Taking the Kids Away

September 12, 2007 | 35 comments
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The Telegraph reports that the British government intends to take the baby away from a pregnant, single woman with a troubled past as soon as the child is born.

No doubt a newborn is better off growing up with a married couple than as the illegitimate child of a single mother on the mend, but the case is still troubling. Our modern system of taking kids away from parents is troubling, to be honest. Not wrong, not immoral, but troubling.

Its subject to abuse. I’m familiar with a couple of instances of the state overreaching, where a social worker just took a disliking to a parent or where there are legitimate differences over parenting style. But most of the abuses I’ve heard of involve private manipulation. I’ve heard of divorced parents manufacturing allegations of abuse and children threatening their parents with manufactured stories of abuse if the parents didn’t give in to the children’s wishes. I was there when a neighbor woman threatened to call child welfare on my parents because they were letting us play outside in a gullywasher.

It also seems necessary. I’ve heard or read about children beat to death or horribly tortured (in the usual case, by a single mom’s new boyfriend with no biological connection to her kids). And friends of ours are foster parents who work hard with their boys only to see them sent back to their druggy, convict relatives.

Studies show that children taken away from their parents do worse than if they stayed except in extreme circumstances, even if they go to good foster homes (probably for the same reason that divorced children usually do worse than if their parents stay together, even if their parents are model divorcees-the disruption itself is the problem). So to the extent that I have any convictions on the subject, its probably that children shouldn’t be taken away from their parents until the damage has already been done.

In an email conversation, reader Ray reminded me that maybe half-formed convictions based on a smattering of studies and anecdotal reading and gossip could profit from seeing what the gospel has to say on the subject.

The scriptures repeatedly command parents to teach their children the gospel. They also make parents responsible for feeding and clothing their children. Since example is a powerful teacher, the parental duty to teach children implies a standard of behavior. Likewise the parental duty to care for children’s physical well-being implies refraining from permanently deleterious abuse.

The Proclamation on the Family gives parents a broad responsibility:

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

And anyone who has attended Priesthood Session anytime in the last few years knows President Hinckley’s views on abuse, including the “emotional abuse” of children.

Still, while these scriptures lay out parental duties, none of them say what should be done when those duties are ignored.

The scriptures tell us that if we don’t magnify our stewardships, they will be taken away from us and given to others. I have applied this idea to children before. But as far as I can tell the scriptures don’t apply the idea to children, and, even if they did, they don’t tell us who is entitled to terminate someone’s stewardship nor by what standard they should judge.

The Doctrine and Covenants does suggest that priesthood authority can be self-terminating ( “amen to the authority of that man”) and what is true of priesthood authority may be true of stewardships generally, but in practice we don’t treat priesthood authority as self-terminating. We recognize the validity of priesthood ordinances performed by priesthood holders who were not really worthy at the time (see discussion here) and we think that it actually requires an act by the presiding authority to strip priesthood power. As far as I know, we don’t have any equivalent to the Catholic concept of automatic, self-executed excommunication.

How about Church practice? Joseph Smith adopted children, the Church encourages single mothers to put up their children for adoption, and the Indian Placement program worked somewhat like a private foster care program. Voluntary transfers of custody are clearly acceptable for the children’s benefit. None of these involved, or were supposed to involve, involuntary transfers however

We probably shouldn’t expect to find anything direct in scripture. As far as I can tell, taking children away from nasty parents is a modern development that postdates almost all of our canonized revelation. (I can think of a few contrary instances–the Ottomans partly justified taking Christian children to be Janissaries on the grounds that the children needed to be Muslims for the salvation of their souls, and I believe that Jewish children were occasionally taken away from their parents in pre-modern Europe for the same reason, though these weren’t revelatory periods).

I’ve shot my bolt, dear readers. Do any of you know of any scripture, sermon, teaching, sacred history, or practice that bears on the subject?

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35 Responses to Taking the Kids Away

  1. mfranti on September 12, 2007 at 11:46 am

    illegitimate child

    this term is and it’s use in 2007 is troubling.

