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Foster Child Speaks Out

March 31, 2014 in Child Protective Services, corruption, foster care

help3_ezrI’m a former foster child. I had suffered abuse at home with my step dad. I stood up to my abuser and asked for the help of child protective services. He confessed and was convicted for his crime and I was placed in foster care. Even though my step dad was the criminal he was released years before I was. Foster care had become such an abusive prison for me I finally ran away, homeless out on the streets, to young to work and no where to go.

Not only do I have physical scars from the abuse I received in foster care but some days I still cry from the type of mental maltreatment I received at the hands of my supposed protectors. I’d come a long way since foster care. I had worked full time and went to school at night to finish high school and continue further in my education to become a surgical dental assistant. Later, I changed my career path and began working for scholastic books. I refused to allow CPS, my therapist, and the foster parents opinions to control who I would become or to limit my future. (I was lucky to be stubborn and rebellious.)

Here recently I’ve had a great opportunity to become connected with other former foster children, and we each share our stories with each other and give each other support. But I started to notice something. The opinions and ordeals each former foster child had faced in foster care, seemed to echo the same opinion or same unacceptable situation when thrown into foster care. For example:

An ex foster child said something recently that had caught my attention. She said, “One thing that bothers me is society says parents who use drugs, abuse their kids, neglects them, and many more things, aren’t good enough to be parents and forcefully removes the children. This very same society looks the other way when we’re abused in foster care, moved several times, remain in limbo for years without any stability.

Kids in jail

We go years if not forever, waiting to be adopted by these people, but they go overseas to adopt. We get dumped out on the street and left to survive like animals when we age out of the system with absolutely nothing. Society doesn’t care what happens after we leave our unfit parents. When in some cases the unfit parents are 100% better than the numerous foster homes who have been checked out by the state and approved. Just because we leave our unfit parents doesn’t mean we live happily ever after.”

Here are some numbers found on Wikipedia that support this former foster child’s statement.

Maltreatment per 100,000 US children.

CPS    Parents

Physical Abuse           160          59
Sexual Abuse              112          13
Neglect                          410       241
Medical Neglect             14          12
Fatalities                           6.4        1.5

I’ve also had an ex foster child contact me wondering why foster kids are treated so badly and no one pays attention. His reasoning, his temporary foster parent had run him over with her truck. He was pronounced dead but then had finally been revived. He sued the state for this and somehow only ended up with $40 thousand dollars and mass long term pain (his court appointed lawyer received the bulk of the money) and he also has many bills from the doctors, him and his bio mother are obligated to pay. ( I can understand his frustrations.)

I’ve been reading many ex foster kids stories (including having my own) and what I find is more atrocities after they were removed then what they experience at home. I can not help but wonder why this agency has made such great leaps and bounds on how to manipulate, maneuver through the law, and perfect how to remove children but they themselves have no idea how to raise children. They have spent millions upon million each year for over 30 or 40 years on these state run agencies yet in general all they have produced is abused and neglected children who go on to struggle in society.

Look at these statistics copied from children’s

  • 12-30 percent struggled with homelessness
  • 40-63 percent did not complete high school
  • 25-55 percent were unemployed; those employed had average earnings below the poverty level, and only 38 percent of those employed were still working after one year
  • 30-62 percent had trouble accessing health care due to inadequate finances or lack of insurance
  • 32-40 percent were forced to rely on some form of public assistance and 50 percent experienced extreme financial hardship
  • 31-42 percent had been arrested
  • 18-26 percent were incarcerated
  • 40-60 percent of the young women were pregnant within 12-18 months of leaving foster care.

Nancy Schaefer already further summarized all of this as, “The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official “safety”, these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual molestation, than in the general population. Think what that number is today ten years later!”

Senator Nancy Schaefer reported, “that poor parents very often are targeted to lose their children because they do not have the where-with-all to hire lawyers and fight the system. Being poor does not mean you are not a good parent or that you do not love your child, or that your child should be removed and placed with strangers; that all parents are capable of making mistakes and that making a mistake does not mean your children are to be removed from the home. Even if the home is not perfect, it is home; and that’s where a child is the safest and where he or she wants to be, with family;

I’ve also read countless ex foster children’s stories of how they had been medicated for one thing after another and even witnessed an adopted child so overly medicated, he could not control himself. Thankfully after talking to his adoptive parents they agreed to slowly back him off of the 10 medications he was on. (He spent a lot of time in my home during this time) he has calmed down greatly and has now been able to focus and excel in school.

