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Talk or Else
May 1, 2010 permalink
Social workers took the children of Angel Adams for over a year, then spent six months bossing her after reunification. When they asked whether she was pregnant, she had had enough. She refused to answer. She is in jail until she talks.
Homeless mom of 12 still won't answer judge, remains in jail
TAMPA - Angel Adams, the homeless mother of 12 dependent children who was jailed Thursday because she refused to testify whether she is pregnant with her 16th child, again refused to answer the question today and was ordered back to her cell.
At a hearing this afternoon, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Tracy Sheehan also placed the dozen children into foster care and ordered caseworkers to contact all of the children's fathers and other relatives to see if they can care for all or some of them.
Jerome Jacob Sr., 46, was at the hearing and said he was the father of two of the children and that his family wanted to have custody of those two. Sheehan asked him if he had been supporting the children and he replied that he had by buying them "shoes and stuff."
Adams, 37, sat silent throughout the hearing, her wrists in handcuffs and dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit. Her court-appointed attorney, Scott Horvat, said she felt the question about her pregnancy was personal.
Sheehan had said that because Adams is in the child-welfare system, the state has a right to know who is visiting the home. The safety of the children is paramount, the judge said.
When Adams, 37, refused to testify about her condition Thursday, Sheehan found the mother of 15 – 12 of whom live with her – in contempt of court and ordered her jailed. The judge said Adams can get out of jail by answering that question and identifying everyone who may visit her home, including relatives.
For now, the children will remain at A Kid's Place, a foster care shelter near Brandon and will remain together.
"It seems like these kids have been through an awful lot," Sheehan said. "It might be that all they've got is each other."
The judge allowed telephone contact between the children and their mother and supervised visits with their fathers. Adams has said three men have fathered the 15 children. The father of the youngest currently is in prison on drug dealing charges.
Nick Cox, regional director of the Florida Department of Children and Families – the agency that asked that the children be placed in foster care – said that the focus is the well being of the children.
"Our goal is to keep the kids together," Cox said after the half-hour hearing. "We still will try to make this family a family."
Adams' actions, however, have perplexed him, he said.
"I am baffled that in the face of going to jail and in the face of losing all her children," Cox said, "she still refuses to cooperate."
Adams' situation came to light last week when she had to move her children into a single room at a rundown motel on East Busch Boulevard after she had been evicted from her apartment.
She complained that even though her income entirely came from child and family welfare agencies, the county and state were not doing enough. She also objected to caseworkers and child protection investigators making frequent inquiries into her home.
Two years ago, Adams lost her children to foster care after allegations of neglect were lodged. The family was reunited six months ago and remains under the jurisdiction of Hillsborough family court. During that time – 21 months – she birthed two children.
Reporter Keith Morelli can be reached at (813) 259-7760.
Source: Tampa Tribune
Addendum: On May 4 Angel said she was not pregnant and was released. But the judge ordered that all of her children remain in foster care.