  2. john f. on September 12, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Adam, we should be glad, or at least hope, that the Bible does not address the subject. If it did, do you not think that creedal Christians would have been trying to use it as justification to take children away from Latter-day Saint parents to save the kids from being brought up Mormon?

    Let’s not fall into the same trap. If there is any scriptural reference justifying removal of children from their parents, let’s not bring it into discussion of what a secular government does or does not have the right to do. Whether some book of the Bible or Book of Mormon, or passage in the Qur’an, discusses the removal of children from their parents based on the parent’s failure to act according to the religious duties imposed on them by their specific faith tradition would hopefully never be made the basis for a government to remove children from their parent(s). Such a sectarian policy/government would be a nightmare. It is scary enough when a secular government (which we simply MUST have absent a dictatorship of Jesus Christ himself) does it, as expressed in the Telegraph article you linked. Basing the removal on the failure to live up to some other religion’s ideas of ideal parenthood would be even far more oppressive.

    Having said all this, it is imperative that secular government remove children from homes where they are being physically, mentally, or emotionally abused, tortured, or exploited. The situation described in the Telegraph article, however, is a case of serious abuse of the state’s responsibility to remove children in extreme cases, especially if the allegation made in the article about reaching adoption quotas is true.

    When a society removes children based on vague criteria through secret court sessions, discussion of which places anyone who discusses in contempt of court subject only to jurisdiction of the court to enforce the charge, then it is a dark time indeed for that society.

  3. Blain on September 12, 2007 at 11:48 am

    You’re leaving out a step in the process of taking kids from their homes that most folks ignore or don’t know — social workers never (ever) take children from their homes. Police do, and only after being ordered to do so by a judge. For as many times as it happens, it is used as a last resort, and less than 5% of kids so taken remain outside the family home for 72 hours. Maybe half of those who remain outside the family home for 72 hours will go into foster care. Those who tell you that their children were taken from there because a social worker didn’t like them are withholding part of the truth from you — the part about the evidence that was presented to a judge to justify his order to remove the children.

    Which is not to say that every such order is correct, just to say that there is some due process going on, and it’s not just willy-nilly taking of children with no eye toward the consequences to the lives of the children involved. I work with children in foster care all the time, and some of their stories would blow you away. Sometimes they are the second generation to be in care. I see pregnant teens without a hint of a clue in how to take care of themselves, let alone care for the children they don’t intend to have adopted, and I see the next generation of kids that will keep the foster care industry going.

    My best guess at a solution is to reach middle-school and high-school age kids with some very real talk about the things that lead to children being in foster care, and how the choices they are making right now contribute to that. Because there’s no mystery about what leads to kids going into care — it’s very rare to find a child in care whose parents married at 25 before conceiving the child, and who have not been involved with alcohol, drugs or crime. It does happen, and it usually has to do with brain disorders that limit the child’s ability to control his behavior (it’s more likely to happen with boys than girls). Reducing the number of teens involved with sex, drugs, booze and gangs will reduce the number of children in foster care in a decade, and I don’t know of anything else that will. If anybody else has brilliant ideas, I’d like to know what they are.

    Tweaking the system is going to happen periodically, but that’s just rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship that we can’t allow to sink. This problem is bigger than any of us, and probably bigger than all of us.

  4. john f. on September 12, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Blain, read the Telegraph article.

  5. Richard P on September 12, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Studies show that children taken away from their parents do worse than if they stayed except in extreme circumstances, even if they go to good foster homes

    References?

  6. Susan M on September 12, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Personally, I think the foster care system is too stacked in the parents’ favor, and kids need to be permanently removed and adopted out much quicker than they are. I’m talking kids who are being badly abused—not kids like my grand-nephew, who was taken away from my 16yo niece because she was caught drinking under age. (She did let his foster parents adopt him, though—after she got pregnant again.)

    Sounds like things are out of hand in the UK, though.

  7. Sarah on September 12, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    I think that “unrighteous dominion” describes perfectly what’s going on in the situation Bro. Greenwood linked to.

    Point of fact: having kids “taken away” by the police isn’t the only way children end up in foster care. I worked on a case last week where the parents knew they were having trouble with alcohol, so they asked a relative to take care of the children, then social services got involved because the relative felt they couldn’t do it any more. Three foster families later, social services is asking for permanent custody, even though the parents have done everything they asked them to.

