial, a jury answered one question looming for six months.
“Is this child in need of protective services? They answered no,” Kurzynski said.
“Certainly there were mistakes made,” said State Senator Nikiya Harris Dodd.
Harris Dodd sits on the BMCW Partnership Council. This council was created when the state took over the county run agency. It’s designed to provide oversight but can only advise the bureau on what it should do.
“We're tired of the excuses that you're doing all you can, we need you to do more,” explained Harris Dodd.
That’s why Harris Dodd has called for an audit to investigate BMCW.
“We need to hold them accountable. So you don't have another incident like Natisha's situation,” Harris Dodd said.
But it goes beyond this mother and son. Earlier this year, the BMCW’s director resigned abruptly, after sending a scathing letter about unmet safety concerns and excessive workloads for case managers.
Soon after it was revealed the agency had close to 3,000 backlogged cases. The Department of Children and Families Secretary downplayed the problem in the summer.
“Paperwork is not a crisis,” said Eloise Anderson, a DCF Secretary.
Despite Street’s case being closed, BMCW refused to speak about what happened. A spokesperson cited confidentiality laws. When asked about who the bureau answers to, the spokesperson said, “I think we answer to the legislation every day.”
But Harris Dodd disagrees.
“I’m the elected official, I’m the one they have to answer to and I still don’t get information I need,” explained Harris Dodd.
BMCW said it has reduced the backlogged cases by 60 percent to more than 1,100 cases. As for the audit, BMCW was last audited in 2006. Many of the issues raised then are still being worked on currently.
Social Worker Punched
December 2, 2014 permalink
A social worker in Newfoundland was attacked at the St John's airport. A union spokesman says: "It's not uncommon — in fact, it's far more regular than we would like." The union is calling not for less oppressive policies, but for more security.
Social worker punched by CYFS client at airport
The president of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest union is raising a red flag over an assault on a Child, Youth and Family Services worker last week.
Carol Furlong, president of NAPE, said the social worker was punched and knocked to the ground by a client. The incident happened at the airport in St. John's, as the client was being transferred out of province.
Furlong said there were police present at the time, as well as a manager, as part of the precautions being taken. However, the worker still was assaulted.
The worker was taken to hospital and was later released.
A Monday statement from NAPE comes one week after a girl, 13, was arrested and charged with assaulting a social worker.
Furlong said Monday it isn't unusual for union members in this setting to be faced with violence or threats of violence, but that doesn't make it OK.
"We're very concerned that social workers often go for home visits on their own. We had dealt with that some time ago and thought there had been some action taken on that, but we're very concerned about it," she said.
"It's not uncommon — in fact, it's far more regular than we would like."
Policies not enough
Furlong added there was one incident where a worker at the office noticed someone, who turned out to be a client, crawling around in the vent, and the building had to be shut down. The individual's intentions were unclear, Furlong said.
She added there seems to be some sort of disconnect between people and the situations social workers, and other workers, are actually faced with.
"There's such aggression, and it's almost like there's a licence for people to speak to people in a violent kind of fashion and to execute physical measures on people," said Furlong.
"We've seen people now who have been injured — physically assaulted — by clients, by patients, by members of the general public, and it's done sometimes with impunity. It's almost like there's an acceptance of it and we're saying, there is no acceptance of that."
Furlong said it isn't enough for employers to just have policies in place to deal with these kinds of situations; employers need to follow up and review policies to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place before something happens.
She added NAPE will be reaching out to employers to ensure protocols are in place in volatile workplaces.
Orphan Train Rider Speaks
December 2, 2014 permalink
Mary Law rode an orphan train in the 1928 and was adopted in Iowa at age three. Mary has noting but praise for the family that adopted her. Unlike many of today's adoptees, the identity of her birth mother and siblings was never concealed from her.
Muscatine woman recalls journey on orphan train
MUSCATINE, Iowa — In the late 1800s and early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of children were sent on trains from the east coast to the Midwest to be placed with rural families.
These children — typically 14 years old or younger — were orphans, partial orphans, children who had been given up by their families, children who had been "recruited" or children who had been taken away from homes declared unfit. The trains they traveled on came to be called "Orphan Trains."
Mary Law of Muscatine was one of those children.
The idea of sending children west originated at the New York Children's Aid Society, where Mary was sent west from.
