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Disabled Parenting Discrimination in Family Courts

July 9, 2014 in due process, family court, family rights

I am a disabled parent who had five beautiful children. I was born at only 24 weeks gestation and had brain damage that caused cerebral palsy. I grew up enjoying a normal childhood in farming country, building dens, playing in hay stacks and having a free run of our village.

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...

A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service.

I married my childhood sweetheart at the age of 18, gave birth to a son. After five months, I took an evening job as a receptionist to support us as my husband went through university. A few years later and after giving birth to four more children and helping out in my husband’s electrical store, he dropped a bombshell, he didn’t want to be married anymore, he’d tied himself down too young by being with me. I thought at the time that was the worst day of my life but it was nothing compared to the custody nightmare that was about to follow. After obtaining a residency order in my favor, he locked me in our home and left with all our children, including my three week old newborn baby. I was absolutely frantic and called the police.

Police Discrimination

I showed them my court order but they informed me that as I had married the father of my children, all they were prepared to do was do a ‘safe and well’ check, despite the fact that my newborn was totally breastfed and dependent. After leaving, telling me rather curtly that ‘There’s more than one way to feed a baby’, I was forced to beg my ex-husband on the telephone for the return of our children. 24 hours later, he returned only my two year old and newborn, keeping my older children at an unknown location.

CPS Interrogation

From the moment the police had been called, CPS got involved and that was the start of a two year harassment campaign from them, most of it centred around my disability. They asserted incorrectly that I was not able to bath my babies because I had refused to answer what I viewed as discriminatory questioning about my parenting skills and I was told I had to consent to a social worker coming in to bath my children every day and if I didn’t, they’d be removed from me.

On one occasion they broke down my front door when I had gone out. People would turn up unannounced to ‘spot check’ me and they kept this up for a two year duration. I was court ordered to attend a parenting class but I refused to comply, saying that I had successfully cared for my children for years while my husband was working and didn’t need any classes. I asked why my able bodied husband was not asked to attend a class and I was told he didn’t need one as he didn’t have my disabilities.

On meeting me for the first time, the first words from the guardian ad litem’s mouth were “Oh goodness, how do you cope?” Not hello, or nice to meet you . I knew from that point that I was in for a rough ride.

Court Bias

When the case went to court, I discovered that the police had failed to honor my court order because ‘there were disability issues’. I was shocked and appalled that in the 21st century, people could still be deemed unfit to be a parent because they are disabled.

By the time all the interviews had been conducted, more than seven months had passed so when it finally went to court, the judge said the older children had been with their father for months and it would be cruel to move them so he awarded him custody – a delay that only happened because of the fact that I had to prove myself fit to parent and as a disabled woman I had higher standards to meet than your average able parent.

Fast forward a whole decade and my ex-husband was still pursuing me through the courts for custody. After being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in 2010, my health deteriorated. I had to have major surgery. This was brought up in court and it was asserted I was not ‘fit’ enough to be a mother, despite having hired help. I was also accused of abusing prescription drugs because I had to take medications. It was inferred by the Guardian ad litem that my children may be acting as ‘carers’ for me, in spite of my assistant’s employment with me. Shockingly, the court allowed all these accusations to be levelled against me. I was informed I had to answer questions about my disability because my health was the reason my ability to parent was under scrutiny.

I was allowed to keep my two youngest children but I shouldn’t have had more than a decade of my life trying to defend my right to be a parent just because I was born disabled.

No Disabled Parents Rights

I found out that there is no law to protect the relationship between a disabled parent and their children. The American’s with Disabilities Act doesn’t have a section on parenting and two thirds of dependency statutes allow a court to determine that a parent is ‘unfit’ on the basis that they are disabled.

Disabled parents frequently struggle to retain custody and are the only group of people where it is legal to discriminate against them. Up to 80% of parents with an intellectual disability will have their children removed. For physical disabilities the rate is 40% or higher and for those with physical disabilities going through custody disputes, 13% will be treated unfairly on the basis of disability. Parents who have psychological disabilities such as bipolar disorder or anorexia will very often have their children removed if they come under the radar of the authorities. In addition – sometimes a disabled parent will be denied the right to any visitation because of court judgements that are stereotypical and the court assumption that children will be forced into ‘caring’ roles with their parent, a view that doesn’t support what researchers have found.

After my experiences I have launched an official complaint with the government and I hope to create amendments to disability discrimination laws so that child custody cannot be decided on the basis of disability. I also hope to outlaw interrogation about disability so that in the absence of any real child protection concerns, disabled parents shouldn’t have to ‘prove’ they can be parents.