    I’m pretty sure this falls under the category of ‘divine justice’/stuff that will get taken care of in the end, as far as scripture/doctrine is concerned — if you had no training in how to make good decision, you’re held to a different standard than people who did; if you mess up your children, you’re held accountable. Right?

    As far as specifically taking children away from their parents involuntarily — I’m pretty sure it’s one of those things that wasn’t done until modern society came around. Wikipedia puts the start of the idea with Plato’s Republic, which means we can skip over the Book of Mormon and Old Testament completely. You’re looking at the 1850s for modern adoption history, per the University of Oregon, which explains the shortage of topics in the NT and D&C, as well — it was in the 2000 census that the government added a separate category for “adopted son/daughter,” and most of this stuff has always been handled informally within families, anyway. The question wasn’t “when does the state intervene” but “when do I step in and take responsibility for my nephew/grandchild/etc.” And owing to infant mortality and death in childbirth (and short life expectancy in general,) and a comparative lack of indefinite “safety nets,” the problem was totally different before the 1940s, anyway — everything changed, from the absence of extended family to weak local social networks to what people expect from parents.

    Offhand, the only adoption/foster care stories I remember from scriptures either involve what can only be described as “extraordinary circumstances” (Moses) or giving up an older child to the service of God (Samuel.) But I haven’t given it a ton of thought.

  8. Dan on September 12, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Adam,

    Studies show that children taken away from their parents do worse than if they stayed except in extreme circumstances, even if they go to good foster homes (probably for the same reason that divorced children usually do worse than if their parents stay together, even if their parents are model divorcees-the disruption itself is the problem).

    Can you please provide your sources.

  9. Blain on September 12, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    4 — This does sound like a case of abuse of power in placing a child in care. I have no insights into the British system, and no experience with it (IANABrit, IANAL).

    The history of the state concerning itself with the welfare of children is very recent, historically. Children, like wives, were chattel owned by men, and property rights were very strong until the Progressive Era had worked a bit of mojo on the legal system.

  10. Adam Greenwood on September 12, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Great comment, Sarah. Blain, John F., et al., interesting stuff. I’ll respond when I get a chance.

  11. MAC on September 12, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    An article on the subject

    Study: Troubled homes better than foster care

    The study itself

    The Telegraph article is more than a little scary to me.

  12. Jordan F. on September 12, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    How about Church practice? Joseph Smith adopted children, the Church encourages single mothers to put up their children for adoption, and the Indian Placement program worked somewhat like a private foster care program. Voluntary transfers of custody are clearly acceptable for the children’s benefit. None of these involved, or were supposed to involve, involuntary transfers however

    Certain fundamentalist groups interpret Doctrine & Covenants 132:43-44 to mean a wife does not belong to the husband, but to the priesthood, such that if the husband is living “unrighteously” in such a way that he gets out of favor with priesthood leaders or his wife/wives, his family may be reassigned to another man, involuntarily. Is there any practice or “doctrine” in the 19th century latter-day saint faith to justify this interpretation? If so, then perhaps that is a scriptural basis for taking away children/wives from “unrighteous” husbands/parents.

    D&C 132:43-44 reads:

    43 And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery.

    44 And if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many.

  13. Jordan F. on September 12, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Note that I realize that these days, that scripture surely means only that a wife whose sealed husband committed adultery may have the sealing cancelled and be sealed to another man.

  14. Kathryn Lynard Soper on September 12, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    I have no info for you, Adam. I’m just remembering how terrifying it was when we had Social Services in our home after our toddler broke his femur (we still don’t know how it happened). An investigation was required by the state. They said they were going to pull our kids out of school and interview them (to lessen the being-at-home bias). My husband and I don’t beat or violate our kids. Technically speaking we had nothing to hide. But I had no idea what questions would be asked, and how my kids might answer. I didn’t know what evidence the state would need to build a case. And I got the feeling that if these social workers didn’t like us for some reason, they could make life very difficult for us, temporarily at least.

