You will recall that I recently posted prayer requests for my good friend and fellow midwife Nancy. With her permission, I am posting more of what is involved in this situation.
Basically, her eldest son was accused of abusing his 10 y/o sister. As a result of this allegation, the local child protective services decided unilaterally that her entire family was endangered, and took custody of all her children, even to the point of wrenching her nursing 13 month old baby from her arms when they were at a hearing.
The CPS folks seem to have a rather elastic concept of truth and justice, from what I have been hearing. Of course, I am only hearing one side but I have known Nancy for years, have stayed at her house, been with her children, and seen her parenting style.
Here are some excerpts from her deposition:
1. We have been married for 25 years and have 12 children. Three of these are adult children who are married, one is legally adopted, and one we have been caring for as parents for 5 years under a notarized form from her biological father which has given us permission for adoption as well.
2. NONE of our biological children was born out of wedlock.
3. We have always, during the entire course of our marriage, had one stay-at-home parent, (with the exception of about a 3 month period of time over 18 years ago). We have taken our children to and from school in our personal vehicle, we have taken them on family trips, to religious education, to church services weekly and 2-3 times a week during the Lenten season.
12. While James and Nancy were at the center where the interviews were performed with ++++ and ####, the ++++ was with them. The other children were at home with an adult sitter. A panic call from the sitter indicated that () was at our home in Queen Creek to remove all of our children. They were forcibly removed and were not given time to eat, drink or obtain belongings.
13. **** was removed from Nancy’s arms while at the Center. She was not allowed to breast-feed *** when we were told to leave. Our other two children, ++++ and ###, were not fed while at the center, despite Nancy asking for them to be fed. They later reported they were not given food until after dark that night- and this is after () had been told they had not eaten since 6:00AM. (just before we had to leave home to get to Central Phoenix in time for an 8:00AM appointment).
17. Wednesday afternoon after the children were taken, Nancy made multiple calls and complaints. We needed to find out WHAT they were going to feed **** and if we could drop off breast-milk for him. It was finally at almost 5pm that the Case worker called to tell us to bring the milk right then because she has to leave at 5pm. We live about 40-45 minutes from the office. When Nancy said it wouldn’t be possible to get there that fast, the Case worker said she would wait a little while.
18. The case worker stated that there would be a meeting the next day to discuss if the children would be returned to us.
19. The next day, at this “meeting”, it had already been decided, before we arrived, that the children would not be placed back with us. There was no decision making process, no discussion of options, no effort at all to make arrangements to place the children back with us. They wrote a report which is erroneous. They stated that the children would not be placed with older siblings. We also were asked to bring in clothing for them because they did not have any. They kept insisting that we had to have known and yet would not tell us WHAT EXACTLY it was that we were supposed to know.
20. We were allowed a visitation with our children on Friday, May 5th. Our #### had been punched, our **** had not been allowed to eat, our &&&& had not been fed, and the ++++ was sick and dehydrated. Later, the (), told me that the baby “had not eaten much at all the day before”. We brought each of the children bags with several sets of clothing, misc. shoes, socks, underclothing, and bathing suits.
21. On the morning of May 11, 2006 James and Nancy went to the Juvenile Courthouse to see if papers had been filed for a court hearing. We had been told that in the papers would be “the reasons” our children were taken from us. Having read the papers now, we are even more horrified that the CPS Agency has continued to lie, providing inaccurate information, despite having the correct information at hand.
In her most recent letter to me she wrote:
If you can find a lawyer to help us fight them on a federal level (any state license I think works then!), I'd take it in a heartbeat
I've sent it (the letter that is in the extended entry) off to every pro-life Legislature in AZ so it is not like there is a big secret. except from John Q public that is.
To make it better, they won't let us have (her foster child) back. They terminated our rights on Tues without telling us. They inform us we have no rights because we do not have a court order giving us custody of her, we only have the notarized letter from her father.
They also said that they have no knowledge of the whereabouts for the father which is not true. They do, yet they are talking about publicizing anyhow. We interruppted the judge and TOLD her YES they DO have his information. They LIED (again, but no one seems to be bothered by that). "Oh, irregularities occur, it was just a mistake..." is what one of the lawyers said.
Terminating our rights and taking our daughter away because we have no court order. *Just because they WANT TO, and have decide they can!!!*
Our lawyers were going to push for us to have at least some of the kids back today, then the Assistant Attorney General told them that the MCSO (Maricopa County Sheriff's office) has forwarded charges for them to review to decide if they want to press criminal charges against us, 'so naturally, they don't want to place the children back with us again just yet'.
We have another hearing Tues PM. (the 18y/o) called and asked when HIS hearing is...We don't know. He did say he only had his wallet with him when he was arrested, whiile the police are saying he had a journal on him and they are using it for evidence.
Her letter to legislators follows. Folks, keep praying. I'll let you know what I learn as I can.
Dear Sirs and Madams,
The text of this letter is nearly identical to letters I have sent to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and to Attorney General Andrew Thomas.
