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Adventures of Virginia Doyle; Amy's Story
You might say that it all began with a phone call placed by a hospital social worker, but that really wasn't the catalyst for the resulting chain of events. Long before that call came into the 911 operator at the police station, there was a life altering battle going on in a single parent home. A mother desperately fighting to stay alive so she could raise her little girl to adulthood. Let's follow the events as they unfolded on the current report. I'm better at putting the pieces of the story together after the fact. My name is Virginia Doyle, I am a Child Protective Services Investigator, and this is Amy's story. This is an actual true story but all the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.
My involvement with Amy, began on Monday morning the 1st of February at or about 8:30 a.m. when a 911 Operator in Glendale Police Department received an emergency call from a hospital social worker.
"Hello, my name is Alice Smith. I work at the local county hospital. I am calling in to make a report on a child needing a place to stay due to a sad event."
Operator Jill said, "Okay, what is the emergency?"
Alice continued, "Today a mother named, Shelly Amos, who has been ill for a long time was rushed into the hospital and admitted critically ill. Shelly has an 2 year old daughter named Amy. There are no friends or relatives to help Shelly care for Amy who is a bright, bouncy, redheaded child. Amy will need someplace to stay as her mother cannot leave the ward."
Operator Jill said, "Okay I will notify the Child Welfare System. Is this going to be a short term need or long term placement?"
Alice responded, "Long term as Amy's mother is dying of lung cancer. Shelly states that there is no father involved and no family.'
Operator Jill said, "Alright, I'll put a rush on the response and someone should contact you shortly.
Alice responded, "Thank you!"
At the exact moment Alice Smith's call reached the 911 Operator, an automatic page was sent to two law enforcement agencies: Crimes Against Children and Child Protective Services. Both agencies stand ready to investigate allegations 24/7 and have on-call detectives and investigators ready to respond to emergencies. These agencies provide a team effort to determine threats and inform others on what to do. The information provided to the 911 operator was also added to the page to assist the agent assigned. This way investigators are able to access if there is a danger before responding. This information is not always available.
Law Enforcement Responds
In Amy's case, Crimes Against Children Law Enforcement assigned seasoned Detective Bob Winston. Detective Winston was sitting at his desk in the Crimes Against Children Office at 8:35 a.m. when he was paged from the main office.
Detective Winston responded immediately calling in, "Hello, this is Detective Winston, I am headed to County Hospital now and will arrive at the hospital within 10 minutes time. The detective's reached County Hospital at approximately 8:45 a.m., He checked in with Alice Smith calling on a hospital phone. "Is this Alice Smith?"
Alice responded, "Yes."
Bob continued, "My name is Detective Bob Winston and I have been assigned Shelly's case. Has C.P.S. arrived yet?
Alice responded, "Not that I know of."
Bob continued: "Okay, I'll head to medical records and await their arrival. Would you page me if I miss them. By the way what is Shelly's room number?
Alice responded, "It's room 609. I will notify you when CPS arrives."
Detective Winston responded, "Thanks." Then he proceeded to the records department to begin research and copy the medical chart on Shelly."
Child Protective Services Respond
Child Protective Services [C.P.S.] assigned seasoned Investigator Virginia Doyle to investigate Amy's case. Virginia received page at 8:35 a.m. just as she finished dropping her children off at school.
Virginia called into the office. "Doyle here. What's the address? Okay, I'll be there in approximately 5 to 10 minutes depending on traffic." Virginia hugged her children goodbye, boarded her pickup, and headed to the County hospital.
Upon her arrival at 8:45 a.m., Virginia ran into Detective Winston coming out of hospital records. "Hello Bob." Virginia said. "What case are you on today?"
"Probably the same as you, Shelly Amos and her daughter Amy." Detective Winston replied.
"You're correct." Virginia stated. "I see you have been in the records department. What did you find out?" Virginia asked.
"Well, there was no father’s name on the child’s birth certificate. She was born in this hospital two years ago. Records show that although hospital staff and social worker questioned the mother and stated the importance of the information, Shelly never revealed who the father was and never gave any information about her past." Detective Winston replied.
"That is a shame. Hopefully we can resolve this issue and find a relative to help Shelly and Amy out." Virginia replied.
Both investigators headed to the sixth floor cancer ward to meet with social worker, Alice Smith who was awaiting their arrival.
Alice warmly greeted Virginia and Bob. "I'm so glad to see you both.
Virginia and Bob introduced themselves to Alice Smith and provided contact cards with phone and fax numbers so Alice could forward any additional information directly to them.
Alice continued, "This is a real sad situation. Shelly has been battling cancer for a year now. We are all fond of her and little Amy. Unfortunately Doctor Allen told her today that she can no longer return home as her medical needs are more severe. She has been receiving in-home Hospice Care up to today. Dr. Allen informed me that Shelly's time is short so they need your help to place Amy somewhere she will be happy and safe."
"We'll do our best." Virginia stated.
Then Alice, Virginia and Bob entered Shelly's room. Virginia noticed Amy was on the floor with a coloring book drawing.
Virginia and Bob introduced themselves to Alice Smith and provided contact cards with phone and fax numbers.
Virginia stated, "Alice can you take Amy out to get some ice cream?"
Alice responded, "Sure, Amy dear, please come with me and will go get you a treat."
"Okay." Amy said and eagerly took Alice's hand and they moved out of the room.
Virginia turned to the bed, "Shelly, Alice told us about what Doctor Allen said to you this morning. What plans do you have for Amy?"
Shelly responded, "I know that I should have made plans for Amy before now, but I was certain that I could beat the cancer. They keep giving you hope you see. I don't have anyone selected. I was hoping that you might be able to find a great family to adopt her. Amy is a wonderful little girl."
Virginia responded, "Do you have any good friends or family living in the area, or attend any religious group?"