Some ex foster kids talk about the long term effects these medications have caused them, long after they have finally gotten off of the drugs. Some must continue taking different types of meds to help them deal with the after effects of the medications forced upon them in foster care, (all under the guise of being in their best interest).

Here’s one former foster child’s statement of what she had been through and how the medications affected her.

“I was living in Maryville, Tennessee and was 14 years old. I was depressed but I was a really quiet kid and a laid back type. These folks decided to start me on meds for my depression (a little red pill that I don’t know what it was) shortly after, I noticed I was feeling anxious and nervous. Then I noticed that I started having a short fuse when it came to my temper and it was more difficult to calm down. I told the group home owner this, but she wouldn’t have me taken off the meds.

I started spitting the meds into a paper Dixie cup they would give me water in to take my medications and crush the cup so no one saw. I started to feel normal again, I did that for a month before I was ratted out by another kid. Any way they took me to a doctor that put me on Paxil. The night they gave me that stuff, I was wired for sound and tried to play sumo wrestling with my roommate Donelle. The medication made me constipated and I felt overly psycho, again, no one would listen to me asking to be taken off the meds.

I also noticed I had more issues than usual on concentrating on my school work and I started being mean to others, really mean, as in hitting folks and yelling, it was like I was losing control. I found myself withdrawing because of it and crying my eyes out at every turn. That’s the same year I started having panic episodes. One day decided to ditch school and just go walking… I was told that I cussed out all of the group home staff but I do not remember it… Eric blankenship could tell you a lot about that. I was picked up by the police and taken back to the group home but then I was moved to a teen psych ward.

There at the psych ward they gave me a higher dose of Paxil and added Milloril to my meds and some pill they were telling me was a vitamin but I’m sure it was a tranquilizer because not long after taking it, I could barely hold my head up.

This went on for a month solid until a caseworker (a man) showed up to take me to my next placement. I was on those meds from foster home to foster home then one day I was taken to an all girl group home in Knoxville, Tennessee where shortly after I was abruptly changed from the Paxil and Millorill, to Prozac and Trazedone. The first time they gave me the Prozac, I was 15 years old and was being given 3 Prozac a day and my head always felt like I had a chunk of lead tied to it. Schooling was hard because it was a new place and I felt crazy out of my head. I hated everyone and everything.

I felt as if my mind was working overtime and I was suicidal because i could not calm down and in that same place I was fondled by one of the men staff workers when we went on a trip to the University of Tennessee Race Track. I would scream in the night in my sleep and I would be so nervous every day. I got defiant with the staff and would cuss this one lady in particular named Deiadra. She was a reasonably nice person but I got to where nothing mattered.

Till this very day, I am a nervous type person and I still have the panic episodes that started as a teenager, I have a very hard time coming down from any emotion whether it be anger, anxiety, joy, depression, fear, etc. I know it was because of the meds because prior to the meds, I was able to keep my emotions in check. I’m angry that this has to be this way, with me but this crap has forever changed me, along with all the being passed around like a dooby. It, all has an effect on me that, will never be normal again. I still consider myself a glitch ”

For more Facts About Aging Out visit: Children’s Rights.

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Mississippi Therapist Requires Assistance

May 20, 2011 in Adoption, Child Protective Services, corruption, DFCS, Mississippi

I have been working with the C. family, a lovely young couple who are risk of losing their only son. These parents are in imminent danger of the loss of their parental rights.  As always, I suppose, the story is complicated but also very unusual and compelling.  They have had to fire their lawyer this week due to multiple failures to adequately represent their interests.  I have promised to do what I could to help them locate another lawyer.

The child’s father is deploying to the Middle East on Thursday of next week (May 26th, 2011).  The parents thought that there would be no legal action taken in the case until his return in February of 2012, but we have learned that the DFCS caseworkers are pressing for a quick hearing.  They are terrified to be without adequate counsel at this time.

