Change the Law that gives Health and Welfare C.P.S. the sole authority in making decisions in adoption/placement of Minor Children. This Law is unfair and I believe all parties involved (CASA) should be heard.
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On March 23rd, 2013 my daughter Shadow V. Cossaboom Iverson passed away unexpectedly. When this happened her daughter Anika, age 5 at the time, had been residing with my grandmother Nadine Paige for 5 days of the week. Due to my daughter's chronic pain she thought it in the best interests of Anika if she reside there and this was the living arrangement that was in place for 15 months prior to her death. She left a holographic will that gave my grandmother the ability to care for Anika in her absence.
Anika's biological father,despite his recent incarceration and Child endangerment case, thought it a good time to take custody of his estranged daughter upon this unfortunate event. I would like to note also that at the time her father was only allowed one hour a week supervised visitation as a result of his attempted kidnapping of Anika. However; he had not exercised these for over 16 months and there had been absolutely no attempt to contact Shadow or my grandmother by himself or his family.
Since her father had a recent child endangerment case open with Health and Welfare Child Protective Services, they stepped in at the time he started his custody inquiry and two days after her mother's death, which she witnessed, Health and Welfare came in and ripped her away from the only family she had ever known. No questions were asked as to her situation, or her already stable environment. No one asked if there was a safe place with family SHE KNEW in which she could stay. Instead they placed her in the care of her biological father's parents who were no more than strangers!
As if this little girl hadn't suffered enough, now she is in a strange home, with kids (her half-siblings) that are jealous of her and abuse her by biting, scratching and breaking her toys. She is not allowed to contact her family,or see her brothers and sisters or her uncle( who is younger than her and also very close to her). My heart breaks at the trauma this little girl has been forced to endure. How can this be in the best interest of the child?
Not long after this, a hearing was set and the decision as to the temporary placement of Anika would be made. My grandmother acquired her Foster Parents License in the hopes this would aid her in the attempt to bring Anika back home as well as the adoption process Health and Welfare informed her that she could NOT be considered for placement permanently without obtaining the License. It came out later that they had placed the three of Anika's half-siblings there as well as Anika PRIOR to the foster family receiving their license, and I have to wonder how once again, is this in the best interest of the child?
My grandmother filed for adoption and then to our dismay so did the foster family shortly after. Meetings with CASA were encouraging as their recommendation was in favor of my grandmother being the home to which Anika was placed. After all this is what Anika had requested time and time again. And so week after heart wrenching week we waited. Almost all of the holidays and birthday celebrations to which Anika was accustomed to attending were denied to us. We were also told we could no longer take her to the church where she grew up attending. Her school was changed to accommodate the foster family with no concern to the fact that she wanted to go to school where her mother had gone. All of these things are in direct opposition of the guidelines In which Health and Welfare are supposed to operate. I read them and I was outraged at the lack of concern that was paid to following their own guidelines!
Unfortunately in the end Anika was never allowed to come home to us!! Health and Welfare had already made up their minds to place her with the foster family and nobody's opinion mattered! Not the Judge, or the court appointed child advocate from CASA, or my distraught grandmother, or my deceased daughter's wishes. My grandmother was denied in the adoption by Heath and Welfare because of her age! It seems really unjust and unfair that the only peoples opinion that mattered in this case was the people who had the least involvement with the process, had a pre-existing relationship with thefoster family and displayed no concern for the best interests of the child from the start.
During the time that the case was yet undecided there were also more than one report of children being abused by the foster family. These reports were made from outside parties and the reports went un-heeded and ignored! It seems there is a huge problem in the process and I can only wonder how many families have been ripped apart and more harm than good done by the people in charge of protecting our children!
Since the adoption was made final with no concern for our family or Anika's happiness, things have gotten worse.The every other week visiting we used to get has all but stopped. The foster family have posted pictures on Facebook of them wearing t-shirts that say "She's Ours Now!" in a disturbing jab at the destruction of our family's hopes of bringing Anika home. I can only guess this is retaliation due to a comment that was once made regarding Anika not visiting them for the 15 months prior.However it was due to her father continually no-showing for his visitation appointments that she was'nt able to see them. Eventually he stopped going all together.
Anika has recounted abusive actions by both of the foster parents as well as an environment that is not conducive to her healing or even being able to grieve the loss of her mother. In fact the "blankies" she had been given BY her mother were taken away from her and condemned as DIRTY. Those were all that she had of the things her mother had given her and she kept them by her always. How much must this little girl endure? Please help us our little girl needs to come home!!!
It is heartbreaking to think that children and families are torn to shreds needlessly over something so simple as the wording of a law. This Law needs to change to allow the Courts to have Jurisdiction. Health and Welfare should not have this much authority as it gives too much room for things to be manipulated and mis-used. Checks and balances are important and I fully believe there needs to be a balancing agent here where none exist. No entity should have sole jurisdiction that allows them to override even the court appointed advocates, let alone the Judge in who's Honorable courtroom the hearings take place.
I can't stop the tears from rolling down my face day in and day out. Not only for the loss of my beautiful daughter, or the further devastation this whole mess has caused in our already shaken family, but for the children who have and will suffer if we don't change this Law! What I can do is cry out for justice and try my best to help change the law that gave them the power to ignore us and discriminate against my grandmother and stop this from happening to some other child somewhere!
Please help me in getting a fair hearing and changing this law and put an end to any further families being ignored and shut out of the decisions in the placement of minor children!!!
Help Bring Anika Home...
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