Imagine having your newborn baby taken away from you because of a falsely reported phone call to Child Protective Services and what that would feel like. And now imagine that they will not give your child back to you, despite years of jumping through hoops to prove that you are a worthy parent, with no evidence to the contrary.
As a mother of two children, I can’t imagine a more terrifying world to live in...and yet, I’ve seen it happen to someone else. I’m here to share that story with you.
Before going into the story, it seems fair to briefly tell you about who I am. Besides being a mother of two wonderful grown children, I am a doctoral student with an M.S. NDR (negotiation and dispute resolution), a B.S. in social science/psychology and an associate degree in criminal justice. I have over 20 years of volunteering in nonprofit organizations and currently work as a Mediation Case Manager for a local nonprofit center. I only share this because it helps to know that my education level and field of study qualify me to make these assessments and hopefully brings credibility to the story.
I have been volunteering my time with a family as their life coach/mentor. I met them in May, 2016 when I was volunteering at the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Protective Services (CPS) in Bend, Oregon. My position was to monitor parent visitations for families that had their children in the State of Oregon’s custody.
I met Amy and Eric when I was the case worker required to observe them during home visits with their nearly 3-year-old son, Christopher, every Friday. Each visit was for three hours, which provided a lot of interaction for me to observe and document. I quickly discovered that this family had no problem at all taking care of their son. They showed loving attention, were attentive to his needs, and at this point had been fighting faithfully in court for almost three years to prove to CPS that they were capable and loving parents. For those of you doing the math, yes, Christopher was removed from them when he was only days old.
In my professional opinion, after multiple sessions observing Amy and Eric interact with their son for hours on end, I found no reason they should have had their child taken from them and placed in the State’s care. Any reasonably trained and educated CPS worker should have arrived at the same conclusion, as I documented in the session notes of every visit.
The couple demonstrated competent parenting skills with Christopher, had no history of abuse or neglect, and expressed a deep desire to have Christopher returned to them to raise him along with the mother’s twin boys. I would also add that it was apparent from their body language and how they treated each other that the couple was in love, and while that is not a requirement to be a parent, it’s a big bonus for a child.
So why was a newborn baby taken away from his mother and father? As the caseworker assigned to the family, I learned their story…
Seven days after losing her own mother, Amy Fabbrini (the mother in this story) gave birth to Christopher at home. She was unaware that she was pregnant. Amy suffers from endometriosis, which is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing pain and menstrual irregularities. She had associated the symptoms of pregnancy with the disorder. After helping with a surprise delivery of his new baby boy, Eric (the father), immediately drove mother and baby to the hospital.
Amy had been living with her parents and her two twin boys after a recent divorce. After losing her mother to Alzheimer’s and the surprise addition of a new child, Amy decided to move the family in with her newborn child’s father, Eric. In what I believe to be a traumatic panic, her grieving father, dealing with the recent death of his wife and now losing the companionship of Amy and the twin boys in his home, called CPS and falsely reported neglect.
Sadly, CPS took infant Christopher, and he has been in foster care ever since. The parents have complied with all of CPS’s requests. There is no abuse. There is no neglect. There is no alcohol or drug use. CPS has simply claimed that they are “retarded” (yes, that was actually the term used by a CPS worker) and that they do not have the intelligence to raise a child.
When I questioned this supervisor assigned to the case, he replied with derogatory remarks about the father and mother. I asked why the couple had not been given their child back. His reply shocked me.
He said, “Eric is retarded, fat and lazy. There is no way that I am allowing them to have Christopher.”
Other times in passing, he said things like, “Have you seen Eric’s teeth? He could never give Christopher the care he needs.” The way that this supervisor spoke about the parents was anything but professional. It was then that I realized that this couple had been up against a powerful agency that seemed to have little or no accountability.
After I had spent almost three months observing this family and reporting weekly on my observations, we learned that none of the reports I had submitted to CPS were given to the court or the attorneys representing each parent. Eric continually asked his attorney to get copies of the reports that I had submitted. After no reports were produced by CPS, Eric’s attorney asked me if I would be willing to testify in court regarding my observations of the visits. I agreed.
While on vacation in California, I testified telephonically in court on behalf of Eric and Amy, and reported my observations that were in the reports that they could not obtain from CPS. I reported the interactions that I observed between Eric, Amy and their son, Christopher. I told the judge that I did not understand why CPS had not returned this now almost 3-year-old child back to his parents.
Just a few days after I testified in court, I was notified from CPS that they “no longer needed my volunteer help” because they “had recently hired someone for the position.” I was asked to come in and turn in my key to the building along with all equipment that CPS had given me to use while I was in an observation.
When I got back from my vacation, I met with the supervisor and turned everything in. During that meeting, I asked for clarification as to why I was being released [just days after my testimony] from a “volunteer position,” and why I was being treated so differently by him that afternoon. He only replied with “we have a new hire for your position,” and then said, “I will need to walk you to the door; you now have no clearance to walk freely.”
As I walked to the door (which was approximately a football field away in distance), he walked behind me. The feeling from him was cold, as if I did something criminal. His demeanor was completely opposite of how he used to conduct himself in my presence. Prior to the testimony I gave in court, the supervisors would tell me how thankful they were to have me and my expertise.
I decided to continue to work with the family as a life coach and mentor, volunteering my time to help them get their son back. Their case with Christopher is currently in the appellate courts because CPS has moved toward adoption, permanently removing the child from them.
Eric has a normal high school diploma and tested in the middle of his class. Amy also has a normal high school diploma. The two of them have newer vehicles, a three-bedroom, two-bath house and live in Redmond, Oregon.
Recently, Amy gave birth to another healthy boy, named Hunter. Even though this new baby is viewed as a “new case,” CPS came into the hospital and took Hunter from his parents. They did not do any investigation to see if this child was at risk. They simply took him.
When the worker arrived, he was not even prepared to take the newborn infant. He had to ask the hospital for diapers, wipes, blankets, an outfit, formula, and did not once ask the nurses about the care of the infant with the parents. I had spent hours with the family in the hospital, and they kept hourly records of their child (e.g., when he nursed, when he wet the diaper, when he had a bowel movement, etc.). They were very caring, attentive, happy, and in love with their new baby boy.
The night before CPS came to take the child, they informed me that they were coming to take the infant. I offered my home to CPS for the child, and that I would provide 24/7 observation with the family in my home, and that I would work from home to give this mother a chance to bond while CPS did their “investigation.” They refused.
The next morning, I emailed the case worker peer-reviewed journal articles explaining the neuroscience regarding the trauma that occurs to an infant when it is taken from his mother, and how the first several weeks are a very crucial time for nutrition (from breastmilk), bonding and attachment development. He emailed me back with, “can I call you?” However, he never called. He came that day at 2:00 pm and took the infant.
In court the next Tuesday we pleaded to have the child returned to me as a caregiver so that Amy could nurse and bond with the infant. The judge agreed to have CPS perform a background on me and encouraged the infant to return to mother with 24/7 monitoring until CPS was done with their investigation. To this day, they still have not performed a background check on me. I have sent probably 20 emails. We are now asking for an expedited court date and want to expose this case. It is criminal and inhumane what CPS is doing.
If you have any ideas; (i.e. contacts for news stories, lawyers, or other organizations that you feel you can connect me to; I would be most appreciative. Please send all inquiries to email@example.com. Thank you so much for your support.
- State Senator
PLEASE Help the fight to get Christopher and Hunter back to their parents!
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