The Adventures of Virginia Doyle: Theresa's Story
The Tale Begins
You might say that it all began with a phone call placed by a concerned citizen who had taken in a pregnant woman, but that really isn'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 history of drug abuse and multiple unwanted pregnancies, and parental abandonment. These factors are common in my business and eventually led to the events that followed. But then, 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 story is about "baby girl" eventually named, Theresa.
It was a cold December morning when, Mother Tanya was dropped off in the middle of the street by three “Johns” who lived in the same neighborhood where they had picked her up the night before. Tanya was nine months pregnant. She had just finished work for the evening, received her $60.00 in cash for services rendered and was feeling woozy and unsteady.
Mother Tanya looked around to get her bearings. The sun was beginning to rise as she slowly walked out of the street and mounted the sidewalk. Once on the sidewalk, she felt a sharp pain in her stomach. Mother Tanya decided that she needed to find a restroom and began looking around for a fast food place she could tend to her needs. Unfortunately, Mother Tanya noted that she had been dropped off in a residential area and only homes lined the street every direction.
Mother Tanya jerked her head when she heard a noise across the street and watched as a female kiss her husband and waved 'good bye,' as he got into the car and left. That woman was looking her way so Mother Tanya waved. That woman scurried quickly inside slamming the door..
Next, Mother Tanya saw a female come outside and sit on the porch swing. The woman had a newspaper and she was one house down across the street. Mother Tanya yelled, “Help me please! I need to use the bathroom!” Mother Tanya walked as fast as she could manage and arrived at the picket fence. The woman, Mrs. Pierce, looked at Tanya noting that she was pregnant.
"Wait here a moment." Mrs. Pierce said and quickly went inside the home. Soon, a man, Mr. Pierce, came outside on the porch with her.
Mother Tanya implored them stating, “Please, I need to get to a restroom soon!”
Mr. Pierce answered, "Okay, you can come it but you cannot stay and must leave soon."
Mother Tanya nodded in agreement stating, "Thanks."
Mr. Pierce, and his wife greeted Mother Tanya at the gate. They noted that she was very unsteady on her feet.
"Here dear, let me help you." Mrs. Pierce offered as she held Tanya's arm to steady her while leading her inside their home.
Mother Tanya responded, "Thank you!" as Mrs. Pierce continued to carefully guided her to their front bathroom.
Meanwhile, Mr. Pierce went to use the phone. He dialed 911.
The 911 Call
Law enforcement involvement with Mother Theresa, began this morning, the 3rd of December, when Sandra the 911 Operator in Glendale received the emergency call from Mr. Pierce. The time was recorded as 8 o'clock.
"Hello, this is Mr. Pierce calling. Mr. Pierce stated.
The 911 Operator, Susan, asked, "Why are you calling 911?"
Mr. Pierce responded, "Mrs. Pierce and I were eating breakfast when she went out to get the paper. Mrs. Pierce noted a pregnant woman crossing the street coming toward her. She moved to the picket fence and spoke to my wife stating that she needed to toilet. My wife came in to get me and we helped her inside."
Susan asked, "Did you say that you let her inside your home?"
Mr. Pierce stated, "Yes, she was begging to use the bathroom and she is unsteady walking and pregnant."
Susan asked, "Where is she now?
Mr. Pierce stated, "My wife is helping her use the front bathroom. She is unsteady on her feet and could hardly get into the home."
Meanwhile, Mrs. Pierce had opened the restroom door and attempted to help Mother Tanya sit down on the toilet. No sooner did Mother Tanya begin her decent then out popped the baby.
When the baby landed on the floor between the toilet and the bathtub she let out a scream. The baby had banged her head on the bathroom tile floor and was screaming at the top of her lungs. The baby was born or about 8:01 a.m. in the morning as reported by the Operator, Sandra still on the phone.
When Mr. Pierce still on the phone with the 911 Operator and heard the scream, he stated, "There is yelling in the front bathroom that sounds like a baby. I've got to go help my wife.
Susan stated, "Mr. Pierce keep me on the line, I will update the agencies. The emergency vehicle has been dispatched as should arrive soon."
"Okay!" Mr. Pierce told the operator as he rushed to the restroom to see what was happening.
Mrs. Pierce shouted to her husband, "Help, this woman has given birth and the baby hit her head coming out!"
