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Wrongfully Accused Mother
December 29, 2008 permalink
A British mother, Yvonne Bray, fell sick a year ago on a trip to New York City, and her children were placed in foster care. Now she has completed training to become a foster mother, but cannot do so until she gets off the New York State Child Abuse Maltreatment Register.
British social services could ignore the New York record, but they do not want Mrs Bray because she knows too much. They prefer foster mothers who believe the children in their care were abused and neglected by their families, or cynical carers who work only for the money. Foster parents familiar with the real circumstances of child removal are of no use.
British mother still fighting to clear her name a YEAR after her two children were put in New York orphanage
By Daily Mail Reporter, Last updated at 3:25 PM on 29th December 2008
A British mother says she is still fighting to clear her name one year after her two daughters were taken from her and put into a New York orphanage.
Gemma Bray, 15, and sister Katie, 13, were strip searched and kept at the home for 30 hours after their mother Yvonne became ill on holiday last December.
Officials even reportedly asked them if they had been abused or felt suicidal, before they were given medical examinations and were told they could not leave the home.
Yvonne, 39, of Appledore, Devon, had been hospitalised with severe pneumonia during the family's shopping trip to New York last December.
She claims she was then hit with a letter from the Administration for Children's Services (ACS), which stated she was 'subject of a report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment'.
Now Ms Bray, who had just completed a 12-month course to become a foster mother, has been told she cannot foster children in Britain until she is removed from the New York State Child Abuse Maltreatment Register.
'It's crazy,' she told the New York Post.
'Why should I fight to clear my name for an accusation that never should have come about in the first place?
'My youngest one, she slept in my bed for three months after we got back. They still have issues with it.
'What I don't understand is why ACS was treating my children like they were being removed from an abusive home.'
Her New York lawyer, Peter Lomtevas, says they may now file a complaint with the city because they have not been provided with a letter confirming no neglect or abuse took place.
The ACS says that the letter Bray received was 'generated as a matter of course' when her children were taken into care while she was ill.
'The letter is simply informational. Ms Bray is not under investigation. She never was,' said ACS spokesman Sharman Stein.
'The letter she receives is simply the way in which our system is legally able to become involved in helping families which are unable to temporarily care for their children.'
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Addendum: Here are two postings from a foster mom of the kind loved by social services. Notice the derision for the real dad.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I am so irritated right now. I got an email from Samantha's caseworker letting me know that in court this morning (I had no idea there even was court this morning) it was decided that dad would begin unsupervised visit effective immediately. Sounds good huh? He will get her two days a week for two hours each time. Still OK. He wants the visits to happen between 5:30-7:30 in the evening. I don't think so. This child is IN BED by 7 every night. The very few times we've kept her up later (because we were out) she is still up at 6am, but she is cranky all morning, has a hard time settling for her nap and takes it SUPER early so she is then ready for bed by 6pm or sooner. This is not going to work. I mentioned to dad the time he wants is pretty late. His reply? "Too bad. Nothin' I can do 'bout it." Did I mention that dad smells like he just rolled around in an ashtray? I don't even get her inside the house after visits before I take her clothes off and she goes straight into the bath. Every time. So that means she will not get home until 7:45 or 8, if he is on time, she will then need a bath, so she won't get into bed before 8:30 if she can settle down. Most evenings we spend an hour or so on settle down/go to sleep routine. Why didn't the baby's attorney say something? Doesn't the case worker realize this child is not even two? What happened to best interest of the child? O-o-o-o-o-o! I am so irritated.
Posted by Susan at 11:14 PM
Saturday, December 20, 2008
A Bit More on Irate
I was (still am) irate. about the time of the unsupervised visits. It is not a time that is good for Samantha. But I think the bigger issue that is bugging me is that I know dad is playing the case worker and really the whole system. He's playing her about his job, about his living situation, about his family situation, really about everything. Now I haven't worked with this particular worker before but at this point I would have to say she's no slouch. I suspect she knows she is being played. I also suspect it doesn't make any difference. I've said before that having a paid attorney represent someone can dramatically change the outcome. I've said it about when foster parents hire an attorney, but I think if a birth parent hires their own attorney it is the same. And I think dad has hired his own gun. I think his attorney has assured him that he will get his child back no matter what and I think it is probably true, or perhaps there is some truth to it. He missed both of his visits last week and thinks he has pulled something over on everyone. He is pretty full of himself right now. He keeps trying to explain to me how he is a victim in all of this, how he was a single dad, raising his baby all alone when all of a sudden a bad thing happened and bad people took his baby away. All he wants is to go back to being a great dad, all by himself. It's all a crock. I guess that's what irritates me more than anything.
Posted by Susan at 10:26 PM
Source: Blog by Susan (a pseudonym)
December 27, 2008 permalink
A century ago there was no birth control, and lower public health meant a larger parental mortality. This created a problem of homeless children of enormous proportion compared to today's tiny complement of orphans. Yet, as we repeatedly point out in these columns, the voluntary organizations of the day did a better job of handling their problems than todays bloated bureaucracies.
For over half a century, orphan children from the eastern United States were shipped west on orphan trains, stopping along the way hoping to find farmers who needed extra hands. The last train traveled circa 1929, sources differ on the exact date. A Denver television station has found one of the last survivors of the orphan trains, Stanley Cornell.
Mr Cornell was not separated from his parents by force of arms, he was not diagnosed with any disorders, he was not turned into a zombie on psychotropic drugs. When he got to his hard-scrabble adoptive home, he was offered nothing but hard work. Yet in spite of all the treatment that today would be considered abusive, he relates his adoption as a positive experience. Children coming out of today's foster homes often have nothing positive to say about them.
Colo. man one of the last few who rode the Orphan Train
posted by: Jeffrey Wolf December 27, 2008
PUEBLO - For about 75 years starting in the mid-1800s, more than 200,000 homeless abandoned children in the eastern U.S. were put onto trains headed west. The hope was someone would give them new homes.
Stanley Cornell, who now lives in Pueblo, is just one of a few surviving riders of what was known as the "Orphan Train."
"My first feeing was standing by my mom's bedside when she was dying. She died of tuberculosis," said Cornell, remembering back to 1925. "I remember her crying, holding my hand, saying to 'be good to Daddy.' "
Cornell says he was probably around 4 when his mother died in Elmira, New York. His father was wounded in World War I so he had problems keeping steady work. Eventually, he contacted the Children's Aid Society who came to take away Cornell and his younger brother.
They were taken to an orphanage in New York where Cornell says he remembers being separated by chicken wire fences and being beaten with whips.
To cope with the enormous orphan problem in the city, the Children's Aid Society of New York started to move the children out on trains, hoping to place them with families.
It's believed to be the beginning of foster care in America.
"We'd pull into a train station, stand outside the coaches dressed in our best clothes. People would inspect us like cattle farmers. And if they didn't choose you, you'd get back on the train and do it all over again at the next stop," said Cornell.
Cornell and his brother were "placed out" twice with their aunts in Pennsylvania and Coffeyville, Kansas. Those didn't last and they were returned to the Children's Aid Society.
Next, Cornell was on a train full of 150 children headed to Wellington, Texas. Each time a train was sent, adoption ads were put in newspapers.
J.L. Deger, a 45-year-old farmer, was there in Wellington. He already had two daughters, ages 10 and 13, but wanted a boy too.
"He'd just bought a Model T. Mr. Deger looked those boys over. We were the last boys holding hands in a blizzard, December 10, 1926," Cornell said.
He says that day he and his brother stood in a hotel lobby.
"He asked us if we wanted to move out to farm with chickens, pigs and a room all to your own. He only wanted to take one of us, decided to take both of us," Cornell said.
Work was hard on the farm, but Cornell had finally found a home.
"I did have to work and I expected it, because they fed me, clothed me, loved me. We had a good home. I'm very grateful. Always have been, always will be," he said.
Cornell came to know Deger as Dad.
Cornell eventually got married and he and his wife, Earleen, adopted two boys, Dana and Dennis, when each was just four weeks old.
"I knew what it was like to grow up without parents," Cornell said. "We were married seven years and couldn't have kids, so I asked my wife, 'how about adoption?' She'd heard my story before and said, 'OK.' "
After they adopted their two boys, his wife gave birth to a girl.
Dana Cornell says he doesn't need to find his birth parents because of how he feels about his adoptive parents.
"They are my parents and that's the way it's gonna be," said Dana Cornell.
Stanley and Earleen Cornell have been married 61 years. She is a minister at a church in Pueblo, and is the cook at her son's restaurant, Dana's Lil' Kitchen.
Stanley Cornell believes he is one of only 15 surviving Orphan Train children. His brother, Victor Cornell, a retired movie theater chain owner, is also alive and living in Moscow, Idaho.
Source: KUSA-TV Denver
December 26, 2008 permalink
Were you suckered by one of those charities soliciting money to buy gifts for foster kids? In New Mexico two women, one an employee of CYFD, the Child Youth and Families Department, stole the bank cards intended as Christmas gifts for foster children.
This continues the pattern set by Canada's Easter Grinch. While the amounts are petty, few things better illustrate the contempt and depravity of social workers than their habit of stealing from their wards.
Two arrested on gift card theft charges
Freedom New Mexico, December 24, 2008 - 5:48PM
A Quay County mother and daughter were arrested on Christmas eve, accused of stealing Christmas gift cards intended for foster children.
The cards were purchased and donated by a local church, according to a press release from the Tucumcari Police Department.
Jennifer Dominguez, 24, of Tucumcari, was charged with larceny and tampering with evidence, and Bernadine Gutierrez, 46, of Logan, was charged with accessory to tampering with evidence, the release said.
Both subjects were released on bond
Eleven gift cards, worth $25 each, were reported missing on Dec. 9, according to documents filed at Quay County Magistrate Court. The cards were intended for foster children under the care of the Children Youth and Family Department.
During police interviews, Dominguez said she visited her mother, Gutierrez, an employee of CYFD. Both had been invited to help wrap packages for foster children, the court papers said.
"Ms. Dominguez stated that she removed all of the missing boxes containing gift cards and took them to her house," according to the court records. "Ms. Dominguez stated that later she felt guilty and eventually told her mother that she did have the cards.
Court records note further that, “Ms. Dominguez stated several times that her mother had told her to not use the cards and to get rid of them. Ms. Dominguez advised that she had cut up seven of the boxes and cards and flushed them down her toilet but became concerned about clogging up her toilet so she stopped. Ms. Dominguez stated that then (she) threw the remaining boxes into the dumpster at her apartment complex. Ms. Dominguez eventually admitted that she used that card at K-mart."
The cards had been reported stolen to Kmart and the police located Dominguez when she had tried to use the gift cards, the court documents said.
"It is a shame that any adults would take gifts intended for foster children, especially at this time of year," Tucumcari Police Chief Roger Hatcher said.
Hatcher also said he hopes the citizens of Tucumcari do not let this deter them from being generous in giving to children.
Source: Clovis News Journal
Pope Speaks for Children
December 25, 2008 permalink
Pope Benedict in his Christmas message prays for children denied the love of their parents. Here is the part of his homily dealing with children.
With these thoughts, we draw near this night to the child of Bethlehem – to the God who for our sake chose to become a child. In every child we see something of the Child of Bethlehem. Every child asks for our love. This night, then, let us think especially of those children who are denied the love of their parents. Let us think of those street children who do not have the blessing of a family home, of those children who are brutally exploited as soldiers and made instruments of violence, instead of messengers of reconciliation and peace. Let us think of those children who are victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse, and thus are traumatized in the depths of their soul. The Child of Bethlehem summons us once again to do everything in our power to put an end to the suffering of these children; to do everything possible to make the light of Bethlehem touch the heart of every man and woman. Only through the conversion of hearts, only through a change in the depths of our hearts can the cause of all this evil be overcome, only thus can the power of the evil one be defeated. Only if people change will the world change; and in order to change, people need the light that comes from God, the light which so unexpectedly entered into our night.
Source: Vatican radio
December 24, 2008 permalink
Dufferin VOCA wishes all families a merry Christmas. It is a time for families to gather and enjoy their blessings. Our best wishes extend also to those unfortunate parents and children who cannot share this Christmas because they have been separated in the name of protection.
Snowman Delivers Baby (to CAS)
December 24, 2008 permalink
In a scene out of the Keystone Kops, a Windsor woman has delivered two babies in winter snow. The end of the story discloses why the mother could not seek medical help — the family had already lost a child to children's aid and was under watch. The police took the babies to the hospital, and children's aid now has them under its control. Sorry mom.
Woman delivers twins on snowy Windsor street
One infant in serious condition, second chid and mom doing well
Doug Schmidt, Windsor Star Published: Wednesday, December 24, 2008
WINDSOR, Ont. - Newborn twins and their mother are under close watch by hospital doctors and the Windsor Essex Children's Aid Society after the woman delivered them in the street just before midnight Tuesday.
"Our officers deal regularly with tragic circumstances - this was extremely unusual ... traumatic," said Windsor police Deputy Chief Jerome Brannagan.
Both babies are recovering, with one listed in serious condition Wednesday, while the other and their mother were in good condition, said Gisele Sullens, a spokeswoman for Windsor Regional Hospital. The premature babies - one weighing four pounds, the other three pounds - are being treated in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Two officers on routine patrol thought they'd stumbled on to a horrible criminal scene when a woman covered in blood and screaming hysterically ran onto the street, waving them down, Brannagan said.
The woman, however, quickly indicated she had just given birth, and she raised her top to show a newborn held tightly to her stomach. Ambulances were still on their way when the woman, 27, gave birth to the second baby while standing and screaming.
Brannagan said the officers then had to also deal with the arrival on the street of an equally frantic and hysterical father of the babies.
Paramedics were on the scene within minutes and the mother and her twins were rushed to hospital in three ambulances.
While it's not unheard of for police to help deliver babies on occasion, Brannagan said he's never heard of a similar case in his 29 years of policing.
The weather at the time was miserable, with the temperature close to freezing and a mix of driving rain and snow.
There was "no indication of any criminal activity," said Brannagan, but the Children's Aid Society was called in to investigate.
"We are looking into it to ensure the safety of the kids and make sure the mother is OK - and that the mother is in a condition to look after the children," said CAS executive director Bill Bevan.
Bevan said the local CAS had already been "aware of this family," and that another child of the woman had previously been taken away from her. The child is with another family member, Bevan said.
He said details of how the woman got to be on the street giving birth to twins are still being probed.
Source: National Post
December 22, 2008 permalink
The National Post reports on a baby identified only as M, born prematurely with too many medical problems to count. A judge authorized ending life-saving treatment, resulting in death the next day.
If this doctrine becomes accepted, there is no way to stop "mission creep", spreading the practice to less desperate cases. Combine this procedure with the existing insensitivity of social workers and the rubber-stamp nature of most family courts, and soon police and social workers will be bullying families with death threats. This is no exaggeration. In the US and Canada, 95% of criminal cases now end with a guilty plea. One of the inducements to plead guilty is the threat of harming children if the accused pleads not guilty and forces a trial. Threats of harm to children could eventually be upgraded to threats of death.
Welfare agencies can stop life-saving care
'Best Interests'; Judge rules in Children's Aid case of 'crack baby'
Tom Blackwell, National Post Published: Monday, December 22, 2008
For child-welfare agencies, there is one overriding goal: to protect the health and well-being of children in their care, sometimes even ordering medical treatment for them.
But a recent court ruling has turned that mission on its head, concluding that agencies can consent to doctors withdrawing potentially lifesaving treatment from a seriously ill young person.
The decision came in the Ottawa case of a "crack baby" whose heart surgery was cancelled when physicians decided further care was ultimately hopeless. A day after the judge gave the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton the go-ahead to agree to ending treatment, the baby died.
The case left the Children's Aid Society with a difficult and legally murky decision, since it was unable to locate the three-week-old infant's mother to consult her on treatment, said Barbara MacKinnon, the agency's executive director.
"We don't come into this business to make these decisions. We come into the business to keep children alive and protected and safe," she said. "We really pushed the hospital to help us understand, to make us believe that this is really necessary."
Though the scenario is rare, it may arise more and more often as medical science becomes increasingly adept at keeping such preemies alive after birth, Ms. MacKinnon said.
Irwin Elman, Ontario's independent children's advocate, said the ruling is probably the right one, since a children's aid society must, in effect, act like a parent to the children in its care. But he said he is worried that under-funding of the sector and other pressures on well-meaning staff may not necessarily allow them to consider such questions as seriously as they should.
"Children's Aid needed to make that decision with love," Mr. Elman said. "And if they don't love their kids, then they need to go back to the drawing board."
The baby, referred to in the decision only as M., had been born prematurely this May at only 1.8 pounds, suffering from a brain hemorrhage, dangerously fluctuating blood pressure and blood-sugar levels that required insulin injections every two hours. He also had a serious heart condition for which he was initially to undergo surgery at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
But a team of doctors, nurses and ethics specialists concluded that the surgery would only be invasive and painful and that palliative care designed to keep the infant as comfortable as possible was medically and ethically appropriate.
Withdrawing life-support would also be in keeping with the baby's best interests, they said.
While such societies are allowed under Ontario law -- and similar legislation in other provinces -- to consent to medical treatment even when the parents object, it is unclear what the term "treatment" encompasses, Justice Monique Metivier said.
Child-welfare law "has as its paramount purpose to 'promote the best interests, protection and well-being of children,'" the Superior Court judge noted.
"While 'treatment' is not legislatively defined, I am of the view that the best interests of a child can, in appropriate circumstances, require refraining from invasive treatment or withdrawing medical treatment other than palliative care."
Disputes between doctors who feel further treatment of a critically ill patient is fruitless and family members who want them to keep trying have increasingly ended up in court lately. The law is still unclear, though, about whether families or medical staff have the final say in such cases.
Justice Metivier seemed to give the nod to physicians, saying they ultimately do not need the children's aid societies' consent to withdraw treatment if they consider doing so appropriate.
Juliet Guichon, a medical ethicist at the University of Calgary, said the scenario is a tough one for child-welfare agencies, since a death of a child in their care always comes under scrutiny, with autopsies being mandatory in some provinces.
However, the judge in this instance appears to have indicated that medical professionals are the final arbiters of when treatment should be halted, she said.
Source: National Post
December 22, 2008 permalink
Where do you get the real news about child protection in North America? Answer: Ghana. Modern Ghana has printed the story by Barbara Bryan under the headline Dead Children: Sent Legally and Officially to Die, the same one copied here on December 18. A search of Google News shows that Modern Ghana is the only news source in the world to use the story.
December 20, 2008 permalink
Canada Court Watch has been following incompetent work by two caseworkers for Haldimand and Norfolk CAS, Jamie Brownlee and Michael Downs. People who have experiences with these workers are invited to call Canada Court Watch. An abridged version of the report is below.
Dirty deeds being perpetrated against family by Halimand & Norfolk Children's Aid Society workers!
(Dec 20, 2008) The Family Justice Review Committee has been involved in an ongoing investigation involving two workers, Ms. Jamie Brownlee and Mr. Michael Downs of the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand & Norfolk in Townsend, Ontario. Information uncovered to date during the investigation would reasonably indicate that these two workers have acted in an unprofessional manner, have abused their power and authority and have caused significant harm to at least one family in the region. It would appear that the Charter Rights of the Parents and the Child have been infringed upon as a result of one mistake after another by Society workers. It appears that the Society does not even know how to serve documents properly on parents with workers committing multiple violations to the family law rules. Even a motion filed on December 17, 2008 violated some of the most commonly known rules. The costly mistakes being made by this agency are inexcusable considering the monies and resources that these CAS agencies get from the taxpayers of Ontario. The FJRC to date has compiled a 50 page report on this case and the report gets thicker by the day as workers keep doing more things wrong to screw up the case.
Any parent in the region who has had dealings with either Ms. Jamie Brownlee or Mr. Michael Downs is urged to contact Canada Court Watch in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Canada Court Watch
December 19, 2008 permalink
A nine-year-old girl has been caught sharing cough medicine with her classmates. One of them gave her a dollar.
Friday, December 19, 2008
BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS
9-year-old called drug dealer over cough drops
Case prompted when student shared Vitamin C candy with friend
Posted: December 19, 2008 12:25 am Eastern, WorldNetDaily
A Florida elementary school accused a 9-year-old student of selling drugs for sharing cough drops with friends.
Officials at Patterson Elementary School in Clay County decided, however, not to discipline Khalin Rivenbark, who met with the girl and her father Wednesday.
The accusation arose one day earlier when the child got into trouble after her father put some Halls Defense Vitamin C cough drops in her school bag when she was recovering from a cold, she told Jacksonville's WJXT-TV
She later shared some with friends.
"[A teacher] saw me with the cough drops out and I guess she saw me give it to one of my friends, and then like, 'Oh, I see this good business going on around you,'" Khalin told the station.
"She said, 'You're selling drugs.' (I said) 'No, I'm not.'"
The 9-year-old said one of her friends gave her $1 for the cough drop.
Her father, Andy Rivenbark, told the station, "It's absolutely crazy."
The student said the cough drops were in her bag, and two friends asked for one, so she handed them out. One friend insisted on paying.
"She felt guilty taking the cough drop or whatever, so she gave me a dollar. I didn't want to accept it, but she had me take it," Khalin told the Jacksonville TV station.
The student handbook for Clay County Schools says, "If a student must take a prescription or over-the-counter medication during school hours, it must be received and stored in the original container, and be labeled with the student's name, current date, prescription dosage, frequency of administration and physician's name."
But WJXT reporter Diane Cho questioned whether the Halls cough drops qualify as a drug, since the ingredients were nearly the same as Lifesavers candy.
Andy Rivenbark said he didn't get a note or call from school administrators about the incident.
"It's definitely detrimental to somebody who we teach the whole time growing up, 'don't use drugs because drugs are bad.' To accuse her, it's unnecessary to make a comment like that," Rivenbark said.
The report said the meeting included an admonition from school officials for the child not to bring cough drops again.
WND reported several years ago on a case in which a student was expelled for a year for having Advil in her purse.
The case involved sophomore Amanda Stiles, who was expelled from Parkway High School in Shreveport, La., after a teacher searched her purse because she was suspected of being among a group of students smoking cigarettes on school grounds, the Shreveport Times reported.
The punishment was affirmed by the school board.
Stiles said she carried the over-the-counter medicine because of frequent headaches, but the Bossier Parish School District maintains it followed a state law barring drugs on campus and its own "zero-tolerance" policy.
"I just never thought about the fact that I could be searched," Stiles said, according to the Shreveport paper. "I think we're old enough to know how many [pills] we can take without overdosing or being in danger."
WND also has reported various disciplinary actions for students over toy guns, drawings of guns and even a gun company logo on a pen.
Source: World Net Daily
Protected to Death
December 18, 2008 permalink
Release Date: December 17, 2008
Dead Children: Sent Legally and Officially To Die
Dead children: How many are battered, bruised, heartbroken and neglected to death before all who order their housing and ignore them to death are made accountable?
Check this partial listing of names and pictures ( in memory ). In January, look for a more complete list of known Unnecessary Angels for 2008.
America offers a single avenue for abused or neglected children: the child protection agency of that child’s state. Names vary from Child Protective Services, Department of Child and Family Services, Department of Human Resources and several other titles.
If abuse and neglect reporters, many anonymous and also non-accountable, make an error in sharing suspicions it can be the beginning of the end for that child.
When a report is mistaken or malicious, the child is traumatized. In those worst cases a child’s life may be totally needlessly changed. In those non-cases taxpayers have paid exorbitant expenses and have been defrauded. When is anyone involved prosecuted?
Too often, when a child is truly in danger, real abuse may be ignored until the child is dead or brain-damaged. Parents who cannot or should not have children at home must be monitored or children moved. When they are not who answers when the child is killed?
Decades ago the child protection system was dubbed “the child abuse industry” because so many people profited. All supposedly cared about children and put their expertise on the line: from guardians ad litem and mental health evaluators and counselors to nurses and doctors, prosecutors and the ultimate person approving and immunizing the plan and planners by ordering where a child will live and with whom. That is the judge.
Constitutional safeguards—for children, parents or caretakers—are purposely lacking in most family courts as well as CPS agency process. Yet, children are removed, adopted to strangers or returned to dangerous living arrangements and the child deaths persist.
How high must that pile of dead child bodies become to get the attention it has needed for decades? If many children vanished in railroad cars instead of one or a couple of children from various places in county cars, would that make a difference?
Read the site above and weep. In tight financial times, with more stress and poverty, children cannot afford more mistakes minus basic accountability that everyone else operates under.
Concerned professionals and media may learn more at http://www.falseallegation.org or by calling NCADRC at 419-865-0513.
Barbara Bryan, [ BHBryan at aol.com ]
National Child Abuse Defense & Resource Center
Phone : 704-582-1059
Source: Barbara Bryan
Alexis to Terminate Monday
December 17, 2008 permalink
The latest from reporter/senator Pam Roach on Alexis (she is dropping the pseudonym Lisa) says DSHS is reacting to the medical information on Alexis by moving to quickly terminate parental rights next Monday.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
DSHS Acting Fast To Steal Girl From Fit Family
This is a verbatim email I just received. The department knows the medical records are out and this is their answer:
"Pam, Just got off the phone with Gia. She is worthless! According to her, we are to blame for Alexis's failure to thrive. That is why she was not returned to us last August. I told her, if that's the case why did you give placement to us for the next ten months? And why were all the medical, social workers, and casa's reports glowing for the time period we had placement? She could not give me an answer for that. According to the new casa they are planning to get termination on Monday. They sent Lisa's (Lisa is actually the name of the mother. I have been using it as the name of the granddaughter) attorney adoption papers for Lisa to sign off stating sign this and get minimal visits, or go through trial and get no visits what so ever."
— Doug (Grandfather)
Please see previous PPR for the link to the KING 5 TV coverage of this truly awful story. CPS is most certainly stealing this child!
Posted by Pam Roach at 12:34 PM
Source: Pam Roach blog for December 17, 2008
Addendum: Two further posts by Pam Roach. Termination for Alexis was delayed by a Seattle snowstorm.
Monday, December 29, 2008
New Court Date Set ... State Moves With Vengence To Place Child Away From Family
The new court date is January 6th and the state will again (as they have from the beginning) press hard for termination and placement, presumably, with the foster woman. The state has prevented placement with several good relative families and has done its best to alienate the Lisa's affections to her biological family. (From the KING 5 coverage we see that it hasn't worked!)
Who is the mystery person spends time at the house? The foster woman has told the state that she has no one else living there. Will the state, in its scheme to steal this child, level with the court?
Will the court see the medical records?
Will the court believe the state (or the CASA?) that the mother writes an offending (to some) blog? Or, will the state be honest and tell the court that the mother had nothing to do with the blog? (Must be a real feeling of power to seed the court with lies and know you can get away with it.)
Will the judge ask who writes the alternative blog? (There is a blog other than PRR that covers the case of the Stuth's granddaughter. Judge Schafer, reportedly, blamed the alternative blog on the teen mother. Because it was aggressive in attitude it was, therefore, proof that the mother was unfit.)
Will the "free" attorney tell the judge her client did not write the blog? Why didn't she defend her client on that matter in the first place?
I have taken the position that another individual's free speech should not be used against the mother. I also believe that if the mother DID write the blog (and she didn't) it would only show that she is fighting for her child and what mother worth her salt wouldn't fight for her child?
Posted by Pam Roach at 12:38 AM
Senator Roach Again Attacked By Foul Mouthed "Steal The Kid" People
A judge recently condemned Lisa's teen mother for the contents of a blog she did not write. I am told there was no swearing, just statements of fact presented in crazy cartoon fashion.
Emboldened, I suppose, by the fact that I don't print the few foul comments that come to this blog... supporters of the foster woman have sent a few very foul, sexist, angry (at me) comments.
SURPRISE! I HAVE SENT THEM TO THE JUDGES.
Just what kind of friends and relatives does the foster woman have? Are these the kind of people we want to be around Lisa? Hmmmm...maybe the foul, angry, abusive tirade was actually from the foster woman!
There is absolutely no way someone could have been more crude than what was just sent on to the judges. I wonder who else will get copies.
Posted by Pam Roach at 1:25 AM 2 comments
Source: Pam Roach blog for December 29, 2008
British Court Doors Ajar
December 17, 2008 permalink
Britain has opened its family courts to journalists. While an improvement over the previous total secrecy, there is still a long way to go to achieve openness. The press will not be reporting the names of the children, skeptical members of the public will be unable to enter the courtroom or examine the court files, and bloggers will likely not be respected as journalists. In many places, governments have exercised substantial control over what journalists publish, while giving lip service to freedom of the press.
Reporting of family courts could stop childcare mistakes
17 December 2008, By Rachael Gallagher
Justice Secretary Jack Straw’s decision to “lift the veil” and allow journalists to report on family courts could help stop bad decisions being made about the care of children, according to PA legal editor Mike Dodd.
