August 3, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
I recently wrote three pieces about the scandalous decision by the California Supreme Court that, forever after, allows child protective agents to remove children from parents absent any showing of abuse, neglect or unfitness on their part. The Court ruled that the mere supposition (there apparently was no evidence) of a substantial risk of harm to the child was sufficient for the state to remove it from its parents.
Having written about that so recently, this caught my eye:
The question arises: What horrors did the real parents do that could justify CPS putting a child into such heinous situations?
Our investigation reveals the shocking truth: nothing.
That quotation is from this article (Medical Kidnap, 8/2/17).
The case referred to took place in Arizona, not California, so obviously the California court’s ruling had no impact on it. But the point is clear; when CPS can take a child based on what caseworkers deem not harm, but risk of harm in the future, bad things can happen. In the case reported on, what happened to little Devani (last name withheld) weren’t just bad, they were horrible. Indeed, so driven to deprive Devani of her natural parents were caseworkers and court personnel, it’s hard not to conclude that they were motivated by something other than her welfare. That “something” of course might well have been the financial incentives offered by the federal government to place children in foster care and have them adopted.
To be clear, Devani’s parents were far from ideal. Her mother, Michelle Tremor-Calderon, had a drug problem in the past and her father, Jonathan Hileman, had done prison time for sexually abusing an adult. No one wants to whitewash those past behaviors.
But apparently Arizona Department of Children’s Services decided that those behaviors alone were sufficient to deprive the parents of their daughter. In the process, Devani suffered horrific abuse at the hands of foster parents, abuse that was so bad that she’s been permanently disfigured. She was not quite two years old when DCS swooped in.
In early April 2013, Michelle and Jonathan got into an argument – a shouting match during which allegedly there was no physical contact and no violence. A neighbor called the police, and domestic violence charges were filed against Michelle. The charges were quickly determined to be without merit, and they were dismissed immediately.
At the time of the incident, Devani was at her paternal grandmother’s home. She did not witness the argument.
Nonetheless, DCS became involved. On April 17, the day after the charges were dismissed, social worker Norel Alviti showed up at the grandmother’s home without a court order or warrant to take Devani into state custody. Michelle and Jonathan were at work at the time.
But take Devani into “care” she did. The next day, Michelle showed Alviti court documents demonstrating that the DV case had been dismissed. Altviti wasn’t impressed. She demanded Michelle take a drug test. She complied. It came back clean.
That gave caseworkers the opportunity to delve into Michelle and Jonathan’s pasts. They uncovered her drug history and his prison time. Apparently that was enough to convince them to keep Devani forever. They placed her with one foster mother who seems to have abused the child from the start. Michelle complained and Devani was placed with David Frodsham and his wife Barbara.
Caseworkers and Devani’s court-appointed attorney ad litem, Thea Gilbert, were quite enthusiastic about the Frodshams, including recommending them to adopt Devani. They were, that is, right up until David was arrested, tried and convicted of running a child pornography ring. Into the bargain, he or others may have sexually molested Devani.
Undeterred by failing twice to place the child with foster carers who treated her better than her parents did, DCS placed her again. Did they place her with her maternal grandmother who’d been certified to adopt a child out of foster care? No, they placed her with Justin and Samantha Osteraas.
Justin and Samantha Osteraas applied to adopt her through the now-closed St. Nicholas of Myra adoption agency, which worked with Christian Family Care. According to the lawsuit and advocates, the adoption licensing agency and DCS missed numerous signs that the Osteraas family could be harmful to children.
According to court records, DCS was warned that Samantha abused drugs and had a tendency toward violence. Justin’s brother told Pima County detectives that he had warned the adoption agency that Samantha was dangerous and should not be licensed to adopt.
Meanwhile Michelle had done everything demanded of her by DCS, parenting classes, drug screens, etc. But DCS preferred the Osteraases despite Samantha’s own brother’s warning to them.
On December 29, 2016, Samantha reportedly held Devani down in a bathtub of scalding water, then left her suffering for six hours before calling 911.
The little girl had burns over 80% of her body and has had to undergo multiple surgeries including the amputation of all ten of her toes.
The linked-to article reads like a nightmare. Everyone involved with Devani failed her, everyone except her parents. But in the face of an implacable state agency, they could do nothing to protect the daughter they, by all accounts, loved dearly. Part of that inability to protect their daughter came from the ability of DCS to take a child from parents who were never shown to be unfit, abusive or neglectful. As so often happens, the child suffered far more at the hands of foster parents than her own.
Thanks to the state Supreme Court, that’s what now faces countless children in California.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
#Childprotectiveservices, #childabuse, #parentalrights, #fostercare