Mr. Pierce informed the 911 Operator, " The baby hit her head on the tile in the bath when she came out. The baby is born! We need help!"
The 911 Operator responded, "Mr. Pierce, please try to stay calm, is the baby bleeding or injured from the fall?"
Mr. Pierce asked his wife, " Honey, the 911 operator wants to know if the baby is hurt?"
Mrs. Pierce responded, "No that I can see."
Mr. Pierce, "The operator says that help is on the way. What can I do to help?"
Mrs. Pierce, "I need more towels and a wash cloth."
Mr. Pierce, "The baby seems alright despite the fall and I have to go help my wife."
Susan, "I understand, help is on the way. Please keep me on the line until they arrive."
Mr. Pierce responded, "Certainly, I understand." Mr. Pierce handed his wife a wash cloth and more towels with his free hand. "Honey, the operator is telling me that help is almost here." .
As Sandra spoke to Mr. Pierce, she sent 3 additional pages from her line. A page to paramedics due to suspected injury to the infant, plus two pages to law enforcement agencies; Police Department, Crimes Against Children, and Child Welfare, Child Protective Service aka: CPS..
Both agencies stand ready to investigate allegations of child abuse 24/7 and have on-call detectives and investigators ready to respond to emergency child abuse. CPS is the primary investigation team when the child is in the home. Crimes Against Children, police investigate complaints in the community. These agencies provide a team effort when it comes to child abuse within the home. The Law Enforcement Detective and Child Protective Services Investigator work together to determine if a criminal act inside the home occurred and how to proceed.
Susan kept listening and documenting what she was hearing on the line. Again Susan asked Mr. Pierce, "Please tell me the moment help arrives."
Mr. Pierce responded, "Certainly."
Babies born in or around toilet not new
Paramedics Arrive First
Within 5 minutes of receiving the emergency page, the paramedics arrived at the home. The first responders arrived at approximately 8:06 a.m. in the morning.
Mr. Pierce informed the 911 Operator, "The paramedics have arrived at our home and are knocking at the door. We are fortunately the fire department is just a few blocks away."
Susan said, "Okay. Please ask the lead paramedic to speak to me when possible."
Mr. Pierce responded, "Certainly."
Sam, the first paramedic, rushed to the bathroom and asked to be handed the baby. He examined the newborn Mrs. Pierce had wrapped up in a bath towel to see what the damages might be. Alex, the second paramedic, assisted Tanya to the stretcher off the toilet. Lead medic Vincent came in with Phil last. Phil was getting the rest if the equipment out of the truck and Vincent contacting the office to make a report.
"Here, talk to 911." Mr. Pierce stated as he handed the phone to the Vincent, the lead paramedic."
"Vincent Smith here." Vincent stated. "One moment I need to get the information you need from the team members assisting."
Sandra states, "I understand."
Vincent turned, "Alex, what's the status of the baby?"
Alex stated, "She was lucky in the fall. She has a bruised head but no serious damage was done because of that. She will need hospitalization due to substance abuse. Mother states she used multiple unknown narcotics last night!"
Vincent turned, "Sam, what's the status of the woman?"
Sam stated, "Steady for now but she needs to flush the after birth and will need detox due to her drug usage."
"Thanks for the info." Vincent told the team. Then he spoke to 911 on the phone providing the necessary report.
Sandra, "Thanks, I will update Law Enforcement. Where will they be taken?"
"One moment, Vincent Smith, said as he picked up his phone. Vincent called home base to provide a quick report, "The mother used narcotics last night, the infant banged her head on the tile exiting the womb but is not seriously injured due to that. She will need to have her system pumped out due to the drug use of the mother. What hospital do you want them moved to, the mother states that she has no insurance?"
The Fire Department provided the County Hospital address. With that information,
Vincent provided 911 with the location of the hospital, reported that a police detective was mounted the steps of the home, and hung up the phone..
Sandra updated the location and noted on her report that the police had arrived at the home prior to the paramedics leaving. The emergency vehicle had come and gone approximately 8:20 a.m. or, within 14 minutes.
Vincent briefly updated the detective of what was happening. He turned to Mr. & Mrs. Pierce, "Thanks for your consideration in this case. Not everyone would do what you did."
The paramedic team loaded up Mother Tanya and the newborn inside the ambulance and left the home for the hospital.