From April, journalists will be allowed to attend and report on all divorce, custody and care proceedings unless specifically excluded.
Press Association legal editor Mike Dodd said that the media’s reporting of the courts could raise questions about proceedings that would have otherwise have gone un-asked.
Dodd referred to a case in 2006 when a child was taken into care for 14 months based on evidence that was all later declared “misleading, incomplete or wrong”, but where the council and the team leader of the case were never named.
He said: “There have been too many examples of where the secrecy has led to questionable decisions, and the secrecy has allowed certain statements to be made in the family courts which would have been instantly questioned had they been made in public courts which had been open to media coverage.”
The previous Lord Chancellor, Charles Falconer, had said that there was no way that the courts would be made open to the media, but Dodd said that this was partially to blame for evidence gathered at stake-holder sessions where a number of young people were interviewed who said they were worried that their identities would be revealed if media were allowed to cover family courts.
“We always understood that if the family courts were opened up it would be done on the basis those involved would in general remain anonymous. I don’t think it was ever made clear to the young people that their privacy would be protected above all", said Dodd.
“One way of making sure that the public understands what is going on is to report fully what is being said and of course to make sure that those who are giving evidence about a child’s wellbeing should all be named. Even if the children aren’t. That way you have track on people who claim the authority and power, and they should be held accountable for what they’re doing. If you’re a policeman investigating a murder, you don’t do it anonymously, and you don’t give evidence in court anonymously.”
The Newspaper Society gave a “qualified welcome” to the news.
Sue Oake, senior legal advisor, said that the NS will be want to scrutinise carefully what the revised reporting restrictions entail.
“Clearly these will need to be proportionate and targeted: to impose a blanket 'default' requirement of anonymity for all parties will result in a restrictions more draconian, in many cases, than those pertaining already.
“On disclosure of information, we are disappointed that the statement does not make any move towards allowing direct or indirect disclosure to the media by parties to the proceedings. Again, with appropriate safeguards, this could have been an effective means to aid openness so we are pleased to note Mr Straw’s assurance during the Parliamentary debate that he is still 'actively considering' this issue”.
The Times newspaper claimed credit for Straw’s decision to open the family courts to journalists, and said today it has “campaigned vociferously” for the change, “arguing that keeping the media out of certain courts has led to miscarriages of justice.”
Straw credited The Times for having brought the issue to his attention “more graphically than it otherwise would have done”.
“You have to deal with shedloads of issues in jobs like this … if something isn’t a particular issue at the time, you don’t go around searching for it. I commend The Times for running such a professional campaign,” he said.
Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell said that he hopes the courts will take the message in its “full spirit” and only impose reporting restrictions when there is a “specific and genuine argument for them to be introduced”.
He said: “I always believe that openness improves virtually any activity. A, the public have a right to know what’s being done in their name and b, when its all done behind closed doors it can only lead to rumour and suspicion. If you have greater openness there’s going to be more confidence in the system.”
Source: Press Gazette (UK)
Addendum: The London Times deals with the same news. The middle story presents the remarkable fact that it is illegal for a foster child to give his own name in public.
From Times Online, December 16, 2008
Family courts: case studies
Fiona Hamilton, London Correspondent
The opening up of the family courts will be welcome news for one couple whose case - currently before the Court of Appeal - has been highlighted by The Times after their baby daughter was placed into foster care earlier this year.
But although it means the couple will now be able to discuss their case with the media the reforms do not go far enough for their MP.
Tim Yeo, the Conservative MP for Suffolk South, told The Times that his efforts to help the couple had been thwarted by a system which “prevents natural justice”.
Although the couple have given Mr Yeo permission to access information about their case, the authorities have denied his requests and have refused to justify their actions on the grounds of confidentiality.
Mr Yeo said: “They continue to decline to make any information available to me despite authority by the parents.
“They’ve consistently refused to share their reasons [for placing the child in foster care]. Obviously not publicly, but not even privately with me.
“This makes it very hard for me, as the representative of the parents, to assist them."
The mother first lost custody of her young son to her ex-husband (his biological father), who claimed that she suffered from a condition known as fabricated or induced illness.
When she fell pregnant to her new partner, social services monitored the family. During a conversation with social workers, she explained her fear of losing her newborn daughter by saying that her new partner felt like killing them all if she was also taken away. The couple have no history of violence or abuse. They say that they would not dream of hurting their baby and the remark was merely an attempt to explain the full extent of their agony if she was taken away.
The child has since been taken into foster care. The mother has access to her for just three hours a week and the father has not seen her since. The couple, who have not been given full reasons for the removal, are appealing the supervision order.
Mr Yeo said: “It seems extraordinary that people can have what is a sort of life sentence, in losing their baby daughter, without really knowing what the evidence is against them and without being able to refute it.
“There is this cloak of secrecy in which social services conduct their activities. They would have more rights if they were up on a murder charge.”
At 17 years old, Curtis is old enough to move out of home, travel around the countryside for his job and have a girlfriend.
Yet, adult as he is, Curtis is prevented from speaking publicly about his past and the sister that he did not know for much of his childhood, ostensibly for his “protection”.
A month before he was born, his 17-month old sister was taken away from his mother and placed into foster care after social services expressed concern about a bruise on the child.
At three-year old his sister was adopted following proceedings in the family court, despite a judge’s misgivings, because she had “bonded” with her foster carers after social services denied the mother access. Curtis was only recently reunited with his sister after she tracked down her family.
He approached The Times to tell his story hoping that his case would raise awareness after he found out that social services also tried to place him into foster care despite there being no evidence against his mother.
However, he cannot be named until his 18th birthday and his social services referral sheet, which nearly separated him from his biological mother, cannot be published under restrictions by the Administration of Justice Act.
Curtis told The Times: “It’s disgusting. It’s my life and I want to talk about it, I want people to know so that maybe this sort of thing can be avoided in the future. It took me ages to get my court documents and even though they’re mine, I can’t make them public. Social services just get to cover things up and its wrong.”
Matthew, a working professional in his fifties, was fighting a custody case for several months before he became aware of the damaging allegations against him on his court file.
A supporter of his ex-partner had written the judge a letter in secret making various spurious claims including that Matthew was not to be trusted with his children.
Matthew only became aware of the allegations when he requested other correspondence from his file.
“I was able to reject the allegations and the judge said he wouldn’t consider them, but it was highly inappropriate and quite a concern,” he said.
“If I hadn’t have asked for other information and if this letter hadn’t been included with it, I would have never known of its existence.”
Source: London Times
December 15, 2008 permalink
Do you get a good feeling when you drop an item in a food bank? It doesn't seem to get to foster kids. According to reporter/senator Pam Roach the foster girl under her watch is starving. In sixteen months she gained only 2.5 pounds. CPS does not tell the judge about her meager diet. As far as the court knows, Lisa/Alexis is safe.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Little Lisa's Medical Records Show Neglect and Possible Abuse
No surprises here. According to medical reports little "Lisa" has gained only 2 1/2 pounds in the 16 months that CPS has had her in foster "care." This is absolutely appalling! And, they try to hide it from the court. Apparently, neither judge has the medical records!
I had one person wonder out loud if CPS is starving the girl to keep her listed as special needs. I think there is more pay that goes out to everyone involved if that is the case.
I had a few computer problems last night and will have to wait to blog about the report. Not as a teaser...but let's just say the doctor suggests the bruises could mean abuse.
WHERE IS MARY MEINIG??? (THE OMBUDSMAN)
I asked Mary Meinig about the altered email wherein the childcare worker asked Lisa how she got her black eye. The email that I saw had the question put to the child and the answer was redacted. Meinig says she couldn't find the original email. It is there Mary....use your substantial powers to order it! Go to Childhaven and tell the supervisor you want that original email. It was an email sent to CPS BEFORE it went to the mother! Someone altered the email to protect the person named by the girl. Could that have been the social worker, S. B.? Did she alter the email before it was washed and sent out? How many other people in CPS have seen the email? Has Mr. Fox seen it? The supervisor admits the email was altered. Try again, Mary. The little girl is frail and not thriving under CPS control. Go find that email, Mary. You have the power. Let's open up government and see who is being protected. There is a "played with" email and a little girl who has only gained 2 1/2 pounds in 16 months. The fact that you have not found that original email only tells me there are some very relieved social workers.
Posted by Pam Roach at 1:04 PM
Source: Pam Roach blog for December 15, 2008
Back to Mom and Dad
December 13, 2008 permalink
The press reports on the distress of a Utah couple compelled by the courts to give up their adopted baby. The press rarely reports on the more frequent cases of distress of natural parents compelled to give up their babies on pretense of protection.
Family must give up adopted boy
Reported by: Dan Rascon, Last Update: 12/12 6:47 pm
Imagine only having two days left with your son or daughter.
A bureaucratic process involving federal law and Native American rights has caused that exact situation for a South Jordan family. Their adopted son is getting taken away from them by court order. The boy is expected to be removed Sunday night.
“I can’t believe that it's happening.” said Clint Larson, who is the adoptive father of six-month-old Talon.
Talon was born in Salt Lake City in June.
Talon's birth mother, who is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Indian tribe in Minnesota, came to Salt Lake City to have the baby.
She place Talon for adoption through the Heart & Soul adoption agency.
According to the tribe, when she returned home to the reservation after giving birth she changed her mind. She wanted the baby back even though the adoption had already gone through.
The Larsons have been fighting in court to keep their child. This week a third district court judge ruled in favor of the birth family, citing federal laws. The Indian Child Welfare Act states that the tribe has a legal right to claim the child.
The tribe says the adoption agency never received the birth father's approval and acquired the mom's signature while she was still drugged after the birth.
The Heart & Soul adoption agency says they did everything according to the law.
The Larsons cannot imagine life without their son.
“He's our son and they are going to take him from us on Sunday. We've waited five years for a child and have cared for him as well as anyone could. They are taking him away right before Christmas. It was going to be his first Christmas with us,” said Heather Larson, Talons adoptive mother.
Frank Bibeau, an attorney for the Tribal council, says the child was never the Larsons to begin with. "The child is not the Larsons and the Larsons are not Indian as far as I know and this is an Indian child.”
The Larson's attorney, Paul Tsosie, argues the child is not a quarter or more Native American so the tribe cannot claim him or enroll him, according to the tribe's own constitution. But
Bibeau says that is not true. "We watch out for our members and our next generation of members. What would be the point of watching out for our children who are quarter blood or more and we don’t care about their children and take care of their children?”
Source: KUTV CBS-2 Salt Lake City
December 13, 2008 permalink
Baby Cassidy passed away in McMaster Children's Hospital while under temporary wardship of Family and Children's Services of Niagara.
Friends slam agency's treatment of teen mom, baby
Paul Morse, The Hamilton Spectator
(Dec 13, 2008)
Niagara's children's aid agency is being called "inhumane" for its role in the death of a gravely injured infant who took 14 days to die after she was removed from life support.
Friends of the teenage mother accuse Family and Children's Services Niagara (FACS) of causing the three-month-old girl to suffer for two weeks after doctors determined she was brain dead and her feeding tube was removed by court order.
The infant, who died Tuesday night in Hamilton's McMaster Children's Hospital, can be identified only as Baby Cassidy.
FACS executive director Chris Steven said the children's aid agency secured a court order granting it temporary wardship of Cassidy and later received a court order involving a "sensitive" medical decision.
Steven would not directly discuss the case any further because of strict confidentiality laws.
Friends of the baby's 17-year-old Niagara Falls mother say the teenager also had to endure the ordeal virtually alone because of strict visitation restrictions imposed by the child protection agency and the hospital.
Baby Cassidy was rushed to a Niagara hospital on Nov. 12 with a suspicious life-threatening brain injury and transferred immediately to McMaster. Police, who suspect the baby may have been violently shaken, have launched a major investigation.
"FACS may have their own reason for the way they've done things, but it seems very inhumane to me," said Joan Cristelli, 42, of Niagara Falls.
Baby Cassidy "looked like something you see in a horror story, like a skeleton. Her soft spot was completely caved in an inch and a half. Her eye sockets, you could see the shape of them," Cristelli claims.
"And having the mother there by herself and not letting others in and having her watch this with no support ... that, in and of itself, is pretty inhumane."
Cristelli befriended the pregnant teenager, who was already pregnant when she started dating her son earlier this year.
"I thought, 'Who am I to judge this girl?' She needed support."
Cristelli began giving the teenager baby supplies, helped her prepare for birth and was at her side during labour in hospital. The girl moved back in with her mother after Baby Cassidy was born, but moved out again shortly afterward.
Police say a family member brought Cassidy to Greater Niagara General Hospital Nov. 12 with a grave brain injury. The infant was rushed to McMaster's pediatric care unit in critical condition the same day.
Baby Cassidy was kept on a feeding tube for several weeks while doctors ran a series of brain scans and tests on her, Cristelli said. Then, she said, doctors and FACS informed them the infant had no hope of cognitive life and on Nov. 25, the feeding tube was removed. They also restricted access, allowing only blood relatives to be in the room with Cassidy.
While the teen's mother and grandmother came as often as they could, it still meant the girl was alone with a dying Cassidy for much of the time, she said.
"The baby did not die of brain damage, she died of starvation," Cristelli alleged. "I did not think we had this in our country."
Children's aid agencies do have the ability make critical medical decisions, said Dominic Verticchio, of the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton.
Based on expert medical assessment, the agencies can decide to withdraw life support in two ways:
If the child is a full ward of the Crown, CAS can automatically make that decision because it is the child's legal guardian, says Verticchio. But if CAS takes the child into temporary wardship, it must seek a withdrawal order from the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice.
"At some point you have to weigh the benefits and harms," said Karen Faith, director of the Clinical Ethics Centre at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre.
If the health care team decides aggressive life support ought to continue, they will talk about benefits and harms from an ethics perspective, she said. Then, the "burden of medical interventions" is justifiable if there is a likely benefit.
But Faith said many ethicists argue that prolonging the dying process through intervention where death is imminent prolongs the suffering that goes along with dying.
"Many would argue that constitutes a harm with no likely benefit."
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: A woman identifying herself on Facebook as Jessica Pelissero says she is the mother of baby Cassidy. As of August 2011 FACS is going after her son because of the baby Cassidy tragedy. Help can be offered through the Facebook link before her name.
From another source, here is the mother's account of the death of her baby.
Jessica Pelissero September 11th, 2011 11:03 pm :
I have been dealing with Family and Children’s Services for the past 7 months. This is, unfortunately, the second time I have had the “pleasure” of dealing with them.
My first time dealing with FACS was terrible. The absolute worst thing I have ever gone through in my entire life. I was a young mother, and they took advantage of that, and lied and manipulated me and my family, and eventually destroyed the most important thing in my life. My daughter.
November 11th, 2008 I had left my two month old daughter with a family member for the night. He offered to watch her to give me a “break” so I could get some rest and relax a little bit. If only I had known what was going to happen, I would have straight up refused.
November 12th, 2008 I woke up early, even though I was supposed to be taking the day to relax and get some sleep, and went onto MSN. I spoke to my family member, who informed me that “something was wrong with my daughter, and I needed to come pick her up.” I thought he was overreacted, but I got ready, called a cab, and headed over to see what the problem was.
When I arrived, my daughter was unconscious, and her breathing was very shallow. I knew IMMEDIATELY something was seriously wrong, and she needed to be at the hospital. The person I left her with did not call an ambulance, and instead waited for me to come pick her up. This person has children of their own, they should have been more responsible and done something to help her.
If I had not woken up early that day, I’m not sure if he ever would have called an ambulance, or even me. He was irresponsible, and didn’t even try to help her. If I had brought her home with me the night before, she would probably still be alive.
So, once I saw the condition she was in, I rushed her to the hospital. Immediately a “Code Pink” was called, and she was rushed away from me. I sat in a waiting room for almost 2 hours before any doctor came to talk to me. When they did, I was informed that my daughter had suffered head trauma, and was bleeding in her brain.
She would need to be rushed to McMaster Children’s Hospital. I was allowed to see her one time before she was transferred. My heart broke, and I saw my life fall to pieces.
After she was transferred, I was forced to be interviewed by a worker from Family and Children’s Services. I told her exactly, everything that I knew. I told her I had just picked her up a couple of hours ago, and rushed her here. I told her how the caregiver hadn’t done anything to attempt to help her, and how he says nothing happened.
After that, I was allowed to leave, and head up to Hamilton, to monitor the condition of my daughter. When we arrived in Hamilton, we were not allowed to see her. I was heartbroken. I was required to do an interview with a “Child Abuse Unit” of the hospital, go through another evaluation with FACS and speak with a doctor in charge, before I was allowed in her room.
She had a police guard at her door, and was only allowed one visitor at a time. How they could expect anyone to go through this alone… To see their child, in such rough shape, and have no shoulder to cry on, no support, I don’t understand it.
My daughter was put into a medically induced coma. She had a feeding tube through her nose, a catheter, and a ventilator feeding air directly to her lungs. She was swollen everywhere, and her eyes were taped closed. I could barely recognize her. How could this happen to my daughter?
After many interviews with Family and Children’s Services, they decided that they would only allow blood relatives into my daughters room, and still only one at a time.
This was especially unfair because the man who had acted as father to my daughter since before she was born, was not allowed in the room, but my daughters biological father and his family was allowed to see her. Her father and I had split up because he expected me to put her up for adoption, and I refused. Why would they allow him and his family to see her, and not the family that adopted her as part of theirs?
The doctors performed brain scans and blood work on my daughter for a week and a half, and then FACS brought me to court, and forced me to give up my rights to my daughter. She became a Temporary Crown Ward, and they then got a court order to remove her from life support.
November 25th, 2008 they took my daughter off the ventilator. We had our entire family, and everyone who wanted to say goodbye, as well as a Priest present. We had her baptised, and a memory box was prepared. We thought she was going to die that day.
They removed her tube, as I held her in my arms. Holding my breath, I was braced for the worst. Against all expectations, she started to breathe on her own! It was a miracle! She was going to live!
She began to make progress. Moving around, making noises, even reacting to loud noises that we made around her, and our touch. She loved having her feet tickled, and when we did, her mouth would smile just a little bit. We had so much hope. The doctors told us she was going to make it.
Three days later, Family and Children’s Services obtained a court order to remove her feeding tube. They had lied and said she was making no progress, had no brain activity, and no chance at life. They removed her feeding tube later that day, and that’s when all the hell really began.
She was moved out of the Intensive Care Unit, and into a normal ward of the hospital. The only medication that she was given, was morphine. Everytime she made a noise, they assumed she was in pain, and gave her a shot to keep her from making noise. I believe that they were overdosing her.
I was not allowed to bottle feed my daughter, give her water or even bathe her. I was accused of interfering with her death, and threatened to be banned from her room if I even attempted to feed her. The logic was that bathing would hydrate my daughter, and feeding would nourish her, which would offset the “dying process”.
For fifteen days, I watched, alone and horrified, as my daughter was starved to death. Not being able to do anything. Either I could feed her, and never see her again, or I could spend every last second of her life with her, and cherish every minute of it, no matter how hard it was.
As we were in Hamilton, and my family is from Niagara, it was not very often that our blood relatives were able to come see us. They came as often as they could, but seeing my daughter in that condition was hard on them.
She was purple from head to toe, withered down to a skeleton. Her soft spot was completely sunken in, and her eyes as well. After fifteen days of being starved by Family and Children’s Services, on December 9, 2008, my daughter lost her battle, and finally went to God. May she rest in peace.
I hope one day, to get justice for my daughter. To this day, FACS still claims she died as a result of a brain injury…
Source: Cambridge Advocate
Exonerated Couple Asks for Children Back
December 12, 2008 permalink
After being cleared by the courts, Nicky and Mark Webster want their children back. The children were adopted out while false charges were pending against the parents.
One of their children had a food allergy requiring a diet of only soya milk. The vitamin C deficiency in this diet led to secondary problems from scurvy, which British child protectors attributed to child abuse.
The courts now agree that no abuse took place, but that does not give the family their children back. This family appeared before in this blog on September 16, 2007.
Norfolk couple's court bid to get children back
04 December 2008 16:22
A Norfolk couple today launched a legal bid for a landmark ruling that they should be reunited with their three children, who were forcibly adopted almost four years ago amid abuse allegations.
A top QC told London's Appeal Court that Nicky and Mark Webster were victims of a “terrible miscarriage of justice” after being accused of inflicting multiple fractures on their baby boy.
The couple, from Mill Road, Cromer are battling to persuade top judges that their baby son's injuries were due to a modern case of scurvy, brought on by his acute eating problems, which saw him existing on an exclusive diet of soya milk.
The boy, referred to as “B” in court, was taken into care with his two older siblings after doctors said his injuries were “non accidental” and they have now all been adopted.
Their parents have not seen them since January 2005, when they were aged five, three and two.
The couple made national headlines in 2006 when they fled to Ireland to have their fourth child, Brandon, fearing that he would also be taken from them. They are expecting their fifth child next year.
In London's Appeal Court, their counsel Mr Ian Peddie said the time had come to clear their name and for a court to publicly acknowledge they should never have been separated from their children.
He added that, even if the court ruled it was too late to go back on the children's adoption, it was “vital” that they should be told the truth and that Mr and Mrs Webster should be allowed to see their children.
The barrister said the events unfolded in November 2003 when “B” was suffering from “extreme eating problems”, which meant he could take no solids and had an aversion to cow's milk. He lived exclusively on soya milk, which contained no vitamin C.
He was having trouble walking and, after his mother twice took him to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N(, doctors discovered six fractures which were said to have occurred over a 14-day period. Medics concluded the injuries were non-accidental.
In May 2004, a judge found that either Mr or Mrs Webster had caused the injuries and all three children were taken into care. The QC said they were advised not to appeal.
However, after Brandon's birth in May 2006 an American professor of forensic paediatrics investigated the case and concluded that all of the injuries could have been caused by vitamin deficiency and scurvy.
One of the doctors who originally ruled the injured were non-accidental later accepted that they could have been caused by scurvy.
Other experts had reported since that “abusive trauma was not a sustainable conclusion” for B's injuries given the bone weakness that was a recognised symptom of scurvy and that the injuries were the result of “normal handling of abnormal bones”.
The court heard the two oldest children were placed together with an adoptive family in 2005. The youngest child was placed on his own, although the siblings are allowed to have contact with each other annually.
Mr Peddie told Lord Justice Wall, who is hearing the case with Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Lord Justice Wilson: “The miscarriage of justice needs to be corrected and the children need to know the truth.
“This was beyond a mistake. We say this is a case where there has been a fundamental injustice, a denial of natural justice.”
He said it was an “exceptional” case where the children's adoptive placements could be cancelled, enabling their return to their parents.
Barbara Connolly, representing both sets of adoptive parents, said that, for the children, the adoptions meant they were now with their “forever families”.
“To overturn that has enormous implications. They have been very much part of their families now for well over three years.”
She said allowing an appeal in which biological parents were pitted against the children's adoptive parents would create a “destructive situation” for the children.
The judges said that they would reserve their decision on the case until a later date - probably in the New Year.
Source: EDP24 Norfolk (UK)
Press takes up Lisa/Alexis
December 12, 2008 permalink
The efforts of senator Pam Roach to save Lisa/Alexis have caught the attention of the press. Here is an in-depth story.
Investigators: Grandparents passed over in favor of foster care
03:08 PM PST on Thursday, December 11, 2008, By SUSANNAH FRAME / KING 5 News
ENUMCLAW, Wash. - From day one Doug and AnneMarie Stuth of Enumclaw adored the new baby in their home.
"It was a very exciting time. She was the center of our world," AnneMarie Stuth said.
But the Stuths aren't the baby girl’s parents; they're her grandparents. Their troubled teenage daughter had her at 16. Then she relied on her parents to help raise the baby.
"I was the first one to hold my granddaughter and I was the first one to kiss her,” Doug Stuth said. “So yeah, we have a tight bond."
When the baby was 9 months old, things unraveled. The teen mom moved out of her parents' home along with the baby. While living away from the Stuths, the baby lost weight. A doctor's appointment led to a call to Child Protective Services. The doctor reported the teenage mother let her child get dangerously thin.
“It’s like your whole world comes crashing down,” AnneMarie Stuth said.
Enumclaw police put the child in protective custody with the Stuths right away.
The grandparents raised the child for months and received glowing reports. One officer of the court wrote: "She's fortunate to have her grandparents as a safety net."
"Our granddaughter always came first,” Doug Stuth said. “She’s a little baby. She needs someone to protect her and take care of her and that’s what we did.”
Reuniting the baby with her mother was the goal. Caseworkers placed the two in transitional housing for young moms. That didn't work. The teenager got kicked out of the programs and lost her daughter again.
This time instead of going back to grandma and grandpa, social workers put the baby in foster care. There was a court order saying the Stuths weren't a placement option. State workers and the child's court advocate had submitted negative reports about them to a judge, saying living with the grandparents wouldn't be good for the baby.
The Stuths were devastated. The child’s daycare providers gave them heartbreaking reports.
“(They tell me) that she cries for me," Doug Stuth said. “You have no idea (how hard it is)."
Why didn't the baby go back to the grandparents? Most people would think there must be something very wrong with them, such as reports of abuse or neglect. Perhaps they have criminal records, drug problems, or a history of unemployment? None of those things are true.
So we dug a little deeper. The King 5 Investigators looked at hundreds of documents written by people making decisions on the case.
A court-appointed advocate for the baby wrote the Stuths were selfish, hyper-critical, and were derailing their daughter's parenting efforts. One example cited over and over in legal papers: They gave the child a pacifier, or binky, which was against the young mom's wishes.
"You would not believe how many times that darn binky was brought up in court and in paperwork over the stupid binky!" AnneMarie Stuth said.
A social worker also wrote the grandparents refused to financially support their daughter. But we have copies of dozens of cancelled checks which show the Stuths were giving their daughter money.
They were also accused of being unwilling to drive the child for visits with the mom. But mileage reimbursement records show the state was paying the grandparents for driving hundreds of miles a month so the child could see her mother.
"I've never seen people so hell bent on destroying one family,” AnneMarie said.
Washington law is clear: If a child can't be with parents, relatives must be considered before foster care.
"The department (DSHS) is making greater efforts, absolutely," State Family and Children Ombudsman Mary Meinig said.
Meinig’s office investigates dozens of child custody complaints from relatives every year. She says DSHS is doing better at placing kids with relatives, but that state workers are not always following the law.
"When you have children who are not at risk and they are bonded to their relative, you want them there,” Meinig said. “You don't want them re-traumatized by removing from relatives."
The Stuths think they were flagged as trouble-makers because they complained, a lot, about what was happening. They even called their senator, Pam Roach, who rattled cages in Olympia over the case.
"I'm trying to right something that I think is wrong," Sen. Roach said. “I think it’s important that the state realize that it’s doing something very damaging to this little girl.”
Roach lobbied to get the Stuths visits with their granddaughter. They’d been told by the child’s court advocate there was a court order forbidding them to see her. But we’ve found there was no such court order. They should have been allowed to see her all along.
"It's heartbreaking why any state would want to step between a family tie like that and try to sever that bond," AnneMarie said.
A judge ordered there should be visits and last month KING 5 was there for one of them. The child, now 3 years old, lit up upon seeing her grandparents in the parking lot where the supervised visit was to take place.
"To see the excitement in her eyes and know how we feel inside,” AnneMarie said, “there's no way to put that into words."
DSHS officials couldn’t answer specific questions about the Stuths' situation because it’s part of an ongoing case. But speaking in general terms, Cheryl Stephani, who heads up all child welfare programs at DSHS, told us: “The first requirement is that any placement be in the best interest of the child.”
Stephani also says custody cases are never as simple as they appear.
"It's easy to sit back and say, oh, I know exactly how that should have gone,” Stephani said. “But when you're in the midst of it, there really are a lot of folks who have the best interests of the child at heart but there are a lot of different viewpoints."
One high ranking DSHS official thinks the case hasn’t been handled correctly. We've obtained an internal state e-mail where the administrator writes: “If we don't (place the child) with a relative there will be a lot of explaining to do."
Later this month a judge is expected to rule on the fate of the little girl. The young mother is fighting to get her back, and the grandparents support that goal. State social workers have pushed to have her adopted by the foster mother, saying the little girl is very bonded to her now.
During this turbulent year and a half, the Stuths have left their granddaughter's room untouched in their Enumclaw home. Her clothes, toys and blankets sit empty in a pretty pink room. It’s hard to go in, so they usually have the door closed.
"You look at different things and you remember, where you got it, where you were, how much she loved it," said AnneMarie. "It's a piece of your heart and life gone."
Source: Northwest News and Weather
December 12, 2008 permalink
Canada Court Watch reports on a York Region family terrorized by CAS.
We don't like workers with the York Region CAS say kids!