Shelly answered, "No, I do not have any family alive. I live alone and have been working in my home on the computer to support myself and Amy. I do not go to church and have no other social activities where I come in contact with other adults. My life has been full with Amy my bundle of joy."
Virginia continued, "I understand that there is no father listed on Amy's birth certificate. Is there any way we can get information about the father or his family? Generally fathers are grateful to help out. You know they can make great caretakers of their children."
Shelly answered, "No I'm sorry. I knew Amy's father briefly and have no information with which to contact him. I don't remember his name."
Detective Winston responded, "Well, can you describe him? Provide his approximate height, eye and hair color or tell me where he lives or what he does to make a living?"
Shelly answered, "I'm sorry I can't tell you more than he was a red head like Amy with beautiful blue eyes. He was very attractive. I did not spend that much time with him. We met at a bar. I was caught off guard when I saw that he was paying attention to me. I was foolish and we had relations in the restroom. I never had sex before that time and not after. I had no idea that I would get pregnant just having sex once. I never saw him again. I generally do not drink but was sad that night over a foolish event that occurred that day. I must have drank too much so that he could tale advantage of me. He was too cheap to get a room. Oh well. that night I got pregnant with Amy so it wasn't all horrible. I do smoke of course and that is why I am in this situation; you know lung cancer."
Detective Winston responded, "I understand Shelly. Even so, we still might be able to track him down if you provide me with some information about the bar's location and the approximate date."
Shelly answered, "While I appreciate your good intentions Detective, I have no interest in giving my baby to that man. I want Amy to be adopted by a good respectable family. My request is that she is adopted before I die so I can rest in peace knowing she will be well cared for."
Detective Winston stated, "Okay, we'll see what we can do."
Detective Winston and Virginia are obligated to make every attempt to locate all biological family members to see if they might be good placements for Amy. This includes her father and his family if he can locate him.
Virginia Doyle replied, "Alright Shelly, that's enough for now. I will leave you so I can get in touch with our foster placement unit. We will find Amy a safe place to stay until we locate the perfect adoptive family for her. I will also contact our internal adoption unit to see if they have any worthy prospects. I'll be back."
Shelly stated, "Thank you both. I need to rest now."
A Young Mothers Adoption Story
Initial Plan Devised
Bob, Virginia left the room and walked down the hall to a vacant waiting room.
Virginia started, "Well Bob, we haven't much to work on. Don't know about her extended family or the biological father and if he has an appropriate candidate in his family. It is amazing that Shelly continues to refuses to provide any information about her family or the father."
Bob replied, "Yes, we have our work cut out for us. I'll pull her birth certificate and run her name as well as her biological parents to see what I come up with. You know that usually people who are reclusive have had an issue in the past. I'll run a trace on her parents listed on her birth certificate. Since she is only 24 years old it is possible someone is alive or maybe there is a high school record somewhere. I'll fax the birth certificates to you today."
Virginia replied, "Thanks Bob. Once I have them, I will run checks with the local school systems where ever she was born to see if they can provide helpful information about her extended family. For now, I need to gather information about Amy to make a profile for her foster care placement. I'll check with other doctors she has been to in order to see if Shelly has listed a trusted contact. Then I'll create an adoption file and see if there are any suitable parents wanting 2 year old children. At age two there is a slim chance. Newborn and babies under 6 months old are the preferred choice."
Bob responded, "I know, there are too many toddlers in foster care. It's such a shame, she is so cute. Wish I could take her home with me. But with four children already at home my wife would not approve."
Hospital Social Worker Helps
Just then, Social Worker, Alice, came walking down the hall towards them.
Alice stated. "We have been attempting to get Shelly to locate a caregiver for Amy ever since she began receiving treatments, but she won't give up her child or have her go to a strangers home. Today is the first time she has no choice in the matter. How is she handling it?"
Virginia replied, "She seems resigned to the situation at present. It is a shame she waited until today to think about her daughters needs. That little girl shouldn't have to spend her days in a hospital ward."
Alice agreed, "Yes, it has been hard on us trying to keep track of her. She is so energized."
Virginia continued, "I will contact placements to find a potential adoption and emergency receiving home for her. It will be best if I just move Amy once so she can bond with the family and have less stress."
Alice responded, "Well, perhaps I might be able to help your search. There is a lady who has been visiting her friend down the hall who wants to speak with you. Her name is Amanda Olden. Can you talk with her?"
"Sure." Virginia replied.
Policy of Adoption & Foster Care
Potential Adoptive Parent
Alice led Virginia and Bob down to Amanda's friends' room. "Amanda, this is the social worker and detective assigned to Amy's case. You can talk with her about Amy."
Virginia noted that Amanda had the same eye color, hair color and complexion as Amy.
Virginia knows that the success of placements sometimes depends on how well the child matches the family. Amy is a perfect match to at least this potential mother. Having been an adoption worker for many years, Virginia knows matching is one of the jobs of the placement workers when adoption is being considered because it helps bond children with families.
Amanda said, 'Thank you Alice!' then turned to Virginia and Bob. "Hello, my name is Amanda Olden. I have a husband and two young boys. One is one year old and the other is three. I caught Amy skipping down the hallway today. She is adorable. I took her hand and lead her to the nurses desk to make sure she didn't get lost and heard about her mother. My husband and I cannot have any other children. We want to adopt a girl. We are gathering funds together to hire an adoption agency. Amy is just what we have been looking for. Is there any way that you could consider us as potential adoptive parents?"
"I can give you no assurance, but I will look into it." Virginia stated. "The requirement for prospective adoptive parents are intense. You will need to show proof of all your marriages and/or divorces. If married now, you both must be at least 21 years of age, financially stable, and mature responsible adults. You will need to complete an application that asks about personal information regarding your background and lifestyle. You must allow us to complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household. You will also need to provide relative and non-relative references to show that you are appropriate candidates. You must agree to a home study which includes visits with all household members. Plus, you will be required to attend free training to learn about issues common issues that may arise when dealing with abused and neglected children. Amanda, adoption isn't a easy process but necessary to screen out undesirable individuals and protect the court wards. I will start your file now if you like.