Law Enforcement Arrives on Scene
Crimes Against Children assigned a seasoned Detective, Bob Winston to the case. Detective Winston was on duty sitting at his desk in the Crimes Against Children Office at 8:05 a.m. when he received the page. Winston headed to the alleged scene of the crime and upon arriving at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Pierce noted that the ambulance was being loaded.
He had arrived at the home within 10 minutes of receiving the page, or approximately 8:15 p.m. He was just in time to get the initial report from head Medic, Vincent Smith. He briefly spoke with Mr. and Mrs. Pierce about the events prior to his arrival on the scene and scanned the identification card of Mother Tanya. Then, he followed the ambulance to County hospital. On the way he provided his first report with the current status of the newborn and mother plus the mother's identification. "Please have any information on the family placed on my desk when I return." Bob stated and hung up.
Substance Exposed Infant
Hospital Social Worker Gets Involved
Immediately upon arrival on or about 9 o'clock, “baby girl,” was admitted and taken to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Mother Tanya was taken to a room in the maternity ward on or about 9:10 a.m. a few minutes later.
Sandra, the hospital Social Worker, greeted Mother Tanya, "Hello Tanya, I will help you fill out the admission paperwork. Is there anything I can get for you to make you more comfortable?"
"I am hungry," Mother Tanya replied.
Sandra stepped out of the room and called the commissary, "I need a meal brought up for Room 313 as soon as possible please." She hung up and went back inside to inform Mother Tanya.
"Thanks." Mother Tanya replied.
Sandra began the questionnaire, "Tanya, this is your baby?"
"No." Mother Tanya replied.
Sandra continued, "We need to provide your “baby girl” with a name so we can issue her birth certificate. We also need your name, the fathers' name, where you were born, your parents names and the babies name. I can help you put down the information we need if you like?"
"I'll do it later." Mother Tanya replied.
Sandra responded, " We need you to provide the information on this form as soon as possible. Is there someone I can call to help you complete the forms?"
"There is no one!" Mother Tanya retorted.
Sandra still remained standing at her bedside so, Mother Tanya continued, "I'll do it as soon as I finish eating. I did not have anything to eat since yesterday. Okay?"
"Alright." Sandra stated. When Sandra turned around, she noted that the food was being delivered so she left the room to give Mother Tanya some privacy. Sandra documented the time as 9:25 a.m.
Sandra returned at 9:40 a.m. to check on Mother Tanya and was surprised to find that she was not in the room or the bathroom. Sandra looked at the meal tray. Mother Tanya had finished eating the meal. Sandra checked the bathroom and no one was there. She pondered how could she quietly slip out of the room past the attendant and police who were in the hallway in her condition? She walked into the hall. "The mother isn't here anymore." Sandra reported.
"Where is she?" ask Detective Bob Winston.
Sandra replied, "I left her alone to eat only 15 minutes ago. When I returned, she was missing. I checked the bathroom, in the closet, and under the bed."
"Where do you keep the room recordings? ask Detective Bob Winston
On the first floor. Sandra replied. "Let me take you there." Sandra led the Detective to the camera room.
"Here is my card." Detective Bob Winston stated as he gave his card to Sandra. Fax the information you have on Tanya to me at this number."
"I will as soon as I finish my report." Sandra replied as she opened the door to the camera room for the detective.
After showing his badge, Detective Bob Winston stated, "Rewind Room 313 for the last 25 minutes please."
"Don't have much there." the camera man stated.
"Can you continue to follow her whereabouts?" Detective Bob Winston asked the camera man.
"Sure." he replied. Together they saw that Mother Tanya slip by the police, head down the elevator and out the front door.
"I'll need a copy of what you just showed me. Please send it to my address." He stated as he handed the camera man his card.
"Sure thing!" the camera man replied.
Detective Bob Winston called in to his superior, "The mother, Tanya Moon had left room 313 and walked out of the hospital within 40 minute of her arrival. The reports are on the way."
Child Protective Services Arrive
Investigator, Virginia Doyle had been in the office when the page came into the office. Investigators from Child Protective Service [CPS] actually have one hour to arrive on a priority one call like this one. She had arrived at the Pierce Home on or about 8:30 a.m. in plenty of time. She documented statements and made her first report of the incidents that occurred from her one-on-one conversation with those participating. She then headed to the Community hospital.