(Dec 11, 2008) In an update about the York Region CAS engaging in domestic terrorism, Canada Court Watch has visited the home and interviewed the children in the family involved. The children reported that they did not trust the workers with the York Region CAS and that their term for the Children's Aid Society was "the Liars Aid Society" Investigators from Canada Court Watch have been looking into the circumstances of this case and the evidence is very strong that workers with the York Region CAS, particularly one worker by the name of Jim Maloney, are bullying the family and using tactics of intimidation and terror against them. The evidence gathered to date supports the reasonable conclusion that the York Region CAS has stepped outside of its lawful boundaries of protecting children and is also wasting taxpayer's money. The Durham CAS was found guilty in court of blackmail and perjury for attempting to blackmail the National Chairman of Court Watch, the Archbishop Dorian A. Baxter and It would reasonably appear that the York Region CAS may be the next CAS agency to be exposed for its abuse of power and authority and domestic terrorism.
Source: Canada Court Watch
December 11, 2008 permalink
In New Brunswick caring for your own child is a serious offense. For taking her eight-year-old son for two days, a mother has been sentenced to 22 months, including 12 months house arrest, psychological reeducation and mandatory mind-altering drugs.
NB woman abducts child and avoids jail time
December 09, 2008 - 3:59 pm, By: Rebecca Davis, News 91.9 Staff
MONCTON, NB-After she abducted her 8 year old child from the custody of protective services in September, a Shemogue, New Brunswick, woman has been handed a strict conditional sentence.
Today, Judge Irwin Lampert said he wasn't satisfied that it was the appropriate sentence, but wasn't sure there was a better one, when he agreed to a joint sentencing recommendation of a strict 22 month conditional sentence, of which 12 months will be served on house arrest.
A day after the woman abducted her child in late September, she was found in a Turtle Creek area home, where she kept police at bay for over 24 hours.
She was eventually arrested, and the child was taken back into custody.
Today at her sentencing hearing, Judge Lampert repeatedly told the woman it was crucial that she take her medication for a psychological condition, and continue psychological counselling.
The woman said she understood.
Source: News 91.9 Moncton
Parental Slander Registry
December 8, 2008 permalink
The Los Angeles Times reports on the stigma of blameless parents placed on a registry of child abusers. A declaration of innocence in the courts is inadequate to clear the record.
Overlooked by the Times, the stigma is not always negative. In the days of dueling, veterans showed their scar as a badge of honor. A name in a child abuse registry can be a similar badge of success in holding off the child protection monster.
From the Los Angeles Times
Child Abuse Central Index offers no way out, even for the innocent
An accusation is enough to land people on California's list of child abusers, but only long legal battles can clear their names.
By Carol J. Williams, December 7, 2008
Accused of child abuse by a vindictive ex-girlfriend 22 years ago, Bakersfield stockbroker Scott Whyte ceased contact with their son for years, fearing that another allegation would land him in prison, before a court cleared him.
Craig and Wendy Humphries went to jail after a rebellious teenage daughter fled to Utah and told police there that her father and stepmother had abused her. While the Valencia couple were locked up in Los Angeles County on charges eventually ruled groundless, their two younger children were placed in foster care.
Esther Boynton, a Beverly Hills lawyer who helped Whyte and the Humphrieses fight to clear their names, had her own hellish experience getting off the state's Child Abuse Central Index, a database containing 819,000 names from which even a judgment of innocence isn't enough to secure removal.
Unlike the better-known database created by Megan's Law, which registers and tracks 63,000 named sex offenders, the child abuse index is neither actively managed by the state nor periodically purged of erroneous or unsubstantiated entries -- despite efforts by the wrongly included to escape its shameful stain.
The California Department of Justice has been ordered in at least three court decisions in recent years to create a standard way to remove from the index the names of those exonerated by courts or social service investigations.
But in response to the latest judgment, a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last month that the Humphrieses' privacy rights had been violated, the Office of the Attorney General plans another appeal in defense of the state's handling of the database.
Whyte, 59, looks back on a life irreparably damaged by the abuser label and the threat of punishment for a crime he didn't commit.
When the mother of his then-4-year-old son made the false allegations against him in 1986 and Kern County authorities put his name in the abuser index, Whyte said, his initial anger "quickly gave way to complete terror."
The mother's report was made during a veritable witch hunt that grew out of child abuse allegations against day-care workers in the county throughout the 1980s.
"The atmosphere was such that if you were accused, you might as well turn yourself in to prison and look to spend the rest of your life there," Whyte recalled.
For months after learning of the report, Whyte so feared his arrest was imminent that he left a blank check and the deed to his house with a relative to post bond for him.
"I just couldn't believe that this could happen to a person in this country, that [authorities] would destroy families with nothing but a phone call," said the father who protected his liberty at the cost of any relationship with his son. "There are not any words strong enough to describe that situation, the shame, the travesty. Somebody ought to be shot."
The Humphrieses, still listed as abusers, "are living every parent's nightmare," the appeals court said. It ruled the state in violation of the 14th Amendment because people in the index aren't given a chance to challenge the allegations against them.
The couple's ordeal began in March 2001, when Craig Humphries' 15-year-old daughter from a previous marriage took their car without permission and drove to Utah, where her mother and stepfather lived. She told them she had been abused since being sent to California nine months earlier, and a Utah emergency room doctor who examined the teen reported to Los Angeles County authorities that she had "non-accidental trauma with extremity contusions."
On the basis of that one phone call, the Humphrieses were arrested, jailed and charged with felony torture. The arresting sheriff's deputy filed a "substantiated" child abuse report that got them entered in the index. Their two younger children were placed in protective custody.
"My clients didn't have any idea where their kids were," said Boynton, who, because the case is still in litigation, has advised the couple against discussing their ordeal with The Times.
The Humphrieses got their children back about 10 days later, and California medical records proved that the daughter's bruises were the result of surgical removal of melanoma.
"The Humphries have taken advantage of every procedure available to them, including the California courts," Judge Jay S. Bybee wrote in the 9th Circuit Court opinion. "They went to the dependency court, which found that the allegations were 'not true' and returned their children to them. They went to the prosecutor, who dropped all the charges against them. They went to the criminal court, which declared them 'factually innocent' and sealed their arrest records. None of this had any effect on their CACI listing."
Wendy Humphries, a teacher, had to hire an attorney to avoid losing her credentials, because employers of people who work with children are required to consult the index. The list can be accessed by educational, child-care, adoption, foster-care and child-welfare agencies throughout the country and is referenced about 400,000 times a year, said Abraham Arredondo, spokesman for the attorney general's office.
Boynton landed in the child abuse database in 1990 after accidentally splashing her 17-year-old daughter with hot coffee. She learned three years later, when applying to volunteer as a reading tutor, that the Los Angeles Police Department had reported her to the state based on her expressions of remorse to emergency room personnel for the burn on her daughter's shoulder.
It took two years and much expensive litigation to get their names expunged from the index, and Boynton remains suspicious that distorted records of the incident still linger elsewhere.
The state agreed to make individual changes in its listing, notification and challenge practices in Whyte and Boynton's cases and in a negotiated settlement with Amelia Gomez, a Los Angeles woman denied custody of her grandchildren because of index errors.
"We have an order requiring them to rewrite the regulations. As far as we know, they haven't done anything to comply with it," David Greene, a lawyer with the First Amendment Project in Oakland, said of the state court ruling a year ago that the index violated constitutional privacy guarantees.
Among the changes the state agreed to were the rights of named individuals to see their government dossiers, to challenge inaccuracies and to have their versions appended to the records.
"To the extent you want this index to serve some function, to have usefulness, it has to be accurate," Greene said.
The law now requires that anyone added to the abuser index be notified, but the lawyers say decades of secrecy in compiling and maintaining the list created in 1965 probably means many on it are unaware of their inclusion and the need to pursue removal.
Those listed can now demand a hearing among officials of the reporting agency, whether a county child protective services office or law enforcement.
But the standard of proof of wrongdoing remains so low and the pressure to continue identifying any potential abuser so high that the hearings are often "almost worthless," said Peter Sheehan, a lawyer with the Social Justice Law Project in the Bay Area.
Though the intent of the index was noble in seeking to protect children, Sheehan said, its value and reliability are compromised by its flaws.
A halfhearted and piecemeal effort a few years ago to update the index showed significant error rates -- more than 20% in some counties -- among the few reporting agencies that carried out the reviews, Sheehan said. The 9th Circuit Court ruling in Humphries vs. County of Los Angeles cited a 2004 review of listings from San Diego County that suggested as many as half were erroneous.
Sheehan called the state's request for 9th Circuit rehearing of the Humphries ruling and the possibility of an eventual appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court "the scary part," in light of the high court's conservative majority and its tendency to rule against claims of government interference with privacy rights.
"What happened to the Humphries could happen again today," said Boynton, noting the state's resistance to reforming its administration of the index. "Ultimately there will be critical mass, and the government will have to fix the system."
Williams is a Times staff writer.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Brush-off for Adopters
December 6, 2008 permalink
Today's story is an opportunity to explain some of the details of the foster care and adoption business. When children come into the care of the child protection system they are subject to a triage, depending on their desirability.
Most of them go into the pool of permanent foster children, destined to remain in foster care until age of majority, every day racking up more pay for the child protection agency administering their case, billed to the public treasury, and ultimately to the taxpayers.
One kind of child who gets different treatment is the blond-haired blue-eyed girl with the million dollar smile. She goes on the adoption track. Practitioners never admit that these children are being sold, instead pretend that the large amounts of money changing hands are for legal fees. Transactions like this that are sales in substance, but not in law, sometimes get rather sleazy. Since adoption is so opaque and secretive, one way to get some insight into this business is to compare it to others beyond the fringes of the law. After making large payments, adopters may be informed that they have made only the down-payment, and much more money is required, or they may get no child at all after paying large sums. We have on our website the case of Moira Greenslade who when pregnant arranged for adoptions of her baby by three different couples. Being outside the adoption system, she was convicted of a crime for her actions. But collecting legal fees from several different prospective adopters for the same million dollar girl would be entirely within the law. Tricks such as these could raise the fees/revenue for a single child into the hundred thousand dollar range.
The third kind of foster child is the one with intractable problems — severe eating disorders, or the kind of behaviors that cannot be compensated by large special-needs payments, for example a child who starts fires. Foster agencies get rid of these children by offering adoption subsidies to parents. While the attractive kids are in effect sent to the high bidder, the undesirable subsidized kids go to the low bidder. As long as no probelems within the adoptive family come to public attention through the press, the foster agency has rid itself of its most difficult cases, using adopters as a dumping ground. From time to time a scandal develops in which a family of the most modest means has a half-dozen or more adoptive children, all with severe problems. In these cases, once the press has turned the case into an embarrassment for the child protectors, the system turns on them and makes them the scapegoats. The Jackson case in New Jersey and the Gravelle case in Ohio are examples.
Foster agency propaganda contends that permanent foster children exist in large numbers because of a shortage of adopters. Many members of the public respond by offering to adopt the children who are the cash-cows of the business. They get the brush-off, but the agencies do so artfully without revealing their intentions. The article below from England recounts the story of one naive woman who thought she could do a good deed by adopting a child. She got a rejection disguised as incompetence.
'I was told I was too posh to adopt': One woman's battle with the incompetence of social services
By Claudia Connell, Last updated at 2:20 PM on 21st November 2008
Cancelled meetings, lost paperwork, bizarre demands. For two years this writer defied the mind-boggling red tape and incompetence of social services in her fight to adopt a child - only for a social worker to dismiss her as too aspirational...
Be My Parent is the saddest publication you will ever read.
It is the official newspaper of the British Association For Adoption And Fostering, and it's packed with the pictures and stories of children who are desperate to be given a home by parents who will love them - parents who are not, as most of their own were, drug addicts, alcoholics or child-beaters.
All the children that feature in the newspaper are scrubbed, smartly dressed and pictured with their best beaming smiles.
They are also catalogued and numbered - because the reality is that though each of them is a needy child, they are also, to an extent, commodities to be processed through the labyrinthine system of social services care.
But if so many damaged children need a caring home, why is it that so many adults who want to adopt them fail to make it through the tortuous process of applying to be an adoptive parent?
Witness the fact that, this year, just 3,200 of the 80,600 British children in social care will be given a permanent home.
The question seems to me all the more pertinent this week in the light of the Baby P case. Here was a child who desperately needed to be taken from his home and placed with someone who would nurture him.
There are, as I now know, thousands of loving adults desperate to adopt, any of whom could have brought up Baby P to be a happy little boy. His fate throws into stark relief the extraordinary catalogue of incompetence, small-mindedness, prejudice and, yes, stupidity, that I have encountered from social workers in the three years since I began to consider adopting a child of my own.
I have always known that I wanted children and assumed that I would have my own as part of a couple. However, at 38, I had to face the fact that it might not happen. While I could accept that I might never marry, I wasn't so willing to come to terms with never being a mother.
If I had desperately wanted to have a baby, there were routes I could have taken: sperm donation or IVF, for example. But none of these held any appeal, and I quickly realised why.
I didn't actually want a baby, I wanted a child - and I felt certain that I didn't need to give birth to that child to love and nurture it. After six months of analysing and agonising, I made up my mind: I wanted to adopt.
My first step in November 2005 was to register my interest with my local authority in London. After completing the first of many inch-thick bundles of forms, I was told that a social worker would call on me to check my living arrangements and assess my suitability.
Normally I'm confident and self-assured, but the day of the social worker's visit I was in a complete tizz. Should I wear make-up? If I did, would she think I was too vain to look after a child? If I didn't, would she think I was the sort of slob who would send my child to school unwashed?
And then there was my pristine and minimalist flat. Should I mess it up in order to prove I wouldn't be too bothered about a child causing chaos?
I confess I was expecting someone in a kaftan, with a hairy upper lip, but when Janice knocked on the door, I relaxed.
She was a smart, warm, enthusiastic bundle of fun. She roared with laughter when I confessed to all my earlier flapping, and said she thought my flat had a wonderful, tranquil feel that would benefit a lot of troubled children.
We clicked enough for her to tell me, off the record, that she would be recommending me. She thought I was clever, funny, adaptable and would be a great mother and role model. The fact I worked from home as a writer, and was prepared to adopt an older child, meant I could sail through the process in a fairly swift six months.
It seems most people who apply to adopt are only free to meet social workers at weekends, which can delay their application. And the majority are looking for babies and toddlers, while I was happy to consider a child of primary school age.
As Janice left, I knew I had made the right decision. I felt genuine excitement to think that by the same time the following year, I could have a child.
A series of blows
However, the first of many blows was to come just a week later, when Janice phoned to say she was being transferred to another department and a second social worker would be appointed to me after I had completed a workshop course.
The workshop - a series of classes over consecutive weekends - is designed to tell you more about the process and legalities of adoption. In January 2006, I arrived for my first session.
Eighteen of us (seven couples and four single women) stood shivering on the doorstep waiting for our adoption team to turn up. Surely we could not all have got the wrong date?
We breathed a frozen sigh of relief when they arrived half an hour late. But our relief was to be short-lived: none of them had thought to bring a key to the building, and we were all sent home.
A week later, we reconvened and spent the first full day of our course doing bonding exercises devised by the earnest and rather humourless adoption team. For instance, we'd each have to talk for three minutes without saying 'Yes' or 'No' or the word 'me'.
Like naughty school children, we'd all giggle and pull faces when our supervisors weren't looking. I was glad everyone else found it as daft as I did.
On another workshop we were given fictional but typical case studies of children. We had to discuss them and say what we would expect the social worker's course of action to be.
One case was that of a five-year-old girl in the care of her grandmother. Her teachers had contacted social services because they were concerned that the child was missing school. They had also noticed the grandmother would often be intoxicated.
To add to that, neighbours had been in touch to express concern that the child was sometimes left alone and appeared to be malnourished. Without exception, we all said we would expect the vulnerable child to be removed from her grandmother's care and taken to a place of safety.
But, no, as it turns out, the social work team recommended that the little girl be put on the at-risk register while they worked with the family to keep them together and improve their 'support network'.
Social workers, I came to realise, are hellbent on trying to keep children with their families - even if those people are woefully incapable of looking after them. The nation knows the story of Baby P and what can happen when this strategy goes catastrophically wrong.
Young and inexperienced
The other people on my workshop were charming, and their presence more than made up for the rather questionable methods of the adoption team.
Out of the seven couples, all of them white, five had tried unsuccessfully to have their own family, one had their own older children, and the other couple, like me, simply had chosen adoption ahead of having a birth family.
The three other single women included a white divorced barrister, an Asian cardiac nurse and a single mother who was applying to adopt the little girl she had fostered since birth.
At the end of the workshop, those still wanting to go ahead would begin a period of home study, which can take anything from six months to a year. I was told that a new social worker had been allocated to me and that she would be in touch in the next week.
Three weeks went by and I heard nothing. I left messages on voicemails but none was ever returned. Eventually, I received a letter with the name of my new social worker and a contact phone number - but when I called it, there was a recorded message saying she no longer worked for the local authority.
It was getting on for two months since my approval and I hadn't made any headway. The others on my workshop were finding the same thing: none of us had made any progress.
Finally, a month later, I heard from Diane, who was to become my third social worker in as many months. She arranged to visit me so we could begin the laborious task of the home study. Three times running she simply didn't turn up. When I called to ask about the missed appointment, she would always insist it was my mistake.
When we did finally meet, I was taken aback by how young and inexperienced she seemed. She wouldn't reveal her age, but I would put her in her early 20s. I found her habit of referring to a manual every time I asked a question very unnerving.
Two of the other couples had already put in applications to change their social workers because they were so unimpressed with theirs. But as I was eager to move forward and had already lost three valuable months, I decided to bite my lip about Diane.
The best way to explain the home study paperwork is to think of every form you have ever filled in during your lifetime and then multiply that by 100. That will give you some idea of what's involved.
I fully expected to have to reveal details of my finances, health and family tree, and to be subject to scrupulous criminal record and credit checks. I happily provided bank statements, mortgage statements, pension records and copies of my passport, birth and exam certificates. I wasn't so happy when, time and time again, these were mislaid from my file.
The worst example of this came with my medical examination report - something my GP kindly agreed to do in her own time and for no charge.
By then I had learned my lesson and photocopied everything; which was just as well, as Diane lost my medical report a staggering eight times. Even when I sent it recorded delivery and could name the signatory who had received it, the adoption department would still deny ever having seen it.
Eventually, in sheer frustration, I drove to the offices and hand-delivered it, insisting that the front desk signed and dated a receipt that I had typed up.
Anyone applying to adopt must offer up three referees who are prepared to vouch for you and be interviewed in their home. My sister and two married couples with children all kindly agreed to do this for me.
One of the couples had two children under five. Very generously, they arranged for childcare and the husband to take a day's leave from his banking job so they could be interviewed by Diane - who failed to turn up. We rescheduled, but yet again she did not keep the appointment, without ringing to cancel or explain.
When I told her that I didn't think I could ask my friends to use another day's holiday and arrange babysitting all over again, she replied: 'Well, they don't sound very supportive. Perhaps you should find someone else.'
While Diane seemed unbelievably cavalier about something as important as a medical record or a referee, she was obsessed with trivial things that I did not see as relevant to my application.
My car became a huge bugbear. It had a valid MoT, tax disc and full insurance, but I had one year's service history missing. It was a five-year-old VW Golf in perfect condition with low mileage, but Diane was insistent that I had to have the full service history or my application couldn't proceed.
Presumably she was worried I might be driving a child around in a death trap - which it patently wasn't. Again, out of sheer frustration, I offered to sell the car and buy a brand new one.
She constantly questioned my support network - the people you can call on at short notice to help you out. I had given her at list of four names, but this wasn't good enough. It seemed unrealistic to expect me to have a dozen people prepared to drop everything and rush to my aid. How many natural mothers have that?
As well as all the form filling, the home study involved writing essays about things such as your childhood, religious beliefs and views on discipline. I enjoyed writing these, but had a sneaky suspicion that Diane was not reading them. Whenever I asked her if my essay had been OK, she'd just reply 'Yeah, yeah, it's fine' but never commented on the content.
One day, Diane asked me if I would consider adopting a child who was the product of rape, and whether I would tell that child how they were conceived.
I said that I would adopt such a child, but probably not tell them about the rape.
This descended into a heated debate, with me insisting that I could not see how telling an already vulnerable child about their horrific start to life could possibly benefit them in any way. Diane disagreed and said she was concerned about my readiness to lie to a child.
So it was that Diane twisted each sensible view into a potential flaw.
From that point onwards, our relationship became strained. She started to make chippy comments about my lifestyle, saying such things as 'How the other half live, eh?' when I told her I was going to New York for the weekend.
She began to say that she thought I was an over-achiever who might put unrealistic pressures on a child. I found myself in the most perverse interview situation ever, having to constantly reassure her that I could be as lacking in ambition and bone idle as the next person.
By then I was starting to experience huge doubts. I subscribed to the newspaper Be My Parent and what worried me most - and the other potential adopters - was how much emphasis was placed on maintaining contact with the birth family.
A little boy called Bobby had caught my eye. He was seven years old and had appeared in three consecutive issues of Be My Parent. His mother was an alcoholic and his father a drug addict, yet the directive from social workers was that he saw them twice a year.
Surely the whole point of adopting a child like this was to give them a new, trouble-free existence? I wanted to be a mother, not a childminder - and I did not want to have drunks and junkies in my life. My intention was to bring calm, care and consistency to a child; not create havoc and mayhem for myself.
In the meantime, the rest of my workshop team of potential adopters had stayed in touch. Like me, all were on their second or third social workers. I'd become friendly with Sarah and Doug, an accountant and senior police officer.
Sarah had phoned me in tears after the first visit from her social worker, who had reprimanded her for saying she did not want a disabled child, and had mocked the fact that she employed a cleaner.
Despite these difficulties, I was eventually ready for the adoption panel - the last stage, where final approval is given. Once they give the go-ahead, you can start being matched with children.
My first panel date was July 2006, but it was cancelled due to staff holidays. Then I was scheduled for August - also cancelled because Diane was on holiday. When she returned, she told me that she was leaving the department and another social worker was taking over her case work.
In November 2006, I was ready to go before the panel. But two days before, my new social worker contacted me to say that it would have to be delayed because Diane had forgotten to do any criminal record checks on my family.
In January 2007, I phoned my new social worker and said I no longer wished to proceed. I was devastated, but after months of hopeless incompetence and social prejudice, I had no confidence in the system and couldn't envisage ever adopting a child on my terms.
As for the others who attended my workshop, three of the couples also dropped out in sheer frustration, as did one of the single women.
To date, only the lady who was already a foster mother has successfully adopted. So no, I don't find it at all surprising that adoption is at a ten-year low, and that fewer than 5 per cent of children in care will be found a permanent home this year. It's scandalous, and saddening, in equal measure.
But what is so galling is that it doesn't have to be this way. Potential adopters are out there in their thousands - but they are being denied the chance to help children by clueless social workers who focus on trivial red-tape issues rather than the needy children they are meant to be saving. Children like Baby P, who could be in a loving home now and looking forward to his third birthday.
Just as I feel I was let down by the system, and will perhaps now never be able to call myself a mother, so there are tens of thousands of children who will be left to wait and hope for adoptive parents who may never come. And that's the real scandal.
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
December 5, 2008 permalink
The Ontario Legislature held hearings on Bill 103 amending the Child and Family Services Act. Here are links to the text of Bill 103 and the testimony before the Standing Committee on Social Policy. The witnesses were Deb Matthews, Irwin Elman, David Witzel, Les Horne, Matthew Geigen-Miller, Alex Munter, Lee Ann Chapman, Chris McCallum, Chris Carter, and John Dunn.
The bill allows foster parents to open, and confiscate, the mail of their wards. It makes an exception for letters from lawyers, but then a sub-exception allows seizure of lawyer letters as long there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that it contains material that is not privileged as a solicitor-client communication. Hostile foster parents will find something satisfying this clause in every letter.
Provincial child advocate Irwin Elman noted that, while the bill affects the operation of his office, he was not consulted before the bill was submitted. John Dunn reported on his efforts to hold children's societies to account by conducting a membership drive, and the obstacles placed in his way. He also commented on the provisions for intercepting communications between foster children and their lawyers.
CAS Vultures Target Kids
December 3, 2008 permalink
CAS workers are salivating over the economic downturn. It means lots more children for them to grab, and more bonuses.
Protecting the rights of children in Ontario during a sluggish economy
TORONTO – On National Child Day, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) and its member agencies remind Ontarians to make our most vulnerable children and families a priority.
Many children and youth are denied the basics of a safe home, adequate food and clothing, necessary community supports and opportunities to develop.
- 40% of food bank clients in Ontario are children.
- One in six children in Ontario live in poverty.
- Over the past year, more than 77,000 allegations of abuse and neglect were investigated by Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies (CASs). More than 27,000 children were in CAS care.
- Almost 40% of women assaulted by spouses said their children witnessed the violence; in many cases the violence was severe.
- One-third of children seeking mental health services in 2007 were still waiting at the end of the year.
“Today, we recognize the rights of all children to be protected. Despite the current economic environment, we must remain committed to securing a prosperous future for our children,” said Jeanette Lewis, Executive Director, OACAS.
Children’s Aid Societies support families when parents cannot provide proper care, housing and nutrition for a child. CASs must respond when a downturn in the economy affects children and families. Job loss, family stress, poverty and depression are among the causes of child abuse and neglect. Community social service programs and initiatives designed to support families coping with these stresses need to be sustained, especially during a slowing economy.
“When families face increasing hardships like unemployment, extreme financial need and housing crises, the programs and services they rely on must be available to support them,” added Lewis. “As Canadians, we all promised to protect children from harm and ensure their safety. It is time we kept our promise to our most vulnerable citizens.”
For more information, visit www.oacas.org
Source: OACAS (pdf)
Social Worker Sex Raffle
December 2, 2008 permalink
Ever wonder where those crown wards got the know-how to become prostitutes? Maybe they were counseled by the likes of Valise Dunn, a caseworker with Franklin County Ohio Children Services. She was the prostitute prize in a raffle.
Police: Ohio college adviser ran prostitute raffle
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio State University academic adviser and a real estate agent held a $10-a-ticket raffle that offered an evening with a prostitute who is also a child sex-abuse caseworker, police said.
Christopher S. Johnson, 33, an academic adviser at OSU's School of Nursing, organized the raffle through a Craigslist.com chat board, police said. Real estate agent Rusty Blades, 42, held the invitation-only party at his house in October for the participants.
Both Johnson and Blades were charged with promoting prostitution. A judge set bail Saturday at $50,000 for Blades and $25,000 for Johnson.
OSU spokesman Jim Lynch said that Johnson was placed on unpaid leave and that the school will investigate whether he improperly used his computer.
Police Detective Jeffrey Ackley identified Vanise Dunn, 31, as the prostitute involved in the raffle. She has worked at Franklin County Children Services since 2000, and court records show she was charged with prostitution Nov. 12 for allegedly soliciting a vice detective.
Her attorney, Scott Kossoudji, declined to comment. Dunn has been on paid leave since her arrest, said Doris Calloway Moore, spokeswoman for Franklin County Children's Services. The agency is looking into whether Dunn violated any of its policies.
A message seeking comment was left Monday with Blades' attorney Richard Wetzel. A woman who answered the phone at Johnson's home said he was not available.
Source: Springfield News Sun
Correcting the Shaken Baby Fiasco
December 1, 2008 permalink
Ontario is setting out to compensate hundreds of parents falsely accused of harming their own children based on faulty pathology by Dr Charles Smith, including false allegations of shaken baby syndrome.
Ontario launches review of convictions involving Charles Smith
December 01, 2008, THE CANADIAN PRESS
A formal review of shaken baby cases in which disgraced forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Smith played a role will be launched tomorrow along with a look at compensation for those wrongfully convicted, in part, by his expert evidence, The Canadian Press has learned.
Attorney General Chris Bentley will announce two teams have been struck to act on a damming report by Justice Stephen Goudge, who harshly criticized key players in a forensics scandal that saw innocent people branded as child killers.
"The McGuinty government will be acting on the Goudge report (Tuesday) by naming two teams to respond to Justice Goudge's recommendations," said a government source.
Bentley "will set up a review team for shaken baby death cases and a committee to consider issues of compensation related to the victims of Dr. Charles Smith's flawed work."
Justice Donald Ebbs will head the review team for criminal convictions involving shaken baby death cases, as recommended by Goudge.
Former integrity commissioner Coulter Osborne will head the committee to consider the viability of a compensation process.
Goudge's report found the failings of the "arrogant" Smith and his bosses were at the heart of the miscarriages of justice.
William Mullins-Johnson, an Ontario man who spent 12 years in jail after being wrongly convicted for the rape and murder of his four-year-old niece, has launched a $13-million lawsuit against six doctors, including Smith.
Mullins-Johnson said today that while he would welcome compensation, it doesn't change the hardships he had to endure.
