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Another Legal Kidnapping

My name is Tammy. I am writing about an emotional horror story that is happening to my family at this very moment. Since this story begins over a year ago, I will try to edit and keep it as short as possible but I will need to add detail so this case can be understood and investigated with some intimate knowledge.

My family has been victimized by an agency in Wood County Texas that we were led to believe was in place to help us. I am not using these words for dramatic effect, if you knew me you would know how much I detest drama and I am very happy living a life with no spotlight on me what-so-ever.

Drug Addiction

My sister is Terri. She is sadly a drug addict, more specifically, a crack addict. My sister had two babies, 9 months apart beginning 5 years ago. She was a good mother at first. My mother and I were proud that she had done so well. Terri had a very volatile relationship with the father of her two children, but my mother was there to support her emotionally and financially while the children, Kaden, Kaitlyn and Mitchell were infants.

Another Legal Kidnapping

My sister met a new man, Michael, and they began living together, since neither had jobs; they mainly lived off the system. In the meantime my mother kept the babies with her. They were safe and very happy. Terri and Michael began to run out of resources and relied on my mother for assistance more and more. My mother even moved from her small apartment into a very nice, roomy house in Quitman, Texas so that the whole family could be accommodated.

It was not long after that that my sister started to show signs of drug use. My mother was the first to suspect. Terri became emotionally unstable, threw fits, and even became enraged towards my mother and step father. My mother was at her mercy at this time because if my mother asked Terri to leave, my sister would threaten to take the children with her. My mother knew that this would be a bad situation to place two toddlers in.

My mother tried to ignore the situation but it kept escalating. My mother believed my sister and her boyfriend were now taking Kaden and Kaitlyn along with them to buy drugs. It was only a suspicion but every day heightened my mother’s fear.

My mother finally became so terrified for the safety of Kaden and Kaitlyn she turned to the only agency she felt could offer help. My mother reluctantly called Wood County CPS. CPS workers acted quickly and drug tested my sister. The children were removed from my sister immediately. This is where my family became the victims of a legalized kidnapping.

Another Legal Kidnapping

First Choice, Foster Care

My niece and nephew were placed with a foster family. My mother begged and pleaded for these children to be returned to her until my sister received help. My mother was turned away every time. My sister and her boyfriend had become quite adept at manipulating the social services system to get by and make a living and they used those skills to manipulate CPS investigators and tell calculated and believable lies about my mother. My mother hired a lawyer, which further infuriated the social workers in charge of my niece and nephew’s case.

The lawyer did little for my mother except quickly empty her savings account. The lawyer did however; get my mother a home study that had been denied many times by CPS. The home study investigator spoke to my mother and step father and decided my mother had anger problems, and my 71 year old step father had dementia because he has a speech problem.

I have asked to see the home study investigator’s medical license to see if she is able to diagnose psychological or medical problems but my requests have been ignored. My mother has raised three children and never raised a hand or even her voice at any of us. What anger problems could she possibly have?

Family History

I am the first of three children, I hold a B.S. in Education from Stephen F Austin. My sister is the second child she raised. Terri was a good girl when she was younger but craved attention from men who often ended up abusing her. The third child my mother raised is Kasi. Terri had Kasi at the age of 15. My sister gave her to my mother to raise and Kasi is now a Junior at UT of Austin majoring in Anthropology.

My mother should be able to have the chance to raise Kaden and Kaitlyn also, but CPS, Patricia Skelton (Supervisor) in particular, has developed an unprofessional dislike for my mother because she will not quietly let her grand children fade into the lost children of the Texas Foster Care System.

Small Children Separated

My niece and nephew were placed into two different foster homes within a couple of months. Can you imagine how this could traumatize a four and five year old? My sister finally convinced the Social Worker Lynn Vinson, to allow the children to move to Fort Worth with her boyfriend’s sister Missy Anderson. Ms. Anderson was never drug tested.

They stayed with Ms. Anderson for several months until Ms. Anderson began complaining to Terri that the children were burdens. My sister finally softened towards me and asked CPS to let them live with me. The children came to me right before Christmas 2008. My mother and I were overjoyed. I live in Fort Worth and my mother had recently moved to Paris, Texas. We were so excited the first month that we traveled back and forth many times to enjoy the children together.

Social Worker Recommendation

The social worker Lynn Vinson called to tell me that Terri had passed all her last drug tests and complied with the courts in every way, going to N/A classes, parenting classes and had even moved into a very nice apartment in Fort Worth. Ms. Vinson told me that Terri was a co-conservator with me, and if I felt comfortable, I could allow the children to go and spend time there unsupervised.

Advice from a CPS professional like Ms. Vinson was all I had to rely on. I am not a drug user so I had no way to judge whether my sister was still taking drugs or not. Ms. Vinson said she had passed previous drug test and I was glad this broken family was finally being put back together.