Virginia Doyle, had arrived at the hospital on or about 9:20 a.m. introduced herself and immediately went into the Newborn Intensive Care Unit to check on the infant. Virginia was documenting the status of the infant, securing records and gleaning information about the infant when Sandra came in. Sandra reported, "Virginia, the mother left the hospital and Detective Winston is in the camera room getting the documentation he needs for his report on the first floor."
"Thanks for the update, Sandra." Virginia stated. Sandra and Virginia have met many times in the past.
Detective Bob Winston was not far behind Social Worker Sandra. He followed her into the ICU. "So, Virginia, what are we going to do with the infant now that the mother left?"
"I'll arranged for "baby girl" to be placed in specialized Foster Home when she is able to be discharged from the hospital" stated Virginia. "If you can hang on a moment, I'll be able to provide you with that information for your report."
Detective Bob Winston, "Sure Virginia, thanks!"
Virginia contacted child placement, "Please remember this child is substance exposed and in the ICU. I need a seasoned Foster Parent preferably an RN or LPN to have this child. Someone who understands about Substance Exposed Infants and will not throw in the towel when they never stop crying!"
Placement operator stated, "When will the child be discharged?"
Virginia: "Not sure, she is in ICU due to substance exposure and trauma from a fall during birth. If someone could be selected now they would have time to bond with the baby. Bonding helps during the transition period for both parties."
Placement operator stated, "I have a couple placement. Terri and Ted have been with us for years. Terri is a RN and has had substance exposed infants the past. They do not have any current placements. Will that do?"
Virginia: "Yes, give me her number and I'll give her a quick call. Once I have secured their service, I'll call you back to confirm the placement."
Placement operator stated, "Okay, good luck!"
Virginia called the number. "Hello, my name is Virginia Doyle, May I speak with Ted or Terri please."
Ted responded, "I'm Ted, what can I do for you?"
Virginia, "I have newborn this date. She is substance exposed and currently in ICU. Can you take care of this child?"
Ted responded, "Let me speak with Terri. Can you hold on?"
Virginia, "Yes, go ahead."
Terri got on the phone, "Hello Virginia, we'd be happy to have the newborn in our home. When will the baby need to leave the hospital?"
Virginia, "Did Ted inform you that this is a substance exposed newborn?"
Terri, "Yes, I've had experience with newborns like that before. We do not have another placement now so it will be no trouble. Ted and I are retired so we won't have any issues with the crying."
Virginia, "Great News! Here let me get the Social Worker, Sandra, to tell you a bit about the baby so you can complete your intake forms."
Terri, "I'm coming down now, its not too far."
Virginia, "Okay, thank you."
Virginia spoke briefly to Sandra. "The foster father is on the phone seeking some information for the intake. The foster mom is headed this way. Can you help them out with the intake forms?"
Virginia gave the phone to Sandra and contacted Child Placement again. "Virginia here, Ted and Terri accepted the assignment. The social worker here at the hospital is providing Ted with the scant information we now know for their intake paperwork. Terri is heading down to the hospital. Seems to be a good choice. Thanks"
Placement operator stated, "Good to hear. Hope everything goes well!"
Virginia hung up the phone and went to find Detective Bob Winston to provide him with the necessary information for his report. "Bob, I arranged for a seasoned Foster Mother to pick up the newborn from the hospital. I requested a Registered Nurse who had worked for Child Welfare with substance exposed infants before. And they provided one! The newborn will be discharged to a foster couple, Ted and Terri. Terri is a RN who is familiar with substance-exposed infants and children and placement has good reports on their care. She is on the way to the hospital now!"
"Great news." Bob replied.
Both Virginia and Bob are aware that substances exposed children are difficult to deal with. There's no mistaking a baby suffering from withdrawal because they are crying, inconsolable infants. In addition to their inconsolable crying, they suffer tremors and seizures, don't suck well, can't soothe themselves, are rigid, don't respond to snuggling, have diarrhea, vomiting, and the fussiness can last for the first year of the infants life. Taking care of this type of baby is difficult for most and impossible for some.
The current intake work was completed so Detective Winston and Investigator Doyle left the hospital to return to the office and make their formal reports.