Amanda replied, "Certainly I am very excited to be considered and will do whatever it takes. Here are my contact numbers. My husband, Al Olden, is a financial attorney for the local bank. Here are his numbers and fax. By the way, my parents are licensed foster care parents in this state and live nearby, will that help you?"
Virginia replied, "Yes, let me have your parents information and I will check to see if they might be able to house Amy. As foster parents, your parents have gone through the basic requirements for fostering children and will be a good resource for you. Fostering children is an avenue many travel who wish to adopt children because many of the requirements are the same. You and your husband might consider becoming foster parents. Being a foster parent or adoptive parent usually takes a great deal of time and effort. It is a subject not to take lightly." Virginia stated.
"I will talk it over with Al. I'm sure we'll be happy to do whatever is needed." Amanda stated.
Virginia requested. "By the way you might want to contact your parents placement agency to see if they might be able to assist you in starting the process if you choose to go that way."
Amanda replied, "Thank you. My parents, Mia and Mike Olden, went through a six month training I think but I do not know what agency they went through. Here is their contact numbers."
"Thank you. I will check to see if they are authorized and licensed as an emergency receiving home and if they are and have an opening, Then, I will check to see if I can place Amy in their home temporarily." Virginia said.
Amanda replied, "I understand and appreciate your help. We have been looking into adopting for some time and all your help is wonderful! You have no idea how happy you have made me today just to be considered!"
Virginia turned to Bob, "Bob can you assist and get the information on Amanda and her husband's criminal history if any so I can start the potential adoption file."
Bob replied, "Sure." Then Bob turned to Amanda, "Come with me to the conference room for a bit Amanda. I'll need to chat with your husband over the phone to get his information too."
Amanda replied, "No problem. I will call my husband for you, he'll be so excited!"
Bob replied, "No problem, it's the second door on the right. Take you're time, I have to contact my superior and make my initial report."
Amanda shook Virginia's hand, "Thanks again." and walked down the hall to visiting wait room where she could use her cell phone to call her husband."
Emergency Placement Arranged
Virginia when down to lobby level and moved into an unoccupied office to contact child placement. "Hello, this is Virginia Doyle. I need an emergence placement for a 2 year old female child. Before you run your complete search, I would like you to see if Mia and Mike Olden are listed as licensed emergency receiving foster parents for toddlers and, if so, do they have an opening."
"One moment please." Grace stated. "Let's see. Yes they are seasoned foster parents and have just this morning an opening for a toddler female. Will they do?"
Virginia replied "Yes, let me verify the number and I'll make a quick call to see how they feel about a new placement. Once I have secured their service, I'll call you back to confirm the placement."
"Okay, keep in touch, here is my direct line." Grace stated and hung up.
Virginia knows that each foster parent has rules they are required to follow. The placement department at CPS keeps track of all the foster parents and their availability so that they can assist in emergency placements like this. Foster Parents must have adequate sleeping space, can have no more than 6 children in the home including their own children or children for whom they provide day care. They must agree to a nonphysical discipline policy, have a fire permit fire, health and safety inspections of the home, and all pets need to be vaccinated. Foster parents also need to obtain and maintain CPR/First Aid Certification, have TB testing as required by the local Health Department for household members, and attend 20 hours or more of training each year to keep their license. The State expects licensed Foster Parents and Adoptive parents to provide daily care and nurturing of the children in their care. They are encouraged to, advocate for the children at school and community events. They are required to inform the children's caseworkers about their adjustments to the home, school, and community, as well as any problems that may arise, including any serious illnesses, any accidents no matter how minor, and any serious occurrences involving the foster children or their own families. A foster parent is part of the reunification team formed to assist the children's caseworkers towards reunifying children with their birth families. They are expected to provide a positive role model to birth families and help foster children learn life skills.
Emergency Receiving Home Contact
Virginia called the number. "Hello, my name is Virginia Doyle, May I speak with Mike or Mia Olden please.
"This is Mike." Mike stated, "What can we do for you?"
Virginia replied, "Hello Mike. I am a CPS worker and I have a healthy two year old toddler female whose in need of an emergency placement due to her mothers hospitalization. Are you willing to take care of this child? She may be a long term placement?"
"Just a minute, let me put Mia on." Mike stated
"Hello Virginia this is Mia. We'd be happy to have that toddler in our home. When will the child need to leave the hospital? We are nearby and can come over and pick her up."
"That might be a good thing Mia as her mother is distraught and might enjoy meeting you. She is critically ill and it may help to calm her down." Virginia replied.
Mia replied, "Okay, we're on the way."
Virginia said, "I'll have the placement packet ready when you arrive. Come to the social worker station at the hospital and I'll be there waiting to meet with you."
"Great!" Mia said and hung up.
Virginia contacted Grace in Placements. "Grace, Mia and Mike have accepted the assignment and will be picking the toddler up within the hour."
Placement worker Grace stated, "Good to hear. Will start payment effective today. Hope everything goes well!"
"Thanks again." Virginia stated.
Placement Packet Completed
Virginia pondered, "The role of the Child Welfare worker is to attempt to reunify child with biological parent or family whenever possible. At this point she has secured a "emergency placement" for Amy. Now, she and Bob will start the national search for relatives. If no relative is found as suitable, Amy will have at least one potential adoptive family. It's a start."
Virginia completed the placement packet and contacted her supervisor, Brian Walters, to report on the events thus far. "Hello Chief, I have emergency placement family on the way to pick up Amy. Bob Winston is the assigned investigator for the police and he will work on getting national data to see if we can find family. I also have a potential adoptive family that want the child. They will have to go through the certification process. Time is limited for the mother, Shelly, is terminal. He doctor Allen told her she has a maximum of 5 month on the good side."
