I could use some thoughts..
- I am a family rights advocate. I have a Yuma County client who has a
unique situation. Complicated, but I believe can be followed... I
will try to be clear.
Mom was young, making bad decisions. She was married to Dad, but
relationship was volatile, and he had a drug problem. Mom gave birth
to children while staying with Grandmother of babies, HER mother, and
when she would go to try to mend the marriage, the children stayed
with their Grandmother. Grandmother had them from birth.
In 2000, Grandmother and Mom had a falling out. Mom was going to take
the children. Grandmother was afraid for their safety with their drug
addicted father, and asked for DHS help to prevent this. DHS stepped
in and removed the children from the legal custody of the mother,
approved the Grandmother as a kinship foster placement, and placed
the children with her. After unsuccessful attempts at a treatment
plan, Mom's parental rights were terminated Dec 2001. Dad
relinquished his rights Feb 2002. Grandmother commenced adoption of
In April 2002, Grandfather was accused of molesting an older
child in the home. He was ordered to stay away from the children
until resolution. The DHS director in this small town attempted to
bribe the Grandmother to testify against the Grandfather by offering
to "let you keep the little kids if you help us get him put away".
Grandmother knew of her own observance that Grandfather did not do
the things of which he was accused, and refused to lie on the witness
stand. This enfuriated the department which then demanded psych
evals, etc of the Grandmother. The director met with the evaluator
just before the evaluation was done, and exchanged a lucrative job
offer for the evaluation that would crucify the Grandmother. When
Grandmother received news of the final report from the evaluator, she
panicked. She believed, from the language of the hearings that she
had always had custody of the children. She decided that before the
department could take the children out of her custody, she would take
the children to Mexico to avoid their traumatization. DHS found her
and had her returned to Colorado, took the children to foster homes,
and indicted the Grandmother for kidnapping, later dropped to
violation of a custody order... a felony.
From Oct. 2003 to date, she has not been allowed to see or
communicate with the children. In Feb, 2006, Grandmother was finally
convicted of violating a custody order. She awaits sentencing, which
her attorney assures her will likely be probation. The child
protection court has allowed her to continue to participate in the
hearings in the D&N court as an intervenor. After her conviction, she
was dismissed as an intervenor, the court clearly deciding that
adoption by non-relatives would be in order. BUT...
While all of this has been going on, the biological Mother has
completed her sentencing for the drug charges etc, passed through a
treatment plan with flying colors, completed therapy, and is working,
seeking higher education, making decent money, and stable. Her
children have been moved around to FIVE foster homes in 2-1/2 yrs.
The oldest has always been separated from his sisters, now is
reported to present such behavior problems, he requires possible
institutionalization. He was NEVER a problem before the foster care.
The girls, who were extremely young, and are now 6 and 8, are
sometimes separated, others not, and both noted to be poorly
adjusted, one having serious "melt downs" often. The Mother wants to
know, since her rights were terminated on the claim that she could
not complete her treatment in time to satisfy the statutory
requirement to rehabilitate within six months, and since Colorado
requires expedited permanency for young kids under 6, she would not
be capable of caring for them within the time limit, her rights were
terminated. The children's permanency out weighed the mother's rights
NOW, it's been FIVE YEARS, since her TPR. The children
are STILL in limbo, rapidly approaching becoming legal orphans. They
still aren't together, are not in stable homes, are not settled and
bonded. She wants to know, is there some mechanism under which she
can petition the court for custody of her own kids? She didn't
appeal the TPR because she faced jail and knew it would be futile at
the time. But NOW, the state has failed those kids so horribly, she
is now in a position to do MUCH more for them, and to keep them
together. She wonders, can she challenge the validity of the TPR
because of the ineffective assistance that was GLARING, and the clear
failure of the state of Colo to be a BETTER parent to her children?
or can she petition the court for custody of the children and
overcome the TPR and jail history? Her convictions were for drugs
and for check writing and she is completely clean, has been since
2002. She was never accused of any sort of abuse or even of neglect,
except to the degree that her lifestyle would be unsafe for her kids.
She knew that, which is WHY they were with her mother in the first
place. She is asking if there is some way to challenge the job of
permanency the STATE has provided, and declare her right to care for
her own kids, since they are still suffering.
IDEAS? Thanks, this one is WAY over my head.
christine, Colorado FRAI.