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Abuse of power by state agency

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? Missouri

Sorry this is so long.

My husband and I became foster parents to a sibling group of three in Feburary 2001. The youngest B, started having visits with his biological father and his father’s girlfriend in September 2001. Almost immediately we knew something was wrong. The baby who was at that time 18 months old would become hysterical at the sight of the father and/or girlfriend. Once overnight visits began the little fellow started coming back bruised.
In February 2002 he came back from an overnight visit with severe bruising on his buttocks and up his back. The abuse had been reported by my husband and I, doctors at St. Anthony’s Hospital, a licensed therapist, and his daycare provider. May of 2002 Division of Family Services (DFS) finished their investigation and found the abuse to be unsubstantiated. DFS was going forward with reunification. I notified the doctor at St. Anthony’s who reported the abuse. He once again notified DFS that it was his professional opinion that someone was abusing the baby.

My husband and I hired an attorney to try and stop the reunification. This infuriated DFS. There was no doubt in our mind that the child was being physically abused. Baby’s siblings were also living in our home at the time. The oldest, J who was 7 yrs old was distraught. He was having a very hard time with this. J has a different biological father than B so he would not be going with him. J and his biological mother had suffered abuse from this man and J knew what was happening with his baby brother. J has severe scarring on his arm and leg. These scars are from the chemicals this man used in his meth lab.

June 2002 B was reunified with bio father and the father’s girlfriend. DFS said they had all these safety plans in place and that they would be making unannounced visits to ensure B’s safety. We continued to get B several days a week for sibling visits. One month after being reunified we picked B up for a visit and he had unbelievable bruising around his neck and to both ears. B was seen by his doctor who hotlined the bruising and sent him to the hospital for further testing. B was also seen at St. Louis Children’s Hospital emergency room and a Dr. who is in charge of Children’s Child Abuse Clinic. All doctors who seen him said he was once again physically abused. DFS contacted me and told me to keep B not to take him back to the father. But, please remember DFS was furious with us. Their way of thinking was how dare foster parents hire an atty and go against their wishes.

B was with us for 1 week when DFS went to his daycare and took him to place in another foster home. All because they were mad at us. They tried saying that they moved him because they weren’t so sure the abuse didn’t happen in our home. But the bio had already told them B was bruised while in his care. DFS was pissed and they were going to show us. Our atty contacted B’s GAL and others trying to get him back with his sibs. DFS would not budge. B was not only being physically abused but now DFS had caused him more traumas. There was a meeting of the whole “family support team”, where the GAL and the Juvenile Office agreed that B should be placed back in our home. DFS refused to move him back. They said that they were planning on sending him back to the bio father and so why move him to only move him again. The GAL then filed a motion in court for B to be placed back with us. Eight weeks later the court ordered B placed back in our home. Our atty requested at that court hearing a hair sample from the bio father. The bio had been passing his urine drug test but we had suspicions that he was still using meth. The court granted the request. A few days later the test came back positive for meth. The bio said it was from environmental reasons and DFS agreed. They were still recommending B be placed back with him.

At that time we hired another law firm and our original atty became our co-counsel. So now we had 2 law firms working for us. The new atty filed for TPR and Adoption. The fight was on! DFS was doing everything they could to have B moved again. They were making our lives miserable. The kids were all stressed. B’s sibs were leaving their classrooms to make sure the other was still there. It was a heartbreaking, stressful, nightmare. We literally felt like we were fighting for B’s life. At the urging of our atty’s we hired a Dr.to do a child abuse assessment and bonding assessment of B. This Dr. is a well known and respected doctor in St. Louis. She was appointed I believe by Governor Holden to be on some kind of Panel, or Review Board. I really can’t remember exactly what her specific duty is for the state. Anyway she testified in court that out of the 100’s of these types of assessments that she has done, B’s bio family is the most dysfunctional family she has ever assessed. She thought that returning B to his bio would certainly put him in danger to be abused again. Dr.’s testimony was unbelievable.

In September 2004 we had a 7 day trial in. Testifying for B were all the doctors who had reported the abuse, the doctor who did the abuse assessment and bonding assessment, the director at B’s daycare and B’s therapist. Our trial was the longest trial for TPR ever heard in our County. On Sept. 5, 2004 B won!!!! TPR was granted. B was finally safe. Then December 5, 2004 we adopted B.

Our baby, his sibs, my husband and I have lived a nightmare. The court judgement supports everything we kept telling Social Services. But because they were angry at my husband and I they let our baby suffer, over and over again.

Now here’s where we need help. Saving B has financially destroyed us. Our atty and other legal fees came to around $47000.00 and the expert was $15000.00. We are not rich people. We had to borrow all of my available retirement, put a second on our home and spend all of our savings and we are still paying on a large balance for atty fees. The state had reimbursed us something like $1400.00, yes fourteen hundred, not thousand. They have now offered us another $1500.00.

We have no money for an atty. We wonder do we have grounds for a lawsuit? We feel as if these state employees abuse their powers. Causing unbelieveable harm to our now adopted children and us. We think state employees have used their position to violate B’s civil Rights, and our civil rights. These same employees were suppose to keep B safe but kept returning him to be abused. Besides the above mentioned incidents there were several other times B had documented markings that were signs of abuse, while he was in State care.

Also here in Missouri we have adoption tax credit for people who adopt special needs children. In order to get the credit there is a form the state must sign that is to be attached to our tax forms. The state refuses to sign them. What can we do about this?

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