"Thanks for the update Virginia. I'll call adoptions and have them send any open red files wanting female toddlers for you to review."
Note: Red files are files of families who have completed the adoption process and are currently waiting for a child. Many are very specific and C.P.S. workers make certain to see if there are interested parties available in adoption cases like this one."
"Thanks boss!" Virginia stated. "I'll be in as soon as the foster parents arrive and introductions are made.
"Okay." Brian Walters replied. "You have multiple faxes on this case already stacked up on your desk."
"Thanks for your help." Virginia replied. Just as she finished her conversation and hung up the phone, Virginia looked up and saw Mia and Mike’s arrival.
"Hello, my name is Virginia Doyle."
"Hello" Mia and Mike responded in unison.
"Let's sit a bit and we can review what I have." Virginia stated. They all sat at a table in the conference room and reviewed the placement package. Amy's birth information, medical information, her likes and dislikes were included. Once the review was completed Virginia led Mia and Mike to Shelly's room on the 6th floor,.
Shelly meets Emergency Receiving Parents
Upon entering the room Virginia was struck again with the matching of Mia, Mike, and Shelly. She thought, "If she didn't know better she would think they all were related."
Virginia handled introductions and provided guidance, "Shelly, this is Mia and Mike Olden. They will be taking care of Amy for you. It is always better when parents give children permission to go with the foster family. It makes children less afraid. I will go and get Amy now so you can tell her it is okay for her to go with Mike and Mia if you feel up to it."
"Sure, thanks." Shelly stated.
Virginia turned to Mia and Mike, "While I'm gone it would be a good time to chat with Shelly if you have any questions about Amy. Shelly it would be an opportunity to ask them any questions you might have as well. I shouldn't be long." Virginia stated. Then she proceeded to Alice's office to fetch Amy.
During Virginias' absence, Shelly, Mia and Mike had became fast friends. They were laughing as Amy and Virginia entered the room. Which is always a good sign for the child.
"Here's my darling." Shelly stated as Amy bounced up upon the bed to get to her mothers side. "Honey, this is Mike and Mia and they are going to take you home with them tonight."
"But mommy I want to stay with you." Amy said.
"You can come back tomorrow to see your mommy." Mia stated.
"Yes Amy." Shelly said, "Mommy needs to get some rest now. So you can go with them. I'll see you tomorrow. Be a good girl."
"Amy, we have a lovely bedroom with lots of toys waiting for you. Do you like to draw?" Mia asked.
"Yes." Amy said.
"Well we have a drawing board on the wall in your room so you can make all kinds of pictures." Mike joined in.
"Oh." Amy said.
"Come along now, kiss mommy good night." Mia stated.
Amy complied and went swinging down the hall holding Mia and Mike's hand.
"Thank you." Shelly said to Virginia. "They seem nice people."
"No problem, they have been foster parents for a long time and have excellent references. Don't worry. I'll be in touch." Virginia replied. "Before I leave, here is the temporary custody authorization that allows us to take Amy into our custody. You sign here as received."
"Okay," Shelly stated as she complied.
Doyle said her goodbye to Mother Shelly and Social Worker Alice then headed back to the office to write her report.
Paperwork at the Office
Virginia pulled into the underground parking and headed to the elevator. The offices were on the fourth floor. Her boss, Brian Walters, was the protective sort, always worried about his staff. He never left the office for home until everyone was checked in and safe.
"Hello chief, we've got a sad case here." Doyle stated
Walters stated, "I know, I've been getting calls as well as the faxed reports your had requested I put on your desk."
Virginia replied, "Thanks, I will submit the custody report now and review the red files before I leave for the day. The foster parents, Mia and Mike Oldens' daughter, Amanda, seems very interested in adoption. Will have to investigate that option as well."
"How long does Shelly have?" Brian asked.
"Alice says it is tough to tell but not more that a few months." Virginia replied.
"Good that way we can get everything in order. It is possible that the best route may end up being a private adoption if the case warrants it. That way Shelly can be at peace before she dies knowing who will be caring for her child." Brian stated.
"I know adoptions take years sometimes and she doesn't have that long." Virginia stated.
"Take some time tomorrow and do a Home Study on the foster parents daughter and family so you can submit it as a potential as well. The more choices we have the better."
"Yes, I agree. Amanda has offered and her family needs to be considered. That family physically match both Shelly and Amy. Just looking at them one would think they were related. I hope everything works out but all parties need to be reviewed. We want the best of the best for that poor little girl. I'll do it tomorrow morning so I'll arrive about 2 hours late." Virginia stated.
"No problem. Give them a heads up so they can be there. See you tomorrow, don't take too long with the initial custody report." Brian stated as he walked out the door.
"No problem, it is an easy custody situation. I'll have it completed and delivered to needed parties within the hour." Virginia stated'
After she completed the report and faxed it off, she contacted Amanda to make arrangements to meet with both her and her husband to do a home study tomorrow morning. Virginia knows that a home study indicates whether or not a placement is adequate and safe for a child. It is done on foster homes as well as adoptive parents. It can be the start or end of the adoption process.
Virginia also reviewed the red files Brian placed on her desk. There were four files. Two families live out of state and two in state. Virginia got on the phone and contacted the adoption agencies of the four families to tell them that she had a 2 year old toddler female available for adoption due to her mother's terminal illness. She asked them to contact her if the families were still interested in adopting. Sometimes red files are not closed when families change their mind. Then she contacted Amanda to make an appointment for tomorrow.
"Amanda, I'll be at your home at 7 a.m. so I can start the Home Study This is the first step toward adoption but no assurance that you will be selected." she told Amanda. "I will need to meet your children as well and go to their school to talk to the administrators about how well they are doing." Virginia stated.
