- Report: #1057088
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Department of Children and Family
Department of Children and Family111 S. Sapodilla Avenue West Palm Beach, Florida USA
Department of Children and Family WESTPALM BEACH DCF/GAL:Home Wreckers, liars, greedy, selfish, heartless! West Palm Beach Florida
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We are victim of injustice and discrimination in a custody case the Department of Children and Family in West Palm Beach, Florida mishandled and feel the judge at the circuit court of the 15th judicial circuit, Juvenile Division is biased in his decisions. Please HELP!
The Department of Children and Family (DCF) took our niece into custody when she was 3 months old in August 2009. While the parents underwent investigations and trials with possibility of reunion, DCF never contacted any family relatives for possible placement. In December 2010, we approached the agency and requested that our niece be placed with us. DCF told us it was not known that there were any family members willing to care for the child and that she is in a medical foster home, but we assured the case manager at that time that we love our niece and want to have her placed with us. [continued below]....
The same day, the case manager, Ms Ebonye Huggins setup a visit with us and the child. The department then started the process of screening all family members in Palm Beach county where our niece resides before considering our petition. After endless calls, we were told that our “name was at the bottom of their list and that we needed to wait”.
After opting out all the other relatives ,CMS signed her off and we were allowed to visit with our niece several times, at the foster mom house, at the park and the mall . She came twice for overnight visits. The office hanged the case for four (4) years now. We were working with everyone and all parties favored our adopting her. We had background check administered and were approved in two home studies done by DCF, one in September 2011 for placement and the other for adoption. DCF hanged the case for no reason. We were just waiting for our niece to come home.
In April 2012 the judge made a decision to terminate the parental rights of her biological parents. One of the clauses in that decision states “It is not likely the she will remain in long-term foster care upon termination of the parental rights of the mother and father due to any emotional, medical, behavioral problems or any other special needs of the child. There is a relative out of county interested in adopting her that is being considered” (clause 36-D).
Following that decision, the adoption agency advised us to consider seeking legal assistance. The adoption supervisor told us that all of a sudden the foster mom who was so swell that our niece will be reunited with us, wants to adopt her as well. That same foster mom who once told us: “It was very comforting for me, to know that the child loves you and is well accepted and will fit right into your wonderful family.” During one of the overnight visits, the foster mom and her daughter went to church with us and confirmed we have a great network support and told her daughter she cried during that service because “it was an overwhelming feeling knowing that our niece will be home and she will be ok.”
Since then, we retained a law firm to assist us in that matter (now we are being buried with legal fees and other debts : over $21,569.03 as of now). In December 2012, the agency with its panel of staffing decided to favor the foster mom, giving up our niece to her. According to a conversation we had with the foster mom, she informed us that DCF/GAL made the decision to give her our niece even before we approached the agency in December 2010. The foster mom stated she was asked to cooperate, allowing visits and everything.
The adoption specialist who informed us of the outcome of the staffing decision told us she "doesn't understand why they made that decision" and wished she handled our case from the beginning. We challenged the staffing decision in January 2013, but on March 21, judge Alvarez denied our request to intervene, but decided to allow the other agencies (DCF, Child Net, GAL, CHS…) to present their experts and witnesses, not even allowing our attorney the opportunity to cross examine (I never knew that judgment can be applied just by listening to one party!) However, Mr. Alvarez reviewed his decision allowing our counsel limited intervention.
A hearing was scheduled on May 9, then moved to May 30, 2013. THIS HEARING WAS A BIG MASQUERADE! A panel of 3 attorneys and a judge parading their witnesses and expert while we were denied our request for deposition or to testify. During that hearing we learned that the staffing vote was close 43 vs 40 but stress was made on the length of time our niece has lived with the foster mom. The GAL representative, Ms Emma Maestres whom we only met once said she was mostly concerned by the fact that we were not raised in the US and assumed they would not know if we committed any crime in our native country. The Foster Children Project testified that the foster mom is taking care of a 15/16 year old disabled male to whom our niece can relate to because they have the same cultural background, that he is the one my niece plays with most of the time. (We have two 6 year old kids always asking us when their cousin will be home!) It is so unfair they kept her away from us solely on the basis of bond she has with the foster mom (this is natural since she has her since my niece was only 3 month old) while we were kept away in spite of our efforts, complying with all requirements for over 3 years to have her.
We were told we could present witness, but the only witnesses we would have are the same foster mom/DCF/GAL employees. During that hurdle, we had much of our interactions with the case worker (Natasha Nordelus) and the foster mom, but when we requested to depose the case worker the request was denied. After parading all their witnesses, my wife was called to testify. The very first question our attorney asked after she stated her identification was her relationship with the child and she said ‘she is my niece’, the judge sustained the objection ‘chorus’. When the attorney tried to ask some facts from the time we started the process with DCF in December 2010, Mr. Alvarez refused to listen to her testimony and he left the court room. After the attorney made some comments, the judge came back in the court room and both he and his panel of attorneys denied all line of questions and asked the parties to send him their recommendations. We knew we have been discriminated throughout the whole process but for those last three hours in that court room we were not feeling we were living in America.
We do not know what to do now. We believed the government agencies would work with relatives who would be more fit to transfer the culture, the heritage and love to the child, but they violated their own regulations! We believed judgment could be rendered after a judge hear both sides of a story, but such wisdom has not applied in that case! We strongly believe we have been victim of injustice and discrimination, but we do not have faith anymore in the judicial system neither financial means to go forward. It will take us years to pay all the debts we have incurred already. The last time we called my niece, she broke my heart asking "I want to go home, I want to go to the mall, I want to go to merry go 'round."
Oh, HELP PLEASE!
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/06/2013 07:37 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Department-of-Children-and-Family/West-Palm-Beach-Florida-33401/Department-of-Children-and-Family-WESTPALM-BEACH-DCFGALHome-Wreckers-liars-greedy-s-1057088. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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