"I'm glad they're making efforts to right that wrong a bit, but the damage is already done," he said.
"It's us that's going to have pick up the pieces and make some sense of this. It's a day-by-day battle, just like when I was in jail."
The review of cases in which babies in Ontario were apparently shaken to death will take place against the growing controversy over whether it's even possible to kill an infant by violent shaking alone.
While some argue the kind of force needed to cause injuries characteristic of the syndrome can't occur any other way, recent evidence indicates that even falls from low heights can cause similar injuries.
The provincial coroner's office has identified about 220 cases in which a baby supposedly died after being shaken by an abusive parent or caregiver.
In his report, released in October, Goudge made 169 recommendations, including asking the Ontario government to consider compensation for those affected by Smith's work.
Gouge also recommended that more than 140 other cases involving forensic pathology be reviewed.
The government had already indicated it would develop a compensation framework for those who suffered injustice and to review convictions involving shaken baby deaths, but hasn't announced any concrete plans.
After the report was released, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Rick Bartolucci introduced a bill to make forensic pathology more accountable by creating a new oversight council, a complaints committee and a provincial forensic pathology service, as recommended by Goudge.
Source: Toronto Star
Foster Mom ██████ ██████ Convicted of Killing ██████ ██████
November 29, 2008 permalink
We can't tell you who she is or who she killed, but the Alberta Kafka trial has ended with the conviction of ██████ ██████ for manslaughter in the death of three-year-old ██████ ██████
Woman convicted in death of three-year-old foster child
EDMONTON — An Edmonton foster mother has been found guilty of manslaughter in the death of a three-year-old boy in her care.
The jury took two days to deliberate and gave its verdict late Saturday afternoon.
The 34-year-old woman had been charged with second-degree murder after the child died in January, 2007, of injuries to his brain, but jurors found her guilty of the lesser charge.
The Crown argued at her trial that she abused the child repeatedly in the month leading up to his death – including putting the boy in a cold garage.
The prosecutor also said the foster mother lied about how the boy was injured and made up a story suggesting he displayed self-abusive behaviour.
But the defence said the Crown didn't provide any evidence that the woman intended to kill the child or had done anything that led to his death.
Source: The Globe and Mail
Child Advocate Blocked
November 29, 2008 permalink
Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman has been blocked in efforts to carry out his statutory duties. While Deb Matthews, Minister of Children and Youth Services, publicly proclaims her cooperation, she has privately stonewalled Mr Elman, blocking his access to required records. He has begun a court action to force disclosure of information in the case of a child beaten by police.
Children's advocate taking province to court
Seeking information in alleged beating of youth in custody
In an unprecedented move, Ontario's child advocate is taking the government to court seeking information he says is crucial to the investigation of a youth allegedly beaten by guards while in custody.
The youth, who remains in a detention centre, called the office of Irwin Elman, the provincial advocate for children and youth, for help several months ago.
But Elman said he's not getting the information he's entitled to under the law from the office of Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews.
"I have felt it necessary to take the step of testing our authority in court," Elman wrote in a letter to opposition MPPs.
Elman will be making an application in court to have the information released. A date has been set for Dec. 9.
Elman was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Matthews's office said they are on track to give the information Elman seeks on the case to his office next week.
Matthews's press secretary, Laura Dougan, said in this particular case the advocate asked for information on Nov. 5 and since that time they have been compiling it while adhering to privacy requirements in the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
"The ministry is on track to have the information sent to the advocate next week," she said. "It is the ministry's desire to be as open and transparent as possible, while respecting the privacy provisions intended to protect the privacy of our children and youth."
Opposition MPPs were outraged Elman feels he had no choice but to take legal action.
"To suggest he's an advocate where he doesn't have the power to investigate complaints is dishonest and a betrayal of children's interests," said NDP justice critic Peter Kormos. "This sad example is a complete contradiction of Premier Dalton McGuinty's claims of transparency and openness."
It is the first time the child advocate, who reports directly to the Legislature in the same manner as Ombudsman André Marin, has sought legal action against the ministry of children and youth. The advocate's job was taken out of the children's ministry a year ago to give the position more independence.
"After all the messages the government puts out on having an independent voice, this is a shock," said Progressive Conservative MPP Julia Munro (York-Simcoe).
"He has just been stonewalled."
The letter shows Elman's clear frustration over his dealings in a number of cases with the ministry of children and youth headed by Matthews, who is also responsible for women's issues and poverty reduction.
Elman wrote he is not getting any responses despite "repeated requests" for information such as serious occurrence reports, child fatality case summary reports, society internal child death reviews and investigation reports.
"I have gone so far as to formally ask the ministry for their position on what information they feel I am entitled to. I have not had a response."
The tipping point for Elman in his dealings with the ministry seems to be over the search for information about a case concerning a "young person" in custody who called his office after he was allegedly beaten by guards.
Suzan Fraser, lawyer for the provincial advocate, would not elaborate on the age or sex of the youth.
Source: Toronto Star
Family Kept Away from Funeral
November 29, 2008 permalink
After five-year-old John Brian Gifford was killed in foster care, his family was kept away from his funeral, and could not find out the time of the ceremony. They will have to attend their own service, without the remains of their child.
Dead foster child’s Oklahoma family will hold separate service
BY JOHNNNY JOHNSON, Published: November 29, 2008
The biological family of a 5-year-old boy who was hit by a car and killed while in state Department of Human Services custody will not be allowed to attend his funeral and burial, but the state is granting them a private memorial service.
John Brian Gifford, who was in the care of a foster family, died Tuesday when he was hit by a car that a 13-year-old girl had started to warm the engine. Investigators said the girl accidentally allowed the vehicle to roll back when she started it, and when she pulled it forward again, she ran over the boy.
The families are not allowed to know the day and time of the funeral and burial. Parents Samantha Jo Cleary of Oklahoma City and Melvern Gifford of Midwest City were divorced before they lost custody of John, but both sides of the family said they are thankful they can say their goodbyes at 2 p.m. Sunday at Sunny Lane Funeral Home.
Grandmother ‘just about came unwound’
Nita Havlik, John’s paternal grandmother, said she was reminded how much she needed closure when she went shopping for Christmas gifts Friday.
"I was picking up things for the grandchildren, and I had subconsciously tried to buy the baby a Christmas present before I realized I couldn’t do that and just about came unwound in the store,” she said. "I just had to leave after that.”
The grandmother said she is not allowed to see or buy gifts for John’s three brothers who are still in foster care, and she does not expect to get to see them at the service.
"I don’t even know if the other children even know their little brother is gone, and no one is going to tell us if they know,” she said.
Samantha Cleary said she and her mother, Dewanna Cleary, also are thankful DHS is allowing them to hold a service with their own minister and song choices, but Samantha Cleary said she would really like to see her other four children who are still in DHS custody.
"I still need to know that they are OK,” she said.
Havlik said she is glad DHS allowed the biological family to put together a memorial service rather than just letting them walk in and walk out for a viewing, but she had criticism of DHS — describing its power as unchecked.
"I still want to make the public aware that DHS has so much control that they can manipulate your life and never even look you in the eye,” she said. "I want people in Oklahoma to wake up and realize this could happen to you. All someone has to do is tell something ugly about you.”
Lisa/Alexis Still Ailing
November 25, 2008 permalink
At a family visit Lisa/Alexis still showed severe health problems.
Little Lisa's Mouth Filled With Sores, Her Back Is Bruised.... God Help This Litte Girl In The Hands Of Washington State CPS
I just received a phone call.
Little Lisa was just seen in a supervised visit. She has a big bruise in the middle of her back. She has sores in her mouth. Her gums are blood red. She has a sore or cut on her lower lip.
She cried when given a sip of apple juice because of the pain.
The social worker said, "She should not be in daycare right now. She is sick." (One daycare won't take her because of the blood laced diarrhea... the other one does.)
Lisa screamed when the visit was over and the social worker tried to get her into the car. So, the relative had to get her to the car. Lisa cried "hysterically" when the social worker tried to put the seat belt on her...so the same relative had to buckle her into the seat.
I called the governor's office again. YES, YOU PEOPLE ON THE ETHICS BOARD....I AM TRYING TO HELP SOMEONE!!
We can only hope the mouth sores are not from sexual abuse.
This family had two very positive in-home studies (one with the grandparents and one with an aunt/uncle). There was never ANY accusation of abuse by the teen mother. In a time of budget deficits I have no idea how much money could be saved by having DSHS follow the law. They should place with biological relatives first.
"Get the child into the system and then crush them [the family]" Quote from a colleague in the Senate.
Crush the good families financially and emotionally, and then take their children.
Just think of all the money that could be saved to help kids who are really in need.
Posted by Pam Roach at 3:02 PM
Source: Pam Roach blog for November 25, 2008
Foster Organ Harvest
November 25, 2008 permalink
Here is yet another hazard of foster care. When a California boy was injured in an accident, foster parents authorized removal of his organs even while the real family thought he had a chance of recovery.
Organs donated from boy fatally injured in crash
By Mark Arner, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER, 11:15 p.m. November 24, 2008
The organs of a 16-year-old Otay Ranch High School student who was declared brain dead after a car crash Friday night have been removed for donation at his foster parents' request, despite opposition from his biological relatives.
Jason Spickerman and his 18-year-old brother, Daniel of Chula Vista, were in a car when a suspected drunken driver in a pickup crashed into them in Chula Vista about 11:30 p.m. Friday.
Daniel Spickerman died shortly after at a hospital. Jason was placed on life-support. The Medical Examiner's Office declared him brain dead Saturday afternoon. Another brother who was driving the car suffered minor injuries.
Jason Murguia, speaking on behalf of the foster parents, said in an e-mail Monday that Jason's organs were removed Sunday night and were donated to six people, including an infant.
“I know that this is what Jason would have wanted. Six lives were saved ” Murguia said.
Virginia Voss, Jason's aunt, said Monday that she and other relatives objected to the organ donations because they thought at the time that Jason might recover.
The 31-year-old driver of the pickup was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, felony hit-and-run and driving without a license.
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune
Save a Life
November 25, 2008 permalink
A mother appeals for help in saving the life of her son, Austyn Eric Ryder, who is hospitalized from injuries inflicted in his Ontario foster home. The messages below were posted to Facebook by Cassandra Robillard on November 24, 2008. She is in the Pacific time zone, we have adjusted the postings to Eastern time.
My son has been beaten! Pass this on!
I just found out today that my oldest son was beaten so bad in the foster home hes in that he was hospitalized. I was not even notified because they are trying to cover it up and I also found out this is the second time it has happened. He is connected to wires and a heart monitor now I was told. He just turned twelve yesterday. And to top it all off the CAS assholes who did this to him are putting him right back in the home with the abuser saying there is nothing they can do. I am in fear of my son's safety and that of his two brothers in the care of that CAS office and those people running it.
Everyone needs to call/write/email their MP's and MPP's and express their outrage and demand accountability! The office that did this is the Atikokan office in the Fort Frances Rainy River District of Ontario.
Apparently someone called them and the foster parent called me. My son also told me they took my number away from him and said he can't call me unless they say he can.
The foster parent called me and insisted my son wasn't beaten and is not hurt. My son kept saying in the background that she was a liar. He told me all this about what happened in front of the worker who never said anything or corrected anything. I don't know what to think or believe, but after what they have done to my children I don't believe them. They are going to be calling me at 7:30 am my time in the morning to talk to me about it I was told. I will be taping the conversation.
Tomorrow I will be taping the phone call, should it come and there had better be a better explanation of what happened to my son, and not a lie covering up the truth, than the two different stories I got today.
I do know my son is desperate to come home and says so all the time and they keep cutting off contact between us.
Have to wait and see what happens now but I'm still filing complaints regardless because if my son is the one not telling the truth then it's because he's crying out for help because of what they have done to my children.
What I don't understand is this: my son calls me from the CAS office, with the worker standing right there — I can hear him — and my son is telling me all this stuff about what happened to him and the worker can hear it because he's making the odd comment in the background but he doesn't say anything about what my son is saying to me? Then what 3-4 hours later the foster parent calls and insists my son is lying and he's yelling in the background not to believe her that she's the liar?
None of it makes sense, to me anyway.
Addendum: The following email was followed up by a call to Howard Hampton's Queens Park Office.
November 25, 2008
MPP, Kenora--Rainy River
Rm 114, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A5
copy: Cassandra Robillard
[ sassybrat at shaw.ca ]
Subject: Austyn Eric Ryder
Honorable Mr Hampton:
A child's life is in danger. Austyn Eric Ryder, age twelve years, resides in a foster home in Fort Frances, under the care of Atikokan office of children's aid. Yesterday his mother found out that her son was taken by ambulance to Atikokan hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the foster home. It is the second incident. Children's aid did not notify the mother either time. A set of messages posted online by the mother is copied below.
Ontario's children's aid societies routinely remove children from homes much less dangerous than that of Austyn Ryder. In this case, the boy should be removed from his current home, not after months of investigation, but today. As the MPP representing Fort Frances, you are one of the few people who may help this life-saving action to take place.
The mother Cassandra Robillard lives in British Columbia and can be reached by email at [ sassybrat at shaw.ca ]. She named the foster parent as Brab Wragg and says the injury was inflicted by a teenager in the same foster home. I believe the phone for children's aid in Atikokan is 807-597-2700.
Robert T McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa Ontario P0H 1V0
email: [ rtmq at fixcas.com ]
( followed by a copy of the postings of Cassandra Robillard )
Mother Stood Up
November 24, 2008 permalink
Pam Roach reports that Lisa/Alexis' mother was stood up when visiting her sick daughter. The rotavirus has caused the kind of bowel problems that have reversed her toilet training.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Little Lisa Has Part Of Her Colon Hanging Out And Is Passing Blood
Instead of being home and under the comfort of her biological grandparents and natural mother, little Lisa (fresh out of the hospital) is back in daycare, generally.
Due to severe rotavirus (diarrhea caused by contact with fecal matter) she has misplaced anatomy protruding from her anus. She is bleeding in that area. She turned three in August.
Lisa was "potty trained" but not any more.
Her mother went to visit today but no one had the courtesy to call her and tell her Lisa would not be in daycare today. CPS is really a rather rude bunch. They couldn't give a rats ass if someone has to take three bus transfers to see their child only to have the child not be there.
And, there are no apologies. It is just the way CPS treats people. No R-E-S-P-E-C-T. One of my colleagues says that the average CPS worker lasts under two years and then they move on to other government posts. Maybe attrition rates in this department should be studied. Decent people do not like adversarial activities when they know the department has gone too far.
Posted by Pam Roach at 11:17 AM
Source: Pam Roach blog for November 24, 2008
November 24, 2008 permalink
Social services in England have set up a CCTV camera in a couple's bedroom.
Social services 'set up CCTV camera in couple's bedroom'
Social workers set up a CCTV camera in the bedroom of a couple with learning difficulties in order to monitor their behaviour, a new report claims.
By Martin Beckford, Social Affairs Correspondent, Last Updated: 5:20PM GMT 23 Nov 2008
Council staff are said to have spied on the young parents at night as part of a plan to see if they were fit to look after their baby, who was sleeping in another room.
The mother and father were forced to cite the Human Rights Act, which protects the right to a private life, before the social services team backed down and agreed to switch off the surveillance camera while they were in bed together.
The case is highlighted in a new dossier of human rights abuses carried out against vulnerable and elderly adults in nursing homes and hospitals across Britain.
It comes just days after the Government admitted town halls have gone too far in using anti-terror laws to snoop on members of the public.
Recent figures show three-quarters of local authorities have used powers granted under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to spy on residents suspected of putting their bins out on the wrong day, allowing pet dogs to foul the pavement or breaking school catchment area rules.
In the latest case, documented in a report published by the British Institute of Human Rights to mark the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Act, an unnamed council used CCTV to keep an eye on a mother and father with learning difficulties as their parenting skills were under question.
Social services departments are allowed to place adults in units known as "residential family centres" if they fear their children could be at risk of abuse or neglect. Staff assess the families in a controlled environment to determine whether their children should be taken into care.
The centres can use CCTV cameras as well as listening devices but Government regulations state that staff must "respect parents' and children's privacy".
However, the BIHR report claims that the centre in question breached the couple's right to respect for private and family life, enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights that was incorporated into English law a decade ago.
The study states: "A learning disabled couple were living in a residential assessment centre so their parenting skills could be assessed by the local social services department.
"CCTV cameras were installed, including in their bedroom. Social workers explained that the cameras were there to observe them performing their parental duties and for the protection of their baby.
"The couple were especially distressed by the use of the CCTV cameras in their bedroom during the night.
"With the help of a visiting neighbour, the couple successfully invoked their right to respect for private life.
"They explained that they did not want their intimacy to be monitored and that, besides, the baby slept in a separate nursery.
"As a result, the social services team agreed to switch off the cameras during the night so that the couple could enjoy their evenings together in privacy."
The BIHR said the case illustrated the way in which the much-maligned Act, which has given birth to a new industry of specialist lawyers and led to convicted murderers and terrorists winning the right to remain living in Britain, had also made it easier for innocent people to have their rights protected without the need for costly court cases.
Ceri Goddard, its acting director, said: "The Human Rights Act is 10 years old and should be celebrated for the positive changes it is making to people's everyday lives – in our hospitals, care homes and schools."
Source: The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Six Nations Feared
November 24, 2008 permalink
In a Brantford Expositor article CAS caseworkers and process servers express fear of work on the Six Nations Reserve. We cannot tell from the article whether the natives are defending themselves with force or the social workers are reverting to wild Indian stereotypes. But considering the provocation of routine baby-stealing, it is remarkable that native reserves have remained so peaceful.
Some workers feel unsafe on Six Nations
CAS, process servers report threats, intimidation
By Susan Gamble, Expositor Staff, Brantford, November 22, 2008
Some non-natives whose work takes them to Six Nations are frightened to do their jobs on the reserve.
Is Six Nations too dangerous for some occupations?
Locals who deliver court documents and at least one Chidlrens's Aid Society worker say the area can be intimidating and the residents threatening.
Others say there's no more danger on the reserve than any where else they must work.
"It is not unusual in our work at Six Nations to be swarmed, meaning blocked into the driveway, surrounded by family members, often armed," wrote a female CAS worker in an affidavit that that was filed during a child protection matter.
"There have been situations at Six nations where armed family members have been concealed in bushes."
The comments did not have to be proved true or false in court but they were vetted by a CAS lawyer.
Recently, the City of Brantford persuaded a judge that it's too difficult for process servers to properly deliver a motion of contempt to those who have flouted the injunction against protesting in Brantford.
Process servers are hired to personally deliver some court documents to the individuals or companies named on them, or arrange for safe deliveries of a summons to court, among other duties.
One Brantford process server said he declines all requests to serve natives living on Six Nations.
Rocki Smith, deputy chief of Six Nations police said no CAS incidents that have involved firearms have been reported to the police.
And Smith said non-natives aren't in any more danger on Six Nations than natives are when they visit Brantford from the reserve.
Chief Coun. Bill Montour also said he's never heard of CAS workers being swarmed.
A Six Nations resident is calling for the CAS employee who said workers are often swarmed by armed family members, to be disciplined.
Ellen Doxtater called the remarks in the worker's affidavit racist, false, defamatory and malicious.
Doxtater is gathering signed letters of complaint, to send to CAS executive director Andrew Koster, challenging the comments.
"Workers shouldn't be able to make false statements in court without some kind of reprimand," said Doxtater this week.
She said she's never heard of such a swarming on the reserve.
In response, Koster said workers's affidavits are always reviewed by CAS lawyers before submission.
"Our credibility is at stake when it comes to statements made in court. If a worker said something that was trumped up we would deal with it."
But he added that he didn't believe the comments were out of line.
Koster note the CAS is "an invited guest" on Six Nations and that all 23 of it's employees at the reserve office are native, with the majority of them from Six Nations or New Credit.
"We're trying to do service that's in a community context."
All child welfare workers, regardless of the geography, have to be prepared for violence since they encounter frequent situations where people are emotional and upset, said Koster.
"We've certainly had workers injured on the job. The last worker was injured here in Branford and (ended up) off work. It's part of being a CAS worker. But most people aren't like that because they want to do well by their kids."
The Six Nations reputation took a hard knock when city lawyer Neal Smitheman asked Justice Harrison Arrell to issue a "substitution of service".
Smitheman argued that process servers had made repeated attempts to serve notices of contempt on eight people named in the Brantford injunction against protesting land development, and had succeeded in serving only two people.
A substitution of service order basically means the regular system of serving documents can't be carried out for some reasons.
Arrell finally agreed, but only after the city took out advertisements in The Expositor and the local Six Nations weeklies to ensure that the protesters would know about the actions being taken.
Smitheman, who earlier told the judge it would be "foolhardy" for process servers to go onto the reserve, said this week that the whole process has been difficult.
"Suffice it to say, given the position Six nations has taken with respect to the reserve and land claims, it's more difficult to serve a summons on the reserve."
Several area process servers, who deliver court summonses or contempt of court orders, said delivering to Six Nations raises concerns.
"It's dangerous," said one man who asked that his name not be used.
"I used to serve out there and I now refuse. I've faced a lot of things in my life but, going alone to serve on the reserve? I wouldn't."
The man said that during several trips there, he was recognized and tailed by private security cars he believes were involved with protecting smoke shops. He said a case would move in front of him and behind him and escort him off the reserve.
"Our company isn't the one delivering for city council, but I don't blame them in the slightest for refusing to go there. There's too much of a chance of getting swarmed, attacked or of running into weaponry."
A Caledonia process server said his company occasionally does process serving on Six Nations.
"I've never had any problems," said Allison Gowling of Gowling Professional Corporation. "But I always have my guard up whereever I go and I'm a big guy."
His associate, Marianne Ortmanns, said she has no qualms about serving on the reserve.
"I know a few people won't go out there but this is my job. I've had people scream and yell at me but I just tell them this is my job and I calm them down."
In Brantford, Allison Armstrong of Legal Paper Chasers, said she tries to avoid having to serve on Six nations, mainly because the work is often done after dark and it's easy to get lost there.
"Sometimes there's a feeling of not being safe so I get my brother to go," she said Wednesday.
Six Nations police often help other forces to serve summonses, just as they pass summonses on to other forces for delivery.
But deputy chief Smith doesn't see much danger for any non-natives whose work takes them to Six Nations.
"We've had reports of workers, like someone from hydro, being stopped and asked what they're doing but no reports of swarmings or CAS workers being faced with firerams.
"Come out here on a Friday at 4 p.m. (non-natives) at the cigarette shops. They don't seem too frightened."
Source: Brantford Expositor, not on web, photocopied and typed by a reader
Report on Non-Social Worker
November 23, 2008 permalink
Canada Court Watch wants to hear your experiences with Jamie Brownlee and Michael Downs of the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand-Norfolk (Townsend, Ontario).
Information wanted on CAS workers Jamie Brownlee and Michael Downs of the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand-Norfolk (Townsend, Ontario)
(Nov 21, 2008) In response to a flyer campaign in the region of Haldimand-Norfolk, a number of parents contacted Canada Court Watch with some interesting stories about abuse by CAS workers in that area. As a result of initial information provided, Canada Court Watch has commenced an investigation and is interested in hearing from parents in the region who may have information concerning Jamie Brownlee and Michael Down, both of whom are workers with the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand-Norfork. Both of these workers are not registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and it would reasonably appear that these workers may have violated certain laws while carrying out their duties with the Haldimand Norforlk Children's Aid Society. Those with information about these workers are urged to contact Canada Court Watch at email@example.com
Source: Canada Court Watch
CAS to get Monopoly
November 23, 2008 permalink
In the future Ontario parents will be unable to choose the person to care for their children when they cannot do so themselves. The tragic death of Katelynn Sampson is the excuse for Ontario to introduce new rules requiring children's aid approval of non-parental custody. As a practical matter, all children not in direct parental care will become CAS wards.
Katelynn death stirs custody reform
November 22, 2008, Tanya Talaga, Queen's Park Bureau
Ontario's attorney general on Monday plans to unveil sweeping child custody reforms in the wake of 7-year-old Katelynn Sampson's death last summer.
The discovery of Katelynn's battered body on Aug. 3 in the Parkdale-area apartment she shared with her custodial parents horrified the province and moved Attorney General Chris Bentley to examine how custody is awarded.
A judge had granted Donna Irving and Warren Johnson custody as Katelynn's mother battled a drug addiction. Irving and Johnson are both charged with first-degree murder.
A complaint has been filed with the Ontario Judicial Council against the justice in the case, who apparently awarded custody of the girl without probing Irving, who has a history of drugs, prostitution and violence.
"Katelynn's death caused everybody to stand back and say what else can we do?" said Bentley, who worked as a criminal defence lawyer for 25 years in London, Ont.
Bentley told the Star the proposed changes to child custody regulations are part of a reform package of Ontario's family law to be introduced Monday and include:
- CHILD CARE PLANS: Both parents and non-parents seeking custody of a child will be required to submit a sworn affidavit outlining plans for the child's care, as opposed to the current application form, where "you simply fill in the blanks and sign," said Bentley.
- POLICE CHECKS: Non-parents will be required to submit to a broad police records check, which will be provided to the court. This is the same type of screening done on people such as daycare workers applying for jobs involving caring for children. The check would flag convictions and other concerns.
- ACCESS TO FILES: Judges will have access to any Ontario family or court files that may raise flags.
- CHILDREN'S AID CHECK: Non-parents seeking custody will also be required to get a letter from children's aid that would outline any files that raise concern over a person's ability to parent a child, or attest that no concerns exist.
None of this is required at present when an adult seeks custody of a child. Basically, a filled-out application form is sufficient, Bentley said. "What we are going to be doing is making sure there is information before a judge that would reveal any violent history."
Bentley was so touched by Katelynn's case he investigated what information is required to be given to a judge when custody decisions are made. "Unfortunately when I checked into what is required to be before a judge it turned out to be relatively little," he said.
There are nearly 14,000 custody applications before the courts in Ontario every year.
Of those, 10 per cent are by non-relatives. That is about four a day somewhere in the province by non-parents alone, said Bentley. "What we are saying is when we are dealing with our most vulnerable, our children, let's make sure we have all the material available we want the judge to see," he said.
He consulted police, legal and child care agencies about the changes and acknowledged some had concern about the time required to fill out more documents. "Yes, it might require a few extra minutes in court but we are dealing with children," he said. "Let's take the time."
The Star's Joanna Smith revealed this summer that during three custody hearings held over five months on who would raise Katelynn, few questions were asked about Irving.
Court transcripts show Irving was a good friend of Katelynn's mother, Bernice Sampson. On June 6, Irving was given full custody of Katelynn. Two months later, the Grade 2 student died. Reports at the time show Irving called 911 and said Katelynn stopped breathing after she choked on food.
As well as new child custody rules, The Canadian Press reported yesterday that Bentley will also introduce legislation to toughen the enforcement rules on restraining orders and on the division of pensions when a family breaks down. The measures are aimed at better protecting women and children.
Source: Toronto Star
Twelve Megabucks for One Kid
November 22, 2008 permalink
The cost of seizing 439 children during the raid on the FLDS in Eldorado Texas has topped $12 million, excluding court fees. 36 children are still involved in court actions, and just one of them, Teresa Jeffs, is in foster care. She was sold down the river by her own lawyer. See June 23 and September 27, 2008.
Costs top $12.4 million for raid on FLDS
Figure doesn't include court fees for massive case
By Ben Winslow, Deseret News, Published: November 21, 2008
The raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch and its aftermath have cost the state of Texas more than $12.4 million, new figures provided to the Deseret News reveal.
A spreadsheet outlining some of the costs for the sheltering of FLDS women and children in the aftermath of the April raid was provided by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on Wednesday after a request for an accounting. The figures for the "San Angelo Mass Care Event" do not include ongoing costs since the 439 children were returned to their families in June, including the salaries of caseworkers and attorneys still involved in the case, agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said.
"We think this is the final cost of the operation," he said Wednesday.
More than $4 million was spent on goods and services at Fort Concho and the San Angelo Coliseum, where FLDS children and some of their mothers were housed immediately following the raid. The "unified command center" set up there cost nearly $1 million. Another $1 million was spent on buses to take the children to foster-care facilities scattered around the Lone Star State.
Foster-care placement, security and Medicaid cost Texas more than $3.3 million, the figures show.
The numbers do not include court costs in the nation's largest child-custody case. A judge in San Angelo recently signed an order approving payment to hundreds of lawyers appointed by the courts to represent the children from the Utah-based polygamous sect.
"All attorney ad litems were advised prior to accepting appointments that their service would be voluntary and possibly without compensation, and that if compensation became possible, actual expenses and attorney's fees would be paid by the court at a reduced rate," 51st District Judge Barbara Walther wrote in the order signed last week.
The judge's order sets a cap of $4,000 for hourly billing and $750 for travel and other expenses. Walther left open the door to approve higher fees if attorneys make their case to her for more money.