Sources:

Kidjacked, accessed July 6, 2014, http://kidjacked.com/

Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S Department of Education, accessed July 6, 2014, http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq9805.html

Parents with Learning Difficulties, Child Protection and the Courts, accessed July 6, 2014, http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/Booth-parents-with-lea-diff.pdf

Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and their Children, National Council on Disability, accessed July 6, 2014, http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/Sep272012/

The Family Law System: Custody and Visitation, National Council on Disability, accessed July 6, 2014, http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/Sep272012/Ch7

Determining the Best Interests of the Child, Child Welfare Information Gateway, accessed July 6, 2014, https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/best_interest.pdf

Find the Best Anorexic Treatment Programs and Dual Diagnosis Rehabs, Bulimia.com, accessed July 6, 2014, http://www.bulimia.com/topics/anorexia/

When a Parent has an Eating Disorder, The New York Times, accessed July 6, 2014, http://consults.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/20/adult-children-of-eating-disordered-parents/

Sex Offender Registry

July 9, 2014 in California, due process, false accusation, justice

If you are like most parents, when you consider moving to a new location, one of the first things you check is the Sex Offender Registry. What you don’t know is that more often than not, people end up on the Sex Offender Registry for petty or stupid reasons.  The list is practically useless.

Sign, Wapello, Iowa. This was put up in reacti...

Sign, Wapello, Iowa. This was put up in reaction to Megan’s Law. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some states, like California requires all sex offenders to register for the rest of the lives.  [Read about it here.]

Back in 1947 California became the first state to require sex offenders to register with law enforcement after being released from prison. Now there are just under 100,000 sex offenders on the state’s lifetime registry — most of whom can be found on the state’s public website. But here’s what a lot of people don’t know: California is one of just four states requiring all sex offenders to register for the rest of their lives.

The state board that oversees the registry believes it’s time to overhaul the registry to make it smaller and easier to spot those at high risk of re-offending. [Read more…]

I am a parent, I know how important it is to protect our children from predators but the way the list is now, it isn’t protecting anyone.  It splits up families.

One family in particular comes to mind.  The guy was 19, his girl-friend was 16.  He was prosecuted for statutory rape, put on the list and unable to spend time with his baby once it came.  I felt so badly for him.  His crime?  Falling in love with someone 3 years younger than him.  He’s still paying.

There are plenty more instances where the lives of innocent people are being ruined because of laws that make no sense at all.  Why can’t they write laws that protect people.  Innocent children are being affected by these asinine laws.  It’s time they were changed.  Learn more about the problem. Watch this video.

 

Court Exposed: Wayne County, MI

May 26, 2012 in CPS, due process, family court, justice, Michigan

We put Wall Street men and women in jail when they defraud people of their money. Yet Judge Leslie Kim Smith thinks nothing of giving her clerk a stamp with her signature on it — to remove people’s children. And nothing is being done about.

What is wrong with this picture?

Families torn apart illegally? Heather Catallo investigates

University of Michigan Law Logo

By:  Heather Catallo

(WXYZ) – When protective services take children from their parents, state law  says a judge must first personally review the case and sign off. But that was  not happening in one of Michigan’s busiest courts.

It’s called “rubber stamping,” and last August 7 Action News first exposed  how court staff were literally stamping a judge’s name onto orders that allowed  the state to take kids from their parents.

After our investigations – the rubber stamping stopped – but no one has ever  been held accountable — not the judge, not the chief judge or child protective  services.

“Why was this allowed to happen in your court,” Catallo asked Wayne County  Circuit Court Judge Leslie Kim Smith.

Smith is the presiding judge at the James Lincoln Hall of Justice, the  county’s juvenile court. It was her name that had been stamped on removal  orders. And legal experts tell us, that stamp allowed children to be taken from  their parents illegally.

Testimony under oath in the Godboldo case revealed that caseworkers routinely  took their petitions to probation officers inside the court, who would then  stamp Judge Leslie Kim Smith’s name onto the removal orders.

“It is completely illegal,” said Joshua Kay a professor with the University  of Michigan Law School’s Child Advocacy Law Clinic

 

“This system is destroying the future of America.  And if something is  not done about it, we won’t have a future,” said Godboldo.

Maryanne Godboldo is now suing the state, Wayne County, and Detroit police  for illegally taking her child.

Read more: http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/removal-order#ixzz1vxPp398W

Please do some checking into your own case. If your case was rubber stamped, you can and should sue. (It is surely happening in more places than Wayne County, Michigan)

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Fighting Fire With Fire

September 17, 2011 in Child Protective Services, corruption, due process, family court, family rights

The seal of the United States Department of He...

Image via Wikipedia

For years I have been telling people that the best way to fight the system is to make it more expensive for them to fight you than to give in to your demands. Those wonderful folks “protecting children” at the Department of Health and Human Services think they are above the law — and many operate their agencies like they are living in the Wild Wild West. Anything goes.

While you might feel helpless, you actually have much more power than you realize. I always begin my fight with prayer, asking God to guide me, give me wisdom, understanding and any other specifics on my current circumstance. God won’t fight our fight for us, but God sure makes a tremendous ally.

Then it’s time to lay out a battle plan. Questions you should be asking and documenting:

  • Who are the players? — You must know your opponent if you are defeat him or her. Create a list. What do you know about the judge, the caseworker, and the other people involved in your case.
  • What laws have been broken? — List the statute(s), specific instances, times, dates, etc. Gather as much evidence as possible.
  • Put together a support team. — These are people you can trust. This list should include people who can help you with your case, read reports, assist with research and help to keep your spirits up. Stop answering the calls of those who are negative or bring you down. You must stay focused.
  • Put together an attack plan. — Passive parents rarely see their children returned home. You must stop playing defense and go on the offensive and stay on the offensive. Hit them with what I like to call a shit storm. One complaint after another — preferably coming from different directions.

