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Not in Your Own Backyard

March 30, 2013 permalink

When six-year-old Sophia wandered out into her yard, Michigan CPS seized two girls from parents Jessica Reed and Maged Mousa. Twins born later were taken at birth. The family has been reunited after nearly a year.



Children return home after judge’s decision, mother vows to help other families facing custody battles

OAKLAND COUNTY — On Mar. 7 Oakland County Judge Lisa Gorcyca granted a American Muslim couple back custody of their two daughters. The girls, Sophia, 6, and Nadiya, two, were removed from their home and parents’ custody in May 2012 by officials from Child Protected Services after a neighbor witnessed Sophia playing outside without parental supervision.

The girls are the children of Jessica Reed and Maged Mousa. Reed become very emotional in court when the judge announced her decision. After nearly a year, her emotionally draining custody battle with the DHS had come to a halt.

“I was crying and so emotional, finally after all these months they were able to come home,” Reed said.

Several community members were also present in court throwing their support behind the couple when the decision was announced.

Since the children were removed from the home, the community has shown a great deal of support for the family, by making donations and showing up to the court hearing in order to send a message that Reed and her husband are suitable parents.

“I want to thank them for their prayers and donations,” Reed said. While the community’s support was very helpful, it was Reed’s determination to get her children back that ultimately led to the judge’s decision.

When the incident happened, Sophia never left her parents’ backyard, and was with other children, although the parents of those children were never reported to authorities. Reed was pregnant with twins at the time, and says Sophia managed to get outside through a sliding door.

Jessica Reed and family
Reed (top right) with her four daughters and family friend Rehab Amer who was one of the many people from the community who stood by Reed throughout the custody battle

After Reed gave birth to the twins in June, the DHS also took custody of them, but they returned home in December last year. She says her children were illegally removed from her because the DHS never presented a court order or document proving it was authorized to take the children away. Officials also never presented a search warrant when entering the home to remove the children.

Besides Sophia being spotted outside without parental supervision, officials never offered any additional explanation of why Reed and her husband aren’t suitable parents.

The most difficult part of the whole ordeal for the couple came when DHS placed the girls in a foster care home with people Reed says were not fit parents.

While the girls were in the foster home, family members and friends became worried about their overall safety. Reed says the girls showed signs of physical and emotional abuse while in the foster care home. Reed and her husband had custody of the girls every weekend while they were away.

The couple’s battle is far from over, the experience has had a huge impact on them, and moving forward Reed plans on working to raise awareness to politicians on similar child custody battles, in hopes that they will lead major reforms in DHS policies. She also plans on helping other families who’re dealing with the same situation.

“This is something happening all over the United States to other parents and families,” Reed said.

She’s calling on the DHS to conduct proper investigations, and have sufficient evidence of wrongdoing before removing children from the custody of their parents.

Major flaws have been identified with some of the agency’s procedures for removing children from homes.

Although suitable housing was available for the girls with the couple’s family members, the DHS still proceeded to place them in the care of strangers.

Source: Arab American News