Virginia knows that the role of the Child Welfare worker is to attempt to reunify child and parent whenever possible. The only name that Tanya put on the certificate was hers and there was no address. Mother Tanya had slipped out of the hospital before Virginia set eyes on her. Bob had provided her a duplicate mug shot of Mother Tanya from his file. So on the way to the office, Virginia drove down skid row to see if the mother might be there.
Initial Report Prepared and Submitted
It was a bit of a drive to reach the Child Protective Service from the hospital. During the trip, Doyle was deep in thought. She was mulling over the events of the day and thinking about how she could put in a report what happened to "baby girl" so those reading the report could almost see "baby girl." Doyle always believed that pieces of paper in a children's case needs to become alive for the reader so it would accurately present the child. Doyle had taken pictures of the baby in the ICU. She always included pictures of the children for the attorneys and judges to see. Doyle wanted to make sure those in power realized who each ruling would affect.
Doyle pulled into the underground parking and headed to the elevator. The offices were on the fourth floor. Her boss nodded to her when she arrived in the office. Brian Walters was a protective sort, always worried about his staff and never left the office for home until everyone checked in safe.
"Hello chief, we've got a sad case here.." Doyle stated
Walters stated, "I know, I've been getting calls and have the faxed reports your had requested that have already been sent in for your attention. I put everything on your desk."
Doyle stated, "Because, the whereabouts of the biological mother, Tanya Steel, is unknown at the present time. She ran out of the infant in the hospital, didn't even take a shower. Had to place the newborn into protective custody. Detective Bob Winston has been assigned. He'll issued a warrant for her arrest on sight based upon her neglecting the baby and running out without completing any paperwork."
"Good job Virginia." Walters stated.
Doyle completed the necessary office work, faxed in the paperwork to the court and called it a night..
Virginia's Case Manager Role
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. Doyle knows that it is the foster parent who tend to the children who have most of the facts she needs. Children usually confide to their caretakers. Experienced foster parents tend to see and hear many stories from the children they care for.
During her down time on day three, Doyle visited with the newborn at the hospital and obtained a report from social services about the foster mother, Terri.
Sandra reported, "Virginia, Terri has been here everyday. She feeds the baby and is very attentive. I think you have made a good choice."
Virginia, "Great to hear. How much longer will she have to stay in the hospital?
Sandra stated, "Our report stated that by next week she will be discharged to Terry.
Virginia, "Please keep me informed. Fax all the new documentation for my report to this number." Virginia handed Sandra her card. "Thanks again Sandra for keeping on top of things here!"
Sandra, "No problem."
So Virginia went into the ICU ward and found Terri holding "baby girl." "Are you Terri?" Virginia asked.
"Hello, yes." Terri warmly greeted Virginia.
"I'm Virginia Doyle, the Case Manager. Here is my card. "How are things going?"
"We're excited to have this little one in our home. Awful about her hurting her head like that! Have you heard, we can take her home next week."
"Yes, Sandra told me." Virginia replied.
"Ted is getting the crib all set up and we have purchased extra padding for the sides." Terri said.
"You both are to be commended for your participation in this case and helping this little one by providing a safe harbor until things in her life settle."
"No bother, we love children of every age but especially babies!" Terri said.
"If you need anything, don't hesitate to call." Virginia stated. "I'll be out sometime next week to visit with "baby girl" in your home.
"Fine with us we know the drill." Terri stated. "By the way, we've decided to call her Theresa for now. Is that okay?"
"Sure." Virginia stated. "Theresa it is." Virginia said her good bye, documented her conversations, collected the necessary records, then left the hospital.
Virginia's Investigator Role
On the way back to the office, Doyle continued her role as the investigator. She stopped off at all the local homeless shelters, and walked down the local streets known to have prostitutes looking for Tanya. Doyle searched the streets and spoke to everyone she saw showing a picture of Tanya hoping to locate her before she had to make her Initial Custodial report. No one had seen Tanya recently.
Back at the office, Virginia read Tanya's extensive case file she received from Bob. She was in search of information about available relatives, friends and others who might be custodian of the infant.
Virginia learned that Tanya had a sister, Ruth, who was living in Connecticut. This sister was currently fostering Tanya’s other four children. It is important to keep children in the family if possible so, Virginia contacted the Connecticut police department. "Hello, this is Virginia Doyle with CPS, I need to speak to someone regarding a potential placement in your area.