The children wanted to be with my mother badly. They love me as their aunt but think of their grandmother as their mother. They asked daily about returning to grandma, "When can we go home?" I let them go to my mother to live for the sake of their happiness. My mother had them calm and happy and even enrolled them in a private Christian School in Paris that they excelled in. Finally, our family could be happy again.

I brought my niece and nephew to stay a week with me at the end of February. My sister came by to visit and told me she was moving back to Quitman. Terri seemed fine that night, except she was a little stressed due to the moving process. Terri asked if she could take Kaden and Kaitlyn with her so they could choose the toys they wanted to take. Terri said after they chose their toys she would drop them back off in Paris at my mother’s house so they could return to school. I agreed to this trip. I relive that night over and over in my dreams; it was a horrible mistake on my part.

The Nightmare Continues

My sister was arrested in Quitman, Texas that night with Kaden and Kaitlyn in the car. I hear that Kaden actually told the police officer that a pipe was in his mother’s purse.

From this day forth my mother and I have lived a nightmare. We were torn to shreds by the Wood County CPS. My mother picked the children up from Quitman the night my sister was arrested. My mother was allowed to keep the children one month. During this month a CPS worker from Paris came and took hair samples from Kaden and Kaitlyn, one or both of the children tested positive for cocaine.

We have not been allowed to see the drug test so we are not sure if the drugs had been ingested from my sister or the foster home of Ms. Anderson that CPS sent the children to. My mother, my sister, and I went to court on April 14, 2009. My family and I were shredded in court.

I was called to testify and was told I should have known my sister was a drug addict. I tried to make the court understand that I was told by a professional social worker that she felt my sister was doing well and recovered, but I was cut off every time I tried to speak. My mother was next to testify in court. She was asked why she had walked out of a psychological testing session.

My mother was too ashamed to tell them that she had a fifth grade education and can barely read or write. She told them she felt she was being tested unfairly but the CPS lawyer told her that my mother had wasted the state’s money by walking out. I lost my conservatorship and the children were taken into CPS custody even before we made it back to Paris. A nice officer brought the children by my mother’s house so she could say goodbye; A kindness that I will never forget. My mother and I have not seen or heard from my niece and nephew since that day. We have been told that we cannot see them and this is torture.

Wood County Case Review Needed

I am asking for a review of this case and for my mother to be reconsidered as the children’s caregiver. The supervisor’s of Wood County CPS are not returning our calls or my emails. We need help before these children are traumatized further.

At the family planning meeting held on Friday May 8, 2009, my mother and sister attended and were told my niece and nephew are now on a strong antidepressant so they will sleep at night. I researched this medication and it has been found unsafe for children. I fear for the safety of these children.

Supervisor Patricia Skelton told my unstable sister that if both parents are deceased (by the way the children’s natural father is deceased) and if Terri becomes deceased the children will automatically go to family members. My sister may take this as a recommendation or a way to save her children and not just a statement. So now I worry daily that my sister may think of suicide as a way to get her children home.

I have written to the state office of DFPS and asked for an Administrative Review Hearing. These children have been legally kidnapped. The Wood County CPS office should make it a priority to find these children a home with family members. They are beginning to nitpick on any family member we suggest because they have developed a personal dislike for this family. I cannot stress enough the emotional toll this is having on all of us.

I feel that Wood County CPS has over stepped its bounds and even ignored Judge Virginia Schnarr’s orders. The Judge said that my mother’s brother Ricky Couch should receive a home study and if this was unfeasible then, my mother may be considered for a new home study, if that did not pan out then I would be reconsidered if I took classes on how to deal with a family member addicted to drugs.

CPS Ignores Court Order

However, when I contact CPS to discuss any of these mandates from the judge they act as if they do not apply. CPS has said my Aunt’s home study will not work because she does not understand the abuse the children endured. They are refusing to give my mother another home study even though the first one was conducted by an investigator that thought she was a psychologist or a medical doctor.

They are refusing me as caregiver because I listened to their Case Worker Lynn Vinson when she told me my sister was doing well and passing drug test. Patricia Skelton has said that I put the children in harm’s way but refused to discuss her office telling me that the children being with Terri was fine.

I am a regular person. I do not know how to maneuver through this complicated system. I cannot afford a lawyer. All I can do is write letters and spend many sleepless nights trying to think of the next authority I can contact that will look at this case with an unbiased eye and return Kaden and Kaitlyn to my mother’s arms.

I will never give up and I will keep telling this story until one person can see that this family has been victimized by a system that is very similar to the T.V. show from the seventies "The Duke’s of Hazzard" where Ms. Patricia Skelton is playing the role of Boss Hogg and ignoring rules and regulations from all authorities. I hope you pass this along to someone that can help but if you can’t, I understand. I will not give up until we can hold our babies again. These are not "throw away children". They belong at home with their family.

