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Prayers are Answered, Child Returned

June 17, 2011 in CPS, Washington

Some of you may remember the Kitsap County case that was posted on Kidjacked back in 2004. I can’t express how pleased I am to hear that this young mother, fought CPS and won. Her child was returned home to her after a horrendous ordeal. She offers advice and words of encouragment for parents who find themselves fighting to bring their children home.

Lenght of stay in U.S. foster care

Image via Wikipedia

My children are home with me. My fight was well worth it, as I believe that our case did make a difference for others. I found a lot of inner strength I didn’t know I had through our ordeal and it made me a better person and better mother.

Since then, sadly, I have found that far too few parents really are willing to fight for their children. Regardless of what brought them into the situation they are in, many refuse to do what they need to do. I refused to be a victim but I also chose to learn and grow from everything we went through. I took whatever classes etc they asked/demanding with an attitude of  believing that it would only make me a better parent so why not?

Of course, as you know, CPS chose to twist and distort whatever I did and turn it around but because I was determined to do whatever it took for my daughter, I didn’t give them any ‘bullets’ to shoot me with. I kept detailed documentation of EVERYTHING! That, Annette, is the most powerful weapon you can have against CPS — they fight dirty but if you fight with truth that is backed up with documentation then you will win.

I won not just custody of my daughter I won much more. I fought one of the most corrupt offices in our state because:

  1. I refused for one second to believe I would not get my daughter back.
  2. I chose to see everything as an opportunity to learn, grow, and be a better parent.
  3. I did not rely on others to fight for me; I did not sit back and let myself be a silent victim.
  4. I SCREAMED out the wrongs that were committed against us, despite the threats against my daughter and I by CPS and all the corrupt people associated with them including my own worthless attorneys.
  5. I kept my ‘nose clean’ – CPS looks for any little reason to slam you and when they can’t find one they make them up as they go. I refused to give them one and when they lied, I had documentation to prove their lies.
  6. I learned what the laws were in our state, I learned what my rights were, I never signed anything without reading and understanding what I was signing. This definitely seemed to go against me at first, it pissed off the system to no end but it preserved my and my daughter’s rights in the long-term.
  7. I refused to let CPS terrify me. They are a corrupt bunch of liars and they see children as nothing more then the means to keep their jobs secure – without children they have no reason to be.
  8. I documented everything — DOCUMENT DOCUMENT DOCUMENT
  9. Get witnesses, build your support network through therapists, councilors, and legislators.
  10. Recognize that no parent is perfect but every parent CAN grow and be better. Denying that you make mistakes is ridiculous. That does NOT mean spill your guts to CPS – that is plain stupid. It means you recognize areas that need strengthening and you focus on them, growing, learning, and becoming stronger for your child’s sake.

Never Give Up!

I could add much more but I am sure you understand where I am going. I had a friend that made a huge difference in how I saw things during that time. He told me that if I needed to scream/vent etc. to do it privately at him. However, when I was in court or attending those joke meetings that I should NEVER let myself get emotional and angry. They want that and will (and did) push my buttons so I would lose composure and they could say I was not able to handle stress, so I would not be able to care for my child.

I learned hard to control the rage within me, and it was rage — my daughter was placed in five foster homes, in less than five months and was abused in each one. She had NEVER been abused or neglected before.

I had gotten ill and was hospitalized and it took nearly a year to get her home. She was four, blue eyed, blonde and beautiful and was considered HIGHLY adoptable so CPS had no intention of reunification.

I wrote to every attorney, civil rights organizations, legislatures, congressional representative, politician, even the president himself. I refused to be silenced. I filed grievances and learned to file my own court documents, motions, etc… (in the accepted manner) due to learning not to rely on court kangaroos to fight for me (they earn their income because of CPS and so they too need the system to fund their life styles).

Most of all Annette, I prayed. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and asked God to help me see what I needed to learn from it all. I believed that there was a greater purpose that I wasn’t understanding, I still believe that. I am not a ‘religious’ person at all, but I have faith in God and that ordeal only strengthened that faith.

My daughter came home almost one year after she was removed from our home. She was covered in ugly bruises and scratches, from a much older foster girl who took out her rage on my five-year-old baby girl. I had tried to report the abuse earlier and the worthless POS social worker said, “it must be payback!”

What could a five-year-old girl have done to deserve that?

The social worker made the mistake of thinking she was above reproach and that I was the average cowering parent that would bow down to her. I bow only to God and that definitely made the social worker angry and I had a much harder time of it but I am okay with that, as I know that my case has helped many other people, even now after over eight years. That knowledge helps me to be thankful for what we went through, knowing that somehow there was good to come from it, not that I would have willingly asked for the experience.

My daughter is doing incredible, she remembers all of that and still will have a nightmare here and there but she knows how hard her mom fought for her, she knows that her mom never once gave up. She knows that her mom would/will do whatever it takes for her.

I sat outside the CPS building many times filled with rage, wanting to blow that evil box to hell. I fought so hard to NOT grab my baby during visits and just run. I knew that none of that would make things better in the long run, no matter how much I hurt at the time so I prayed. I prayed for strength, faith, wisdom, and help. God heard and answered my prayers – not how I would have answered but even better and I am thankful. My family is stronger and closer then ever and that is a great thing.

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I Want to go Home!

November 8, 2008 in caseworker, CPS, foster care, Washington

My name is Bre’anna I am 12-years-old, me and my 2 sisters and my 1 brother were taken from my mom a year ago from Washington State.