 

Once you have read the Child Welfare Policy Manual, both state and federal (most are well indexed so finding the laws that pertain to your own case is pretty simple, or just ask for help), you can file an official complaint with your local child welfare agency.

In order to file a complaint, you must request the proper forms from that agency. After filing an official complain with CPS/DHS/etc., call your U.S. House Representative, ask to speak with the aid who handles Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) complaints. Briefly explain what laws were broken. You must sign a request for an investigation before the legislative aid can begin an investigation.

Your local agency will be notified that they are under investigation by the federal government. They will not be happy about it — your case could well be closed faster than you can say “Kashisti”. It has happened in the past. Most often, if they have broken the law, they will be advised to close the case as quickly as possible.

Regardless, of what they do. The more eyes you have on your case, the better it will be for you and your children. Don’t stop there. Continue the offensive by bringing your cause to the people who make policy. The Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse & Neglect are involved with many federal agencies. Be sure to contact specific members of this group. Make it personal.

 

Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse & Neglect

About the Work Group

The amendments to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) of 1988 created a Federal Inter-Agency Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect. The Task Force consisted of approximately 30 member agencies drawn from the eight Cabinet Departments and the Office of Personnel Management. The Director of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) was the statutory chairperson of the Task Force.

When the 1996 CAPTA amendments created an Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, replacing the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN), it also eliminated the requirement for a Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.

However, the existing Task Force members agreed that it was important to maintain the connections and to continue their work. The name was changed to Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect as Task Forces have specific meanings and requirements under Federal law.

Current Activities

Since 1996, the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect has continued to lead and coordinate the Federal Interagency Workgroup on Child Abuse and Neglect (FEDIAWG). Over 40 Federal agencies are represented. The FEDIAWG meets in-person on a quarterly basis and various Subcommittees meet on a more regular basis via conference calls. The overall goals of the FEDIAWG are:

  • To provide a forum through which staff from relevant Federal agencies can communicate and exchange ideas concerning child maltreatment related programs and activities;
  • To collect information about Federal child maltreatment activities; and
  • To provide a basis for collective action through which funding and resources can be maximized.

There are three Subcommittees and related workgroups:

Domestic Violence Subcommittee
Prevention Subcommittee
Research Subcommittee: NIH Child Abuse and Neglect Working Group

[Find contact information and details. Be sure to scroll down.]

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How to Attract Media Attention!

July 6, 2011 in biological parents, corruption, due process, Event, family rights, justice, Kidjacked, parental rights

US Navy 030322-N-6477M-003 Local residents tak...

This Navy man has the right idea!

I wasn’t too sure starting a Kidjacked Facebook page was going to be a good idea but it’s been working incredibly well. People are asking questions and interacting to share valuable information, they are organizing state and local groups.

Just today a good question was asked on Facebook

How do you go about getting the media involved or filing a lawsuit?

Please someone help me I have been fighting to get my daughter back for over three years. No allegations of abuse or neglect – I simply left my daughter with my husband and they told him they could take her on the basis that we were married after she was born and he didn’t have proof of paternity on him.

We are still in a suspended TPR/reunification after taking their ‘deals’ of not going to trial earlier with the promise she would come home 2 years ago.  I need my daughter home!  The potential adoptive mother met her in her daycare.  Isn’t that illegal, if she wasn’t a foster/adoptive home beforehand, and isn’t related to her?  That is a law I know for sure in some states.

Please help me they lie and lie and lie to me and refuse to let her come home, when they are the ones preventing her from coming home, there has never been one safety issue whatsoever.

Several responses were offered up for the desperate mother. I offered up my own response to address a portion of her question, “How do you go about getting the media involved?”

  1. Write a concise article, detailing the facts.
  2. Have a trusted well-educated friend or acquaintance proof read it for grammar & spelling.
  3. Write a press release – paying attention to length.
  4. Write a brief introduction and collect names, email addresses and phone numbers of media people. Be sure to check for recent articles on the topic and contact a reporter who is interested in these type of “human interest” type stories.
  5. Then just keep at it. Once you have good copy and a good list, it’s simply a matter of numbers.
  6. Then post your story to your own blog at my.kidjacked.com and share your blog with the world. I’m happy to feature any well-written blog on Kidjacked home page and the news sections.
  7. You can’t skip any of these steps if you wish to have the best chances of success. We have resources within the CPS reform community, to help make your story a headline but we must be smart about it.

The system only works as well as it does by making us feel isolated and alone. The powers that be (CPS, Family Court, etc…) like to keep us fighting an uphill battle for as long as they can. Some people get angry and refuse to cooperate, often only making matters worse for themselves and their children. Once you begin to recover your strength (after their one-two punch) and begin to work your case, you should begin to look for support.

United we stand, divided we fall. We can’t stand alone, we must have a strong support community and that is exactly what we need to build.

 

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