I have just read Nancy Schaefer’s letter on your website.  We need information about whether the dollars available to the states through the Adoption and the Safe Families Act are currently available to this DFCS.  The youth court and DFCS county in which the parents reside has the worst reputation in Mississippi. 

We are working with an investigative reporter with a national reputation who is interested in doing the story.  We need documentary evidence or even good stories about loss of parental rights for cash from mississippi.  There is a new youth court judge who is a huge adoption advocate. We need the names of helpful contacts.  Would sure appreciate your help.  I have attached a letter to the judge which summarizes the case and explains my involvement briefly.

(Note: This letter has been edited to protect the families identity.)

This letter was received from an Occupational Therapist, who writes in part.

Dear Judge, 

I have written to you this morning regarding the case of the C. family whose case you were going to hear today.  I am an early intervention therapist helping children age 0-3 with developmental problems.  Last summer, while in the course of my duties, I stumbled into a situation that has struck me as so blatantly unjust that I could not dismiss it as being out of the scope of my professional practice and as such not my concern. 

I met toddler C. (now 27 months old) and his parents in mid August while responding to a request for an oral motor and sensory processing skills assessment.  This request was made by toddler C.’s Service Coordinator for the First Steps Early Intervention Program, a service of the MS State Department of Health. I met briefly with them in their home to observe the child’s play and feeding skills which were significantly delayed.  During the course of my initial interview I learned that he had been in foster care and was being supervised by a case manager with the Department of Human Services.

The following week Mrs. C., called to cancel our appointment saying that his doctor had admitted him directly from his clinic appointment to the hospital.   Mom then called to tell me that the child would miss his second appointment because a hearing had been called to determine if he was unsafe in their custody and needed to be removed from their home for his safety.  She was clearly distraught, had recently moved into the area, and had no local family support besides that of her husband.  I felt a moral obligation knowing the circumstances to respond to her request for my presence at the hearing.

What occurred at the hearing in the Harrison County Youth Courtroom both shocked me and offended my sense of justice.  The conduct of the guardian ad litem struck me as deeply inappropriate and insensitive in relationship to the removal of a child from his parents.

Many accusations were leveled at the parents with no attempt to support them with any evidence. I heard that the same attitude and hearsay was displayed by the DHS supervisor at the follow up hearing a few days later.  

At this hearing neither the parents nor their lawyer were permitted to say anything in their defense.   Their lawyer unsuccessfully attempted to introduce a report completed by a pediatric gastroenterologist who had diagnosed the child with digestive problems. This report challenged the opinion of the physician that had admitted him into the hospital and had pressed for protective custody in the belief that his weight loss was due to his parents’ failure to feed him adequately.  

It is my understanding that this physician denied the parents a referral to a gastroenterologist and in fact the parents were accused in the courtroom of “doctor shopping” for seeking any other medical advice regarding their son’s condition. According to the boy’s mother, threats were made by DHS caseworkers and supervisors that if they sought alternative medical advice this would decrease their chances that they would be given custody of their son.

The reasons for the refusal of the pediatrician to pursue gastroenterological evaluation are unknown.  To our knowledge she has not yet provided a detailed rationale for this either verbally or through medical documentation. 

Other troubling aspects of this case which I know only through the parents, include advising the parents to plead no contest prior to the first hearing, conflicting messages and inadequate information from case managers and their supervisors, the repeated removal of case managers who indicated their support for the reunification of the family, and the lack of information and advocacy with the goal of family preservation. 

I did witness a statement made by a case manager supervisor following the August hearing in which, while refusing to answer the parent’s questions, she stated, “I am glad that you have a good lawyer” and “this is bull-it”.  Multiple efforts to engage high level staff at DHS through phone calls and e mails have either not been returned or not followed up. 

The parents have completed a detailed chronology of the events that have led to each of their losses of custody.  This includes an exhaustive body of data in support of their contention that the child’s removal from their custody is based on unwarranted assumptions, hearsay, misinterpretation, and a failure to investigate the reasons for his weight loss.  There is a lot of detail in their chronology about weight loss incidents that has been correlated with the physicians’ documentation.  