"Thank will be no problem. We'll be expecting you at 7 a.m. tomorrow." Amanda stated.
Virginia then closed and locked the file case and punched out for the day.
The Case Manager Roles
On days two through six, Virginia Doyle spent a lot of time on this case. However this was only one of her cases. Doyle was also called to investigate other abuse cases during the time given her to make the States' case for child custody.
In her role as an officer of the Court, Virginia Doyle, serves two functions. One as the investigator who seeks the truth by questions, extracting facts, and research. The second as Case Manager, Doyle acts as the representative of the Court. Virginia Doyle acts for the court as the legal guardian of every child she places in care. Doyle has the responsibility of making sure each Court Ward is healthy, well cared for, and in school if school age
Doyle makes personal contact with each child. Doyle wants a first hand impression of each of the child. She wants to be sure that the child is safe and well adjusted in their current surroundings. Doyle needs to make an accurately report of each child's status to the court. In order to do this, Doyle takes the time to chat with each child and every foster parent.
Additionally, Doyle can be the Adoption Worker if the need be. She will carefully research and review each potential parent to make sure she selects the best candidate. The child will be introduced to only the best of the best adoptive potentials. The child's reaction to the potential parents advances is a real sign of how they feel. If they are not comfortable in the interaction, the next candidate may be better. If necessary, a psychologist may be requested to review the interactions to get a second opinion if there are few and no one has received a favorable response by the child. Child Protective workers take their jobs seriously and want only the best for their wards future.
What is Expected of Adoptive Parents
Adoptive Parents are expected to provide permanent homes and a lifelong commitment to children into adulthood. They need to provide for the short-term and long-term needs of children which includes the child's emotional, mental, physical, social, educational, and cultural needs. They need to educate themselves regarding the child's developmental age and growth. They may become certified as a foster family and accept children who are not legally free for adoption, but whose permanency plan is adoption.
First Court Hearing
Virginia met Michelle at the courthouse door and directed her to the correct seat. Virginia took her seat next to the State's attorney. The attorney for the parent and the attorney for the child sit on the opposite side of the courtroom.
"All rise." the bailiff stated.
During the initial hearing, the court heard testimony and labeled information from the assigned attorneys in the case. They also heard evidence and labeled information from Virginia and entertained information from Placement worker, Michelle before making a decision.
"The court finds sufficient evidence that the biological parent, Shelly Amos, in this case is unable to care fore the child know known as Amy Amos due to her terminal illness. There are no relatives that have come forward, or been located in this case. The evidence provided shows the court without doubt that it is in the child's best interest to be adopted as soon as possible. The child known as Amy Amos will remain in the custody of the court and the mothers rights will be severed once an acceptable adoption can be arranged. Child Protective Services has presented a Home Study on Mr. and Mrs. Al Olden. According to evidence presented these individuals have taken all the necessary coursework to become foster parents. It is so ordered that these individuals are certified by this court as foster parents according to the evidence presented. I understand that they intend to complete adoption paperwork for Amy. So, at this time, the court orders Child Protective Services to initiate visitation with the potential adoptive parents known as Al and Amanda Olden. It is so ordered." Judge Wiseman hit the gavel.
Bailiff "Please rise." Judge Wiseman left the room.
The Home Study Begins
After making a review of the general area the home was located in and noting where the distance to the school, doctor and hospital in the notes, Virginia drove over to meet the family. She arrived at the home on time. Amanda warmly greeted Virginia at the door and brought her into the living room.
Amanda introduced Virginia. "Virginia this is my husband, Al."
Virginia said, "Hello." and shook his outstretched hand.
Amanda continued, "Here are our two boys. Alexander, we call him Alex for short. He's age 6. Alexander attends The local Elementary School First Grade.
Virginia said, "Hello." and shook his outstretched hand.
Amanda continued, "And this is Andrew, Andy for short. Andy is age 3 1/2 and he attends the local Pre-school.
Virginia said, "Hello." and shook his outstretched hand. Virginia asked the boys, "What do you think about getting a sister?"
Both boys said, "Okay, want to see her room?" Alex asked.
"Sure." Virginia stated and Alex led her down the hall to a room decorated with female colors.
Amanda followed, "Yes, as I told you, we have been wanting a little girl for some time now."
Virginia noted they has bed dresser, toys waiting for that special child.
Alex asked, "Do you want to see my room now?"
"Sure." Virginia stated and Alex led her down the hall to a room decorated with the X Men. "Do you like to watch the X-men?
"Yes." Alex replied, "Look I have some action figures. My favorite is Wolverine!" He proudly brought out his toys for Virginia to see."
"I always liked him too." Virginia said, "But I also like Storm."
"Well you're a girl. She's okay I guess." Alex stated.
Virginia felt a tugging on her pants and looked down to see Andy. "Can you come to my room now?" he asked.
"Sure." Virginia stated and Andy led her down the hall to a room decorated with Disney Cars and bright blue colors. "So you like the show, Cars?"
"Yes!" Andy said. He grabbed Virginia's hand and took her to his bed. "Look, Lightning McQueen is on my pillow."
"Do you have, Tow Mater" Virginia asked.
"Yes." Andy said. He took her to his over flowing toy boy. See, here he is. I have Sally and Mack too."
"Looks like you really like them." Virginia said.
Amanda spoke up, "Yes those characters teach children about friendship, the value of work and loyalty."
"I know. Glad to see children who enjoy learning simple values by playing with them." Virginia stated.
Amanda responded, "We try to help our children excel in school and build a strong moral foundation for their proper growth."
"I can see that." Virginia stated. "Well boys, why don't you play for a while I ask your folks some questions."
"Okay, they both chimed in."