"There were some tenacious ones among us who spent a lot of time trying to force CPS to give us the information they should have voluntarily given us in April," said Susan Hays, a Dallas attorney who represented a 2-year-old girl in the custody case.
Hays calculates she drove more than 7,200 miles between Dallas and San Angelo, where the court hearings were held, the places where her child client was taken and the mother lived, and the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado. She also logged more than 264 hours on the case.
"In child welfare cases, the ad litems and the state are on the same sides, which is the best interests of the child," Hays said. "They shouldn't make it hard to represent the child and, unfortunately, they did here."
The bills will be paid by Texas' Health and Human Services Commission, which is expected to be reimbursed during the upcoming legislative session. It is estimated the total amount to be doled out to attorneys is about $2 million, said Texas governor's spokeswoman Allison Castle. More than $116,000 has already been paid to Schleicher County for ad litem attorney costs.
The county itself passed a resolution earlier this year seeking indemnification against the extraordinary costs associated with the raid. The resolution said Texas Child Protective Services instituted a "costly procedure without the knowledge of Schleicher County against residents," and that county officials had no way of controlling it.
"The governor's position was to go ahead and work with the counties," Castle said.
Only 36 children's cases remain under court jurisdiction as the massive custody case winds down. On Wednesday, CPS announced another child was "nonsuited." The agency has dropped more than 400 children from the case for varying reasons, including findings of no evidence of abuse or their parents took appropriate steps to protect them.
CPS caseworkers and law enforcement went to the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado in April on a report of a 16-year-old girl trapped in an abusive marriage to an older man. The call is believed to be a hoax, but government authorities said that at the ranch they found other signs of abuse. That prompted a judge to order the removal of all of the children.
The children were returned two months later when a pair of Texas courts ruled the state acted improperly and that the children were not in immediate danger of abuse. A criminal probe of the FLDS Church appears to be centering on underage marriages. A dozen people, including FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, have been indicted on charges ranging from sexual assault of a child to bigamy to failure to report child abuse.
Two men indicted by the Eldorado grand jury last week have not surrendered yet, the Texas Attorney General's Office said.
Source: Deseret News
November 21, 2008 permalink
Ontario's custodial grandmothers are mad as hell, and plan to show it to the government. Betty Cornelius was financially ruined by the legal cost of saving her abandoned grandchild, then took in foster children to help pay her own rent. She couldn't put up with CAS making the rules for her own home.
Woman's crusade for children
Grandmother, founder of advocacy group plans demonstration for kinship families
Dave Brown, Citizen Special, Monday, November 17, 2008
Hundreds of Ontario grandmothers are making plans to symbolically abandon thousands of children on politicians' doorsteps next week. It's part of an attempt to focus public attention on a need for some serious rethinking.
There are an estimated 20,000 kinship families in the province. Those are people who have taken in abandoned or abused children who happen to be relatives, and 68 per cent of them are grandmothers. Because they are related to the children, they don't qualify for the benefits given foster families. They struggle by on meagre pensions, and save the province millions in child care payments.
The plan is to collect abandoned dolls, name them after real abandoned children, and abandon them. They want dolls that show signs of having been used and abused, like their grandchildren were.
It's the brainchild of Betty Cornelius, founder of Cangrands. Since the Bancroft-area woman appeared on CTV's W5 last year, telling the story of the political abandonment of children and their grandmothers, her organization's membership has exploded. It now has 35 chapters in five provinces, and 600 members.
She calls Cangrands "the club none of us wanted to join." When her grandchild was abandoned by drug-addicted parents, she stepped in. It cost her $28,000 in legal fees to get court-ordered custody of the child. Although she was putting her comfort on the line, she was the only person in the case paying her own legal bills.
After her win, she qualified for $231 a month under Ontario's Temporary Care Assistance (TCA) program. Since she couldn't call a relative a foster child, she signed on as a foster parent, hoping to earn some badly needed extra money.
A 12-year-old girl arrived, with a flat monthly care rate of $1,500, plus a $350 clothing allowance, plus $150 for her birthday, plus $350 for Christmas.
Mrs. Cornelius is a believer in "my roof -- my rules," and when told she would have to allow the girl to smoke in the house and be sexually active, she got out of the fostering business. Then she learned that changes were being made to the TCA program and she faced losing it, and dental and extra health benefits. She knew she wasn't alone, so she started organizing. She found support through Ontario's New Democratic Party and a bill appeared on the floor at the legislature. It would have drawn new definitions for a foster child. Being related wouldn't be such a great penalty. Liberals closed ranks and it was defeated.
Then she saw International Children's Day (Nov. 20) approaching, and started organizing the doll campaign. She has particularly targeted area MPP Madeleine Meilleur, the minister of community and social services. On Children's Day, she's calling for demonstrators at the minister's constituency office and at the main entrance to Queen's Park.
The campaign asks people to get involved by showing up at 11 a.m. at the offices of all provincial politicians and asking questions like 'Why is our child-protection system so anti-family?'
Last time I checked, in 2003, there were 5,400 children's group-home beds in Ontario and the province paid an average daily rate of $182 per bed. That crosses $1 billion every three years. Those beds were all occupied, because the system was crying for more.
Attend court when pre-sentence suggestions are being heard and you'll frequently hear the convicted portrayed as a victim, because he/she grew up "in the system." It is acknowledged that the state is a poor substitute for family, so leniency, please.
In 1952, at age 13, I listened to a child-protection worker explain how me and my two sisters would be placed in foster homes. (She said mine had a swimming pool.) Our father had died at age 42. The worker said she couldn't allow three children to be among six people in our grandparents' two-bedroom apartment.
The thought of losing family was, to me, as traumatic as the sudden death. Our mother went to work, and we were raised by our retired grandparents. For two years, I was happy to sleep on a living-room sofa. Those years are good memories. I never went to bed without being told I was loved and I never, then or now, doubted it.
Our grandparents insisted we walk tall, keep our heads high and make them proud. In that way, we weren't stunted by our lack of money, cigarettes and sex. But a small portion of what the system was willing to pay strangers could have made those years easier.
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
Native Girl Confiscated
November 20, 2008 permalink
While prime minister Harper apologizes for past treatment of native children, the same practice continues today. A group of sixty natives gathered in Regina to ask for return of a native girl to her family.
Case a flashback to residential school system: protester
Derek Putz, Leader-Post, Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sixty First Nations residents of Regina gathered in front of Court of Queen's Bench on Wednesday, holding teddy bears in a peaceful protest for a five-year-old aboriginal girl.
According to Alice Goforth, organizer of the protest, the grandparents of the girl -- who is currently in foster care -- wish to raise her themselves, but the court won't allow it.
"We wanted a way to help this family that's in court today," Goforth explained on the steps of the courthouse as snowflakes fell. "The grandparents have now stepped forward and they want this child. (But) the court is trying to put the child in a non-native home: A 'white' home.
"That's why we're here, the injustice of it. We have our own First Nations people who want their own kids and who can take care of them."
Goforth compared this custody battle to the battle First Nations people faced in the past with the residential school system.
"It's been done in history ... where they took the kids out of the home and put them in the school," she said. "That caused a lot of problems with addictions and all the social ills because they couldn't take care of their families.
"The government apologized for that. They said they were sorry and they compensated, and now it's starting over again, but this time ... in a courtroom."
Social Services can't discuss individual cases, but Lynn Allan, regional director for the southwest region of Social Services, said that in any case like this, Social Services' foremost priority is the safety and well-being of the child.
"When children come into care we follow the Child and Family Services Act in terms of a child being in need of protection. We look at every case individually in terms of the best interest of the child," Allan said.
Social Services will work with families and attempt to return the child home or send the child to his or her extended family.
"In terms of First Nations children, we do look at placing children in their culture with First Nations families, but only if it's in the best interest of the child," said Allan.
Goforth explained that the 60 or so stuffed bears which the protesters held represent the mother bear fighting for her cubs, and she doesn't want to stop fighting for this family. She thought the protest did a good job of bringing awareness to the situation, but she still feels helpless to change the outcome.
"We can't do anything else because we feel this is the only voice we have left. We can't go in the courtrooms, and we can't speak. This is our only voice to help them," she said.
Source: The Leader-Post (Regina)
Legislator Reprimanded for Helping Mother
November 20, 2008 permalink
When a Louisville woman lost her child, Kentucky state representative Tom Burch wrote to a court asking the judges to return the child to its mother. The result? The legislature is contemplating an ethics action against Mr Burch. Yet another demonstration of the contempt shown by the child protection juggernaut for elected officers.
Posted on Tue, Nov. 18, 2008
Panel: Legislator may have broken law
By Roger Alford, Associated Press
FRANKFORT — A Kentucky legislator might have run afoul of state law when he wrote to Kentucky Court of Appeals judges, asking them to reverse a ruling for one of his constituents in a child custody case, a state ethics commission said Monday.
The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission found probable cause to think that state Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, violated a law that bars legislators from using their positions to try win special treatment for themselves or others. The ethics panel scheduled a public hearing next month to listen to evidence in the case.
If the panel finds that Burch did break the law, he could be reprimanded. The panel could also refer the case to law enforcement.
Burch, chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee, wrote a letter on official stationery to three appeals court judges asking them to reconsider a judgment terminating the parental rights of one of his constituents. The judges recused themselves from the case after receiving the letter.
The ethics panel scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 16 to hear evidence in the case. Chairman George Troutman told Burch's attorney, David Kaplan, that the commission won't consider a plea bargain.
"The commission considers this very, very serious and not to be taken lightly," Troutman said.
Burch met privately with the ethics panel for more than an hour Monday.
"My motives were pure in writing a letter for a citizen facing a very difficult time in her life," Burch said in a statement. "My service as legislator has been dedicated to representing the underdog. I do not believe my actions violated any laws. This proceeding is in its early stages, and I look forward to telling my side of the story at the hearing."
The ethics panel brought the complaint against Burch after Court of Appeals Judge Jeff Taylor notified a staff attorney about the letter.
Burch, in a preliminary statement to the ethics panel, acknowledged that he sent the letter to the judges. But he said he "did not have the conscious objective to use his position as a state representative to obtain any special privileges" for the constituent.
Troutman said the ethics panel found sufficient evidence to order next month's hearing based on a state law that prohibits lawmakers from having contact with judges pertaining to active cases "when the contact is designed to influence the outcome of the proceeding."
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader
Lisa/Alexis is Seriously Ill
November 18, 2008 permalink
The girl identified as Lisa by senator Pam Roach, and Alexis on a blog, has a serious illness, yet her real family is forcibly kept away from her. To induce the court to move toward termination of parental rights, CPS brought in evidence of a blog, (probably Save Alexis Now), claiming without evidence the mother wrote it. If you are not outraged by the senator's report, read the reply from Lisa's grandpa. It is a pattern we have seen before. When an outsider advocates on behalf of a child, shut up the advocate by harming the child.
Judge Recommends Termination Based On False Information
Today, Judge Catherine Schafer, in King County Superior Court declared Lisa's mother to be unfit. The reason was a blog (not mine) that has been exposing the CASA and the system. Apparently, the judge was told that the 19-year-old mother had written the blog. Someone must have lied to the judge because the mother did not write the blog.
Apparently, if you are the state or the CASA...no one has to prove anything to a judge. All you have to do is say something and it becomes fact. I will assume that the mother's court appointed attorney stated that her client did not write a blog at all. But, without proof, the judge apparently (I was not there) decided that someone was writing a nasty blog and that it must be the teen mother. And, the writing of a blog proved the mother to be unfit.
So, the mother is accused of writing a blog that said bad things (at least someone thought the bad things were true) about the CASA and the state. She did not write the blog (neither did I, for the record) but because the judge thought the teen mother had written it....she was declared unfit. Writing a mean blog meant she was unfit to be a mother! I guess the judge thought the mother must be angry, or something.
However, the foster adopt did not like me writing this blog and in anger...filed an ethics complaint against me demanding that I stop writing. So...she is mean and angry and stupid and gets to keep the child that is not hers.
The state attorneys were seen laughing as they left the courtroom.
Posted by Pam Roach at 11:41 PM
Update On Lisa
Our little three-year- old heroine is now back at the foster adopt's house. She is still very ill. She has a protruding intestine due to rotavirus and persistent diarrhea.
I understand the daycare is not too happy that CPS did not tell them that one of the little playmates has a highly contagious illness.
The mother is not allowed to visit her sick daughter and give her comfort.
In fact, the mother has had a great deal of trouble in that department. She was directed to find a place where both she and her child could over-night together. That was a very good sign. But, the mother could not find a "residence" that was set up for overnight stays that would take her. The reason for that was because the mother did not have the child. The judge blamed the 19 year-old mother for this.
Why wasn't she just allowed to have visits with her child at the home of the grandparents? This situation defies any reason at all.
By the way...the in-home studies for the grandparents and the aunt/uncle have expired. The relatives are not allowed to re-submit their applications without a request from CPS. So...if you are CPS....you don't tell the judge the studies exist, let them expire, and then just don't ask for a new one.
The department makes small and insignificant motions so they can say they want to reunify...but just look at their behavior. I learned a long time ago you don't listen to what someone says...you look at what they do. The likely outcome of activity tells you what the real goals are.
I actually talked with David Davilar Fox of the department a few weeks ago when things were looking positive.
Fox said, "We were never going to terminate in this case."
Me: "Oh really, then why did you shove termination papers before the judge even before the hearing was held? And, why do you push for termination in EVERY court proceeding?"
Fox: "Oh, that doesn't mean anything."
Well...to him it obviously doesn't.
Posted by Pam Roach at 11:35 AM
Dear Pam, I am the papa of little Lisa. First off, on behalf of the family and myself, We would TRUELY like to thank you for your support in our family crisis. You will forever be in our hearts and prayers. We only wished their were more people like you representing the people of Washington state! We have found out this morning that our grandaughter has had such bad diahrea for so long that she has a protruding colan! We also found out just before walking into the courtroom yesterday that she was in Childrens hospital. Our grandaughter was diagnosed with this virus 10 days ago! but the foster mother left her in daycare and chose not to tell them what she had. It was our daughter who notified the daycare this morning of the virus. This is a highly contagious and even deadly virus. We find this to be just an outrage! The judge didn't even care to hear about little Lisa's condition, she was more outraged that the casa quit and of a web site about our grandaughter! And of course that anger was directed directly at our daughter and us. Sorry to say, on behalf of our daughter and our entire family, we had nothing to do with the web site. I have alot more to say about this, and I will at a later time. Meantime, Thank you for your support! For the Ethics committee, you should focus yourselves on the problem at hand and not the messenger that brings it to light! And last but not least, the taxpayers of Washington. As a taxpayer myself there is alot of OUR money being wasted to destroy OUR FAMILIES! and it needs to stop! So PLEASE! speak up and be heard. Thank you, and God bless!
Source: Pam Roach blog for November 17 and 18, 2008
MP Hemming Stonewalled
November 18, 2008 permalink
British MP John Hemming is being stonewalled in his efforts to get accurate information on child deaths. The government claims they have not impeded him, but two local authorities have refused his requests citing orders from the central government. We enclose a newspaper article and two rejection messages from the blog of John Hemming. This is one more example showing that elected officers have little power to control the bureaucracies that are constitutionally their subordinates.
Birmingham Lib-Dem MP John Hemming accuses Government of cover-up on child deaths
Nov 18 2008 by Jonathan Walker, Birmingham Post
‘Cover-up’ over child deaths, says Hemming
The government is “covering up” details of child deaths, a Birmingham MP has claimed.
John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) asked local authorities to provide details of babies whose death was believed to be connected to abuse or neglect, following the death of Baby P.
But some councils have written back revealing that the Department for Children, Schools and Families has told them not to give him the information.
Mr Hemming’s made inquiries following the death of Baby P at the age of 17 months, in Haringey, London. Baby P had suffered more than 50 injuries in an eight-month period in which he was seen 60 times by social and health workers, but was not taken into care.
The MP believed the “wrong children” were being taken into care, so that those that genuinely needed protecting were left with their families. He asked councils for details of babies whose death had been the subject of a serious case review, which is carried out when abuse or neglect is believed to be a factor.
The requests were made under the Freedom of Information Act, which places public authorities under a legal obligation to answer queries.
But authorities including Durham and Bolton have refused to reply, on the grounds that the Department for Children Schools and Families has told them it will respond on their behalf.
In a letter to Mr Hemming, Durham Council said: “Unfortunately we will not be able to provide you with this information. This is because we have been informed by central government that a national response is being provided by DCSF.”
Mr Hemming said: “Alarm bells rang when I found that the Government were telling local authorities to refuse to give me information. We cannot know the whole truth until they do. They were a little late. Some authorities had already responded by the time the instruction went out. However, a number of authorities have still not responded.”
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has written to Mr Hemming to inform him that 81 child deaths were subject to serious case reviews in 2007 but they have provided only a national figure and not the breakdown by local authority that he requested.
A spokeswoman for the Department said: “We have not ordered councils not to reply to Mr Hemming.”
Mr Hemming has been a long-standing critic of child protection services and claims that there is a tendency to take children into care unnecessarily.
Meanwhile, MP Rob Marris (Lab Wolverhampton South West) says of those responsible for overseeing the death of Baby P: “I have no doubt that ‘heads should roll’ in this appalling mis-managed case which led to the horrible torture and terrible death of this poor little baby boy.”
Source: Birmingham Post
Government Cover up - response
So the government's response (see linked story) is:
A spokeswoman for the Department said: “We have not ordered councils not to reply to Mr Hemming.”
Why then do I have all these responses which say:
Your request for information on Part 8 Serious case reviews request 1 of 5, received on 01-JUL-2008, has been considered.
Unfortunately we will not be able to provide you with this information. This is because we have been informed by central government that a national response is being provided by DCSF.
In accordance with section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this letter acts as a refusal notice.
I have since been instructed by The Department for Children, Schools and Families that they will be providing you with a coordinated national response and Bolton Council has no requirement to respond.
- The fact that someone else is producing a response is not a reason for not responding. DCSF are not allowed to "instruct" departments that they have "no requirement to respond."
- DCSF have not been willing to give a list of Serious Case Reviews.
There is no sense trying to come to any conclusions about whether or not the system is working properly if you don't start with reliable information.
posted by john ¶ 9:19 AM
Source: John Hemming blog for November 18, 2008
Addendum: On November 20 a report was issued by the British agency Ofsted. Here are links to the original and our local copy (both 3.6 megabytes pdf). It shows, on page 73, that about 59,500 children are cared for by local authorities, and on page 69, that 282 children died in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 August 2008. If the 282 are all from the "cared for" population, that gives a death rate in care of 334 per hundred thousand child-years. That is higher than our previous figures of 147 from Arizona data and 266 from Saskatchewan data. By comparison, the rate for Canadian children in the general population is 28. Foster care in England is unusually hazardous.
November 17, 2008 permalink
Here is another case of an adopted child who finds herself unable to live a normal life on reaching age of majority. Salvation Meauli was adopted from Romania and raised in Utah and American Samoa. She is now condemned to remain on Samoa until she can get a proper identity. It may be a long stay.
Adopted children fight for documents
Utah couple won't give up proof of kids' identities
By Pamela Manson, The Salt Lake Tribune, Article Last Updated:11/10/2008 06:22:49 AM MST
Found starving in a Romanian orphanage, Salvation Meauli and her brother were brought to Utah as babies - the first of several children adopted by Scott and Karen Banks.
But at age 9, Meauli and her brother were sent to live in American Samoa. The Bankses cited problems including failure to bond.
"I was actually excited and felt free for the first time in a long time," Meauli, now 18, said of the move. "I am finally surrounded by people who love and adore me for who I am."
Yet Meauli says the Bankses, charged in an unrelated matter with arranging fraudulent adoptions of Samoan children, have refused to provide documentation she and her brother need to prove their identities and begin their adult lives.
With no birth certificates or adoption papers, the siblings are unable to get driver licenses or passports. Although Meauli wants to attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii, without a Social Security number she can't even fill out an application.
"Right now we only want our passports done so that we can travel and finally be normal," Meauli said. "I have not left this island ever since I set foot on it."
Attempts to contact Scott and Karen Banks through their attorneys for comment were unsuccessful.
The couple's history with Meauli became public at a 1st District Court trial in February over whether they or another couple should get custody of a 4-year-old girl from China. The Bankses, who already had eight children - two biological, three adopted from Romania and three adopted from Russia - wanted to add the child to their family.
But Curry and Mary Frances Kirkpatrick, of Overland Park, Kan., say they arranged to adopt the child through Focus on Children, an agency operated by the Bankses. They say they placed her temporarily with the couple when they needed respite care. The Bankses claim the Kirkpatricks abandoned her.
Lawyer Steve Kuhnhausen, who represents the Kirkpatricks, argued the Bankses' history with their adopted children - including Meauli and her brother - made them unsuitable parents.
Meauli and her brother, named Auriel and Ethan Banks by the Bankses, were sent to American Samoa in 2000, Kuhnhausen said. Then, two years later, the other Romanian child the Bankses adopted, who has cerebral palsy and is now 17, was placed in a care facility in Orem.
Scott Banks testified that the boy had become too big for Karen to lift and help with daily living activities. He said Auriel and Ethan had severe behavioral problems, including being abusive toward their siblings.
At the time, the family was living in Wyoming and there were few services available to help them with their specific problems, Banks said. Neither Ethan nor Auriel bonded with him and his wife as they got older, he said.
"We were naive thinking that love would take care of all problems," Banks said.
He testified he and his wife sent them to American Samoa and agreed to pay a friend $500 a month until they reached adulthood.
Karen Banks, who found the three Romanian orphans, testified she has not seen or spoken to Auriel and Ethan since they left because she didn't want to interfere with them bonding with their new family.
"They didn't have an attachment to me," she said. "They would have walked away with anyone."
Judge Stanton Taylor granted custody of the Chinese child to the Bankses but delayed allowing the couple to adopt the girl until the criminal charges against them are resolved. The Kirkpatricks have appealed that custody decision to the Utah Court of Appeals.
Cathy Cevering, a North Logan visitation supervisor who learned about Auriel and Ethan through the 1st District case, tracked down the two through an online search. She has spent months trying to obtain their records for them but so far has been unable to find anything, including a record of Auriel and Ethan's entry into the United States or adoption papers, she said.
Meauli said Scott Banks recently e-mailed her a Social Security number but she has never received the card itself. She and Cevering have been unable to confirm that the number is really hers.
Meauli said she loves her American Samoan family and claims the Bankses "never really showed real compassion towards us." She and Ethan, who were born to different parents but whose adoption made them siblings, are close, "like PB&J," she said.
Despite living in the Samoan culture for years, Meauli is a typical American teen in many ways. She has a blog, loves Harry Potter and likes hanging out with friends. With excellent grades, she's ready to take the next step in her life.
"I want to be a vet when I grow up," she said. "I love animals so much."
Couple indicted in Samoan adoption case
A federal grand jury issued an indictment in 2007 charging Focus on Children agency operators Karen and Scott Banks and five agency employees with fraud and immigration violations. The indictment alleges the defendants tricked Samoan birth parents into putting their children up for adoption. The defendants have denied the allegations and are free pending trial.
Salvation Meauli, who now lives in American Samoa, says her adoptive parents in Utah refused to give the documents she and her brother need to prove their identities.
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
England's Children Vanish
November 17, 2008 permalink
British MP John Hemming is using freedom of information to get disclosure of English child deaths. The government has advised local authorities not to cooperate with him. We enclose a news item, and a letter that is part of Mr Hemming's effort.
HEMMING CLAIMS OFFICIAL COVER-UP AFTER BABY P
In the aftermath of the death of Baby P whose plight was ignored by Haringey’s Social Services, Birmingham MP John Hemming claims the government is covering up similar incidents and is taking the “wrong children” into care.
Hemming, Chairman of the pressure group Justice for Families has tabled a commons motion calling for the government to reveal the list of deaths so it can be audited.
"I have been studying the reports of child deaths.", he said,
"I believe that local authorities in England have been taking the wrong children into care. This results in more children dying from abuse as there is a limit set in most authorities on the number of children in care. – this known as the gateway process.
"I have, therefore, started asking each of the Childrens’ Services Authorities to give me the list of children who have died where there is a ‘serious case review’.
“The government have, however, told the local authorities not to respond to my FoI request. This is, in fact, illegal. The government have no power to tell Local Authorities not to respond. However, that has not stopped them."
"They were a little late. Some authorities had already responded by the time the instruction went out. However, a number of authorities have still not responded. What I am finding is that there is a conflict between the numbers reported by government and those on the list.
“For example there is a report today that there were 189 Serious Case reviews following death between 2005 and 2007, but I have 211 cases on my list."
"I accept that there may be errors on my list. Northamptonshire have reported a massive number of Serious Case Reviews and we have gone back to them to ask them to check this. However, the government must produce their own list. This is the only way that we can be certain of what is happening."
"Alarm bells rang when I found that the government were telling local authorities to refuse to give me information. We cannot know the whole truth until they do."
"Non Accidential Injury deaths were running at around 50 per year in England in the early 1990s. Even the government admit that the figures have gone up. However, we need to know the full story. It is important to remember that Haringey were doing exactly what the government told them to do which is why they got three stars.
“The problems in Haringey are, however, replicated across the country."
Source: The Stirrer (UK), linked to by John Hemming
Serious Case Reviews: Government attempts to cover up lists of child deaths
The link is to a story on "The Stirrer" based upon a press release I sent out over the weekend.
The following is the text of an email I have just sent to the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee:
I am writing to you as Chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee as you may wish to review the matter of Serious Case Reviews.
You will be aware that where a child dies or is seriously injured as a result of child abuse that a Serious Case Review is instigated. There is an important question as to whether these reviews achieve their objective of informing practise. However, these reviews are being carried out.
I have been concerned for some time as to the decision making process in respect of Public Family Law. It is my belief that substantial numbers of falst positives and false negatives occur - I believe that this arises as a consequence of the lack of accountability in the system which is caused by threat of contempt proceedings in the Family Division. However, that is not relevant to this email.
You will be aware that many local authorities operate a management gateway system for care proceedings. This enables budgets to be controlled. Often such a system will operate on the basis of "one in" "one out" or some similar structure.
This has the tendency of establishing a cap on numbers in care and frequently local authorities create their own target numbers for the purpose of budgetary control.
As a consequence of this any system which facilitates children being wrongly taken into care will also and as a consequence create a situation where those who need to be taken into care are prevented from being taken into care by the management gateway. The abolition of BV163/PAF C23 (the adoption targets) will, of course, reduce the number of wrongful removals, but the problems built into the decisionmaking system remain.
I have, therefore, been studying the question of deaths from child abuse in England (note that the Scottish system is very different and does not have as many problems - although it is not perfect) as the English system.
It is relatively difficult to make international comparisons as the systems for monitoring child abuse vary from country to country. However, I have been working on the question of the deaths of children which result in a Serious Case Review. I have selected this threshold as it is a clear threshold that allows tracking of numbers.
I have found DCSF unwilling to provide information for audit purposes although they will provide some statistical summaries. I have, therefore, approached the local authorities and Safeguarding Committees in England and asked them for an anonymous list of Serious Case Reviews consequent to the death of a child.
Some authorities have complied. Sadly DCSF sent around an instruction to local authorities to tell them not to comply with my request for information. I am now taking this through the Freedom of Information Appeals process.
I am suggesting to your committee that it may be worth the authority of the committee being used to obtain a list of serious case reviews from local authorities. The provisional information I have indicates that DCSF are understating the numbers. This is an important question as one of the objectives of the child protection system has to be to reduce the number of deaths from abuse. If, therefore, numbers are going up it raises a question as to whether the recent changes are exacerbating problems inherently within the system - which I believe they are.
I attach two files. One is a few examples of how local authorities have been responding in a manner instructed by DCSF plus the DCSF summary figures. The second is my working list of serious case reviews from 2005 onwards.
There are other questions about Serious Case Reviews as to who should perform them and to what extent they should be open to external scrutiny However, I believe that starting with reliable figures as to the numbers is a good foundation.
I would be happy to talk to the committee about these things. I did offer earlier this year to provide evidence of the failings of the system, but the secretariat indicated that I would not be an appropriate witness.
Source: John Hemming blog for November 17, 2008
Alberta's Children Vanish
November 16, 2008 permalink
Last month the Alberta government was embarrassed by the release of reports showing failings in the child protection system. So are they fixing the system, making it work better for children? Nope. They are introducing legislation to cover the ministry behind a curtain of secrecy, preventing the public from finding out about the failures.
November 16, 2008
Tories accused of trying to hide foster care abuse
By RICHARD LIEBRECHT, SUN MEDIA
Instead of making kids in foster care safer, the provincial government is making it harder for the public to find out about abuse, says the NDP.
NDP MLA Rachel Notley charged that proposed changes to child welfare laws will restrict access to reports of abuse and neglect of children in foster care.