This young but resourceful family has experienced such isolation throughout this period, now over a year long.  Great psychological harm has been done to them.  The parents have received thorough and ongoing psychological evaluation and they are found to be normal for people under great stress.  There are indications that the boy has experienced psychological harm, but this has not been investigated by a credentialed mental health professional. 

This crisis has served to reunite and strengthen the parent’s relationship with one another. They have benefitted from the parent education experiences in which they have participated. They live for the weekly visitations with their child, which have on several occasions, been denied.  Their perception is that no one in the Department of Human Services supports their goal of  reunification.

It is my opinion that the relationship between the department and the family has been characterized by ignorance, withholding of information, and use of manipulation through threats of the permanent loss of custody.  These parents are two loving and competent parents that are at this time beside themselves over this last postponement, only one of many.  I ask that you do what you can to end the victimization of this child and his parents at the hands of the Department of Human Services.

Mississippi Occupational Therapist

Please Help!

July 28, 2008 in Adoption, DSS, foster care, Kidjacked

An Open Letter To President Bush

Mr. President:

All across our great nation there are millions of grieving parents — they have lost their children and our government, in what was an original effort to help children, is stealing them for money! Unfortunately, this all revolves around the “Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act of 2008” — S.3038. We are asking that S.3038 be allowed to sunset and that the Departments of Social Services across the nation be thoroughly reviewed and reformed. We are the people and we are hurting.

The problem is readily apparent in the title of this act. As this act currently stands it stresses adoption and minimizes helping families in need. Because it is more economically feasible for DSS to adopt (and thus receive federal funding), than it is to maintain a family that is either under severe stress or simply has problems that can be easily remedied with proper interventions. Unfortunately, the act provides little, or substantially less, financial support to the states to help sustain the family.

What is more unfortunate is that most of the families suffering are not affluent or well spoken, exist from paycheck to paycheck, are usually not well educated, and are easily victimized by an All-Powerful Department of Social Services. They are trusting families who understand that Social Services are “there to help” are “honest and caring”, only to find out that frequently they are guilty as soon as DSS knocks on their door and, because they are “guilty”, DSS “needs” to adopt out their child[ren] as soon as possible.

They come from many diverse areas of this country, from the cities, suburbs, and rural areas, but one thing they all have in common is the unfailing love they have for their children. Perfect they are not, but loving, caring parents they are.

There are of course real cases of abuse and some of those require foster care and adoption. However, the American Public Welfare Association (APWA) conducted a special survey of child welfare agencies in 1986 and “actual percentage of ‘founded’ cases was 26 percent.” That means one in four cases actually result in a ‘conviction’ of some sort. Considering that for a ‘founded’ case, the only thing required for a ‘conviction’ is a ‘preponderance of evidence’. Simply put; there is a bruise, someone put it there, it can’t be easily and readily explained as caused by anything else, so it is [substantiated] abuse.”

Even when the child is an actual victim of abuse, according to a study highlighted by the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, “many children … in foster care would be far better off if they remained with their own families even if those families got only the typical help … commonly offered by child welfare agencies.”

Please, we need you to help us to save our children. We are imploring you to call for and appoint a commission to hear from the people and review the practices of DSS. The impact of the wrongs of the IRS is nothing compared to the impact of a society where legalized kidnapping for money ruins families and children. This was highlighted by Georgia State Senator, Nancy Schaefer, in her address to the Senate on December 5, 2006.

Feel free to peruse for some very heartbreaking stories. Child abuse is real, but with the incentives this bill provides, real child abuse will never be prevented. Recent news stories are replete with stories of children dying from the lack of DSS action. Yet, our children are being taken and the funding is unlimited to keep them and adopt them out.

One recent post to kidjacked put it very well.

“In this county [in Arizona] social workers get $10,000 bonus for every adopted child, so instead of reunification, they push adoption, with a 90% adoption rate in the whole court, 100% in our courtroom. Another judge ordered that we could see our children and speak to them as often as we wanted, however the social worker again has threaten to remove the children for [another] reason if we [try] to see them.”

All I am asking is that you help us to help ourselves, please, help us to save our children and the integrity of the family.

C. Hampton,
Manassas, VA

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