Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A mother needs our help!

I've been given permission by the mother to post this information to my blog. Here is portions of a letter she wrote to her senator, Florance Shapiro, that explains the whole story:

y son was removed from my home first thing in the morning on the 18th of July. The charge was "medical neglect", prompted by a doctor who had never seen my son, on the word of a nurse who seemed to resent my desire to continue to breastfeed him. While we acknowledge that he was underweight, we dispute that there was neglect. My son Erick had a very rough entry into this world (high risk pregnancy, difficult labor and deliver, nicu stay in two separate hospitals), and we were trying to find out why, despite a proper amount of diapers and meeting milestones he wouldn't gain. I can provide paperwork, log books and statements to back this up. We were NOT ignoring him, which is what seems to be implied. Despite the claims of Martha Strong, the nurse (she claims that he was at "death's door", and only immediate removal would save him), we have video of him taken two days prior to his removal that shows him smiling (at 5 weeks), tracking and then getting annoyed with the dog, who licked him on his head! He was not acting weak or lethargic.

We were offered NO services, NO investigation and NO options. They just came and took him. We weren't even allowed to put him in the car seat that took him away.

Fast forward to today, and we are informed that he is being released from the hospital and into foster care. Our 2nd court date (apparently there was one held already that we weren't allowed to attend) is supposed to be (according to CPS's own rules) WITHIN 14 days of removal. They have offered us one on the 13th of August, almost a full month later! Supposedly, there is something going on at the courthouse during the time when we were supposed to have our hearing. When I asked Jamie Specht, the case worker, why things couldn't be speeded up instead of delayed (since family reunification is supposed to be CPS's top priority), she said "Mrs. Vinton, if you argue with me, this call is over". We have found her to be very combative through out the entire process, and do not believe she is acting in our or our child's best interests.

CPS has violated a number of their own policies, according to the handbooks they gave us and online research we’ve done:

1) An investigation of some sort is supposed to be done before removal. Removal of a child from his home is supposed to be a LAST resort.
2) She came to my door without a court order, though she claimed they had already been in front of a judge.
3) When they did get in front of a judge, we weren’t allowed to be there to defend ourselves or our son.
4) We haven’t gotten to visit him yet, supervised or otherwise. We are supposed to have a visit coming up on Wednesday, but the case worker has canceled interviews with my other children 3 times already, so I have no reason to believe this will actually happen until we are there and he is in my arms (for the first time in two weeks).
5) She has stated that she will not allow a lawyer to be present during the interview with my other children.
6) The case is supposed to be heard in 14 days, but we won’t be heard until almost a month after the fact (a very long time in the life of a newborn!).
7) A family member is supposed to be offered before foster care. We weren’t given this option, despite a large, loving family who would be willing to take him.

Ms. Shapiro, we have done nothing wrong but get on the bad side of a nurse that we went to in an attempt to help him. If they felt he was at such risk, at the very least they could have removed my medical rights, leaving my other parental rights in tact, and restoring them when they felt his heath was more stable. I have three other children at home, ages 9, 5 and 3. The older two wake up with nightmares that someone’s going to take them too. My 3 year old thought we “got rid of him” because we “didn’t like him anymore”. Can you imagine the damage being done to them as well? How am I supposed to convince my other children that they are safe, when quite frankly, I’m not so sure myself?? This seems a horrific abuse of power by a state agency that has no one to keep them in check. Please, I beg you… I am not a rich or powerful woman, but I love my children deeply and can’t believe that this action is right or moral. I need my son back. And what’s more, he needs me. Please help us.

(Carolyn again) if you are able to help, especially if you live in Texas, you can contact this mother by responding to her post in the Mothering forums, or by sending her a private message. Or you can send a message to your state representative if you are in Texas, or to Rep Shapiro if you don't. Please, if you can spare 5 minutes, this mother is being pushed around by a way too powerful organization. She needs help. Thanks for doing whatever you can!

1 comment:

Daniel Burton said...

Carolyne, as a law student, the legal issues that pop out at me from this reading are all over the place...but who is this and where can i find out more? Why hasn't this mother filed a habeas corpus? Does she have a lawyer?