    As it turns out, they made a home visit but didn’t interview the kids. I was tremendously relieved. They said the case was closed but that it would be on file in case a similar incident happened again. And that still feels like a spectre to me. What if something similar does happen? I imagine we’ll be more closely scrutinized.

    In sum, I am glad there are measures in place to help protect kids, but I know that in the process, innocent people pay a price. In my case the price was very small. But I know of people who have really been put through the wringer.

    Hope that wasn’t too much of a tangent.

  15. Adam Greenwood on September 12, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Frightening, KLS. Very frightening. Automatic procedures like that can be super disrupting. You remind me that something similar happened to us once, but we knew the social workers and nothing came of it. The instances of state overreaching I mention are situations like yours where it didn’t just end with a home visit.

  16. polly on September 12, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    We had an incident a few years ago where we were reported to social services. We were getting ready to move and had boxes packed everywhere, plus other stuff waiting to be packed. At the time our kids were 9, 11, 13, and 15 years. Someone reported to cps that our house was messy. We had a new case worker who had never had kids and was very young. He pulled all of our kids out of school (which they can only do if conditions are life threatening) Questioned them over and over. Then he showed up at our front door and informed us of the complaint. He asked us questions such as, is our house safe for a 2 year old? Well, no I haven’t had a 2 year old for several years, and never had any in my house. Why was the kids beds unmade? Because they are responsible for that. He had no clue about moving, and kids. The second time he came, the house was spotless. Luckily he brought an older more experienced companion. She sat down with us. Approved everything, said there was nothing wrong. He wasn’t happy. Made some snarky remarks how I need to clean the kids rooms. He refused to close the case and threatened us with repeated visits to the school and at the new house. As a result for months my youngest had nightmares, there was a lot of insecurity and mistrust of adults with my other kids. To this day I refuse to let my kids have visitors over. If my house had really been filthy, then yes there is some justification. But messy? Is it possible to move with 4 kids and not have boxes and things? But because I pissed off someone, they could make all this trouble. Oh and when I called cps with some questions about the case, I was told I had no rights as a parent. There was nothing I can do. There are horror stories after horror stories of case workers overstepping their boundaries. Yes they are needed, but there needs to be some serious checks and balances. And as far as this case in England, we need to watch out, because the precedents are scary.

  17. queuno on September 12, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Polly,

    I am of the opinion that social services workers should have at least 2 children. I know, I know, that probably cannot be legislated, but there’s a significant difference between having zero children and at least one child, and having one child and having two children. The responsibilities and challenges are much different.

    Social services workers without children just don’t get it.

    (I have a similar rant about how people without children shouldn’t serve on school boards, either.)

  18. Ray on September 12, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    I have no problem with the concept of removing children from their homes who are being abused physically or sexually in their homes or by a relative – as long as the standard is not so lenient that commonly accepted forms of physical discipline are punished. I do oppose adamantly any measures that allow a child to be removed without evidence of prior abuse or overwhelming evidence of prior violent outbursts that led directly to physical harm of another. Anticipatory removal is one of the most frightening precedents I can imagine in this issue, especially in cases like the one described in England where the justification was based on the opinion of a pediatrician (not a psychiatrist or psychologist) who had not even met the woman.

    I support efforts to protect children from cruel and unusual treatment and abuse, but, in general, we have extended the idea of “caring for the children” to such an extreme that we are trampling all kinds of parental responsibilities and raising more and more children who possess a perception of privilege and entitlement even in pockets of poverty.

  19. Ray on September 12, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Sorry; “lenient” should have been “harsh”. (major brain cramp)

  20. Bill MacKinnon on September 12, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    Anyone know the grounds on which the State of Arizona in 1948 took dozens of children away from their parents in connection with the infamous raid of the polygamous community at Short Creek (now Colorado City), Arizona? Were the children sent to foster homes because (1) both parents had been arrested, (2) polygamous parents/households were viewed by the state as “unfit,” or (3) some other reason? My understanding is that the national uproar that arose from that scene — mainly in connection with the disposition of the kids rather than the arrests per se — was such that prosecutions against polygamy came to a grinding halt in Arizona as well as in Utah (until the Tom Green case), from which the Arizona officers had entered Short Creek due to the geography of the area.

