Child Protective Services Strikes Again! December 23, 2010Posted by angryscientist in Uncategorized, Whistleblower Corner.
In this case, a mother will probably lose her infant children, and why? Apparently because at one point in her life, she was a prostitute. Carl Kozlowski at the Pasadena Weekly has written an article about her ordeal.
Baby mama drama
Mary O’Connor successfully battled eviction, but can she win the fight for her children?
By Carl Kozlowski 12/16/2010
For much of the past decade, Mary O’Connor’s life has been defined by hardships that were a mix of bad luck and bad decisions. Pasadena Weekly readers may recall a four-part series of articles in 2008 that documented her ultimately successful fight to avoid eviction for possessing eight animals — some pets, some legally recognized service animals — in her rundown Los Angeles studio apartment.
Now O’Connor’s engaged in an even more difficult battle, one with much more at stake. She is fighting for the right to keep and raise her two young children, a 17-month-old son named Eamon, who was taken from her at just 25 days old, and a 3-month-old daughter named Maureen, rather than allowing the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) force her into giving them up to the foster care system or for adoption.
O’Connor hasn’t seen Eamon in more than 4½ months and lives in fear that he may soon forget who she is altogether, as DCFS officials have placed him in an adoptive placement home as preparation for letting a married couple of UCLA graduates adopt him. Meanwhile, O’Connor is hiding from the DCFS and police, keeping Maureen with her in defiance of a court order to hand over the infant or lose all parental rights completely.
If she is found, not only would she lose custody of the infant but also face jail time. What is most perplexing about the DCFS decision-making process is why O’Connor’s parents — her mother is a graduate of the elite University of Chicago and her father served in the military before launching a long career as a policeman — are not being given the option that normally exists in these cases, to adopt their grandchildren themselves.
Mary and Maureen are in a “safe house” for victims of domestic abuse because of the fact that since O’Connor has been sexually assaulted many times — including numerous attacks she endured during an earlier phase of her life when she felt compelled by economic desperation and health issues to work as a prostitute. Yet she is steeling herself for a Dec. 22 court hearing, hoping to broker a deal through her lawyers to bring in Maureen for a medical evaluation she believes will prove that the infant is safe and in good health, thus enabling her to keep the baby and have a stronger case for reclaiming Eamon.
If she loses the right to reunite with Eamon, however, it could trigger a process that would terminate all her parental rights to both children within two months.
“What kind of mother would say ‘I’m not gonna do everything I can to get my son back?’” said O’Connor. “Everything that happened in the past 8 years has been a cliché of poverty and I can spotlight these problems with DCFS when many others don’t have friends in the media they can go to. I am hoping that exposing this won’t just help me, but will help change DCFS policies for the better.”
O’Connor’s ordeal with DCFS — which, along with her own lawyers, refused to comment on privacy grounds — began Aug. 20, 2009 when she approached a church for financial assistance in North Hills and the minister led DCFS officials to the hotel room where she and Eamon were living. While her son was only supposed to be taken temporarily to test his well-being, O’Connor says that time and again, the agency has changed the conditions under which she could regain custody of her son.
According to O’Connor and Pasadena attorney Philip Koebel, who represented her in her successful battle against eviction but is not handling her current case, O’Connor has maintained thorough records of all her interaction with DCFS. The most egregious aspect of the case, however, is the fact that the department has not only kept control of Eamon, but started the adoption process for him.
“This is absolutely a human rights issue,” said Koebel. “This is a first-time mother who’s done nothing wrong having her first-born child taken from her, even though he’s the picture of health. No one needs a fucking law degree to know it’s a human rights violation.
“The department’s own reports indicate the baby was in perfect health and had diapers and formula,” Koebel continued. “They took the baby because Mary is a bit odd. I don’t think being a prostitute automatically means she’s not a good mother. I’m worried, but she’s resourceful and compassionate. She always looks out for others before herself.”
Another person who’s able to speak on behalf of O’Connor is Dierdra Duncan, an assistant to Koebel who has shepherded her throughout much of the process. Duncan noted that O’Connor’s case is one of the most egregious examples of DCFS abuses she has seen in 28 years as a foster mother and 30 years as an advocate for troubled mothers in Los Angeles.
“If the DCFS won’t agree with Mary on Dec. 22, then if they ever catch her with Maureen, they can take her away — even if she’s 17 at the time — and within six months have Maureen in an adoptive home,” Duncan said. “I overheard the prospective adoptive parents for Eamon. They’re already calling him by a different name. I’ve been a foster parent and my job was to give the best possible care while waiting to reunite kids with their parents. What’s happening when they are putting kids in adoptive placement is saying there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell she’ll ever get them back. And to not let the kid grow up with their mother — especially when she’s gotten her act together and is following the rules – is appalling.”
Dec. 22 was today. I just got an e-mail alerting me to this unfolding story. I don’t know the results of that hearing, but will post them when available. Given what I’ve heard about Child Protective Services, I don’t hold out much hope this mother will be allowed to keep her children. That her parents haven’t been given the option to adopt the children says it all. This agency doesn’t have the best interests of the children at heart. Bureaucrats thinking they know best are usually wrong. Power corrupts. CPS has way too much power, and a long history of abusing that power.