Virginia handed a packet to both Amanda and Al. This 15 page packet needed to be completed by them. "Here is the adoption packet. You will note that you need to get additional help from a few of your friends, ministers, school teachers, etc to act as your reference. The envelopes included is to go with the questionnaire that you give to those 5 individuals you consider as a good reference for you. They can complete and mail back to me postage paid. This needs to be done swiftly because the entire packet needs to be finished soon. We do not know how long Amy's' mother Shelly will last. I have some other candidates who have completed this process I need to also review. To be considered for Amy you will need to expedite this information. Here is my card with fax if you wish to fax it in. The child will has a court appointed guardian, an attorney, who will also need to approve any and all candidates as well as the appointed judge in her custody case. So, for right now, focus on getting the material into me. Your home study requires me to make a few other calls as well. Any other questions?"
"No." Amanda stated.
Al said, "Can we contact you to keep abreast of the events."
"Sure, but I will notify you about our needs. My activities require that I resolve any issues or concerns before day seven so I can present the court with the direction we request for this case. Because you are a willing participant, I have initiated the Home Study myself to expedite your adoption / foster home placement. This is my second day with this case and I have other cases besides Amy to follow up." Virginia replied. "I will contact you of the results of this as soon as I get them. Once you are approved I can introduce you to Shelly as potential adoption parents and start visitation."
"Okay, I understand." Al stated.
Amanda and Al had completed their paperwork and handed it to Virginia. Amanda stated, "If you need anything else don't hesitate to contact us.
"I won't." Virginia stated "Thanks for your interest."
Virginia said her goodbyes and went back to the office.
Initial Adoption Report
Virginia was back to the office after this visit. She compiled the notes and added emailed references sent in by Al and Amanda's friends and family. Virginia also contacted a few that had not sent in referrals and written down results for the court. Her notes reflect that, "Amanda and Al Olden have been happily married for 10 years. Amanda works part time about 20 hours a week at the school district her children attend. Al is a successful industrial attorney making adequate income to provide for his family plus Amy. Both parents are well respected members of the community. There are clean police reports on both parents. The letters of reference for them to adopt are attached for review.
The family live in a quiet residential area where children play outside. There is a park within walking distance and the school is also within walking distance of the home. Amanda and Al have two children: Alexander age 6 and Andrew age 3 1/2/ Both children are referred to by their teachers as above average in intelligence. They are personable with no behavioral issues. My meeting with both boys confirm the reports. Alexander and Andrew are courteous and polite children. They have their own rooms decorated age appropriately with wall paper and toys. There is a room awaiting a young lady already furnished and decorated for a toddler in the home. Both boys told this worker that they are anxious to meet their sister.
It is this workers opinion that the family will welcome a female child within their home. The parents have been unsuccessful in attempts to have a third child and have turned to adoption in order to complete their family unit. The parents personal history is attached for the courts review. There is no concern regarding this family adopting Amy. "
Virginia then faxed a copy of the completed Home Study to the court appointed attorney for Amy, the court appointed attorney for the biological mother as well as the assigned judge on the case and the States Attorney.
Virginia contacted Detective Bob Winston, "Hello, how are you doing on the search for the biological father?"
Bob replied, "I have no information to help you out. We ran the video on the night that Shelly visited the bar. We see her but do not show the face of the male on the video. Other than he had red hair and was taller, we got nothing. Receipts from the bar show nothing but cash payments. He is a ghost."
"Okay, did you find anything about relatives?" Virginia asked
Bob replied, "We ran down the parents listed on Shelly's birth certificate and they both are dead and buried. The cemetery has no record of any extended family except Shelly. Another dead end I'm afraid."
"Can you document that and fax it to me today?" Virginia asked.
"No problem." Bob stated.
"Great, I want to get the information send upward as soon as possible. Virginia said.
"I understand." Bob stated. "How is the adoption process coming along?"
"I finished the home study on Amanda et al today and faxed the information to those parties needing it. Thanks for the quick police reports on Amanda and Al. The clean records says a lot now-a-days."
"No problem. I'm keeping my fingers crossed they get to adopt her. They seem real nice." Bob said.
"Well I have one other family to contact and investigate first. Then its up to the judge."
"Good luck." Bob said then hung up.
Virginia contacted the last adoption agency on her list. The other three had left messages that the family listed on the red files were not interested in a two year old and wanted babies only. Sue at the agency picked up the phone.
"Hello, my name is Virginia Doyle. I need to speak to one of your workers about the Simpson family. I have their red file and a potential adoptive child in custody.
"I am the worker on that case. I am sorry that I was not able to contact you before this. The family have been out of town on vacation and I have not been able to get in touch with them for a response. I will try again and call you back." Sue stated.
"Ok, can you verify my phone." Virginia asked.
"Sure ...." Sue replied. "I call you back within the next 30 minutes."
"Great," Virginia stated.
While she waited on the return call Virginia contacted the hospital to check on Shelly.
"Hello this is Virginia Doyle, may I speak to Social Worker, Alice please."
"Sure, just a minute." the operator replied.
"Hello, this is Alice Smith. How can I help you?"
Virginia replied, "Hello Alice, this is Virginia Doyle and I was calling to see how the medical condition of Shelly is as of this date."
"Hello Virginia, let me get Shelly's report. Let's see, the doctor's notes for today indicate that her cancer continues to progress in rapid speed. He is not giving her more than a few months. His noted indicate that she will be moved into the Hospice Wing by the end of the week as they have agreed to take her. This way she will not have to move from the hospital."
"Thanks can you fax that report to my number."
"Sure, by the way Shelly brightens up when she sees Amy everyday. Those foster parents are great they bring her goodies and flowers."
"I'm glad to hear that. If possible can you put that information on the report also. It will be nice for the court to have positive information on these foster parents."
"Sure Virginia. How is the search going?"
"We are closing in on an adoption. The study has been done and there is only 1 additional interested party. Should be soon."
"That's good to hear. Shelly is still worried about Amy you know."
"Yes, I'll get down there soon with information for her."
"I tell her." Alice stated.