Mary's story is on the forefront of her and her family's minds since she and her children — Janet Tumey, Jeff Law, Joyce Lawrence and Joanne McKee — recently connected with author Clark Kidder.
Kidder wrote "Emily's Story: The Brave Journey of an Orphan Train Rider," which is the story of his grandmother's experience. The connection is special to them, as is the upcoming documentary about Orphan Train riders, which will air on Iowa Public Television at 7 tonight, Dec. 1.
Born as Rosemarie Roat in Geneva, New York, in June of 1925, she was rechristened Mary Lou Eichmeier by the couple — Frank and Anna Eichmeier — who adopted her almost three years later.
"My mother evidently had a friend with that name, Mary Lou," Mary explained.
Mary was only two years old when she rode the orphan train with her older brothers Frank, who acted as her caretaker on the train; Harry, and Charles in April of 1928. She was adopted by the Eichmeiers, along with Charles, in Kearney, Nebraska.
Their brothers Frank and Harry were never adopted, although they did end up with families whose names they then assumed. Frank had some trouble being placed with a family, running away from one or two before finding the family he would stay with.
"A lot of boys were adopted to be farm hands," Mary said, explaining that some families viewed the children as a labor source rather than an addition to the family. Fortunately for Mary and Charles, the Eichmeiers were not such a couple.
"They were wonderful parents," she said. "I couldn't have asked for anything better."
"My dad was a wonderful person," she added. "He was so kind. He used to take hold of my hand and we'd do a lot of walking, we'd do a lot of things together. And my mother, she was very good — she was the boss of the house — but she was a good person."
Even after they moved the family away to Muscatine, where Anna grew up, Mary and her family kept in touch with Frank's and Harry's families as well, spending time together during vacations, Mary's daughter Janet recalled, although the families weren't always in such close contact over the years. However, Mary went to both Frank's and Harry's funerals and said she considered her relationships with them to be close.
"They were nice. I loved them," she said. "It was nice that we kept in touch."
In a trip she made to the New York Children's Aid Society with her late husband Emery, Mary learned that the Society still had records of her, although what she discovered was sometimes conflicting.
Some documentation about how Mary came to be sent west on a train indicates that her biological mother gave her up, while other documentation shows that Mary was taken from her biological mother, Janet explained.
Mary also received a picture of her biological mother, which Janet remembered Mary had for a time refused to even look at.
"'That’s not my mother, [Mary said]. 'That’s the woman that gave birth to me. That’s not my mother,'" Janet recalled hearing Mary say.
Mary knew from a young age that she was adopted.
"[Being adopted] didn't bother me because [Frank and Anna] were good parents," Mary said. "I had lots of love. I guess that's what it takes. So I never had any bad feelings."
Kidder's book is available at amazon.com.
Source: Muscatine Journal
December 2, 2014 permalink
Ontario's parents are still faced with the dilemma of surrendering their children for treatment, or getting no treatment. Dr Nicole Desmarais of Sudbury is the latest example. André Marin reported on this eight years ago in Between a Rock and a Hard Place.
Give him up to get him help: Sudbury mom's terrible choice
Surrending her son to the state only option for treatment
A Sudbury woman is being forced to surrender her parental rights to her severely mentally ill son so he can get the care and therapy he needs to give him a chance at a normal life.
Dr. Nicole Desmarais, a family physician in Greater Sudbury, says the boy – whom she adopted from Serbia five years ago when he was four – is scheduled to come home Dec. 5 from a residential placement in southern Ontario. She has been told if she doesn't make him a Crown Ward, she will have to rely on care in the community.
But because of his severe needs and violent behaviour, there's nowhere in Sudbury that can – or will – offer her respite or give him the intensive treatment he needs.
“I should not have to give up the rights to my child for him to receive the care that he needs,” she said, in an interview Sunday at her home. “It's crazy … Who else is going to stand up for him?”
In June, she launched a $10-million lawsuit against the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services in an attempt to get her son treatment without having to give him up to the state. But the court system moves slowly, and now she faces a Friday deadline.
“We're up against Goliath,” she said.
Violent and self-destructive
Desmarais's son suffers from a severe case of reactive detachment disorder, a condition where the brain fails to develop in key areas because they are not cared for properly as babies and don't form the normal emotional bonds. He also has complex developmental trauma disorder, which results from prolonged abuse or neglect at a young age.