Our caseworker thinks my mom doesn’t love us and she does. She takes very good care of us, my mom always has. My sister burned her finger and they took us away.

They say my stepdad was mean to my mom but he is not. When we tell her he is not mean to us she tells us we are lying. She said to us that we are lying for my mom because she knows that we want to go home.

But we know that the caseworker is lying. We need help going home. Can some one help us?

Bre’anna
(Last name and city withheld for privacy.)

CPS Worker Brings Lawsuit

May 9, 2008 in CPS, due process, foster care, West Virginia

Ex West Virginia caseworker calls for system reform.

Hello, My name is Elise Stewart I use to be a CPS worker and then Supervisor in West Virginia. Since leaving the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources (WVDHHR) several years ago, I have had a couple experiences with them that I am currently suing them over.

My point of this e-mail concerns the circumstances concerning my adult son and his on again, off again, girlfriend and their child who will soon be one-year-old. The baby was born with drugs in her system. The mom and maternal grandmother hid this information from my son. During the initial investigation by CPS, they failed to contact my son even though they knew who he was. The mom continued to do drugs while living with her mother (an active alcoholic) and this was the reason for the unstable relationship with my son, as he does not use drugs nor did he condone her use of drugs.

WV CPS Worker Brings Lawsuit

In November, after the girlfriend was admitted to the hospital for her drug use, her mother involved CPS. When the girlfriend was released from the hospital, her mother would not let her back into the house or near the baby. Against my better judgment and without knowing all the details, I let her and my son stay here.

Over the next two-weeks I babysat the baby while the girlfriend and her sister (also a heroin addict) attended NA/AA meetings. On the weekend in question, I was informed that the maternal grandmother had left town and left the baby with the heroin addict sister and her boyfriend who she met in rehab.

Seeking Temporary Custody

After lengthy discussion, my son and his girlfriend signed a paper granting me temporary custody of the baby. We went to the house to get the baby. The police were called, who in turn called the prosecuting attorney. I spoke on the phone to the prosecutor whom I had worked with for years. He said that I could take the baby.

CPS workers freaked out and told the police they had filed a petition on the Friday, it was awaiting the signature of a judge. They stated that I could not be near the baby as they had at one time opened a case against me. We were ordered to take the baby to the sheriff’s office and wait for the maternal grandmother who was on her way home.

Note on previous case: (The case they referred to took place when I was in England and they opened the case without my knowledge. The person my almost 18-year-old son was living with, kicked him out. Instead of then going to the place I setup for him, he went to stay with his older brother which CPS didn’t like…another issue altogether. Although I might add here that the person who kicked him out on the street was my best friend and the director of our local CASA)

We waited hours for the maternal grandmother to come staggering in completely intoxicated. She was given a breathalyzer and told she could not take the child due to her being drunk. She then became belligerent to the officers and left.

The girlfriend was told she could take the baby to her great grandmother’s house but due to the age of her great grandmother, the girlfriend had to stay with her.

Foster Care Placement

The next evening, CPS appeared with a custody order and took the baby in to custody, placing her with a foster family. My son was not considered for placement because they said there was no proof he was the father. None of us were allowed to see the baby until after the initial hearing — more than two weeks later.

Since that hearing, they first gave physical custody to the maternal, drunken grandmother while the state kept legal custody. The girlfriend was not allowed to be alone with the baby. My son was permitted one-hour of supervised visitation at the local DHHR each week, and I was told I would have to petition for grandparents rights.

Inadequate Representation

Subsequent hearings led to my son becoming very frustrated with his public defender who would not return his calls and thought proper council was seeing him for five minutes prior to the hearing. The DHHR wanted my son to have a DNA test and would not accept a paternity affidavit from him. They also wanted him to submit to drug testing and other such strictures, normally placed on parents alleged of abuse in these situations.

They alleged he “knowingly allowed” the baby to be abused by not stopping the mother’s drug use. The age old catch all CPS likes to use when they have nothing else to charge the absent father with.

My son had to reschedule the first DNA test. He went to the second one which proved him to be the father. He missed a court hearing due to his ride canceling at the last minute. He left voice mails for both his attorney and the social worker. Then he missed the next hearing as he received no notice from the court or his attorney. He has continued to see the baby at the girlfriend’s house rather than at the DHHR (against my advice).

After finally tracking down his lawyer last week, he received in today’s mail a proposed court order from the prosecutor charging him with abandonment. The hearing is scheduled for June.

Would you consider this ‘good practice’?

  • Not conducting a thorough investigation with collateral contacts (ie father);
  • Removing a child for ‘imminent danger’ that did not exist;
  • Being permitted to place a child in foster care when relative placement is available and more than adequate given kinship placement guidelines;
  • Being granted continued custody in foster care without testimony or an evidentiary hearing in court.

The court process is not due process. The guidelines and rules of procedure are not followed. CPS policy is not followed. My son has yet to receive notice of any MDT meetings or the reports that those meetings are meant to generate.

After years working inside this system I would highly recommend never speaking to a CPS worker without an attorney present and a tape recorder running. I have worked with the do gooders who see a cute little baby that deserves a ‘nice’ family, and the power trippers who take custody for their own warped sense of ego feeding….the list goes on.

Someone needs to revamp this system. The damage done to the family is not reversible and even the youngest of children experiencing the foster care system can act out on this ‘memory’ in years to come.

I realize this is a rather lengthy and tangential ramble. My apologies. It just send my mind racing with outrage at a system that is supposed to keep children safe and consider the well being of the child first and foremost.

~Suzie
West Virginia

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