  21. Adam Greenwood on September 13, 2007 at 10:10 am

    That’s my understanding too, Bill M.

  22. Ivan Wolfe on September 13, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Working for CPS must be tough.

    Here’s my connection to CPS: A few years ago, my parents, after finally getting rid of all seven of their children, were contacted by CPS to take in a foster kid. No one else in the area was willing to take this kid. The Bishop in our ward in Alaska had taken two of the children, but was unable to take the third. Since my parents had once take a foster kid for a week or two a couple of decades ago, they still were on file. They didn’t really want to, but felt there was no real choice, since there was no one else, and the boys situation was intolerable. CPS should have taken the children away years before.

    The mother was nominally Mormon, but she and her several kids lived in a very small, very filthy trailer. Due to a malpractice settlement over her husbands death, she had plenty of money, so rather than wash clothes, they just bought new ones when the old ones got too dirty (and rather than throwing the old ones out, they just piled them all over the trailer. When the trailer was cleaned out, there were rats nests in many of the piles). The Mother had boyfriends living with her, as did the two oldest daughters, and they all had sex openly in full view of the younger children. The state finally stepped in when the youngest children started showing signs of being sexually interested in even younger children (and there were indications her boyfriends were pedophiles as well).

    Well, that kid did fairly well with my parents – though the state limited what kinds of discipline could be used, they kept him clean and made sure he went to school and had regular dental check-ups. However, the damage had been done. He’s at St. Mary’s home for boys now, and shows little signs of improvement. We all pray for him regularly, though.

    In this case CPS did not act quickly enough (though when she had her last kid, they did forcibly sterilize her. I’m conflicted on that point).

    However, I know lots of other people who have been hounded by CPS for slights such as taking the kids to the Dentist a month late, or because a neighbor had a grudge and made false accusations that, by law, had to be investigated.

    It seems like working for CPS would attract two types of people: truly charitable types and bullies.

  23. JA Benson on September 13, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    This reminds me of the incident involving the He family in Tennessee. Eight years ago a graduate student named Jack He, who had graduated from Nanjing, PRC of China (China’s Harvard), was a graduate student at the University of Tennessee at Memphis. Jack He and his wife had just had their first child. Shortly after his daughter Anna Mae He was born Jack was falsely accused of sexual harassment. Jack He’s scholarship was suspended. Anna Mae had some small medical problem that needed the care of a doctor. Jack and his wife voluntarily gave their daughter up for foster care on the advice of another person so that she could receive medical care.

    Jack’s scholarship was soon reinstated as the charges were proven false. The foster family and the social worker fought the He family denying them custody of Anna Mae for eight years. The reason they gave was that the He family would return to China with Anna Mae; and that living in China was not in her best interest. Finally the case went to the Supreme Court and the He family won. By this time the He’s had left the USA as their student visa was over. The foster family and social services then claimed abandonment.

    How sad for Anna Mae He who was deprived of her parents, culture and language for eight long years. This child was returned ot her parents only speaking English and unfamiliar with Chinese culture. This was clearly a case of cultural bigotry and state sponsored abuse. Such a travesty that it took eight years for justice to be served.

  24. Blain on September 13, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    22 — It is tough, and you’re not even getting to all the parts that make it tough. You have to start by knowing that you’re not going to be able to do much for many of the kids in your case load, because there are too many cases and not enough time (CPS only works with kids for 90 days in my state). So you’re putting out fires with a squirt-gun as a best-case. I was talking to a friend who works in Children’s Administration (the ones who work with kids after 90 days in care), and she’s got extra hoops to jump through that were created to deal with the case workers who don’t do their jobs, but which reduce the time she can spend working with the kids in her case load.