In her son's case, he is extremely violent and self-destructive. He has attacked her other children, the children of family and friends, caregivers, pets and has harmed himself. In one of the more extreme cases – and there are many – he was found strangling a two-year-old with a cord.
“(The baby) was already turning blue when we found him,” Desmarais said. “When we asked him about it, he told us how great it was.”
He has threatened to kill his siblings – and has attacked them at different times – as well as her new partner, who still has three dislocated ribs as the result of one of the boy's outbursts. Her son has hidden broken glass in his sibling's beds, molested other children, stolen knives and other weapons, hurt family pets, killed the pet of a caregiver – the list goes on.
He has been assessed a total of 23 times, something Desmarais says has been repeatedly required by different social services agencies she has dealt with in trying to get help. There is a place – Bayfield Treatment Centres – that can offer the sort of intervention that would give him a fighting chance to recover.
With proper treatment, she said, there's a reasonable chance he will learn to stop his behaviour and learn to channel the aggression in positive ways. The earlier he is in treatment, the better chance he has to get better.
But it would be costly. He requires the care of two workers at all times, and his treatment would last at least two years, and cost about $1,000 a day. In a report on her son, Dr. Umesh Jain, from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, said Bayfield is the only centre he's aware of that can help. Desmarais's son, he wrote, is on the high-end of the risk scale.
“In fact, of all the children I see, it probably represents one per cent of the highly dysfunctional children that are out there,” Jain said in his report. “If he does not receive (appropriate intervention and treatment), particularly as he enters adolescence, he will definitely be a high-risk candidate to society.
“Even now, he is a legitimate threat to others … For all intents and purposes, (he) is an out of control wildcat.”
Jain recommended the boy receive one to two years of treatment at Bayfield, but likely needs longer than that. He also criticized government policies that require Desmarais to surrender her child in order for him to get treatment.
“Frankly, this is a systems issue,” he wrote. “It is (her son) who is suffering, because he's not getting the interventions that are necessary.”
When Desmarais and her ex-husband took in the boy, it was the fourth child they had adopted internationally. Before they travelled to Serbia to pick him up, they were told he had some medical challenges, but was otherwise thriving.
“But we were misled,” she said.
Her son lived on the street with his mother until she abandoned him at six months. He underwent several surgeries for a kidney problem, and lived in an institution for 3 ½ years where he spent days locked in a room, left alone in a crib or tied to a mattress on the floor. Later, he shared a room with two other disturbed children, isolated and living in deplorable conditions.
Despite his obvious issues, Desmarais and her husband agreed to take him home – although she admits she had second thoughts. But her other adopted children – two from China, one from Georgia – overcame their challenges and are now thriving. If we love him enough, she thought, he will recover.
“And we couldn't leave him there,” she said. “When you see the conditions for yourself – I mean, you wouldn't treat an animal that way.
“It was a very difficult decision. But he was only four and we thought we could make a difference.”
He was non-verbal at first, but a few months after he started school in Canada, he was already speaking French, so he was clearly intelligent. But his violent and antisocial behaviour escalated, and included urinating everywhere and smearing feces on walls, in addition to violent attacks on everyone but Desmarais herself.
“He's good with me,” she said. “I help regulate him ... But he was becoming more and more aggressive.”
'He deserves better'
The strains of raising him contributed to the end of her marriage, and the problem behaviour escalated. He has said he plans to kill his siblings and his mother's new partner, and has even said the order in which he was going to do it. At one point, he held a knife to her partner's throat and said, “This time is practise. Next time, it's for real.”
He has been in residential institutions numerous times for assessments, and each time he was returned with promises of respite help. But his problems are so severe, they can no longer get help in Sudbury because her son is too dangerous.
During one of his live-in assessments, he was allowed to come home for Halloween. They found him covered in bruises and rug burns, a result from having to be restrained during his violent outbursts.
“He is unmanageable,” she was told by staff at the facility. “You need to give him up and make him a Crown ward. It's the only way he's going to get the treatment he deserves.”
She was told Nov. 25 that he was coming home Dec. 5, which means she'll have to make a decision by then. That's when she decided to go public with her story, because she's faced with an impossible decision: take him back, even though he's a clear threat to her other children; or surrender her rights as a parent to the little boy she loves, despite all that has happened.
