We are writing about cases in which we had full access to confidential evidence and full documentation as to the credibility of the evidence and production of such in court.
The fact that the cases were improperly adjudicated by the juvenile, dependency, and family courts is a travesty and a tragedy. Each of these cases should have been litigated as multiple due process and civil rights violations.
The lawyers representing the clients in these actions sided with parties that financially benefited from ongoing extensive remuneration and contacts beneficial to the ongoing business relationship, benefiting all parties but destroying the children and families involved.
A case in point
A Kentucky church took up the cause of a foster family seeking to protect four young children from parents whose form of discipline was to have the children open their mouths so that the parent could place a hot knife on the children’s tongues. These parents had induced such fear in the children that they voluntarily opened their mouths.
When the children came to this family, they were unable to speak. Their tongues were swollen and black from the burn injuries that they had sustained. The injuries were fully documented medically, as was the full recovery. Photos were taken of these injuries and sent to the FCVFC.
The FCVFC went to Kentucky and spoke at the church about the work that needed to be done. A member of the church wrote a check for the retainer for the Foundation to immediately begin work on this case.
The foster family had one child and were unable to have more children. They were willing and able to keep these four foster children together and wanted to adopt them. When I arrived in Kentucky, they had gone through all but the last approval level for the final adoption. They were not a wealthy family but their friends and family had supported the adoption financially and emotionally. The entire community in which they were involved, church, school, friends, family, embraced these children who had been through such horrendous abuse.
When I met the children, interviewed them, watched them through day and night activities over the period of a week of my evaluation, it was clear that the children were thoroughly bonded to their foster parents and eagerly waiting for and praying for the final adoption to be approved. The children excelled in school and had friends in the community. They had comfortable rooms decorated with pictures and books and all forms of learning material.
They loved their older sister, who was 7 at the time, they loved their church and friends, they said their prayers at bedtime and slept comfortably in cozy beds, having overcome nightmares and multiple somatic complaints.
The children were dressed beautifully, medically attended to, and looking forward to a secure future in their home.
However, having in the past worked to assess and clear families for adoptions, I was acutely aware of how financially driven adoptions are, with their fees for pre-adoption processes and adoption workups.
Until an adoption is finalized, any case could theoretically be shut down at any time as an alternate adoptee family is considered to be for whatever reason a “better” fit for the children.
This would start the process all over from the beginning, all the fees for adoption service evaluations and for legal engagement and court appearances, as one family is terminated and work is begun with another.
I submitted my preliminary report immediately, as in my view there were clearly signs of glitches and out ramps for the adoption agency to avoid approving the family on vague and spurious terms. I believed that those vague spurious terms needed to be sealed off immediately.
I knew that this family was still in the tepid zone and vulnerable, even though this seemed inconceivable as the time spent in foster care with this family, the love, devotion, and financial and emotional investment made with these children, the palpable perceivable success of these children’s growth and development within this family and the bonding process that took place should have been enough to make any alteration in the arrangements totally inconceivable.
After I submitted my report, the attorney for the family appeared to support the report and sealed off all areas of concern.
However, my fears were realized.
At the very last moment, the adoption firm case worker inserted an objection that to the best of my knowledge was never fully articulated.
But what in fact became clear was that another family in the community who was extremely wealthy and had ties to the adoption agency had placed an application for these children. The adoption agency suddenly stopped the finalization of the adoption.
News of this crack in the foundation was met with catastrophic shock and hysteria from the children. The multiple successes of my reports, my court appearance to support the family, were suddenly being upended.
The same lawyer who supported and approved my work suddenly sided with the adoption agency and suddenly could not be found for me to speak to with regard to challenging his presence in the case as well as my demanding that the reasons for this sudden shift be challenged and that that attorney be fired immediately.
I spoke with the FCVFC’s benefactor from the church, who was willing to support my recommendations.
The attorney who was to represent the attorney but also represented, in fact, the adoption agency, turned against me, and suddenly found fault with my credentials because of my contentious relationships with a variety of licensing boards with which I had once been engaged.
The reasons for the withdrawal of my licensing was not dissimilar to this situation in which I raised issues of fraud and collusion between the adoption agency and the funding agency, who was willing to close out the current adoption approval to begin a new investigation, including the immediate transfer of the children from the home in which they had been fostered for more than two years.
It was in fact decided that the children would be transferred to a family that they had never met before, in the most traumatic and brutally insensitive manner anyone could imagine.
The option floated for the children was to choose between on the one hand, reunification with their family of origin,with support and supervision, with the parents who burned the children’s tongues and brutalized them. Or on the other hand, accepting becoming acquainted with this new family, who were willing with utmost insensitivity and callousness to force these children from the home and family that it was clear they loved and who loved them and had nurtured them to health.
This other family, with wealth and power, were willing to leverage that power to place the children in an entirely compromised situation, such that they had no choice but to leave the family they loved as opposed to going back to parents whose brutality they could not have survived.
My recommendations for fighting the case, appealing the judgment, and suing DCF and the adoption agency for damages as recommended prior to the ultimate decision to remove the children, was not upheld.
The children were in fact packed up, being forced to leave all the clothes, toys, books, and personal items they had accumulated over the years with their foster family, because they were being taken to a new home that would buy them new clothes and new books and would afford them luxuries, a new school, and a new neighborhood. They would not be allowed to see their adopted sister or the family they had so bonded with.
The children were carted off in a large SUV and were forced to wave goodbye to the family they loved, who were beyond hysterical in the departure.
I was later informed that shortly after this departure, the mother of the family, who had suffered from a rare blood disorder disease but had been considered cured over a 10-year period, found that the disease returned with a vengeance. She was not expected to live beyond another year.
The fate of the children is unknown.
In my estimation it was unquestionable that anything other than financial remuneration drove the decision to uproot these children and upend their lives. The attorney who represented the family forfeited his fiduciary responsibility and his basic moral and ethical personal credibility to support ongoing business, essentially destroying the lives of the family he represented and these children who suffered so much.
The FCVFC has evolved to date to be able to advance the cause of our clients and to take the next steps for the benefit of our clients and society as a whole.