Thanks for your hard work. Keep me abreast of any room number change."
"Certainly." Alice replied.
"Goodbye." they both said and hug up.
Virginia gathered the report Alice faxed to her and added it to the rest of the information.
Virginia picked up the ringing phone. "Hello this is Virginia Doyle, how may I help you?"
"Hello Virginia, this is Sue. I finally got in touch with the family and they have decided not to adopt at this time. We are closing their case file. I looked and we have no one else interested in a two year old female, but if you have any infants we have a few."
"Thank you. Can you fax that information to me so I can inform the court. I will post the information about you having requests for infants on our board if someone else needs an adoptive family." Virginia replied
"Thanks, I fax it right now." Sue stated.
"Thanks, goodbye." Virginia said and hung up.
Virginia put on the finishing touches on the case report including a plea that the court act rapidly in regard to the adoption of Amy. requesting that visitation be allowed to start immediately by the only family who is currently interested. Stating that the mother does not have long to live and has been moved to Hospice Care with no expectation of lasting more than a few months. She then took her case with reports to Brian, her supervisor, for his review.
"Here is Amy's case file. I have exhausted all avenues with the help of the police Detective, Bob Winston. I have completed and forwarded all the necessary paperwork to those interested parties. Will you sign off so I can submit the report, I am asking for an expedited hearing so we can get visitation started as soon as possible." Virginia stated.
"No problem, you'll have it by the end of the day." Brian stated.
Virginia continued to do paperwork and make calls on her other cases while waiting for Brian's approval. He came to her desk after 2 hours. "Looks good Virginia. Send it now."
Virginia faxed the report to all interested parties. Now all they have to do is wait.
The next day Virginia completed one investigation before coming into the office. When she arrived she noticed a court document with an approval of her request for an expedited hearing. If fact, there would be a hearing that afternoon at 1 o'clock.
Virginia knocked on Brian's door, "Got court today at 1 o'clock. It's 11:30 now so I'll take a quick lunch and head over to court."
"Is this on Amy's case?" Brian asked.
"Yes." Virginia replied.
"Great, good luck!" Brian stated. "I'll assign cases to others today to keep things open for you. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they will allow visitation to start now."
"Thanks boss." Virginia stated. She grabbed the case and headed out the door.
Note: The only time the actual case file is allowed out pf the office is when a case manager is going to testify. When they testify they have no way to know what will be asked and they need all the facts to present in each case.
Virginia got on the phone and contacted the placement agency for Mike and Mia who had picked up Amanda and Al and requested that their worker also come to court.
"Michelle, we are having an expedited hearing today on Amy's case. I know it is a lot to ask, but is there any way you can get to courtroom 454 by 1 o'clock today?"
"No problem Virginia, today is my day set to do visitation. I'll bring Mike, Mia, Al and Amanda's foster adoption files. They have completed most of the required courses for adoption and have completed all the coursework for being foster parents and I can testify to that if you need."
"Thanks Michelle, I'll add you to the witness list. I don't know if you will be called but appreciate your help." Virginia stated.
Visitations were documented and reports made to the court. Amanda and Al completed all the required course work and became certified as adoptive parents much faster than usual. After a few weeks visitation had occurred, Virginia submitted a request to the court to begin final adoption process. In her request Virginia included reports she received from the adoption agency showing Al and Amanda had pursued the adoption of Amy with her mother's permission. Reports indicate they had past all the adoptive parent skill training provided by the State with high scores. Because circumstances regarding Amy's mother were grim the Judge ruled that the adoption could occur after the mother severed her rights to the child.
Virginia spoke with all interested parties in a group phone call, "Today the judge ruled that Amy can be adopted by Amanda and Al once Shelly signs the severance paperwork. The adoption will be some what like a marriage ceremony where the judge performs the adoption and Amy and the family get dressed up. Amy and the adopted parents will have the right to speak. Will this be okay with everyone?"
"Yes." everyone said.
"Mia said, "Can Mike video the ceremony for Shelly to see?"
"I don't think it would be a problem, the ceremony is less formal." Virginia answered.
"Okay, I'll have you sign severance paperwork and inform the court that we want the adoption to take place as soon as possible." Virginia stated. "See you this evening Shelly."
"I'll be waiting." Shelly stated.
Everyone signed off with goodbyes.
Virginia went to the hospital with the severance paperwork. Shelly read everything and checked the boxes as indicated. Virginia went back to the office and faxed the paperwork to the court and all interested parties. Within a weeks time the adoption was to be held. During this time multiple families meet in a less formal court setting. Everyone is dressed in their "Sunday Best." Amy, Alexander, Andrew, Amanda, Al, Mike, and Mia were all sitting in the front row when Virginia arrived. The ceremony was brief. The judge asked "Amy do you want to live with Amanda, Al, Alexander, and Andrew?"
Amy replied, "Yes."
The judge banged the gavel and said, "So be it, I order that from this day forth Amy will be known as Amy Olden and be the daughter of Amanda and Al Olden and sister of Alexander, Andrew Olden."
A big roar "Yippe" rose from the family. The judge posed with Amy and her new parents and siblings. Pictures were taken and a Certificate of Adoption was provided to her adoptive parents; Al and Amanda.
When everything was finished, everyone shook Virginia's hand. A professional family portrait was taken with Al, Amanda, Able, Alex and Amy today. If a person saw the photo, they would never know that Amy was not a biological child of Amanda and Al due to the resemblance.
After they waited they got three copies of the picture and then everyone went with Amy to visit Shelly and show her the video. Shelly smiled. She could easily see that her daughter would be well taken care of and loved. Shelly, got a copy of the photo in a frame and she sat it near her bed. Shelly was looking at her daughters’ picture as she died a few weeks later.
Was Shelly Lucky to find this family?
