Complaint / review text:
The names of the guilty have been changed to protect our innocence.
OUR DHS NIGHTMARE: My fiance', James and I (Linda) had just finished a week long move into our new home and had sat down for the first time all day. We just needed to catch a fresh breath before beginning the task of moving furniture and boxes to their proper rooms. We were exhausted.
Before the first sigh of relief came, my cell phone rang. My daughter-in-law, Brittany was on the other end of the line. She was so hysterical I could hardly make out what she was trying to tell me. When I finally got her to calm down enough to speak, she told me that her oldest son, Xavier, (my step grandson) who was 2 years old, was in the hospital and the Department of Human Services (DHS) was taking custody of him.
She explained that she had rushed him to emergency with a swollen abdomen and had no idea what was wrong with him. The police and doctors had questioned and harassed her since she had arrived, and now DHS was involved. My son, DJ, was home with their baby, Hayden who was about 6 months old (my biological grandson). I called him immediately and told him to bring me the baby, as we knew DHS would be there to take him also.
He rushed the baby to our house about 10:00 that night. He was scared and angry when he arrived. He and Brittany loved their sons and could not understand why this was happening to their little family. Knowing my son and Brittany, I too was at a loss. They loved their babies with all their hearts and would have done anything to keep them safe from harm. But now, strangers were taking what they loved most in life and their hands were tied.
DHS had actually come to their home around 1:00 A.M. To take the baby who was no longer there. I thought to myself, ' How is it in the best interest of any child to rip them from their bed in the middle of the night, to take them away from the people they love and trust, and place them with strangers?' It broke my heart.
I had Hayden with me for about 2 days when DHS called Brittany and told her I must have him at the hospital by 3:00 so they could check him out for any bruises or injuries. Deep down, we all knew it was only a trick to take him away from us. True to our beliefs, DHS took immediate custody of him also.
My family had never been through anything like this before and we were all totally devastated. My daughter and both sons, along with Brittany and myself, stood in the waiting room in tears as they placed Hayden in a car seat and took him away. It hurt me so deeply to see my two young sons holding each other and sobbing in disbelief. It's a picture which will remain with me forever.
Brittany had taken Xavier and Hayden to their doctor less than two weeks before this incident. Xavier had been having some, what she believed to be minor problems, and she had taken his stool sample per the doctor's request. The doctor checked the sample and found it had blood in it, but chalked it up to him being lactose intolerant. Blood work was done and sent off to the lab. Brittany, trusting in her children's doctor, took her children home and waited to hear back from the doctor, which did not happen.
Xavier's abdomen had swollen due to a rare medical disorder called Meckle's Diverticulum. This condition caused his intestines to rupture. Blood in the stool is only one of the symptoms of this condition. He had five surgeries before the ordeal was over. He was kept sedated for several days with a surgical opening in his abdomen. Because the infection was so great he could not be closed up until it was gone. Brittany stayed by his side both day and night, rarely leaving his room. Xavier remained in the hospital for approximately a month.
When the doctors felt he was healed enough to leave, DHS placed him in a foster home, charging the parents with medical neglect. I could not understand how they claimed medical neglect, when neither of the parents had medical training and even the children's own doctor had misdiagnosed the problem.
After mountains of paperwork and meetings with DHS, James and I had been approved as kinship foster home for the two babies. Hayden was in another foster home for a little more than three weeks before we got to bring him home with us. He was so disoriented and confused he was no longer the baby I had known. He would not look at me directly and would not smile. He had been a happy, smiling baby before he was taken. But now he was only a shell of the child we all loved.
DJ and Brittany were allowed to visit Hayden in our home 3 times a week for two hours. James and I stuck true to our word to DHS and followed these rules to a tee, not wanting to risk losing the babies back to another foster home. Sadness overcame us all for these two children, and the hundreds more who are suffering at the hands of DHS.
Xavier remained in another foster home due to the fact that he had to have 24 hour care and James and I both worked and could not be there 24/7. Daycare, at this time was out of the question, for medical reasons.in the mean time, his foster parent, who DHS put their trust in, forgot Xavier's first doctor's appointment with his surgeon! Now, wouldn't that be considered medical neglect? But DHS excused it as the foster parent was new at this. Please! Brittany was only 19 years old, but she never failed to take her children to the doctor... Even for a mere runny nose!
Because they live in Tulsa county, DJ and Brittany had to drive 2 hours round trip to P) awhuska, Osage county, for their many court dates, trying desperately to get their babies back. They hired a good attorney and did their homework, learning all they could via the Internet, about Meckle's. DHS was totally discredited in court. They had NOT done their homework. They had not talked to the doctors about, or even researched the medical condition which Xavier had suffered from. They took custody of these children without even really knowing why themselves!
After about a month and a half from the beginning of this ordeal, the babies were back in their rightful place. Home with Mommy and Daddy.
We thought our troubles were over and DHS had was history. We thought wrong. The babies had been back with their parents for a few weeks, when Xavier fell and bruised his face. Once again, DHS was taking the kids. This time claiming child abuse.
Upon research, once again via the Internet, we find that the average child of his age group falls approximately 38 times a day.
Xavier was in foster care this time for only a day when he was allowed to come stay with James and myself. Hayden however, was away for more than a week when DHS allowed us to bring him home also.
At one point I got a voice mail from a new caseworker Amy Craddock, leaving me her number to call her back in reference to getting the children back with me. I listened to the message twice and wrote the number down. When I called, a familiar man's voice answered. On the message, the caseworker had rattled off my fiance's phone number as if she had been using it for years! And these are people who are taking our children and grandchildren! I call them incompetent fools!
