Our family lives in Texas. My brother and his wife moved back to Texas in February 2007. They had a one-year-old son and another child on the way. The mom has a mental illness (bipolar with schizophrenic tendencies) and had a breakdown in March of 2007 and went into hiding.
In the end, she returned to Reno, Nevada.
My brother immediately filed for an emergency custody, protective order, and mental health warrants, but the mom was already hiding (Nevada law technically considers this a felony). Fast forward ten months and the children have been taken into custody in Reno (this was an absolute necessity!) My brother is contacted by CPS and advised that his children were taken into custody in January 2008. He learns that his second child is a girl.
The mom is charged with neglect that is later amended to mental incapacity. My brother is initially charged with abandonment that is subsequently dismissed after supporting documentation is sent to CPS. My brother agreed to enroll in and attended a parenting class; anger management evaluation; and DNA testing to verify paternity.
My brother (and other members of our family) participated in two court hearings in February and March 2008 via telephone. Initially, it appeared that CPS would be sending the children to my brother pending completion of an Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) study, (technically not required when a child is placed with a biological parent – non offending). The children received a new caseworker in April, at that time almost all contact with the caseworker stopped.
We drove to Reno for the hearing in July. My brother was initially reprimanded for not letting the court know that we would be there, until he was able to explain. In the end, the CPS representative was reprimanded for “taking sides,” in not exploring paternal family placement options, and for contradicting medical professionals, which stated that the mom was not able to independently care for her young children and might never be able to, as well as several other things.
A hearing was scheduled to take place at the nine-month mark in October, to discuss placement options.
All of our immediate family appeared in court in October and the master overseeing the case had made an error in scheduling the placement hearing as a review hearing, so nothing happened in court that day.
The foster-father also came to court to support my brother, something that he says he has never done before (the foster parents see the children everyday and observed the strong bond between my brother and his children and the lack of bonding with the mom, as well as lack of ability to care for the children).
Another hearing was supposed to be scheduled in the following two-weeks, but that didn’t happen either. The next court date is scheduled for January 6 and 7, 2009 to discuss placement (originally scheduled for January 22, 2009). CPS will be recommending reunification with the mom (the parent the children were removed from).
Now, there are a few pertinent facts that need to be included at this point. Some may seem obvious, but I want to be as thorough as possible.
Because they are married, my brother has joint legal custody of the children. The mom committed a Nevada felony when she went into hiding with the children.
The children were in a horrid condition when CPS intervened on their behalf. The son had regressed to a 9-month-old in some areas. With good care in the foster home, he has significantly improved from this environmental affect on his development (i.e., he has recovered from her neglect).
My brother is the non-offending parent and has not been charged with any offense. He lives out of state, and CPS has stated that living out of state makes it very difficult for placement.
At the time the children were taken into custody by CPS in Nevada, Texas still had a pending court action regarding custody of the children, thus they had jurisdiction in this matter.
The mental health evaluations of the mom state that she in incapable of caring for the children independently, and may never be able to. She has three adult children that she was also unable to raise. One recently won a hardship scholarship to Stanford based on an essay about being homeless and neglected most of her life.
The mom was recently allowed her first all-day visit, and an overnight visit, in anticipation of reunification in January. CPS did tell him that he could file for custody against the mom as soon as the children are returned to the mom.
Now for some opinions
This is wrong on so many levels. It does not seem fair that the parent who is the victim of parental kidnapping should not have had his children returned immediately. CPS is basically condoning this illegal behavior because they state that those legal issues do not concern them. The father has lost 10-months of the children’s lives because of the mom and another year because of CPS. And what about civil rights…he has the right to have his children.
Nevada does not have jurisdiction over my brother, yet they have refused to place his children with him while the mom works on her case plan. Instead, the Nevada taxpayers are paying for foster placement. The mental health reports speak for themselves…mom is not mentally or emotionally able to care for the children. I realize that CPS has an obligation to assist the mom, but the children should be their first priority.
Reunification with the mom is pending…my brother (our family) desperately needs help.