The proposed amendments come after the government was shamed by the NDP for leaving statistics on scores of alleged abuses unreleased for three years.
The allegations were revealed last month only after Notley publicly released quarterly reports of the children's advocate, which list complaints of illegal restraint techniques used on kids in care, kids sexually assaulting other kids, and children being placed in inappropriate or even dangerous homes because nothing better was available.
"I'm shaking my head in complete exasperation that they'd do this," said Notley. "Perhaps naively, I thought the government would react to what we had to say and make changes to introduce more accountability."
The proposed changes would, according to government briefing notes, prevent family members and the public from reading stories of abuse or neglect given by children in care to the province's Child Advocate office.
Those accounts would not be open for any use, including as evidence against the government if someone sues them for bad practices.
However, John Mould, Alberta's Child Advocate, said he recommended the change more than a year ago to give kids greater assurance knowing their stories would never be released.
He said the changes would not remove any public information because only parties with a stake in the case can see the files, as it stands.
Children and Youth Services spokesman Trevor Coulombe compared the files to medical records that people would not want shared, even in court.
He said accusations of a government cover-up are, "a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of what this (law) demands."
While she's waiting to see the wording of the amendments, Notley said a twist of language could mean case files could be kept out of statistics showing the number and types of abuse cases in the system.
"As long as the advocate is under the thumb of the minister and acts as a government spokesperson, we cannot trust we will get all the information we need," she said.
Source: Edmonton Sun
Advocates of Love and Tolerance
November 16, 2008 permalink
California gays, upset over the demise of gay marriage by the vote on proposition 8 have conducted angry demonstrations outside Mormon churches. Other news sources report Mormon churches terrorized by receiving envelopes of white powder in the mail, reminiscent of the anthrax attacks of 2001. The Deseret News reports vandalism against individual churches, without establishing a connection to the California vote. Gays are also trying to get the tax man to shut down the Mormon church by removing its tax-exempt status.
An article below from the thoughtful Christian Science Monitor analyzes the reasons for the anger, and the reasons for opposition to gay marriage. They cite belief in the biblical injunctions against homosexuality as the only reason for opposing gay marriage. In this, and many other analyses in the mainstream press, all the opponents are characterized as religious bigots. While the press honestly reports that black voters strongly opposed gay marriage, journalists have not interviewed black voters to determine the reasons for their vote. In the US, black people are more likely than whites to be the target of the child protection system. Imagine what a voter's reaction must be after seeing a child taken from mom and dad by force, then finding that child months later in the home of two homosexuals.
Conventionally, marriage converts fornication into conjugal love. Some opposition to gay marriage stems from objection to giving license to engage in legal acts of homosexuality. But the real heart of the marriage contract is children. A marriage license is a license to produce legitimate children. A same-sex couple cannot produce a child as the consequence of conjugal relations between the parents. For these couples, the children must come by some other means. While there are several possibilities, such as a child from a former relationship, or high-tech reproduction technology or surrogacy that may produce a child of one of the parents, the main source of children is adoption. People involved at all levels of the adoption system pretend, and may even believe, that adoption is a charity. But in today's low-birth-rate culture, most children available for adoption are stolen from their parents by force of arms. So in practice, a marriage license for same-sex couples is a license to steal children.
The Christian Science Monitor
Gay activists protest Mormon church
Beyond the anger over the church's support for a gay-marriage ban in California, some seek dialogue.
San Francisco - At a rally downtown, Kevin Kopjak holds a sign that reads, "No More Mr. Nice Gay." Many in the gay community are fed up, he says, and ready "to fight the good fight."
Tens of thousands of people have turned out in California cities to protest a new voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages, and wider demonstrations are planned for this weekend.
Much of the anger rippling through the crowds has focused on the Mormons and the leaders of their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Church leaders asked members to support the ban, and they did – to the tune of more than $15 million, by one estimate.
Now petitions are circulating that call for the LDS church's tax-exempt status to be revoked. Gay marriage supporters are also trying to organize a boycott of Utah, and have picketed Mormon temples in Oakland, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City.
Even in the heat of protests, however, both sides reveal a nuanced empathy for the opposition beyond what the placards, robo-calls, and TV ads might suggest. The challenge, say some leaders and experts, is to build on that by opening up dialogue and avenues for compromise.
"I think it's really important ... not to let this become a claim that Mormons are the reason for everything that went wrong, on the one hand, or one that falls into a knee-jerk 'This is just anti-Mormonism' reaction. Because each of those are toxic," says Sarah Gordon, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on the Mormon church.
Mormons make up about 2 percent of California's population, and not all voted for the ban. Other larger demographic groups – including Catholics and African-Americans – made up more of the 'Yes' vote. But many in the gay community find the direction from church leaders, and the amount of money raised, galling.
While outsiders impute many motives to the LDS church, the obvious, important one remains religious belief. "The faith itself is based on concepts of salvation within the family and a very committed pro-natalism," says Ms. Gordon. Arguably, marriage marks the most important faith moment for a Mormon.
Given that marriage is so sacred to people like the Mormons, and that government benefits are so tied to marriage, policymakers may be able to satisfy both sides only when they disentangle the two, she says.
One suggestion for how to do that comes from Doug Kmiec, a same-sex marriage opponent who doesn't feel the issue is best handled by litigation. "Sometimes it just leaves us with broken people on both sides, which I think is where we are heading now," says Mr. Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University. Instead, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could institute a compromise, he says, with a sweep of his pen.
The deal: Get the government out of the marriage business. Couples gay and straight would get civil unions from city hall. Then, if they wanted, they could get married within a church. Religious institutions must be granted freedom to refuse marriage to anyone, and existing same-sex marriages should be considered legal.
That would be fine with Patricia Cain, a law professor at Santa Clara University and a married lesbian, only if it is the national standard and the federal Defense of Marriage Act is repealed. Otherwise, jurisdictions where civil marriage is solely for straight couples will remain.
"Equality has been my goal, not marriage," says Ms. Cain. But, "some people on both sides are very attached to the word 'marriage.' "
Dressed in his "Sunday best" black suit, George Cole joined several hundred protesters in Oakland last weekend. Years ago, when he came out to his parents, he recalls his Mormon mother cried for an hour and asked what she did wrong. He wishes the church would help reassure parents of gay children.
Mr. Cole is a member of a group called Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, which he says has talks scheduled next year with a top church official. The group isn't asking for gay marriage in the temple, but would like to see gay members be able to marry outside the church and remain in good standing.
There are limits to dialogue, suggests Don Eaton, a regional LDS public affairs director. "The theology isn't going to change. Our understanding of them might change, although I hope that we already have a pretty good understanding – there are gay members of our congregations," he says.
The church is on record, he adds, in support of domestic partnerships – just not marriage – for same-sex couples. Cole notes that the church rejects sex outside marriage, effectively forcing gay Mormons to stay celibate singles.
Up the road from the temple, John Burke operates an LDS bookshop. He explains how his family welcomed a young man named Tim, whom he calls a son, who is gay.
"He's a [LDS] member and we love him. We just don't talk about marriage with him," says Mr. Burke. He voted yes for the ban partly because he worries homosexuality will be taught in schools. He says his 7-year-old already got such a lesson at his school – forcing a discussion about Tim that he had wanted to delay.
At the San Francisco rally, marcher David Guzman expressed ambivalence about calls to tax the LDS church. "Their religion should be able to keep [the tax exemption], but they should stay out of politics," says the ex-Mormon.
Since the LDS church says it didn't spend money itself – its members did – the church is unlikely to be penalized, says Robert Tuttle, a law professor at George Washington University.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor
November 15, 2008 permalink
Those caseworkers hired by CAS are so smart that in their few weeks of training they can become experts not only in child care, but also in the building trades. Canada Court Watch reports on an example, abridged below..
York Region CAS workers up to more of their outlandish shenanigans and waste of tax dollars!
(Nov 15, 2008) A family has contacted Court Watch to advise us that their family received threats from a worker with the York Region Children's Aid Society. The worker said that he will be demanding to come into the family's home with police force if necessary to check the electrical and plumbing system in the home and will be checking to ensure that the refrigerator and stove in the family's home are working in their $300,000 suburban home. The York Region CAS worker was advised by the family that before moving in to the home recently that the family had the city conduct a building occupancy inspection and that an occupancy permit was issued by city inspection department after finding the home safe for occupancy. This York Region CAS worker believed that he was more qualified than the city inspectors and that occupancy of the home rested solely on his approval as an agent for the almighty York CAS!
Families in the Region of York, Ontario, including Newmarket, Aurora and Richmond Hill beware - if your fridge or stove does not work or if you happen to be doing some renovations in your home, CAS workers may be coming with police to take your children away! CAS needs to protect your children from anything imaginable because parents cannot be trusted to protect their children themselves without the help of the York Region CAS.
Source: Canada Court Watch
Services for Clients
November 12, 2008 permalink
British social worker Egbert Elijah Hall has been suspended from his job after attempting to provide the kind of services for clients that a stud dog provides for a bitch. He joins a list of similar cases including Eric M Ferber and William Williams in Florida, and Brandon Ware in Philadelphia,
Social worker suspended after pursuing vulnerable women
A social worker from London has been suspended by an independent committee of the General Social Care Council (GSCC) for one year after being found to have pursued two vulnerable women who used services.
Egbert Elijah Hall, 49, was a locum social worker employed by the London Borough of Brent at the time of the incidents which were considered at a hearing held this week.
The panel heard that Hall visited one woman who used services, referred to as Y, when he should not have done so and asked her to go out with him. He was not the allocated social worker for Y and therefore had no legitimate reason for making contact with her. He later received a warning from the police about his harassment of Y.
He was also found to have contacted another person who used services, referred to as X, in order to try and befriend her. He disclosed personal details to X including information about his family, his background and his personal telephone number and on one occasion he tried to persuade X to let him meet her at the hotel she was staying in following a fire at her flat.
In coming to their decision to suspend him from the Social Care Register, which means he will not be able to practise as a social worker for one year, the committee said Hall’s behaviour amounted to serious misconduct. He was found to have breached a number of the GSCC’s codes of practice, including obligations to respect the dignity and privacy of people who use services, recognising the responsibility and power that comes from the social worker-client relationship and the obligation to not abuse the trust of clients.
However, the committee noted that there was no evidence of harmful, deep seated personality or attitudinal problems or evidence that he had repeated the behaviour. They recommended he should undertake training on the issue of professional boundaries, covering the sharing of personal information and the forming of relationships with service users.
Mike Wardle, Chief Executive of the GSCC, said: “Social workers work with some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Knowing that people in such positions of responsibility are part of a nationwide register and can be held accountable for their actions is a key way by which to increase confidence in the services those in social care provide. Fortunately cases of misconduct are rare and the majority of the 95,000 people on our register uphold the highest standards, keeping the interests of people who use services at the heart of everything they do.”
Social workers have a right of appeal to the independent Care Standards Tribunal.
Source: press release from General Social Care Council (UK)
OACAS Threatens John Dunn
November 11, 2008 permalink
A businessman once claimed that no one is really successful until he has been sued. Well, John Dunn is now a success. The OACAS has threatened to sue him over his efforts to get people to join their local children's aid society.
On Monday November 10, 2008, Ontario citizen, John Dunn received a letter in the mail from the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS) who retained the services of Swadron Associates Barristers & Solicitors Toronto, Ontario ( http://www.swadron.com ) for the purpose of requesting that Dunn "cease and desist from using the name Ontario Association of Children's Aid Society Members" for his online support and discussion group which he created to unite all citizens of Ontario who are, or who wish to become, or to learn more about becoming a member of a Children's Aid Society in Ontario.
The reason given within the November 06th, 2008 cease and desist letter (Swadron Associates File Number: 89-1161) was that the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS), an Association which represents, and advocates on behalf of Ontario's Children's Aid Societies advised their solicitors that the name of the support and discussion group is "deceiving" in relation to the OACAS, and is "likely to cause confusion in the minds of members of the public". The letter was signed by Swadron Associates' Solicitor Barry B. Swadron, Q.C. Late that same evening, in response to the Swadron's cease and desist letter, Dunn wrote the following letter, and has since reported that he is looking forward to resolving this matter as soon as possible.
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
Swadron Associates Barristers & Solicitors
115 Berkeley Street
Toronto, Ontario M5A 2W8
Barry B. Swadron, Q.C.,
Let it be known that all communication between myself and any person in relation to this matter will be made public and distributed to various individuals at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and several committees thereof, the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman, the Auditor General's Office, the Provincial Child and Youth Advocates Office, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Cabinet of the Ontario Government, select members of the media and via various internet based news wires and resources. This is done strictly as a measure of accountability in relation to the expenditure of public funds.
Cease and Desist Letter:
As of the evening of Monday, November 10, 2008, I am in receipt of your cease and desist letter dated November 06, 2008 (Swadron Associates Barristers & Solicitors File Number 89-1161) requesting that I cease and desist from using the name "Ontario Association of Children's Aid Society Members" as the name of the support and discussion group which was created for people who have, or who wish to become members of a Children's Aid Society in Ontario.
Purpose of Group:
The purpose of the support and discussion group is to enable those who join it to communicate with other like-minded individuals regarding matters related to Children's Aid Society memberships, including, but not limited to, what they can do with a Children's Aid Society membership, and what to do should their application for a membership to a Children's Aid Society in Ontario be denied for any reason.
OACAS Sources of Funding:
It is my understanding from reading the "About OACAS" ( http://www.oacas.org/about/index.htm ) page of the OACAS's website, and from reading the Income Statement dated March 31, 2007 located within the OACAS's 2007-08 Annual Report ( http://www.oacas.org/pubs/oacas/annual/08annual_web.pdf ) that Children's Aid Societies in Ontario and/or their representatives paid over 2.4 million dollars in annual membership fees to the OACAS in 2008, and that the Government of Ontario transfered over 6.4 million dollars to the OACAS in 2008. Therefore, my calculations lead me to understand that in 2008 alone the Ontario Government has paid a total of at least 6.6 million dollars of Ontario tax-payer's hard-earned dollars to the OACAS directly through Ministry allocated transfer-payments, and indirectly through the membership fees which have been paid to the OACAS by Ministry funded OACAS member Children's Aid Societies.
OACAS use of Charitable Donations and Government Funds:
The OACAS, with what I assume to be approval from members of their Board of Directors, has apparently chosen to divert important charitable funds which have been entrusted to the OACAS for the delivery of charitable purposes on expensive, unnecessary, legal services which have resulted in legal action being threatened against me, without the OACAS even attempting to first contact me in any attempt to discuss the matter decently and to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution.
OACAS's Abuse of Power
Unfortunately, now that the OACAS has made the choice to lead this matter in a legally threatening manner, a manner in which I believe would be seen by any other reasonable person as being an unnecessary, and aggressive abuse of power and resources over a person who is greatly disadvantaged, I therefore feel compelled to respond in a way which I believe will afford me some legal protection while simultaneously working co-operatively with the OACAS, through their legal counsel, to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to this matter.
Mutually Satisfactory Resolution
I am now undertaking to attempt in good faith to resolve this matter to our mutual satisfaction by first asking you to provide me with the relevant Statutes, Regulations and provisions thereof that you are relying on in your threat of legal action against me so that we can discuss them and my obligations under them so that I may base my decision on how to proceed in this matter on our discussions and on the law. I am looking forward to your immediate response so that we can hopefully resolve this matter to our mutual satisfaction.
Source: email from John Dunn
Foster Girl Testifies
November 10, 2008 permalink
In the Alberta Kafka case, a teenaged girl who was a former ward of the accused foster mom has testified about conditions in the home. The defense lawyer tried to impeach the witness by saying that the social worker did not make any notes consistent with her testimony. Do the jurors believe social workers keep notes that are accurate and complete?
Former ward testifies at foster mother's murder trial
Elise Stolte, edmontonjournal.com, Monday, November 10, 2008
EDMONTON - A foster mother accused of murder would make a three-year-old boy stand in the corner for hours and once put him in a cold garage to keep him from waking her children with his cries, another foster child testified today.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named because she was a ward of the state, lived with the woman and the little boy for 19 days, when she was asked to leave for being disruptive.
The foster mother has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the three-year-old's death in January 2007.
The witness testified that the foster mother used to punish the child by forcing him to stand with his nose in a corner for up to three hours, so long that he couldn't walk anymore when he was allowed to leave.
She said the foster mother once put him in the cold garage at night for hours so that he wouldn't wake her own children with his crying.
And she said the woman would force the child to sit on the toilet, holding himself up with his arms on the edge of the toilet seat, even until 3 a.m.
"She'd tell him he can't go to bed until he went to the bathroom," she testified.
In cross-examination, defence lawyer Brian Beresh asked the girl about her relationship with the foster mother.
"Do you remember saying about (the woman), 'I'd like to kill her'?"
"Yes," the witness replied.
"You said you'd like to see (the woman) go to jail."
"Yes," she said again.
Then Beresh gave the girl a copy of the notes her support worker, Aimee Milles, made every time they spoke.
Beresh ran through notes from at least six conversations she had with Milles during the month when she lived at the house.
"In those conversations, there is not one mention of (the three-year-old)," said Beresh.
"But I did mention it," the witness said again and again.
"I want to take a break," she finally said, then started to cry as the judge granted her request and she walked past the jury, out of the courtroom.
Cross-examination continues this afternoon.
This morning, a family friend testified in support of the foster mother.
Tawa Jon Anderson, 33, was the English pastor at a local Chinese church in 2005 when he first met the foster mother and her family. Their children were similar ages and became friends, leading to the families to get together for dinner every month or two.
The prosecution has not yet wrapped up its case, but Anderson testified for the defence today for scheduling reasons.
Anderson testified that he saw the three-year-old once, several weeks before he died.
Both families were eating dinner at the foster mother's house, and the mother gently encouraged the boy to finish.
"He eventually crawled onto her lap to finish his meal," Anderson said.
During the three to four hours Anderson was at the house, he didn't see any temper tantrums, he said.
It was a "very orderly house, very peaceful," he said, describing the foster mother as collected, able and energetic. "We were always happy to be there."
Source: Edmonton Journal 2008
November 10, 2008 permalink
A traditional legal protection is the right to confront your accuser. This means when a witness gives damaging testimony, he faces the accused in the courtroom. It limits perjury because a person who feels comfortable badmouthing another out of his presence will be inhibited from lying to his face. This is especially important with child witnesses. A little girl may say, after coaching, "Daddy put his finger in my wee-wee", but she will be much less willing to lie to daddy's face: "You put your finger in my wee-wee".
A legal "reform" in Bermuda will remove the requirement for child witnesses to be in the courtroom with the defendants, allowing testimony instead by video link. The result will be more parents convicted on false charges, more parentectomies and more child abuse, the opposite of the results claimed by the reformers.
Courtroom protection for children
Children will no longer be "double victims" by having to give evidence in the same courtroom as their suspected attackers, youngsters' rights campaigner Sheelagh Cooper said yesterday.
Mrs. Cooper saluted imminent legislation allowing witnesses to appear in court via video link — saying it would protect children and improve the chances of justice being done.
She said putting child victims on the stand near the accused has increased and prolonged their suffering, while the intimidation they may feel makes them less likely to give reliable evidence.
Responding to new video link legislation announced in Friday's Throne Speech, Mrs. Cooper of the Coalition for the Protection of Children said yesterday: "It's very good news. It makes a world of difference to the child victim if they can be videotaped in a place that's comfortable for them, where they are safe and don't feel intimidated by the accused being in the room with them.
"A screen in the court room can help, but doesn't go far enough. Especially with very young children, we have seen cases where a child doesn't give the same testimony in court as they did with the Police. This will certainly enhance the likelihood that we get a proper testimony.
"This will also reduce the trauma for children because at the moment they're double victims. Most children don't even tell anyone about what happened to them. The few that do, do it to someone they are close to. Having done that, they have to tell the story to a Police officer. Then they have to go to court, in a strange environment, in front of the accused.
"We may hear cries of concern from defence counsel that they can't directly cross examine a child in the court room, but that's the only argument against this."
Governor Sir Richard Gozney had said in the Throne Speech: "Technology will be used in this fight against witness intimidation as the Government will introduce legislation that will permit evidence to be given by witnesses via video link in circumstances where certain criteria are met."
Attorney General Kim Wilson added at a later press conference that child witnesses would have "the safety and security to be able to provide their evidence from a safe place away from the court room".
Sen. Wilson said video conferencing would also allow suspects of serious crimes to appear in court without having to leave Westgate.
She said this would mean an end to heavy Police resources having to man the roads surrounding Magistrates' Court in high-profile cases that tend to attract crowds of onlookers.
Director of Public Prosecutions Rory Field said: "Video link is increasingly used in other overseas jurisdictions. It would prove particularly advantageous for Bermuda in that there are cost implications and problems in obtaining witnesses from overseas.
"Video link should make the process cheaper and more efficient. I hope that video link could also be initially used for, or extended to, vulnerable witnesses in Bermuda so witnesses might not have to physically go into court at all."
However, he cautioned that this would have to be balanced with the right of the defendant to have fair proceedings.
Other moves to aid witnesses announced on Friday included plans to relocate them overseas for their own safety when necessary (see story, Page 8).
Source: Bermuda Royal Gazette
November 9, 2008 permalink
Canada Court Watch reports on judge/tyrant Nancy Mossip in family court.
NOTE: Canada Court Watch added two more paragraphs to this story on November 11 (enclosed below).
Madame Justice Nancy Mossip is a bully, tryrant and a child abuser say members of one Ontario family!
(Nov 11, 2008 Updated) Court Watch has received official documents which support claims by members of a family that Madame Justice Nancy Mossip has abused her judicial authority to personally bully and intimidate children in a court matter. In her chambers she told a child that if the child did not live with the abusive mother and do what the judge wanted that the judge would throw the child's father in jail. How's that for judicial extortion, blackmail and bullying against a child! The child kept saying to Justice Mossip "NO" and made if very clear that he did not want to go back to the abusive mother's home. In fact, in the discussion directly between the child and Justice Mossip in the court, the child makes a better and more reasoned argument than Justice Mossip. To many, this child walked circles around Justice Mossip's weak arguments.
If any parent threatened a child during their court matters they would be severely punished, but it seems that it is OK for Justice Mossip to threaten and intimidate a child. Parents are punished for getting children to take sides yet, Justice Mossip told the child that if he did not take the side that Justice Mossip decided that she was going to punish the father by throwing him in jail. Of course, in light of Justice Mossip's threats, the child has lost all respect for Justice Mossip and the entire family court system. The child asked Justice Mossip what the father had done wrong which would make the judge order that the child must go and live with the mother and Justice Mossip replied to the child that the father had done NOTHING wrong. If the father had done nothing wrong, then why would Justice Mossip tell the child that he had to leave his father's house and then go an live with his mother's house and tell the child that the minute the child goes to dads house that the judge will have dad thrown in jail!
Justice Nancy Mossip is a bully, tyrant and a child abuser say members of one Ontario family!
(Nov 9, 2008) One family has contacted Court Watch with claims that Madame Justice Nancy Mossip has abused her judicial authority to personally bully and intimidate children in a court matter and that she abused her authority as judge by contacting lawyers involved in a case outside of the court in an attempt to influence the lawyers and their clients and that her actions have caused children to be abused. Even the children involved in this matter consider Madame Justice Mossip as a judicial bully and refused to follow her court Order after they walked out of her court in disgust as the way she bullied and intimidated them. According to the family members Justice Mossip tried to cover up her judicial improprieties by attempting to interfere with the release of transcripts in the case. The family claims that on another day, Justice Mossip told everyone in the room that nobody in the room was to say anything about what was said inside the room. Nothing was written down, no court reporter was allowed to record what was said and no order was written. The family believes that Justice Mossip had to cover up her previous blunder and had to keep things off the public record.
Source: Canada Court Watch
Horwath Runs for Leadership
November 8, 2008 permalink
Hamilton MPP Andrea Horwath has announced that she will run for the leadership of the Ontario NDP. In the past, she has been the legislature's most vocal critic of children's aid.
Horwath launches bid to lead NDP
It was likely over Sunday dinner that the idea of Andrea Horwath leading the provincial New Democratic Party seriously took root.
Ben, her partner of 25 years, told her the party needed her. She should think about running.
That was around the time party leader Howard Hampton decided he was stepping down after 12 years at the helm.
Horwath, 46, thought about it. And talked about it. And talked about it some more.
"It's a conversation that we let roll around in our household for a couple of months," she said.
"We talked about it, we put it away, we brought it back out again, we kicked it around, we brought our son (Julian, 15) into the conversation."
There was no "eureka moment" when she decided to go for it.
Rather, the decision evolved as part of a process, which included detailed self-reflection.
"You really have to get in touch with yourself about whether you have those qualities that leadership require(s) at this level," she said.
"And also those qualities that taking on this kind of venture take."
By the end of the summer -- Horwath can't pinpoint a date -- the former Hamilton city councillor was committed to jumping in.
Her political inspiration doesn't come from a lone, gigantic figure, but rather from her belief in the power of the collective. She reaches back to memories of being in university, learning about Gandhi and the changes he brought forward.
"It's the strength of people and it's the vision that we can come up with collectively that really creates the momentum for change that keeps me inspired," she said.
Yesterday, in front of a crowd of about 250 supporters at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, Horwath made her long-rumoured candidacy official.
Three other MPPs are also in the running: Peter Tabuns of Toronto-Danforth, Gilles Bisson of Timmins-James Bay and Michael Prue of Beaches-East York in Toronto.
First elected to the Ontario legislature in a 2004 byelection, Horwath has also served as a downtown city councillor and worked as a community development co-ordinator at a legal clinic.
She was instrumental in getting firefighters compensated for certain occupational diseases caused by workplace exposure to toxins by introducing Bill 111, the Bob Shaw Act, as a private members bill.
Bob Shaw is a Hamilton firefighter who died of cancer after battling the city's toxic Plastimet blaze.
The bill prompted the government to produce its own legislation covering firefighter occupational illness and compensation.
It's accomplishments like that Horwath says she'll look to when she gets tired, or if a debate doesn't go well -- another source of strength, in addition to her family and her relationships in the community.
"I've never been in a situation where I've not been able to dig deep and find what I need to take something over a finish line," she said.
Mark Sproule-Jones, professor emeritus in the political science department at McMaster University, said he believes Horwath has a very good shot at the leadership.
And with the volatility Ontarians are faced with, the NDP may even come to power in the 2011 election, he speculated.
"I think people are crying out for some kind of new initiative," Sproule-Jones said. "And particularly now, with the economies the way they are."
Horwath also talks about winning. And she shakes off any notions that shadows from Bob Rae's 1990-1995 NDP government are hanging over her campaign.
"Rae's a Liberal now," she said. "He's long shaken off."
The NDP will elect its new leader at a convention to be held in Hamilton March 7-8.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: Find out more at Andrea Horwath's website.
Off with her Ovaries!
November 8, 2008 permalink
A furor has developed over a Dutch proposal to require mothers deemed unfit to take compulsory birth-control, or have their future children confiscated at birth. We copy an opinion piece from the Guardian below, you can read a news item in Dutch.
What the controversy misses is that most of the policy is already in place. Child protectors now keep a confidential list of unfit mothers, and seize their children in the delivery room. A critic calls it "constructive serial sterilization.
Guardians of the unborn
The Dutch parliament is considering whether protecting unborn children should supersede the rights of parents to procreate
Khaled Diab, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday November 4 2008 08.00 GMT
Women in the Netherlands who are deemed by the state to be unfit mothers should be sentenced to take contraception for a prescribed period of two years, according to a draft bill before the Dutch parliament.
The proposed legislation would further punish parents who defied it by taking away their newborn infant. "It targets people who have been the subject of judicial intervention because of their bad parenting," explained the author of the bill Marjo Van Dijken of the socialist PvDA. "If someone refuses the contraception and becomes pregnant, the child must be taken away directly after birth."
When I see how some parents treat their children and come across adults who wish they'd never been born because of the abuse they endured as kids, I get some idea of where Van Dijken is coming from, but her proposed solution strikes me as far too draconian.
In fact, I have serious misgivings about the implications of this proposed law, and it raises a torrent of questions in my mind. Is it really the state's role to protect the unborn and does it have the right to control people's bodies in such a way and to deprive them of the basic right to procreate? Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Just because a parent was bad with one child, does it mean (s)he will repeat the offence?
Have we got the right to exercise pre-emptive "justice" – and could this be the first step towards a "minority report" approach to parental "precrime"? And, perhaps, given the Dutch penchant for social engineering, this could prove to be the prelude for the professionalisation of parenting, where in the distant future only certified and trained "fathers" and "mothers" would be allowed to raise children in special facilities.
Less fantastically, could this not be the first step down a slippery slope? This government may have all the best intentions, but what's to guarantee that a future government doesn't use the law, or an amendment of it, to target "undesirable" groups, such as Roma, gays, religious minorities and immigrants?