Thank you for your time,

903-669-3482 (Dorothy Matheny Home)

8 Comments

  1. angel.luv

    the only suggestion i can give is to try what my ex mother-in-law did when washington state cps took her son.She pickted the state captal. Maybe your whole family can try this….GOOD LUCK and GOD bless

  2. Joe

    Ms. Skelton revels in her reputation as the child-snatcher. Her credo is to NEVER return the children to the parents. She is a terroristic, arrogant, and flawed human being. She lives in Sulphur Springs while victimizing the residents of Wood County. CPS workers are uninformed, small-minded, unprofessional beasts who will destroy the very children that they are supposed to protect.

    If one hires an attorney in the area – good luck – one attorney was known to have offered money to find her brother a blonde-headed child…even though it was well-known that he had a criminal record. The abuse of children, the exploitation of families, the outright manipulation of the law and all that is sane and good – is what CPS provides from Quitman.

    This from a former co-worker of the people who are participants in this story. Corruption run amuk. Children lost. Lives destroyed. But the little state workers…go to sleep every night in their own beds.

    The children an ad litem attorney. You needed to have called him constantly…and you never allow a judge, attorney, or caseworker to intimidate you or speak down to you. The only woman I ever saw have her kids returned…insulted those people and put them in their place.

  3. Roger Bouquenoy

    I feel your pain. I live in Providence, Ky and had lost my children. I was taking care of all three by my self, youngest with autisum. Mom walked out on us with a convicted meth user. I was acussed of beating my older son in the head and putting his head thru a wall. Problem was is I have solid wood walls and had 8×10 family pictures done the next day at church. The judge stopped the hearing short not allowing my photo in for evidence and wittness’s testimony. My ex spouse had no evidence and committed perjury 5 times. I gave the D.A. these perjury allegations with proof, and they refuse to investigate. She tried to have me stabbed to death in 2005 and had an epo againts her for it. Her family was the one who warned me.Same ludge who signed this order took my kids and gave them to her. Theres not one piece of evidence other than my sons allegation. Bad thing is in 2006 he did the same thing to his mom and her boyfriend, accusses them of drinking and driving and sniffing coke. It came down to his word versus hers and DCBS dropped the investigation. I agree the sytem is severely faulted and people like your mother and me are not protected in the sense of the best interest of the kids.Who checks social services to make sure they are not biased in their investigations? My life was destroyed. good luck, you’ll need it.

  4. Anonymous

    Our experience with Wood County CPS is a nightmare. They take the easiest route saying all along they have the best interest of the child in mind. Angela Hammond, attorney for CPS and Patricia Skelton are the worse. The person we know did everything they were asked to do and still was not given their child back. In fact, they threatened to terminate parental rights knowing this person would never take that risk so they settled at mediation for limited visitation. There was also a direct conflict of interest because one of the family members who was keeping the baby actually worked for CPS. We believe it was a set up from the get go. Legalized kidnapping is exactly what they do. I have no doubt this department was created with good intentions. There just is no checks and balances and they misuse and abuse their power.

  5. Karin Jones

    Would you consider joining a class-action federal lawsuit against Wood County, the state of TX, Greg Abbott &/or Shannon Edmonds? If so, I’d like to gather your information.
    Whether yes or no, please print your story out and mail it (certified mail, return receipt requested) as a formal complaint to Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General and to Bea Hanson, Director of the Office On Violence Against Women. Both office addresses can be found on the Department of Justice website at http://www.usdoj.gov. It might surprise you how many voices you will be joining. Although good ol’ boys have forgotten it, they do have bosses. As long as those bosses are having nice, quiet days,there is no motivation for change.
    Additionally,on Facebook, search Quitman. They have a city website on which they invite you to state your opinion of the area. They do that because their primary economy includes bass-fishing tourists, so be precise and factual. Remember, emotion is a weapon they will use against you.
    Bruce, you’re mighty cocky. Let’s test your knowledge. How’s that economy going to fare when concerned mothers across America know what’s on Highway 37? Any effect, do you think?

  6. Bobbie Mills

    Hello my name is bobbie mills. My family is going through alot of issues concerning many of the same people who u have mentioned. My nephew has had 2 of his children taken by cps in van Zandt and rains county. Both have been placed with the same family. The system has labeled my nephew before he has ever been found guilty. They are also trying to put my sister in prison for crimes she never committed. I have questioned as to how people can be found guilty before they receive their day in court. I pray for your family and I pray that all the families effected by the acts of these people can come together as a strong unit and fight to get our children back to the homes and families who love and miss them

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