My story…my childrens plea..

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Last year my three youngest children were taken from their father in Joplin Missouri. I lived in Bakersfield, Ca and had custody of the kids. Reasonable visitation was granted to their father.

Latino Children Play Swing

Latino Children Play Swing

We had traveled together to Missouri to visit the childrens paternal grandmother and family. I had recently begun taking an antidepressant, and Abilify that was prescribed to help me with coping with both of my parents recent diagnosis with terminal cancers.

After arriving in Joplin I was pressured by the family by being told we were going to live there. I overdosed on my medications and was placed in the hospital for attempted suicide. I had no history of mental illness, drug use, or suicide attempts.

While in the hospital I was served with a restraining order preventing me from contact with my children. After my release I went back to California to set an ex parte hearing to have my children returned home. The childrens father had already filed, and a court date was set for Nov 10, 2010.

On November 4th 2010, a woman named Dawn Cox, contacted me saying that she was interested in adopting my children. I thought this was odd, told her absolutely not, and attempted to contact the childrens father.

On November 5th, 2010 their father, Eric Branagan called me to say that our kids were in temporary custody with Jasper county following a hotline call. The kids were placed with his sister. Our son David has Autism, and he is the one the allegations were about. I did not hear from the juvenile office or CPS until later that day.

When I first spoke with Nicole Gadea with The Childrens Division in Joplin, Mo she told me the children would be returned to me. The following day she contacted me again to inform me that Eric had taken the children from his mothers house and fled with them. They had reason to believe he would bring them to California.

On November 7th I spoke with the Supervisor at the Childrens Division who told me that if the children were brought to me by Eric they would not take them from my home as long as I complied with them and informed the police immediately.

On the morning of the 8th Eric showed up at my door with my kids. They were in good spirits and excited to be home. Eric said, “I’m willing to go to prison to save my kids.” He drove off, I brought the kids inside, looked them over for possible bruises or signs of abuse, and gave them hugs and kisses. I then contacted the Newton County dispatch (as I was instructed to do).

They contacted the Bakersfield Police and told me that they would do a well child check and take a report, but would not cause any furthur trauma by removing them. The police came and again assured the children, myself, and my mother that they were just there to take a report. As the officers were about to leave they received a call and then took my children to the Jamison Center.

When I arrived at the Jamison center I was told that my children were flown back to Missouri. On August 2nd 2011, I flew to Missouri to pick up my kids. After several months of waiting the ICPC was approved. The state of Missouri paid for the expenses. My kids came home with behaviors that were so severe that their counselor told me she had never worked with children so disturbed.

Having been working with severely disabled children myself, I know signs of trauma and abuse when I see them. My oldest, Seth (8) was acting out with sexual behaviors as well as my 5 year old Isabel.

My 7 year old, David, had shown signs of regression. ( he is the one with Autism) The counselors and Davids teacher all have remarked on what improvements they had made since being home. On November 5th, while the children had just arrived home with my mother, the social worker came and took my children. I was having a late lunch with my 19 year old daughter, who is expecting her first child in March.

One year after the nightmare began…it began again. I was told that they had concerns about the childrens behaviors, and the condition of the house. They took pictures, ( after holding up my mom while the kids were acting out because the social worker was there). The house was no messier than the average home with young children. My kids did act out and make messes when the social worker came because they were so afraid of being taken back to Missouri.

My youngest has PTSD caused by being in the Joplin tornado..Aside from this, they are being displaced from their home, family, siblings, schools, church, and friends. Prior to August 2010 my children did not know their paternal family. Their father had always talked about the abuse he had suffered at the hands of his mother. The boys are with his mother, and my baby girl is with his sister. The brother in law worked for social services for a number of years, and they have been saying that they will adopt my kids because they were already told I wont get them back.

My appointed attorney has done nothing to help. She was appointed in October. Prior to that I had an attorney who did not properly represent me in court. She even failed to submit evidence on my behalf.

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