    For anybody having these folks working with your family, my best suggestion is to let go of the fear of them taking your kids, because they don’t want your kids. Listen to what they’ve got to say and see if they’ve got a good point. They might want to wave the club at you to get you to do what they want you to, but ignore that as much as you can. Do what it takes to satisfy them unless it’s clearly wrong — you might find it to be useful. Avoid getting defensive, because that’s just going to tick them off and bring you more attention and flack. To some degree, their involvement is rather like formal church discipline — they work with either the really bad cases, or the cases where they think that their attention is going to help make things better. There’s a big gray area in between where they aren’t going to be able to get enough evidence to justify what needs to be done, and anything less is going to be ineffective.

    This is a field where people burn out on a regular basis, leaving few experienced workers to help with the tough cases. Until you’ve had to deal with twenty at-risk kids at a time, each with one or more bio-parents, one or more foster parents, a guardian ad litem, some with probation officers and prosecutors and defense attorneys, all of whom are demanding your time and attention, as well as a layer or two of supervisors all second-guessing every tough choice you have to make, you might want to cut those who have a little slack if they don’t make every choice correctly. They know that some of the choices they make are life-and-death, but they don’t always know which ones.

  25. Janet on September 13, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    I’m not an anthropologist, but don’t many cultures have de facto foster/adoption care in the form of extended family or tribal connections? I know part of the reason many people objected to the Indian Placement Program was that it took children not from a particular home, but from the tribe itself–and the tribe collectively held some sort of cultural responsibility for its children. I’ll offer a tentative guess that a dearth of canonical and historical treatment of the subject in LDS history might stem from a similar mindset.

    Theoretically, I’m descended from Hyrum Smith via Joseph F. The church and the gov’t have my great-great grandfather listed as a biological descendant, whereas my father’s family insists that great-great was adopted. In my admittedly paltry attempts to solve the mystery, I’ve repeatedly wondered if no clear records exist because to that particular group of people, the responsibility to care for an orphaned child wasn’t externally regulated but seen rather as completely natural. Of course, record-keeping, temple-ordinance performing people that we are….I still wonder.

  26. Ardis Parshall on September 13, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    Janet, there is one sure way to know the truth. Do you have the Smith nose?

  27. Sara R on September 13, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    In the Short Creek situation, the kids and mothers were usually kept together and placed together in foster homes in other areas of Arizona, as I recall from the book I read about it. That was what made the effort futile, because the mothers supported polygamy and taught it to the children. Eradicating polygamy would have required separating mothers and children, and the public thought that in that case the cure was worse than the disease.

    I wonder if public opinion would think the same thing now. I think that we are more likely than we used to to see parents as bad for their children. Sometimes that is with good reason, in the case of drug-addicted parents, and sometimes that’s because of misplaced romantic notions by childless people who think that children are naturally good, and if they are misbehave it is because they have been corrupted by their family.

  28. Adam Greenwood on September 13, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    The idea of taking kids away from their parents because of what they’re teaching their kids is disturbing enough that I think the few rare instances where it might be all right don’t justify putting the idea into law. Prominent academics have already argued that teaching kids religion is child abuse. If teaching kids socially unpopular ideas is child abuse, we’re the abusers.

  29. Janet on September 13, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    Ardis–alas, definitive proof.

  30. Ana on September 14, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    From my year of experience as a foster parent in California, I would say this could never happen here. The system prefers instead to give children BACK to drug addicts, prostitutes, and gang members after they complete a few months of rehab and parenting classes.

    Noooooo … not bitter at all … nooooooo …

  31. Angie on September 14, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Social workers can and do take children from homes– I did it myself when I worked as a social worker. A social worker does not have the authority to to make a unilateral decision about keeping a child out, that happens in consultation with other professionals and by a judge’s order, but even a temporary removal is enormously frightening and traumatic for both parents and children.

    It is my experience that children do generally fare better with their own dysfunctional families than with the best foster parents. However, it can be very difficult as a social worker to determine how seriously at risk a child is. No one wants to be responsible for leaving a child in a home where that child is later seriously injured or killed. There have been a number of well-publicized instances where that has happened.That said, once a child is placed in foster care it is in the child’s best interest to have the case reolved quickly with either adoption or reunification– say within a year, rather than letting the uncertaintly drag on. I also agree that there are far too many young and inexperience caseworkers making these decisions. It tends to be an entry level job, and many of those in that role are young and also don’t have their own children.