DHS had given us the run around for several days, saying we were going to get Hayden, then not following through with it. They had said they would bring him to us, but in the end forced us to drive two hours to pick him up. When we got to the DHS office to get Hayden, he was once again a shell. His little eyes would dart from here to there without any eye contact with either James or me. He cried constantly for days. Even in his sleep I would watch him toss and turn and cry out as if he were in a terrible nightmare. We were all in a terrible nightmare.
After two or three days, I finally got a smile out of the little guy and he started to come around. Now at least the brothers were together in our home, with familiar faces who loved them. They were both healthy, happy and becoming somewhat well adjusted boys again.
It was physically, emotionally and financially difficult for us to care for these two babies, but we did what any loving grandparents would do. We cared for them as if they were our own, with no financial help, or otherwise from DHS. Now, we are simple people with simple incomes and this ordeal has put us financially behind, with the cost of formula, diapers and daycare. But we hung in there. DJ and Brittany were strapped also due to attorney fees and such. But they also held tight.
DHS had refused visitation with the parents of these two children for over a month, until I received a phone call one day from yet another new caseworker, Sarah Smith who claimed she wanted to set up supervised visitation at the DHS office downtown.
During our conversation I stated to her that my son works until 5:00 and their office would be closed after 5:00 and on weekends, preventing DJ from seeing the kids. I asked if there was any way we could get visitation at my house, as it was the first time the children were taken? She stated that she would talk to Karen Cash, the caseworker from the beginning of this, to see if that could be arranged.
That evening I got another call from Karen questioning me about my allowing visitation over the past weeks! She said that Sarah had relayed to her that I had been allowing DJ and Brittany to come to my home and see their children! She also stated that neither DJ nor Brittany had tried to call DHS to set up visitation, which led them to believe they were already seeing the babies at my home. Brittany in fact had tried several times to reach someone, but received no return calls.
(Now, I must also tell you that DHS made sure that Xavier's biological dad had some kind of visitation throughout this whole ordeal. Even though he was busted, months before, on Thanksgiving night while smoking marijuana with Xavier in the car with him. Xavier was taken into state custody at that time and held until the next Monday before Brittany could get him back.)
Now, as tempting as it might have been to allow this visitation, I knew that if I did, the babies would be taken from our home as well. I am not a stupid woman, nor James a stupid man. We have gone strictly by the book on this matter from day one. I promised this was the facts and even offered to take a polygraph to prove my story was true. But it seems we are guilty until proven innocent.
In the meantime, I have been unable to see my own son because it would violate the terms of agreement with DHS. My son is also not allowed to see his 7 yr. Old daughter who lives with her mom. She does not understand why she can't see her daddy and her mom says she cries herself to sleep over it.
About a week and half after I spoke with the "Karen", DHS came and took the babies from us also. This was coincidentally, the day after the last court date, whereas a continuance was issued to take place in three weeks. At this last hearing, DHS was asked if they had studied the children at all for signs of abuse, in the way they act with the parents. Their answer was no Now, once again, the babies are confused and scared and living with total strangers.
Brittany and DJ were asked to drive to the DHS office, in Pawhuska, to speak with Karen about visitation. While there, Brittany asked her how the kids were doing. Hayden is acting funny and Xavier is crying a lot for mom and not eating. This is a child, who as long as I have known him, has lived for food, as I like to say. It is better than cartoons to him! So for him to refuse food, there is a definite wrong being done to this child! My fear is that these two kids are going to be scarred for many years over the incompetent behavior of DHS, who have the best interests of the children at heart!
Who are these babies to trust? Mommy and Daddy aren't here anymore... Neither are Mama and Papa Dude, as Xavier calls us. As far as these babies know, we all keep sending them away. What else are they to presume?
Karen claims that the children will be back in our home within a week, after they validate our story of non-visitation. It is beyond me how they will validate this! She said she had tried to contact Tulsa DHS to speak with them on the matter, but was couldn't reach anyone! So, if she, being a part of this diabolical agency, is unable to get a call through or get a return call... Why is it so hard to believe that Brittany had the same trouble?
The guilt I have felt is unbearable. I felt I had opened the proverbial can of worms by asking for better visitation so my son could see the kids also. DHS took my request and misconstrued it to fit their own needs for removal of the children from our home. I now believe they took them so they could evaluate the children for child abuse, as they should have done from the beginning. Or are they possibly going to try to "sell" them? DHS receives millions... Yes millions, of dollars for adopting kids out to families. They are running a child market!
DJ and Brittany are possibly going to get visitation at our home, once the children are returned to us, once a week or once every two weeks. They are going to have to be mentally evaluated and attend parenting classes, anger management classes and who knows what else. It has cost us all a great deal, both financially and emotionally and I'm sure is a long way from being over. I know in my heart the babies will be returned to their loving parents at some point, but DHS will be in their lives for many years to come.
I will say for now the DHS system is broken, there is power in numbers and I'm very sure I'm not the only one who feels our voices must be heard... Stand up and be heard!
I understand that someone has to make sure that the truly abused children are protected. I do not dispute this. DHS needs to re-evaluate themselves however. When a daycare worker, who has been under investigation for child abuse, among other charges, is still allowed by DHS to care for other people's children without the parent's knowledge of the charges, kills a two year old boy by taping his hands and mouth... Yet DHS takes children away from their own loving parents without true warrant... I think they have their priorities a bit confused. How does this happen? How does our government let this happen? We as parents and grandparents need to stand tall and put a stop to this injustice!