In 2005 my younger sister who lived in Port Hurnon had her 7 year old daughter taken away from her because of an accidental overdose on prescription medications. She paid an attorney handsomely, fought the charge in court and got back custody of her daughter. My niece was placed in a foster home for nearly four months and I called from Los Angeles (where I live for the last 25 years) and asked that her daughter be placed with me until her mother could resolve her issues and problems. They would not do it because they wanted "reunifcation" with the mother. In January 2007, I was informed by my brother that my niece was once again removed by DHS and had been placed again with another foster family in Michigan. I called my sister and asked her about it and she was so much in denial of her drug abuse that she said it was all over a bottle of pills. I called the DHS office and spoke to the caseworker (Joseph Linnert) he told me that my sister was not going to get her daughter back this time and I again asked for my niece to be placed with me. Denied! A family tradedy was headed to California
In May 2007, 2 weeks after Mother Day, I received a call from the police department in Michigan informing me that my sister had died of an apparent overdose. I immediately called DHS and informed the caseworker Joseph Linnert who insisted that I could not speak to my niece and he tell her that her mother died. He had to do this and I was not allowed. I was not able to even had the number of the family she was staying with until he told her. My sister had a will naming me as guardian to my niece. I was told to fax the will to DHS and I flew back to Port Huron to bury my sister. I was not able to see my niece for more than a few minutes when I was there. I then was told by Joseph Linnert that he received reports that I was a mean and angry person by my Aunt (LIES). I could see he did not like me that there was going to be a fight. When I returned to LA, the caseworker left a angry message that said I was squanering the assets of my sister rented home. How dare I leave the home a mess. Then I call my sister's attorney (the one that did the will) and he would not return my calls. I received a referral from his secretary and this attorney told me he could help me for $500 and put me in touch with my neice so at least she could come out to California and bond with me. It was a nightmare for the next several months. The will was sqashed in court, the attorney told me that they were not giving me a chance for the adoption and I was not even being considered, and the attorney informed me that once your niece is adopted you are no longer related and you are fighting a losing battle. Then I received a bill from him for $900 and dismissed his services. I filled out numerous papers to process the adoption, had interviews with Child Service in Los Angeles who told me this is the saddest story they have hear in awhile. I was approved by the State of California for the adoption and they would submit the interdepartmental transfer form to Michigan. I said, "what happens next?' They said it will be there decision. I received a letter in January 2008 stating that they would not approve the adoption because I did not have a bond with my niece and she does have a bond with her current foster family (4 other children are adopted at this home) and they are approving the adoption to her foster family! I appealed and said you have denied all visitation over the last 7 months, How was I suspossed to bond? A conference call with the DIRECTOR OF DHS and her collegues was schedule. This was the first time I would be allowed to speak to the head of the department. I had written, pleaded and asked so many times before I lost count. She now was going to speak to me after I had cc: Jennifer Grant Holmes, the Governor on my last letter. During the conference call, I was told that my niece Elisha does not want to live with me or move to California. I said in all the conversations I've had with her over the last months, she never said that to me. She told me she wanted to be with both. I emphasized to DHS that I had only asked that she come to visit me here and see if she liked it. I would be happy with whatever decision she made. The Director pressed on and even cut me off when I was speaking and said I AM THE OWN THAT IS SPEAKING NOW. I said this is an injustice to a family to have a relative taken away and not to be considered. I think my sister would still be alive had the system not failed her in her agony and despair. I was informed that my niece is seeing a therapist and not doing well and gets very upset if I am mentioned or the thought of moving to Los Angeles. I said then I will withdraw my request for adoption. There was a moment of silence and I was blinded by my own tears.
I received an email this month from the foster mother two weeks after I sent my niece a birthday gift for her 9th birthday. WE adopted Elisha on May 6, 2008 and changed her name. Please send me the death certificate of her mother to me so that I can give it to my daughter when she turns 18. The money that was left in your sister's estate, we have set up for her to receive 1/4 when she turns 18, another 1/4 when she hits 25, 1/4 when she hits 30 and so on. My mother died caring for this child. She lived so that my niece could live. A new life, a new identity and a new name for her granddaughter. Another member of my family has died this time not by God hands but by a Michigan governmental agency who has human beings working for the betterment of man and child.
Playa del Rey, California