  32. Adam Greenwood on September 15, 2007 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for that insight into the system, Ma’am.

  33. Blain on September 16, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    31 — In my state, CPS workers can’t and don’t, but they’re definitely involved, whether they initiated the call or are called in by Law Enforcement.

    I’ve seen not a few cases where the case drags out well over the “within a year” time frame because the parents want to fight with the State and insist that they never did anything wrong, rather than showing a little self-honesty, eating a little crow, and fixing the messes they’ve made. There isn’t grounds for termination, but you can’t send the kid back until the parents do what they need to do. Sometimes, they just can’t quite get their crap together enough to get their kids back, and the kids pay the price for that.

  34. Monica on January 24, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Dear Times and Seasons:

    The reason I am contacting you is because I am trying to find groups, or someone, to help where children being taken away is an issue…at least with information on \”Depositions\” that are used to force you to help them make a case against yourself. I am trying to get help since my 5 year old daughter, Victoria – and later, my infant son, Leonard – were taken from me.

    At the time, when Victoria would do things that she had to focus or concentrate on – like coloring, writing and the like – she would pull the left side of her mouth downward. I thought nothing of it because she figured that it was just a habit that children sometimes do when growing up…just like they do when they sometimes stick their tongues out the sides of their mouths or frown or whatever, when doing something with some effort.

    Anyway, a teacher at Victoria\’s school commented on it, then a nurse got involved, and then Human Services stepped in to dominate the issue while now saying that the said habit is a \”tic\” (later, it was proven that it was just a habit). The county nurse made appointments for Victoria to be checked out that were either out of state or very far away. I was very leery of traveling with Victoria for longer distances because Victoria would always get sick and throw up. Thus, when the county nurse scheduled an appointment, and after I received notice of the appointment, I would call and cancel the appointment. This happened about twice. I commented to one of those involved that I am the Mother of Victoria and that I am the one who will make the appointments. I took Victoria to her local family doctor for a full physical, where the habit (and so-called \”tic\”) was pointed out. After the doctor checked her out, he said that it was just a habit. Ironically, Human Services took Victoria from me the day immediately after the Doctor visit. After doing their tests on Victoria, it is concluded that she never had a tic in the first place and that it is only a habit anyway. Yet, I have never received my children back.

    Victoria was taken on February 10th, 2006 and I was pregnant with Leonard at the time. Leonard was taken from me 2 days after being born while I was still in the hopital recovering from a c-section as well. Leonard was taken based upon the issue that surrounds Victoria being taken. Although Victoria was taken first, Human Services is now trying to terminate my Parental Rights over Leonard through court proceedings since they could not make me sign any TPR documents prior to this…even though they very much tried, while even lying to me and saying that the documents were for something else that they wanted my signature for. Obviously, they\’re just doing this TPR for Leonard right now because the wife (Lisa) of the couple whose care Leonard was put into is a WIC nurse for Family Planning for the county and she is unable to have children of her own and she wants to adopt Leonard… the intent of which Lisa made readily known.

    I have a lawyer working on the case. From what I have seen, he seems to be a good lawyer; however, I always keep an open mind, and I might have some reservations. A deposition hearing is coming up on February 4th in Leonard\’s case. I am the only one that is going to be questioned, and my lawyer is going to be letting me be questioned by the opposition so as the opposition (from what I\’ve researched on depositions) can use my answers from the depositions to build a better case against me. My lawyer only said that the depositions are done so that they can catch me lying. But in any case, why would I even want to put myself into that position for such an advantage for the opposition?

    I thought that maybe with your knowledge and connections, you would know of some groups or people or departments or whatever that help people with these things…and especially for now, would know details on Depositions like these and if I need to go through with them, or if the questions got to be limited or concern certain things or whatever.

    Thank you in advance, and I’ll be anxiously awaiting your reply,

    Monica
    715-921-4268
    monicajule@yahoo.com

  35. JA Benson on January 25, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Monica #34,
    I am so sorry; that is the most horrible thing have heard in a long time. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I pray that the right people will be led to help you and your children.
    God Bless,
    Joanna Benson

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