I am contacting you because of a situation in my family which has led to multiple offenses by MCSO and CPS in our opinion, ie "Maricopa County" and the "State of Arizona". I am very scared and nervous as I write, for many reasons, but primarily because I fear the injustice of the system and have already been victim, as have my children, to the misuse of power in this situation. I fear for the safety of my children more than anything and one of my children especially, who is herself a victim, is bearing the brunt of this.
It seems that our State has deemed it possible, and in fact preferable, to decide that parents are guilty, and not presumed innocent, indirect opposition to our United States Constitution. Under the Guise of the "Multi Disciplinary Protocol for the Investigation of Child Abuse", if there has been an allegation of abuse, children are taken from their parents under the assumption that we "should have known". In our case, an ARMED, UNIFORMED, MALE Sheriff's Deputy, came to take ##### "away" for questioning in a marked car. He was unaccompanied and ##### was very much intimidated by a grown man with a gun! He had NO, *absolutely NO* paperwork to take our child from school- yet he was Allowed to do so??!!
I have seen numerous situations where there is actual, visible or admitted abuse, by the parents themselves, where nothing is done and children are left in the home, yet in our situation, when there is no proof and only allegations *against another party* , the extent of which we are not being informed of, we are being accused and treated as if guilty.
I am sorry this letter does not flow well, but please let me back up and explain:
My husband and I have been married for 25 yrs. We have 12 children, 1 who is adopted, one whom we have guardianship of. 3 Children are married.
We have *always* had one parent stay at home with the exception of about a 3 month period which was over 18yrs ago. We keep a tight reign on our children, or at least we have tried to. We do primarily family activities, including religious education and attending church services weekly, and 2-3 week times during the Lenten Season when possible.
I don't remember all the facts, but recently we were told #### c/o being molested by our 18 y/o son. He has been in jail since that time and is obviously not allowed to come back home.
We have repeatedly told everyone involved we had no knowledge and no idea of the possibility of any molestation happening, until after our son was in jail.
Despite that, at the direction of the MCSO, CPS was told (per Marilyn Schalliol at DES Family Advocacy) that our children should be removed. They say we are being charged with "failure to protect". They are using a clause from the ARS, Section 8 that states they can take the children away in "situations in which the parent knew or REASONABLY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that a person was abusing or neglecting a child"
Even if sexual abuse is conclusively shown at the end of all this- it is widely known that children to not typically tell their parents, the CPS people, "Crista" even admitted this. We have made every effort to cooperate, and we have made countless statements to the FACT that we had no idea anything even remotely abnormal was happening in our household. How many other families are Intact? How many intact families have one parent stay at home? How much more could we have protected our children? We even drive them to and from school in our personal vehicles.
Since we had no knowledge of anything prior to my son's arrest, and since we have repeatedly told everyone we can think of this, we are at a loss to understand how our children could be taken from us. None of our children, aside from our 10 y/o , has made any accusations as far as we understand. We are not however being told the truth, let alone the whole truth about many things.
MCSO has directly lied during statements to my husband and probably myself. CPS has lied and has admitted to it. We have not been given a court date and time as of this letter, and from what I can tell from reading the "Guidelines" , even if they decide to put our case eventually in the "basket" they can review it every 30 days INDEFINITELY. The guidelines clearly state there is NO STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS. Even if our daughter was to come forward and admit fabrication, the charges against us stay. That is what has been written by our state government. Additionally, if the children are kept from the home via a dependency, and later returned to us, ANY OF OUR CHILDREN CAN BE TAKEN a second time and our parental rights TERMINATED, *without any reason, without any proof of anything at any time*. All the "state" needs, (in this case a childless, single young woman, aged 25) is someone who thinks something is "not normal". I can tell you that as a mom of a large family, there are LOTS of people who think that, in and of itself, is not normal.
I want to know WHAT the charges are against my husband and myself and how, for each individual child, these charges apply. I don't want a global "failure to protect" statement, I want concrete examples and proof.
We HAVE NOT EVER failed to protect our children and I resent that they have been taken from us and placed in harms way. My children have not been fed, have been mistreated, are being denied the company and pleasure of their family, siblings, friends and parents. They are being denied their religious rights to attend church services and to receive communion.
The social worker/case worker and the manager have not returned our calls the vast majority of the time.
I only want to protect my children, as does my husband. To be accused of failing to do so, and then having our children taken from us on those grounds cuts us to the very core. My little 13mo old son was totally breastfed when he was taken. I can't even get the CPS department to call us back to tell us if he still has breastmilk to drink. To know that my children have at times not even been fed while in CPS/MCSO custody is very disturbing.
I intend to pursue this as far as need be because I KNOW we have done nothing wrong and I fear for the safety and well-being of my children. I am under the assumption that you are a fair and honest and I hope you will endeaver to help us rectify this situation.
Nancy Sandrock, RNC, CNM, MSN