More immediately, there's the question of how we would define the "unfit parents" who should be deprived from the right to bear children. Should the law apply only to parents who pose a clear and present danger to potential offspring or could it be more loosely interpreted to apply to those of whose parenting style the state disapproves?
Even if the law does save legions of notional children the trauma of neglectful parenting and abuse, how about all those parents it unfairly condemns? Surely, not all people who have ill-treated their children will raise their future offspring badly. Some will learn from their mistakes or be prompted by remorse to do better. Others will have mistreated their children because of temporary factors, such as depression or a nervous breakdown, the break-up of a relationship, or the loss of a job and other social deprivations.
"I find this is going way too far," exclaimed one Dutch blogger. "That's may be because I experienced how my own sister could not take care of her son as a consequence of postnatal depression… Was she such a bad mother that, in the future, she can't determine for herself whether or not to have another child?"
I must admit that it shocked me that this law was the brainchild of a socialist. As a confounded psychiatrist friend who deals with troubled children put it, this bill is vaguely reminiscent of the eugenics and sterilisation programmes of the fascist era.
Rather than the altruistic goal of protecting children, one friend thinks that this legislative proposal, which is likely to be defeated, is an attempt to steal the populist thunder of the far right in a society that has veered significantly rightwards in recent years. Another hidden objective could be to reduce the cost to the state of caring for abused children.
Luckily, this ill-conceived law, according to legal experts, contravenes the Dutch constitution and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, and will hopefully be defeated on the floor of the parliament.
Source: The Guardian (UK)
November 8, 2008 permalink
The alert John Dunn points out that the following article from the Toronto Star, apparently from a press-release by children's aid, violates the Child and Family Services Act by naming two foster parents. Yet when children's aid wants secrecy, as in today's other story from Edmonton, they threaten the press with ruinous litigation to suppress the name of a foster parent.
The real reason we foster
Couple finds the entire family reaps benefits when they open their home to foster children
November 07, 2008, Trish Crawford, Living Reporter
Janet and Stanley Reid recall the first foster child who arrived on their Scarborough doorstep in 1996 as a wonderful agent of change for their family.
Janet, a trained nurse at home with three children, and Stanley, a manufacturing plant manager, had decided to become foster parents when their own brood were school age.
Their first foster child was a 22-month-old toddler wearing nothing but a T-shirt.
"Our family changed," Stanley says during an interview in his Toronto office this week.
"Our kids would think they were hard done by, looking at the neighbours, if we didn't have a new car or hadn't been to Florida. It gave them an appreciation for grandparents and parents and family. By sharing it with others, we saw how fortunate we were."
The Toronto Children's Aid Society needs more foster parents, especially those willing to accept babies or teenagers. The Toronto Star asked the Reids to talk about the rewards and benefits of being a foster parent. In a nutshell, it made them a better family, they say.
Their three children are now all grown or in university but, says Stanley, "The girls are more like foster surrogate parents. Often when they call, they don't want to talk to us, they want to talk to the kids."
The "kids" currently are three siblings, 10, 8 and 6, and a 22-month-old baby with medical issues who arrived at 5 months of age from the Hospital for Sick Children.
Janet's nursing skills have enabled the family to foster babies with high medical needs and for years they specialized in babies from newborn to age 2.
Mostly, they were short-term placements, she says.
Her own kids had to double up to free up a room for the nursery. "The children had to get used to having a baby in the house," Janet says.
She has never differentiated between the foster children and her own, and when people ask if all the children in tow are hers, she answers, "Yes."
This is rewarding work, says Janet. "It is great to see them come so far from adversity, through care and nurturing, to see them move on. It is a joy to see their resiliency."
One of her skills is working with birth mothers, she says, because sometimes it is just a lack of knowledge, not will or love, that has caused the Children's Aid Society to intervene in the home.
"My heartbeat issue is working with the primary family," Janet says. "Often, they just don't know."
Says Stanley, "Some parents really love their child but they can't care for their needs."
Four years ago, the Reids agreed to foster the three siblings whose mother is still a presence in their lives. These children will stay with the Reids, who now live in a six-bedroom house on a hobby farm near Orangeville, until they are adults.
"We have them in rep soccer, hockey, gymnastics, all the things in life to help them reach their potential. I love being on the sidelines, cheering them on. There is no greater joy than helping a child fill a gap in their life," says Janet. "It's not just us. It's the whole community helping."
The children catch the school bus each day and help care for the horses, cows, chickens, cats, rabbits and a turkey on the property.
They've all gone on family holidays to North Carolina, New York and Huntsville.
In spite of this hectic schedule, Janet took in the sick baby last year, bringing the family's total number of children to seven.
"People ask if it's a lot of work but, if you love what you do, it isn't work," she says.
Daughter Emily, 18, a student at the University of Ottawa, sent this email when asked what she got out of having foster children in her home:
"Fostering and my parents' example helped me realize that it is important to not only find a career I like but also one that will make a positive effect in others' lives.
"This is why I am striving to complete a biomedical mechanical engineering degree program, so one day I can help improve the lives of others, as my parents do every day."
Jessie, 22, studying international development at the University of Guelph, sent this message: "It has given me the desire to be some sort of change for something better in this world. Some would call this a romantic ideal but I've seen what can happen when we commit ourselves to loving unconditionally."
family from L1
Source: Toronto Star
CAS Loved Accused Foster Mom
November 8, 2008 permalink
In the Alberta Kafka case, social worker Edele Kaffo had no concerns about the foster mother on trial for murder. Now that the boy is dead, social services wants to tell the opposite story, that the foster mom was a monster. In lesser cases, social workers have been known to lie when their agency changes position, but that is impossible in a criminal case where defense lawyers can confront the witness with old written reports.
No concerns about foster mom, case worker tells Edmonton murder trial
Florence Loyie, edmontonjournal.com, Friday, November 07, 2008
EDMONTON - An Edmonton social worker says she never had any concerns that a foster mother accused of murdering a three-year-old boy had any difficulty caring for the child.
Edele Kaffo told a jury trial Friday that she would have removed the boy from the home immediately had she any indications the foster mother was abusive towards the child.
Based on her telephone conversations with the foster mother and home visits between Dec. 6, 2006, and Jan. 26, 2007, the foster mother appeared to be doing her upmost to better the boy's situation, Kaffo said.
The woman purchased winter clothing with her own money, took the boy to see her family doctor for a physical assessment, took him to the dentist and acted as an advocate to get him various services because she suspected the child had fetal alcohol syndrome, Kaffo said.
She also spent numerous hours trying to rid the boy of head lice because she had been asked not to cut his long hair in keeping with his aboriginal culture, Kaffo said under questioning from defence lawyer Brian Beresh.
"She was a model foster parent, right?," Beresh asked.
"Based on my visits and phone calls, I didn't have any concerns," Kaffo said.
The foster mother was charged with second-degree murder in the boy's death in January 2007. The jury will have to decide if the boy's fatal head injuries were self-inflicted or the result of an assault. The woman cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Child Abuse Register Unfair
November 7, 2008 permalink
An American judge has invalidated California's law for putting names on a list of suspected child abusers. Falsely accused parents could appeal only to the worker who placed them on the list.
Ontario's parents have no right to appeal to the social worker placing them on the Child Abuse Register. Parents have to convince the ministry of a mistake after they are already on the register. The judge overseeing a child protection case has no power to get a parent off the list. With the current mood of the Canadian courts, parents are unlikely to find the kind of relief granted in California. In 1999 the Ontario legislature enacted amendments to the Child and Family Services act that abolished the Child Abuse Register by repealing sections 75 and 76, but the repeal never got royal assent. If the Lieutenant Governor proclaimed the law already enacted, the abuse of wrecking a parent's reputation on the whim of a social worker could be corrected.
Index of child-abuser suspects is struck down
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer, Friday, November 7, 2008
A federal appeals court has struck down a long-standing California law that established an index of suspected child abusers - now containing more than 800,000 names - and gives them no way to challenge false listings, which can disqualify them from jobs involving children.
The state's rules for compiling and maintaining the list create a substantial risk of error and deny individuals "a fair opportunity to challenge the allegations against them," said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
The 3-0 ruling, issued Wednesday, said the state must at least allow someone who disputes a listing to appear at a hearing before an official who would be required to follow specific standards to determine whether the designation was justified. Currently, the listed person can appeal only to the officer who made the initial report, and the law contains no standards for a decision.
The lawyer for a Los Angeles-area couple who sued over the continued inclusion of their names on the list said the ruling should help her clients and many thousands of others whose rights have been violated.
"Other states have child abuse registries, but California is unique in having a registry that disseminates information so broadly and provides no review procedure," said attorney Esther Boynton.
Deputy Attorney General Paul Epstein said state officials are reviewing the ruling, and declined further comment.
The state started collecting information for its Child Abuse Central Index in 1965 and passed a revised law in 1988 that now governs the index. Boynton said those on the list weren't even notified of their inclusion until 1996 - the result of a taxpayer's suit she filed after her own name was erroneously included.
The law requires police to send the state attorney general's office reports of every case of child abuse or severe neglect that they investigate and determine to be either true or inconclusive - that is, every case except those that are found to be false or "inherently improbable," the court said, quoting the law.
The law then requires the state to make the list available to a variety of public agencies and private employers. State and county licensing agencies must consult the list for all prospective child care workers and some foster parents. Schools and police departments are allowed to check job applicants' names against the list, and generally do so, the court said.
Employers aren't prohibited from hiring someone whose name appears on the index, but it's reasonable to assume that a listing hurts the person's job prospects, the court said.
Boynton's clients, Craig and Wendy Humphries, were placed on the list after their 15-year-old daughter accused them of abusing her in 2001. Sheriff's deputies arrested the couple and put their other two children in protective custody, but the charges were dropped after a medical examination disclosed that no abuse had occurred, and two judges later declared the couple innocent.
Under the law, the Humphries' only chance to get their names removed from the child abuse list was to persuade the investigating deputy that the allegations were unfounded. But the sheriff's department told them the deputy no longer worked there, and a supervisor decided some crime must have occurred because charges were filed, the court said.
With no further appeal possible, the Humphries said the listing is an obstacle to their plans to volunteer at a local child care center and could hurt Wendy Humphries' chances of renewing her teaching credential.
A federal judge dismissed the couple's suit, saying damage to their reputation did not amount to a violation of their constitutional rights. But the appeals court, in an opinion by Judge Jay Bybee, said the listing "both stigmatizes the Humphries and creates an impediment to (their) ability to obtain legal rights," like employment.
Bybee cited a 2004 state task force report that looked at listings from one county and found that half of them might be erroneous. Although the state is justified in keeping a list of suspected abusers, including those who haven't been convicted of crimes, he said, the California index has too few safeguards to meet constitutional standards.
The ruling in Humphries vs. County of Los Angeles is available at www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf.
E-mail Bob Egelko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The San Francisco Chronicle
November 6, 2008 permalink
In the aftermath of the Goudge inquiry, criminal charges have been dropped against mother Anna Sokotnyuk in the death of her baby, Anastasia.
Charge against mother dropped in infant's death
November 06, 2008, Betsy Powell, Courts Bureau
The Crown will not prosecute a Toronto woman charged three years ago with the death of her infant daughter.
Prosecutor Donna Armstrong told court the Crown feels it has no reasonable prospect of convicting Anna Sokotnyuk, 27, of second-degree murder. The decision was made after an independent review by experts in the wake Justice Stephen Goudge's inquiry probing pediatric forensic pathology in Ontario.
Armstrong said the experts couldn't agree on the cause of Anastasia's death with any "degree of certainty."
"She's gone through horror for the past three years," Sokotnyuk's lawyer, Robert Nuttall, said outside Superior Court. "To lose a three-month-old child and then to be charged with its death in a murder situation is unimaginably horrific."
Nuttall praised the Goudge inquiry and credited the withdrawal on the evolution of scientific theories relating to "shaken-baby deaths."
Sokotnyuk was charged in 2005 ten months after police received a 911 call about an nfant who had stopped breathing.
Source: Toronto Star
Social Worker Flashes Children
November 6, 2008 permalink
Former Montreal social worker Martin Lavergne is undergoing psychiatric evaluation following his arrest for exposing himself to children in a park.
Sex crime suspect was social worker
The Gazette, Thursday, November 06, 2008
A man who was beaten in a St. Henri park after he is alleged to have exposed himself to children was a clinical social worker at the Montreal General Hospital for more than five years.
Martin Lavergne, 48, is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation at the Philippe Pinel Institute before his bail hearing, set for Dec. 4. He was arrested last month by chance after he was beaten up by an adult who had been told by children that someone in the park was exposing himself.
Police arrived after the attacker fled, but found Lavergne was breaking bail conditions by being in a park. He had been arrested in July 2006 on one charge each of possession of child pornography, assault, assault with a weapon, uttering threats and fleeing a police officer.
His trial on those charges is to start next month. Lavergne faces four new charges in the most recent incident, including committing indecent acts and failure to comply with a condition.
His employment at the General ended a few months ago, said Sheila Moore, a McGill University Health Centre spokesperson.
Pierre Joyal, Lavergne's former lawyer, confirmed that Lavergne worked in palliative care and oncology before going on sick leave in 2006.
Lavergne became a member of Quebec's order of social workers on Sept. 17, 1999, and was no longer a member as of June 16, 2005.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Best Interest of the Pig
November 6, 2008 permalink
The OSPCA acts with powers nearly identical to children's aid societies, only their pretext is protecting animals instead of children. Unlike victims of child protection, persons harmed by animal protection are free to speak their mind. An article copied below from the Orangeville Citizen mentions many of the complaints against the OSPCA. They show similarity to complaints, sadly never heard in the press, against children's aid.
Animal protectors have police power and enter private property without a warrant. A person accused by the OSPCA loses his animals first, then has the burden of proving his innocence. When an owner fails to cooperate with persons taking his animals, that is evidence of guilt. An owner can be charged for the cost of keeping his animals in a shelter.
A proposed change to the law allows the animal shelters to keep seized animals indefinitely in foster care, even after the owner has complied with orders of the court.
Not mentioned in the article, but reported by victims, the OSPCA and children's aid act in tandem, in one case raiding a home on alternate days and sharing information on the targeted family.
Landowner group at odds with the OSPCA
By DAN PELTON Staff Reporter
Members of the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA) were in a combative mood as they crowded into the Chipwood Park Pavilion, north of Shelburne, for their recent annual general meeting.
The targets of the OLA's derision were the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) and Bill 50, proposed provincial legislation that would broaden the agency's powers.
The OLA sees the new legislation as oppressive. Jim Turner, president of the Dufferin chapter of the OLA, says the OSPCA already has too much power. "They shouldn't be able to go on to somebody's property without either having an opponent or a warrant."
The Liberal government, on the other hand, sees the bill as something that is overdue and will bring Ontario up to date with the rest of Canada as far as ensuring the safety of animals is concerned.
Right now in Ontario, animal welfare is covered under the OSPCA Act, which was passed in 1919 and has had few revisions since.
Bill 50 has been tabled by the province's Community Safety and Correctional Services minister, Rick Bartolucci, who says it will take Ontario "from worst to first" in terms of legislation to protect animals
OSPCA Chief Inspector Hugh Coghill finds the OLA protest somewhat puzzling. "We've had warrantless entry since 1919," he points out. "Why hasn't anyone complained in the last 89 years?"
What could be a cause for concern is an aspect of the new legislation that allows OSPCA inspectors to enter a property if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that cruelty to animals is occurring. Currently, an inspector actually has to observe the cruelty before he or she can act.
As well, under the existing legislation, an animal that has been taken from its owner on the grounds of cruelty must be returned once it is considered to no longer be in distress and the owner has paid the necessary fines.
Under Bill 50, the OSPCA can apply for interim custody and keep the animal away from an owner it sees as unfit.
To underline the necessity of such a change, Mr. Coghill points to the case of a Windsor man who cut the ears off his dog to make it look tougher. Despite the obvious barbarity of his act, he was entitled to get his dog back after he had paid what he owed and the dog was considered no longer in distress.
Progressive Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlop, the party's community safety and correctional services critic, spoke at the Chipwood Park OLA meeting. He says Bill 50 is an important piece of legislation and suggests that partisan politics be kept to a minimum in order for it to succeed.
"Our party is a strong advocate of stiffer penalties for cruelty to animals," said Mr. Dunlop. "We've put forward private members' bills to address this." He feels representatives of the three parties have worked well together in organizing the legislation.
Terming it "an allencompassing bill," he said MPPs "are all trying to step up and get it right. I'm a supporter of the OSPCA but, as a critic, I have to see how we can find improvements."
He admits to being uncomfortable with the concept of warrantless entries and is also concerned that there may be problems with OSPCA inspectors having police powers while, at the same time, working for what is essentially a charitable organization.
His concerns are shared by Mr. Turner, who accuses the OSPCA of embellishing situations in order to raise its profile and increase its fundraising efforts.
While steadfastly maintaining that the OLA is in support of legislation that ensures the ethical treatment of animals, Mr. Turner feels, along with the majority of his fellow members, that people are being mistreated by the OSPCA.
"With the OSPCA, you're guilty right away, and then you have to spend your own money to prove you're innocent."
Mr. Coghill admits that until 2006, the OSPCA put an emphasis on enforcement. Since he took over as chief inspector that year, he says the goal of the agency is "to put less of an emphasis on enforcement and more on education."
As for the OSPCA's police powers, he says the agency does not have the authority to decide guilt or innocence. Its stance is to collect information and act on it. After that, the affected parties can appeal to the Animal Care Review Board, an independent tribunal appointed by the government.
If the board rules against them, they can appeal the decision in court.
Such was the case with Roy Bevan of Holstein, who had 16 sheep and two miniature horses seized by the OSPCA, who said the animals were malnourished and claimed the sheep were in bad need of shearing and the horses' hooves were too long and had not been clipped.
The Animal Care Review Board ordered the horses returned to Mr. Bevan and that he not be required to pay the OSPCA any costs of boarding the animals.
The sheep were another matter, however. The board ruled against Mr. Bevan, who appealed the verdict. The court of appeal heard that the sheep were ravenous and, three weeks after coming under the OSPCA's care, gained an average of 20 pounds each.
Mr. Bevan claims the sheep, after the confiscation, were fed five pounds a day of a high-protein feed that contained molasses designed to make the animals gain weight. "It's like having Thanksgiving dinner," says Mr. Bevan, "and then having five more."
The appeal court also found Mr. Bevan was showing a consciousness of guilt when the animals were seized, by refusing to co-operate with the OSPCA when they came to take his livestock.
Mr. Bevan asks why he should have been co-operative in the face of what he saw as a warrantless, unlawful entry. "If someone was breaking into my house, what should I do? Hold the door open for them so they don't scratch my TV when they're carrying it out?"
As for the OLA, Mr. Turner says it's a levelheaded organization dedicated to defending the rights of landowners, even though it does some outlandish things like tarring and feathering an OSPCA inspector in effigy during a recent protest in Sudbury.
"We're not just a bunch of rednecks. We check out each case and, if we feel there isn't anything we don't back it. We're not here to fly off the handle."
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Gay Marriage Banned
November 5, 2008 permalink
In yesterday's American election, voters in California, Arizona and Florida banned same-sex marriage. In Arkansas voters approved a ban on placing children with unmarried foster parents, ending foster care by gay couples. In the post-mortem, analysts say opposition to gay marriage was stronger among blacks than whites. Maybe it is because black voters have more experience with the family destruction system. The proponents who got California judges to legalize gay marriage earlier this year are already planning to get judges to declare the voice of the voters invalid.
Boy Missing Again
November 3, 2008 permalink
A boy reported missing in September from Sudbury is reported missing again. If as we suspect this is a CAS case, the boy has run away again from a foster or group home.
Public's help needed to locate missing boy
Date Published | Nov. 3, 2008
Posted by Sudbury Northern Life
The public's assistance is needed to locate a missing 14-year-old boy. Marc-André Farmer-Pelletier has been missing since Oct. 27. He is believed to be in the Sudbury area.
He is described as Caucasian, about 5-5, 135 lbs, with short, dark, brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black winter coat with a furry hood, jeans, black hoodie, and brown boots.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of this child are asked to contact police at 675-9171.
Source: Northern Life
Mongrel Agency for Hamilton Kids
November 3, 2008 permalink
Hamilton has a new cooperative effort between children's aid and the police, called CAAT.
Police, chidren's aid, unveil new abuse team
It’s called CAAT and it's as innovative as Ontario’s first police child abuse branch was 20 years ago.
CAAT – the child abuse agency team – brings workers from the Hamilton’s Children’s Aid Society and Catholic Children’s Aid Society into the front line office of the police child abuse branch for closer co-operation and therefore better service to vulnerable children and their families.
Hamilton police rolled out the project – a year long and a year in the planning already – at the central police station today.
On hand to receive belated honours for establishing Ontario’s first dedicated police child abuse branch were three of the original members, former deputy chief Bruce Elwood, Richard Nelson and Allison Hood. John Carrick was not able to attend.
Bernie Morelli, chair of the Hamilton Police Services Board told the gathering that CAAT will mean more effective policing and better engagement of the community.
It will, he said, diminish barriers between services.
Chief Brian Mullan said, like the child-abuse unit formed years ago, CAAT is believed to be the first of its kind in the province and will provide an opportunity for Hamilton police to work more effectively in partnerships than they could by themselves.
Source: The Hamilton Spectator
November 2, 2008 permalink
A memorial and advocacy site has been created for Dee Montag, a twenty-year-old mother driven to suicide by the actions of children's aid. A letter from Jane Scharf to the Coroner gives biographical details. It looks like the same woman identified as Laura Lee (Dee) Doupe in our September 15 news item. While Minister of Children and Youth Services Deb Matthews gives speeches fighting poverty, this case shows what the agencies she administers really do to poor people.
Addendum: Six years later, a report on Dee's surviving child from Dee's sister, the girl's aunt:
Okay.. I don't come here nearly as much as I should and I'm an admin.. I know I'm terrible.. this time.. I need some help...errr advice..preferably from Neil Haskett or Pat Niagara
My sister passed away 3 years ago and at the time of her death my mother had custody of my niece already so naturally when my sister passed.. my niece stayed in the care of my mother. During this time she's been in all kinds of therapy and has been seeing doctors and has assistants that help my mom and my niece with the loss of my sister. Some of this I think is needed some I think is definitely not needed. (and is used for other reasons I can't get in to publicly) .. my niece was also put on various meds that I have BEGGED my mother to take her off..
Today, I was informed that this team of doctors and the CAS is trying to talk my mom in to placing her in foster care that treats troubled children. She told me that they said she can see my niece any time she wants (I tried to tell her that's likely a lie.. once she signs good luck seeing her)
I've also told my mom since my sister died that if she ever needed me to take my neice I would .. in a heartbeat.
I told her that I would take her.. I said I could come this week if she wanted.. she told me they wouldn't let me.. I asked who "they" was and she said "the team" .. I don't believe my niece needs this team.. or psych doctors or counselors or all these meds... I think she needs her family and love.. it's obvious my mom can't handle her because she's getting older and doesn't really take care of herself all that well either. I want to give her a life of love and family.. free of idiot psych doctors and useless meds.. my niece isn't a guinea pig.. and I don't want her life ruined.. I think we all know how this will play out if this happens.. the cycle of life in the system.So... any suggestions about how to go about this.. my head is full of ideas.. I just want to see if any match mine.. I just want to be smart and go with the best approach.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Give us an Organ
November 2, 2008 permalink
From the sick and sicker department. After breaking up with an unfaithful wife, Michael Shergold had a brief relationship with a woman that did not work out, then married a second wife. The woman in between gave birth to a child that soon went into social services custody, without the knowledge of the father. Years later social services approached Shergold for an organ donation to save his unknown son. The father applied for custody of the boy, but was refused, and cannot have even a single visit with his son. Dad is now struggling with a dilemma: should he risk his health to donate an organ for a boy he cannot see? Or let his unknown son die? Curiously, social services posted a picture of the boy on the internet when advertising for an adoptive family, but the real father cannot publish the boys name or picture. Social services claims they could not find the father before arranging an adoption, but could find him for an organ.
'You can't see your son - but can he have one of your organs?': how social workers left one man with a terrible moral dilemma
By Alison Smith Squire, Last updated at 12:41 AM on 02nd November 2008
The letter from Hampshire Social Services was as brief as it was bewildering. ‘Please ring me on the above number,’ it said. ‘I have some information that might be of interest to you.’ This was quite an understatement, as Michael Shergold soon found.
A quietly spoken father of three, he finds that his life rarely gets more exciting than his weekly game of golf. But when he called the social workers as requested, he was confronted with a series of astonishing facts.
They said he was the father of another child - a five-year-old son from a previous, short-lived relationship. A former girlfriend, unable to cope with the demands of motherhood, had handed the boy over to foster parents.
A meeting with this new-found son was out of the question, he was told, let alone any sort of relationship. He was also informed that the boy was to be formally adopted and that the council was ringing merely to let him know.
His shock slowly turned to anger and then determination. Hurt to have been kept in the dark for so many years, Michael still believed he was responsible for the child - whom we shall call Andrew - and launched a legal fight to secure custody.
But there were extraordinary surprises in store for Michael and his wife, Alex. Hampshire Social Services wanted more than just his acquiescence.
Andrew, it emerged, had been diagnosed with a severe problem in one of his organs. For legal reasons, it is not possible to be more specific.
But the boy stands little chance of living beyond his teenage years without a transplant - from a blood relative if at all possible. The most suitable blood relative, it was explained by social workers, was Michael himself.
In a disturbing saga, this was perhaps the most unpleasant twist of all. It brought him to a damning conclusion - that Hampshire Social Services had made him aware of Andrew’s existence only to provide the child with a body part.
Michael tried to adopt his son but last year he lost the battle and was refused even occasional visiting rights, which were deemed too upsetting for the boy.
Like almost all cases that go through the family court system, the details were not made public.
Michael now has to decide whether to risk his own life with a dangerous operation for a son who, as things stand, he will never see.
‘Words cannot express the anger and bewilderment I feel,’ says Michael. ‘I simply cannot believe how Social Services can be so cruel.
To track me down, tell me I have a son I knew nothing about, throw my life into chaos and then tell me I will never be able to see him is nothing short of disgraceful.’
The Mail on Sunday asked Hampshire County Council two months ago about its handling of the case.
It responded by obtaining a legal injunction to prevent us printing Michael’s story, claiming that to do so might damage his son’s chances of settling down.
Determined that Michael should get the chance to speak, The Mail on Sunday has pursued a lengthy legal fight to lift the injunction, and last week we succeeded. Today, in this exclusive interview, Michael is able to talk about his ordeal for the first time.
‘To know my son has been adopted against my consent by strangers rather than his blood family, where he would have had a loving home, has been bad enough,’ he says.
‘But to know that, if I don’t donate an organ, my son might not live long enough to know me has put me in the worst situation of all. I’m in a dilemma about what to do. I feel I am being asked to make a decision in a vacuum. If I could just see my son and maintain some sort of contact, I would have absolutely no hesitation about doing it.’
Michael, 55, was speaking at his spacious three-bedroom house in Southampton, the city where he was born and where he has spent his whole life. Sitting by his side is Alex. Originally from Los Angeles, she moved to Britain in 2002, the same year the couple married, and she became a pastor with a Pentecostal church in Portsmouth.
This is not the first time that Michael, who works as a school caretaker, has suffered domestic drama. His 16-year marriage ended in 1996 when he discovered that his first wife had been unfaithful. He was given custody of the children - Peter, now 17, David, 20, and Susanna, 30 - and brought them up single-handedly.
As Alex serves home-made carrot cake and their cuckoo clock announces the time, the Shergolds seem every inch a loving family. Their attitude to their predicament is one of quiet anger and grief rather than unfettered fury.
‘We have a wonderful, close-knit family,’ says Michael. Peter and David, who still live at home, flit in and out as the couple talk. Susanna lives close by.
It is a particular irony that Michael has been employed by Hampshire County Council for the past 35 years, overseeing the repairs, cleaning and maintenance of a local primary school. As it happens, the job requires him to undergo criminal record checks every year and neither he nor Alex, who was also checked, has any convictions.
The letter that shattered Michael’s life came in January 2007, but the origins of the trauma lay five years earlier, when he had embarked on a difficult relationship with a much younger woman we will refer to as ‘Helen’ - not her real name.
Despite their age difference, things went well at first after they were introduced through friends. ‘She was the first woman I’d dated since splitting up with my wife,’ he recalls.
‘At first I didn’t think of having a relationship with her because, at 29, she was much younger than me. But she was bubbly and got on well with the boys. It was only after a few months that I realised she was unstable and had a drink problem. She would swear in front of the boys and I ended the relationship.’
He had no inkling that she might be pregnant and that, he thought, was the end of the matter. Indeed, it was not long before he met Alex through a friendship website.