Adopted by rescuer
So, with the courts’ permission, Virginia contacted Amanda and Al. "They are now certified foster parents and the judge ruled that visitation can start for possible adoption pending completion of the necessary coursework. Can you both meet me at the hospital within the hour so you can meet Shelly, Amy's mother?"
"Definitely!" Amanda stated. "I'll call Al and he'll he there too. Should I bring the children?"
"Not on the first visit, but pictures would be nice." Virginia said. "Michelle was at court today as well, You will need to complete the course work as soon as possible. It is best that Amy remain with your parents for now. Later if everything works out we can move her to stay with you as foster parents until she is adopted. See you later." Virginia stated.
"Will do whatever you need. Thank you." Amanda stated.
Next Virginia called her boss. "Brian the judge certified Al and Amanda Olden as foster parents today and ordered that I initiated visitation. I am going to have the potential adoptive parents meet Shelly today. Amy will be there visiting her mom with her foster parents, Mike and Mia. They can take her out of the room for a quick chat. Then it starts."
"Great news!" Brian stated. "I hope everything goes well."
"Me too. I'm heading to the hospital now to meet with Shelly to inform what's going on."
"Good luck!" Brian stated and hung up.
Virginia went to Social work and picked up Alice Smith and they both went to Shelly's room. Amy was peacefully drawing on the table. Mike and Mia were there. "I have news for all of you"" Virginia stated. "Court was held today and the court initiated visitation begin today. I have the potential foster family coming to meet with you. By the way Shelly, Mia and Mike are the parents of the potential adoptive mother."
"Really?" Shelly stated and looked at Mia who shook her head to indicate "yes."
"No one was able to discuss this with you before the judge ruled on your case. So Amy is already familiar with what could become her grandparents. Now I will go down to meet the potential adoptive parents. Mia can you and Mike take Amy out to the cafeteria for a bit."
"Sure." Mia said. "Come on Amy, let's go get a snack."
"Okay." Amy said and grabbed Mia's hand as they went out of the room.
"Excuse me while I do get them." Virginia stated.
"Do I look okay?" Shelly asked.
"You look fine." Virginia replied. "Alice you stay here with Shelly while I get the parents.
"No problem." Alice replied.
Virginia met Amanda and Al in the hospital lobby. They chatted briefly and then they all went up to Shelly's room. Amanda was warmly greeted by Alice when they entered the room setting a calm tone.
Amanda approached the Shelly. "Hello, my name is Amanda Olden and this is my husband, Al. We want your permission to adopt Amy. I met Amy in this hospital when I was visiting a friend of mine. Amy looked just like an angel. She easily took my hand and I took her back to the nurses desk to see where she might have come from. I was informed of what was going on and met with Virginia that day to discuss adoption of Amy. Al and I have wanted to have a third child and have finally given up and decided to adopt a little girl. Finding Amy is like a dream come true. Here is a picture of our boys and our home. As you can see Amy will fit into our family. She has the same hair color as the boys. Will it be okay with you for us to start visitation?"
Al joined in, "Yes, here is a picture of the room we have had waiting for our little girl. Don't you see Amy fitting into this room?"
Before Shelly answered, Virginia added, "Shelly, you are being asked if it is okay for visits to start. Adoption will be another question according to what happens during the visits.
Shelly signed, "Okay, you both seem like nice people. I have met your parents, Amanda, and they are wonderful to Amy. If you are anything like them everything will work out fine. I would be grateful for you to start visitation with my daughter."
As she finished her sentence we were interrupted by Amy. "Mommy we got you an ice cream cone." Amy said as she hopped up on the bed next to her mom.
"Thank you Amy. These nice people are here to meet you. You know Alice and Virginia. This lady is Amanda and this man is Al. They want to meet you."
Amanda and Al both said, "Hello Amy." Then went over and gave Amy a hello hug.
"Hello." Amy said. "Who are they mommy?"
"They are my friends Amy. Amanda is Mike and Mia's daughter. They have two boys your age. They want to be your friend too and have you come to visit with them and their boys. Will that be okay with you?"
"Okay." Amy said.
"Visitation is over for today Amy." Alice said.
"Mia why don't you take Amy home with you and have Amanda, Al and the children come over later this evening." Virginia stated.
"That will be fine." Mia said.
After everyone had left, Virginia spoke briefly with Shelly. "So, what do you think about all of this?"
Shelly responded, :It seems that Amy might be lucky enough to have a fine family to live with. I will be interested to learn how she feels about the visit and give you a call once she's gone tomorrow."
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed. At least she is familiar with the grandparents and the main obstacle in adoption is that parents don't look like the child they adopt. That isn't the case here. Amy matches this family like she was born into it."
"Yes, that is a relief. It is never good to feel different." Shelly stated.
"Talk with you tomorrow then." Virginia said.
Virginia called Brian, her boss, "Amy’s mother agreed to visitation and will contact me tomorrow with initial reports on the visit. It will take place tonight in the foster home. I have requested reports from Mia and Mike and Al and Amanda. It will be interesting how they get along. Positive feeling were expressed by Shelly so she gave Amy permission to like Amanda and Al. Hope it works out."
"Yes, sounds like everything will be okay." Brian stated. "You've had a long day go get your children and take the rest of the night off.
Everything worked out as hoped. Amy and the Olden boys hit is off. Amy hugged Amanda and Al goodbye when they left. Everyone's report including Shelly's stated that it was a match.
Virginia contacted Amanda and told her that they could have visits in their home with Amy but she would feel better if she was asked in her mother's presence.
Shelly contacted Virginia, "Amanda came in today while Amy was here. Amy got up and ran to her and hugged her. She asked me if Amy could come over and have dinner with them tonight. I asked Amy and she said she wanted to. Isn't that great!"
Virginia replied, "Wonderful. Keeping my fingers crossed."
Shelly, "I told Amanda what Amy likes to eat and her boys like the same things. It is wonderful. Thank you so much."