“I can't take him home because he's going to kill one of my other kids,” she said.
Giving up her rights to him, Desmarais said, and severing the bond with him will cause more damage, since his underlying condition is connected to not forming a bond with his birth mother and being severely neglected as a baby. And despite his behaviour, she said her other children love him and talk with him regularly on Skype.
“We tell them he has an illness – that he's sick,” she said. “This kid has lived nothing but trauma and abandonment for his whole life. He deserves better than that.”
An underlying issue, she said, is the way mental-health is treated in Ontario, as opposed to physical health. The province would never dream of forcing a family to surrender a child who is physically sick, she said.
“The system is wrong,” she said. “If this was leukemia, the government would be willing to pay for it. But but because it's a mental illness ...”
And on a personal level, she said it would be devastating to give up her son.
“It would be losing one of your children,” she said. “No one in their right mind would fight so hard for so long for someone if they didn't love them.
“You should not have to give up the rights to your child for them to get the help that they need … How can that be possible?”
Source: Northern Life
November 30, 2014 permalink
Vern Beck has released part of an affidavit of a foster boy. The boy says:
The foster mother’s dog was not trained and was allowed to just poop on the floor. I took a couple of photos with my cell phone and below are two photo of the dog poop in two different locations in the house.
The photos are in the affidavit (pdf).
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Social Worker Thinks He is God
November 29, 2014 permalink
British social worker Neil Swaby demanded that a client treat Him like God. He is not the first self-deified social worker. In Dufferin, Jennifer Foster boasted to a client "We have as much power as God", inspiring the title of a documentary by Esther Buckareff.
'Social worker told us to treat him like God', couple claim
Grandparents say social worker was determined to have their grandchild, 3, adopted rather than live with them
A social worker who was determined to have a three-year-old boy adopted rather than being cared for by his grandparents told them they should treat him like “God”, it has been claimed.
The couple, who cannot be named, said they were accused of defiance because they challenged North East Lincolnshire social services department’s plans to have the boy adopted instead of remaining within his wider family.
A judge took the unusual step of publicly naming social workers involved in the case who he said had presented “visibly biased” evidence in court in a failed attempt to bolster the council’s case that the boy should be adopted.
The boy’s mother has died and his father is not able to care for him but the grandparents, who are already raising an older sibling, went to court to fight to be able to care for him.
In a judgment published online, Judge Simon Jack dismissed the evidence of the social workers Neil Swaby and Rachel Olley as unreliable, accusing them of having “grossly overstated” suggestions of drinking and domestic violence in the family to back up what they had already decided should be done.
He added that some of the evidence of a third social worker, Peter Nelson, also “smacks of the same bias”.
The judge dismissed the council’s application for a final care order, which would have enabled it to begin the process of placing the boy for adoption, ruling that the department’s case had been “wholly undermined”.
He ruled instead that the boy should be cared for by the grandparents, adding: “I have never, in over 10 years of hearing care cases taken the view, as I did in this case, that the local authority’s witnesses were visibly biased in their attempts to support the local authority’s case.
“It is very unfortunate and I hope I shall never see that again.”
Social workers representatives warned that the decision to name the individual social workers would heap further pressure on the already embattled profession and put others off considering a career in the field.
But the boy’s grandparents praised the judge and questioned why anyone so severely criticised should have their identity specially protected. The grandmother told BBC Radio 4 :“When he was about six weeks old we were informed by a social worker that if he had his way he would put him up for adoption and he didn’t care how long it took,” she said.
“I asked him why and he said: “We’ve got our reasons’ .”
She went on to say that she had clashed with Mr Swaby in particular.
“He told me I defied him and I said: “Who do you think you are? God?” she said. “He said: ‘In this situation, yes — get used to it, your grandson will go up for adoption’ .”
Cathy Ashley, chief executive of Family Rights Group, said: “This ruling puts a spotlight on fears that family members are being too readily discounted in caring for children who are unable to live with their parents.
“This may well reflect the Government’s focus on adoption, as well as local authorities facing both growing pressure in terms of case load and the speeding up of the process itself.
“It is crucial that children are able to be safely raised by loving family members where possible, and this necessitates that family members receive a fair hearing.”
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Aside: Where do we put people who think they are Napoleon (mp3) ?