Like Michael, she has three grown-up children and, again like Michael, she had spent years bringing them up single-handedly. She worked for US military intelligence, where she studied for degrees in psychology and theology.
Michael and Alex married a few months after meeting and settled down to a domestic routine, enjoying rounds of golf, games of bowls, trips to the cinema and regular visits to church.
That all changed with Hampshire County Council’s bombshell. ‘It was a terrible shock,’ recalls Alex. ‘Michael was told by a social worker that his child had been put into foster care.’
At 53, Alex thought she had said goodbye to bringing up a child, but she was as determined as her husband to welcome Andrew into the family. ‘That was where he belonged,’ she says. ‘Not with strangers to whom he is not related.’
The couple, whose children had also come round to the idea of embracing a new sibling into their lives, visited Hampshire Social Services’ headquarters in Winchester, where they were shown Andrew’s picture.
With hindsight, they were naively optimistic. Immediately infatuated, they dug out Scalextric and Lego sets, embarked on plans to turn their loft into a fourth bedroom and even researched school places.
‘He looked just like his daddy,’ says Alex. ‘We were determined that although he’d had such a dreadful start in life, we’d soon make it all up to him.’
When, two weeks later, DNA tests confirmed that Michael was the father, the couple instructed a solicitor to stop the adoption order and begin their own custody proceedings. ‘I thought that once Social Services saw our happy family home and how much we wanted Andrew to be a part of it, it would only be a matter of weeks before he would come to live with us,’ says Michael.
But then came the breathtaking twist. ‘At our second meeting with Social Services a social worker told us, “Andrew needs an organ transplant and, as you know, an organ is best donated from a blood relative.” ’
The couple were left in no doubt that Michael’s co-operation was essential if his son was to stand a good chance of surviving. His mother, they learned, had initially agreed to be the donor but changed her mind on the grounds that it would hinder her chances of having another child.
Social workers told Michael that he, and his children, were the ‘next choice’. He admits: ‘I was taken aback but, of course, desperately worried and keen to help my son.’
Meanwhile, two independent social workers were assigned to assess Michael and Alex as potential parents for Andrew. It was, by all accounts, a rigorous process. ‘I was surprised to be interrogated by a total stranger,’ he says, ‘but I hid nothing.’ Yet, over a dozen visits, the questions became increasingly invasive.
‘The worst questions were about our sex life,’ he says. ‘They kept asking how “healthy” it was - we took it to mean how many times a week we made love - and if we indulged in 'normal' sex.’
Alex, who admits she didn’t take kindly to the intrusion, adds: ‘I felt that side of our marriage was private and we didn’t see how it could be relevant. In the end I replied, “None of your business and I am not happy to elaborate further.” Perhaps it is because I’m an American and a Christian, but I found the Social Services’ attitude difficult to understand.’
Meanwhile, the truth about Andrew’s situation gradually emerged. His mother, it seems, had descended into alcoholism and been found guilty of child cruelty towards him. Andrew had been put into care by the courts. Finding a permanent home was not easy, however. The boy’s illness demanded a special diet and regular hospital visits.
After his rejection by one set of foster parents, his photograph had to be posted on an adoption website before finally, in 2006, the couple who were eventually to adopt him came forward. ‘I couldn’t believe this could have happened to my son,’ says Michael. ‘I found it incredible.
‘Social Services told me in our first phone conversation that Helen had named me as the father. Yet, as far as I can see, they made no effort to find me. I have lived in the same house for 11 years. I am on the electoral roll and in the phone book.’
Hampshire County Council says it did its best to locate Michael. ‘A care order would not have been made had the court not been satisfied that every effort had been made to locate Mr Shergold,’ says council leader Ken Thornber. ‘We have apologised to Mr Shergold for our failure to find him during care proceedings.
‘All circumstances leading to a child coming into care involve a degree of human tragedy and require very finely balanced judgments to be made. The needs of the child must always be the paramount concern and the judge did conclude that the local authority did its best, when it discovered the difficult situation that had arisen, to communicate with Mr Shergold and establish what contribution he could make to his son’s life.’
Michael believes he was eventually traced only because doctors said Andrew would need a transplant. Indeed, he now believes that even his attempt to adopt Andrew was something of a charade. ‘We began to feel that Social Services had let us go through the custody proceedings for nothing - that the adoption was arranged and they had no intention of placing Andrew with us,’ he says.
The Shergolds were refused custody at Portsmouth County Court last November. The judge admitted the background had been ‘difficult and somewhat unsatisfactory’ but ruled that moving Andrew in with the Shergolds would cause him unnecessary ‘difficulty and disruption’.
Just two days later - suspiciously quickly in the view of the Shergolds - he had been formally adopted, leaving the Shergolds in the cold.
Even their request that Michael should be able to see him for visits was turned down on the grounds that it would be ‘unsettling for Andrew’, who was ‘bonding’ with his new family. Yet Helen, who was judged an unfit mother, is still allowed to visit Andrew twice a year.
Meanwhile, Hampshire Social Services are still pressing Michael to donate an organ. Even if Michael decides to do so, it will make no difference. ‘I was stunned,’ he says. ‘I asked them what would happen if I gave him a part of my body. They said that even then, I wouldn’t be allowed contact. Andrew would not even be told who donated the organ as this would be 'too unsettling'.’
The dilemma has had damaging repercussions for the Shergold family. Michael says his children are wounded and that even his marriage has suffered.
The criticism they endured during the adoption process hardly helped. ‘Social Services accused me of being unco-operative,’ explains Alex. ‘They made it plain they didn’t like me. It seems being American was a problem and so too, I think, was the colour of my skin.’ Alex is mixed-race.
One official report on the couple expressed concern that Andrew would be brought up in a dual-ethnicity family. ‘They made out I was a foreigner who had no idea how to look after a child,’ she says. ‘I’ve raised three children. Despite the fact that they live in the States, we are incredibly close. I also think of Michael’s sons as my own.
‘I began to think that if I wasn’t around, Michael would have got custody. One night I suggested to Michael and his sons that I leave. Thankfully, they wouldn’t hear of it. But the stress has been unbearable. Undoubtedly, Michael and I would have split up if our relationship wasn’t so strong.’
And Michael adds: ‘Social Services have never given me a concrete reason why my wife and I are not suitable. That is because there is no reason.’
The couple did not qualify for legal aid and have spent £4,000 on solicitors. Now they have been told there is no further action they can take.
Overshadowing everything, however, is the decision to donate an organ. ‘If I don’t donate an organ, Andrew might not live long enough to meet me and the guilt would probably be too much to live with,’ he says. ‘If I do, it will be as if I am donating to someone who I don’t really know exists.
‘How can social workers sleep at night, knowing they have separated a boy from his real father, a good father who has already successfully raised three children? They won’t even pass on birthday cards.
‘They have stormed in and left us to pick up the pieces. I cannot believe that in this country someone can stop you seeing your own child when you have done nothing wrong.
‘Our family seems incomplete. If I see a boy in the street, I wonder if it’s him. I dream of him meeting his brothers and sister and joining us when we have big birthday celebrations. My only hope is that he can choose to trace me when he is 18.
‘But what if he doesn’t live that long or is told lies about me – that his father is dead or didn’t want him? It breaks my heart to think we may never meet.’
Additional reporting: Antonia Hoyle
Source: The Mail on Sunday (UK)
The Lie We Love
November 1, 2008 permalink
Researcher EJ Graff exposes the corruption in international adoption.
The Lie We Love
Foreign adoption seems like the perfect solution to a heartbreaking imbalance: Poor countries have babies in need of homes, and rich countries have homes in need of babies. Unfortunately, those little orphaned bundles of joy may not be orphans at all.
We all know the story of international adoption: Millions of infants and toddlers have been abandoned or orphaned—placed on the side of a road or on the doorstep of a church, or left parentless due to AIDS, destitution, or war. These little ones find themselves forgotten, living in crowded orphanages or ending up on the streets, facing an uncertain future of misery and neglect. But, if they are lucky, adoring new moms and dads from faraway lands whisk them away for a chance at a better life.
Unfortunately, this story is largely fiction.
Westerners have been sold the myth of a world orphan crisis. We are told that millions of children are waiting for their “forever families” to rescue them from lives of abandonment and abuse. But many of the infants and toddlers being adopted by Western parents today are not orphans at all. Yes, hundreds of thousands of children around the world do need loving homes. But more often than not, the neediest children are sick, disabled, traumatized, or older than 5. They are not the healthy babies that, quite understandably, most Westerners hope to adopt. There are simply not enough healthy, adoptable infants to meet Western demand—and there’s too much Western money in search of children. As a result, many international adoption agencies work not to find homes for needy children but to find children for Western homes.
Since the mid-1990s, the number of international adoptions each year has nearly doubled, from 22,200 in 1995 to just under 40,000 in 2006. At its peak, in 2004, more than 45,000 children from developing countries were adopted by foreigners. Americans bring home more of these children than any other nationality—more than half the global total in recent years.
Where do these babies come from? As international adoptions have flourished, so has evidence that babies in many countries are being systematically bought, coerced, and stolen away from their birth families. Nearly half the 40 countries listed by the U.S. State Department as the top sources for international adoption over the past 15 years—places such as Belarus, Brazil, Ethiopia, Honduras, Peru, and Romania—have at least temporarily halted adoptions or been prevented from sending children to the United States because of serious concerns about corruption and kidnapping. And yet when a country is closed due to corruption, many adoption agencies simply transfer their clients’ hopes to the next “hot” country. That country abruptly experiences a spike in infants and toddlers adopted overseas—until it too is forced to shut its doors.
Along the way, the international adoption industry has become a market often driven by its customers. Prospective adoptive parents in the United States will pay adoption agencies between $15,000 and $35,000 (excluding travel, visa costs, and other miscellaneous expenses) for the chance to bring home a little one. Special needs or older children can be adopted at a discount. Agencies claim the costs pay for the agency’s fee, the cost of foreign salaries and operations, staff travel, and orphanage donations. But experts say the fees are so disproportionately large for the child’s home country that they encourage corruption.
To complicate matters further, while international adoption has become an industry driven by money, it is also charged with strong emotions. Many adoption agencies and adoptive parents passionately insist that crooked practices are not systemic, but tragic, isolated cases. Arrest the bad guys, they say, but let the “good” adoptions continue. However, remove cash from the adoption chain, and, outside of China, the number of healthy babies needing Western homes all but disappears. Nigel Cantwell, a Geneva-based consultant on child protection policy, has seen the dangerous influence of money on adoptions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where he has helped reform corrupt adoption systems. In these regions, healthy children age 3 and younger can easily be adopted in their own countries, he says. I asked him how many healthy babies in those regions would be available for international adoption if money never exchanged hands. “I would hazard a guess at zero,” he replied.
THE MYTH OF SUPPLY
International adoption wasn’t always a demand-driven industry. Half a century ago, it was primarily a humanitarian effort for children orphaned by conflict. In 1955, news spread that Bertha and Henry Holt, an evangelical couple from Oregon, had adopted eight Korean War orphans, and families across the United States expressed interest in following their example. Since then, international adoption has become increasingly popular in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States. Americans adopted more than 20,000 foreign children in 2006 alone, up from just 8,987 in 1995. Half a dozen European countries regularly bring home more foreign-born children per capita than does the United States. Today, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and the United States account for 4 out of every 5 international adoptions.
Changes in Western demography explain much of the growth. Thanks to contraception, abortion, and delayed marriages, the number of unplanned births in most developed countries has declined in recent decades. Some women who delay having children discover they’ve outwaited their fertility; others have difficulty conceiving from the beginning. Still others adopt for religious reasons, explaining that they’ve been called to care for children in need. In the United States, a motive beyond demography is the notion that international adoption is somehow “safer”—more predictable and more likely to end in success—than many domestic adoptions, where there’s an outsized fear of a birth mother’s last-minute change of heart. Add an ocean of distance, and the idea that needy children abound in poor countries, and that risk seems to disappear.
But international adoptions are no less risky; they’re simply less regulated. Just as companies outsource industry to countries with lax labor laws and low wages, adoptions have moved to states with few laws about the process. Poor, illiterate birthparents in the developing world simply have fewer protections than their counterparts in the United States, especially in countries where human trafficking and corruption are rampant. And too often, these imbalances are overlooked on the adopting end. After all, one country after another has continued to supply what adoptive parents want most.
In reality, there are very few young, healthy orphans available for adoption around the world. Orphans are rarely healthy babies; healthy babies are rarely orphaned. “It’s not really true,” says Alexandra Yuster, a senior advisor on child protection with UNICEF, “that there are large numbers of infants with no homes who either will be in institutions or who need intercountry adoption.”
That assertion runs counter to the story line that has long been marketed to Americans and other Westerners, who have been trained by images of destitution in developing countries and the seemingly endless flow of daughters from China to believe that millions of orphaned babies around the world desperately need homes. UNICEF itself is partly responsible for this erroneous assumption. The organization’s statistics on orphans and institutionalized children are widely quoted to justify the need for international adoption. In 2006, UNICEF reported an estimated 132 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. But the organization’s definition of “orphan” includes children who have lost just one parent, either to desertion or death. Just 10 percent of the total—13 million children—have lost both parents, and most of these live with extended family. They are also older: By UNICEF’s own estimate, 95 percent of orphans are older than 5. In other words, UNICEF’s “millions of orphans” are not healthy babies doomed to institutional misery unless Westerners adopt and save them. Rather, they are mostly older children living with extended families who need financial support.
The exception is China, where the country’s three-decades-old one-child policy, now being loosened, has created an unprecedented number of girls available for adoption. But even this flow of daughters is finite; China has far more hopeful foreigners looking to adopt a child than it has orphans it is willing to send overseas. In 2005, foreign parents adopted nearly 14,500 Chinese children. That was far fewer than the number of Westerners who wanted to adopt; adoption agencies report many more clients waiting in line. And taking those children home has gotten harder; in 2007, China’s central adoption authority sharply reduced the number of children sent abroad, possibly because of the country’s growing sex imbalance, declining poverty, and scandals involving child trafficking for foreign adoption. Prospective foreign parents today are strictly judged by their age, marital history, family size, income, health, and even weight. That means that if you are single, gay, fat, old, less than well off, too often divorced, too recently married, taking antidepressants, or already have four children, China will turn you away. Even those allowed a spot in line are being told they might wait three to four years before they bring home a child. That has led many prospective parents to shop around for a country that puts fewer barriers between them and their children—as if every country were China, but with fewer onerous regulations.
One such country has been Guatemala, which in 2006 and 2007 was the No. 2 exporter of children to the United States. Between 1997 and 2006, the number of Guatemalan children adopted by Americans more than quadrupled, to more than 4,500 annually. Incredibly, in 2006, American parents adopted one of every 110 Guatemalan children born. In 2007, nearly 9 out of 10 children adopted were less than a year old; almost half were younger than 6 months old. “Guatemala is a perfect case study of how international adoption has become a demand-driven business,” says Kelley McCreery Bunkers, a former consultant with UNICEF Guatemala. The country’s adoption process was “an industry developed to meet the needs of adoptive families in developed countries, specifically the United States.”
Because the vast majority of the country’s institutionalized children are not healthy, adoptable babies, almost none has been adopted abroad. In the fall of 2007, a survey conducted by the Guatemalan government, UNICEF, and the international child welfare and adoption agency Holt International Children’s Services found approximately 5,600 children and adolescents in Guatemalan institutions. More than 4,600 of these children were age 4 or older. Fewer than 400 were under a year old. And yet in 2006, more than 270 Guatemalan babies, all younger than 12 months, were being sent to the United States each month. These adopted children were simply not coming from the country’s institutions. Last year, 98 percent of U.S. adoptions from Guatemala were “relinquishments”: Babies who had never seen the inside of an institution were signed over directly to a private attorney who approved the international adoption—for a very considerable fee—without any review by a judge or social service agency.
So, where had some of these adopted babies come from? Consider the case of Ana Escobar, a young Guatemalan woman who in March 2007 reported to police that armed men had locked her in a closet in her family’s shoe store and stolen her infant. After a 14-month search, Escobar found her daughter in pre-adoption foster care, just weeks before the girl was to be adopted by a couple from Indiana. DNA testing showed the toddler to be Escobar’s child. In a similar case from 2006, Raquel Par, another Guatemalan woman, reported being drugged while waiting for a bus in Guatemala City, waking to find her year-old baby missing. Three months later, Par learned her daughter had been adopted by an American couple.
On Jan. 1, 2008, Guatemala closed its doors to American adoptions so that the government could reform the broken process. Britain, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain all stopped accepting adoptions from the country several years earlier, citing trafficking concerns. But more than 2,280 American adoptions from the country are still being processed, albeit with additional safeguards. Stolen babies have already been found in that queue; Guatemalan authorities expect more.
Guatemala’s example is extreme; it is widely considered to have the world’s most notorious record of corruption in foreign adoption. But the same troubling trends have emerged, on smaller scales, in more than a dozen other countries, including Albania, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Liberia, Peru, and Vietnam. The pattern suggests that the supply of adoptable babies rises to meet foreign demand—and disappears when Western cash is no longer available. For instance, in December 2001, the U.S. immigration service stopped processing adoption visas from Cambodia, citing clear evidence that children were being acquired illicitly, often against their parents’ wishes. That year, Westerners adopted more than 700 Cambodian children; of the 400 adopted by Americans, more than half were less than 12 months old. But in 2005, a study of Cambodia’s orphanage population, commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development, found only a total of 132 children who were less than a year old—fewer babies than Westerners had been adopting every three months a few years before.
Even countries with large populations, such as India, rarely have healthy infants and toddlers who need foreign parents. India’s large and growing middle class, at home and in the diaspora, faces fertility issues like those of their developed-world counterparts. They too are looking for healthy babies to adopt; some experts think that these millions of middle-class families could easily absorb all available babies. The country’s pervasive poverty does leave many children fending for themselves on the street. But “kids are not on the street alone at the age of 2,” Cantwell, the child protection consultant, says. “They are 5 or 6, and they aren’t going to be adopted.” That’s partly because most of these children still have family ties and therefore are not legally available for adoption, and partly because they would have difficultly adjusting to a middle-class European or North American home. Many of these children are deeply marked by abuse, crime, and poverty, and few prospective parents are prepared to adopt them.
Surely, though, prospective parents can at least feel secure that their child is truly an orphan in need of a home if they receive all the appropriate legal papers? Unfortunately, no.
In many countries, it can be astonishingly easy to fabricate a history for a young child, and in the process, manufacture an orphan. The birth mothers are often poor, young, unmarried, divorced, or otherwise lacking family protection. The children may be born into a locally despised minority group that is afforded few rights. And for enough money, someone will separate these little ones from their vulnerable families, turning them into “paper orphans” for lucrative export.
Some manufactured orphans are indeed found in what Westerners call “orphanages.” But these establishments often serve less as homes to parentless children and more as boarding schools for poor youngsters. Many children are there only temporarily, seeking food, shelter, and education while their parents, because of poverty or illness, cannot care for them. Many families visit their children, or even bring them home on weekends, until they can return home permanently. In 2005, when the Hannah B. Williams Orphanage in Monrovia, Liberia, was closed because of shocking living conditions, 89 of the 102 “orphans” there returned to their families. In Vietnam, “rural families in particular will put their babies into these orphanages that are really extended day-care centers during the harvest season,” says a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Hanoi. In some cases, unscrupulous orphanage directors, local officials, or other operators persuade illiterate birth families to sign documents that relinquish those children, who are then sent abroad for adoption, never to be seen again by their bereft families.
Other children are located through similarly nefarious means. Western adoption agencies often contract with in-country facilitators—sometimes orphanage directors, sometimes freelancers—and pay per-child fees for each healthy baby adopted. These facilitators, in turn, subcontract with child finders, often for sums in vast excess of local wages. These paydays give individuals a significant financial incentive to find adoptable babies at almost any cost. In Guatemala, where the GDP per capita is $4,700 a year, child finders often earned $6,000 to $8,000 for each healthy, adoptable infant. In many cases, child finders simply paid poor families for infants. A May 2007 report on adoption trafficking by the Hague Conference on Private International Law reported poor Guatemalan families being paid beween $300 and several thousand dollars per child.
Sometimes, medical professionals serve as child finders to obtain infants. In Vietnam, for instance, a finder’s fee for a single child can easily dwarf a nurse’s $50-a-month salary. Some nurses and doctors coerce birth mothers into giving up their children by offering them a choice: pay outrageously inflated hospital bills or relinquish their newborns. Illiterate new mothers are made to sign documents they can’t read. In August 2008, the U.S. State Department released a warning that birth certificates issued by Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City—which in 2007 had reported 200 births a day, and an average of three abandoned babies per 100 births—were “unreliable.” Most of the hospital’s “abandoned” babies were sent to the city’s Tam Binh orphanage, from which many Westerners have adopted. (Tu Du Hospital is where Angelina Jolie’s Vietnamese-born son was reportedly abandoned one month after his birth; he was at Tam Binh when she adopted him.) According to Linh Song, executive director of Ethica, an American nonprofit devoted to promoting ethical adoption, a provincial hospital’s chief obstetrician told her in 2007 “that he provided 10 ethnic minority infants to [an] orphanage [for adoption] in return for an incubator.”
To smooth the adoption process, officials in the children’s home countries may be bribed to create false identity documents. Consular officials for the adopting countries generally accept whatever documents they receive. But if a local U.S. Embassy has seen a series of worrisome referrals—say, a sudden spike in healthy infants coming from the same few orphanages, or a single province sending an unusually high number of babies with suspiciously similar paperwork—officials may investigate. But generally, they do not want to obstruct adoptions of genuinely needy children or get in the way of people longing for a child. However, many frequently doubt that the adoptions crossing their desks are completely aboveboard. “I believe in intercountry adoption very strongly,” says Katherine Monahan, a U.S. State Department official who has overseen scores of U.S. adoptions from around the world. “[But] I worry that there were many children that could have stayed with their families if we could have provided them with even a little economic assistance.” One U.S. official told me that when embassy staff in a country that sent more than 1,000 children overseas last year were asked which adoption visas they felt uneasy about, they replied: almost all of them.
Most of the Westerners involved with foreign adoption agencies—like business people importing foreign sneakers—can plausibly deny knowledge of unethical or unseemly practices overseas. They don’t have to know. Willful ignorance allowed Lauryn Galindo, a former hula dancer from the United States, to collect more than $9 million in adoption fees over several years for Cambodian infants and toddlers. Between 1997 and 2001, Americans adopted 1,230 children from Cambodia; Galindo said she was involved in 800 of the adoptions. (Galindo reportedly delivered Angelina Jolie’s Cambodian child to her movie set in Africa.) But in a two-year probe beginning in 2002, U.S. investigators alleged that Galindo paid Cambodian child finders to purchase, defraud, coerce, or steal children from their families, and conspired to create false identity documents for the children. Galindo later served federal prison time on charges of visa fraud and money laundering, but not trafficking. “You can get away with buying babies around the world as a United States citizen,” says Richard Cross, a senior special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who investigated Galindo. “It’s not a crime.”
ROCKING THE CRADLE
Buying a child abroad is something most prospective parents want no part of. So, how can it be prevented? As international adoption has grown in the past decade, the ad hoc approach of closing some corrupt countries to adoption and shifting parents’ hopes (and money) to the next destination has failed. The agencies that profit from adoption appear to willfully ignore how their own payments and fees are causing both the corruption and the closures.
Some countries that send children overseas for adoption have kept the process lawful and transparent from nearly the beginning and their model is instructive. Thailand, for instance, has a central government authority that counsels birth mothers and offers some families social and economic support so that poverty is never a reason to give up a child. Other countries, such as Paraguay and Romania, reformed their processes after sharp surges in shady adoptions in the 1990s. But those reforms were essentially to stop international adoptions almost entirely. In 1994, Paraguay sent 483 children to the United States; last year, the country sent none.
For a more comprehensive solution, the best hope may be the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, an international agreement designed to prevent child trafficking for adoption. On April 1, 2008, the United States formally entered the agreement, which has 75 other signatories. In states that send children overseas and are party to the convention, such as Albania, Bulgaria, Colombia, and the Philippines, Hague-compatible reforms have included a central government authority overseeing child welfare, efforts to place needy children with extended families and local communities first, and limits on the number of foreign adoption agencies authorized to work in the country. The result, according to experts, has been a sharp decline in baby buying, fraud, coercion, and kidnapping for adoption.
In adopting countries, the convention requires a central authority—in the United States’ case, the State Department—to oversee international adoption. The State Department empowers two nonprofit organizations to certify adoption agencies; if shady practices, fraud, financial improprieties, or links with trafficking come to light, accreditation can be revoked. Already, the rules appear to be having some effect: Several U.S. agencies long dogged by rumors of bad practices have been denied accreditation; some have shut their doors. But no international treaty is perfect, and the Hague Convention is no exception. Many of the countries sending their children to the West, including Ethiopia, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, and Vietnam, have yet to join the agreement.
Perhaps most important, more effective regulations would strictly limit the amount of money that changes hands. Per-child fees could be outlawed. Payments could be capped to cover only legitimate costs such as medical care, food, and clothing for the children. And crucially, fees must be kept proportionate with the local economies. “Unless you control the money, you won’t control the corruption,” says Thomas DiFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, which represents more than 200 international adoption organizations. “If we have the greatest laws and the greatest regulations but are still sending $20,000 anywhere—well, you can bypass any system with enough cash.”
Improved regulations will protect not only the children being adopted and their birth families, but also the consumers: hopeful parents. Adopting a child—like giving birth—is an emotional experience; it can be made wrenching by the abhorrent realization that a child believed to be an orphan simply isn’t. One American who adopted a little girl from Cambodia in 2002 wept as she spoke at an adoption ethics conference in October 2007 about such a discovery. “I was told she was an orphan,” she said. “One year after she came home, and she could speak English well enough, she told me about her mommy and daddy and her brothers and her sisters.”
Unless we recognize that behind the altruistic veneer, international adoption has become an industry—one that is often highly lucrative and sometimes corrupt—many more adoption stories will have unhappy endings. Unless adoption agencies are held to account, more young children will be wrongfully taken from their families. And unless those desperate to become parents demand reform, they will continue—wittingly or not—to pay for wrongdoing. “Credulous Westerners eager to believe that they are saving children are easily fooled into accepting laundered children,” writes David Smolin, a law professor and advocate for international adoption reform. “For there is no fool like the one who wants to be fooled.”
Source: Foreign Policy
November 1, 2008 permalink
In the Alberta Kafka foster child death case, where all names have been suppressed, we have finally heard the name of a person involved with the family. The nanny was 24-year-old Julia Gee. Her testimony paints a grim picture of the care of the child.
Deceased tot left in cold garage overnight
EDMONTON -- A foster mother accused of killing a three-year-old boy in her care left him overnight in an unheated garage wearing only a pull-up diaper, a jury heard yesterday.
Testifying at the foster mom's second-degree murder trial, the woman's former nanny also said the boy had bruising across his whole forehead when she found him on the floor on that Jan. 25, 2007, morning.
"He was curled up and sleeping on the mat. He didn't have any clothes on," said Julia Gee, 24, adding the boy's diaper was soaked with urine.
The live-in nanny testified the foster mother asked her later if she was mad at her for leaving the boy in the frigid attached garage and said she told her she wasn't. "I just said I was shocked," testified Gee.
The nanny told the jury the foster mom told her the boy got the bruising on his forehead from falling on his head without putting out his hands and said she also noticed welts and bruises on the foster mom's forearms.
Gee testified the woman had the boy walk up and down the stairs twice a day to strengthen his legs and said he was a bit slow doing it the day after the garage incident.
That night she heard the boy crying after she had gone to bed and was called up later by the foster mother to watch him doing his stair exercises a little after midnight.
She ended up falling asleep about 2 a.m. after hearing more crying and some thumping and was then woken up by the foster mom and told the boy was "acting strange."
She came upstairs from her basement bedroom and found him collapsed on the floor, gasping for air.
An ambulance was called and the boy was taken to hospital where he died the next day.
She testified she never saw the boy bang his head on the wall or the floor and said she also never saw him punch, kick or hit anyone in the home.
Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Brian Beresh suggested his client had never put the boy in the garage, but the nanny replied that she had "more than once."
Beresh also suggested that it had been Gee who had put the boy in the garage, however she denied that was true.
The nanny also admitted smoking marijuana in the garage once after the kids were asleep.
In a 911 tape played in court earlier, the now-34-year-old foster mother told the evaluator the boy had been "harming himself" recently, and stated he had bruises on his body from throwing himself onto the floor the day before.
A medical examiner testified the boy died of cranial trauma and told jurors it was from a blow to the head.
In his opening jury address, Beresh said defence medical experts will testify the fatal injury was likely caused by the boy's self-abusive behaviour and was an "accident."
Source: Edmonton Sun