Officer Banner reported, "Ruth has a criminal record with multiple charges of child endangerment and prostitution. Ruth would not be a fit guardian for the baby."
Virginia documented the conversation and requested copies of the reports showing that Ruth would not be a good guardian candidate according to the police department.
Officer Banner not only provided enough information to rule out Ruth as a potential placement, but provided other family members that were here locally. Virginia would contact them now she has the information.
"We tried to get those folks in your State to come and pick up these children and they were not willing to do so, perhaps since you are local and you have a baby perhaps you might get a better response." Officer Banner stated.
"Thanks for all the information officer." Virginia stated. Virginia then called each contact on the list. No one was interested in assuming the responsibility of a Tanya's substance-exposed infant.
Next, Virginia contacted Connecticut Child Welfare office, "Hello, I have to fax a request for a home review and current background check on Ruth for a potential relative placement."
Sue at the Connecticut Child Welfare office stated, "Oh, we have a large record on Ruth and Tanya's children in our office. Ruth may have once had good intentions at one time taking on her sisters children, but we've had multiple charges against her for abuse and neglect of the children placed in her care. Ruth left the children for days at a time without adult supervision and sometimes, without sufficient food and they went begging for food from the neighbors. So, we in Connecticut are seeking alternative placement for the four children in Ruth’s care. I'll fax the documents to you, but you need to get someone else to care for that infant."
"Thanks for the information Sue." Virginia documented the conversation and requested copies of the reports showing that Ruth would not be a good guardian candidate via Connecticut Child Welfare office reports. Also asked for information on interaction with other family members.
Four days had come and gone before Virginia's persistence finally paid off and she located Tanya walking on the street. Virginia got out of the car, "Hey Tanya, we need to talk about your baby. How about you coming into my office and we can chat about your baby. Your baby needs a name, I can help you get housing assistance, drug rehabilitation, clean clothing, and food."
Tanya laughed, "No way!." Heading the other direction.
Virginia asked, "Who is the babies father? Maybe he might be able to raise her?
Tanya turned around laughing at the idea and said, "I do not have a steady male companion. The baby's father is one of my, 'Johns' and I cannot give you a name, there are too many."
"Well, you can at least give the baby a name and fill out the birth certificate. Is there someone else who might be a family member interested in raising your child?" Virginia requested.
Tanya waved her off stating, "Not interested lady!. My family isn't interested either."
Because Tanya had a warrant for her arrest, Doyle called up Bob Winston to inform of her last location and chat about the case.
Detective Winston and Investigator Doyle had secured adequate facts, medical reports, and statements for the custody judge to make an informed decision regarding the custody of the child now known as, Theresa.
The Child Custody Hearing
The seven days before a custody hearing pass quickly for investigators who need an abundance of evidence to substantiate their custodial case. Doyle's main job during this time would have been to setup services in the home, to attempt reunification with the parents and resolve whatever lead to the State taking custody of the children. But, in this case, Doyle had gotten no breaks dealing with Tanya who refused to participate. Even so, the evidence was overwhelming in this case that no one would step up to take custody of this newborn.
For this report, Virginia documented her many attempts to get Tanya to come into the office. The fact that Tanya continued to refuse to even complete the Birth Certificate and give the infant a name. Virginia told the court how she had made unsuccessful attempts to reunify Tanya with her biological child.
Virginia included a statement about Tanya Steel's family who were unwilling to even visit with the child. She had no luck seeking extended family, friends of the family, or siblings that were fit to be custodians of the baby, now called Theresa.
Tanya did not respond to the request for her presence at the hearing but her sister, Ruth, did come forth. She made a claim to take custody of the baby because she was a blood relative. The court addressed her request and asked Virginia why she had not contacted Ruth when seeking custodial family. Virginia proceeded to mention all the evidence she had collected about Ruth with suitable documentation from Connecticut Child Welfare and Law Enforcement. The request was declined.
Theresa would remained in Foster Care for three years before the court would allow Tanya Steel’s parental rights to be severed and she could be placed for adoption.
Each court hearing every six months went the same. Virginia requesting severance and the court refusing. Tanya refused to participate in reunification and never saw the child but "baby girl" remained in Ted and Terri's home.
Severance and Adoption
Three years is a long time for everyone. Social workers make on-going visits to the foster home, Theresa was growing, learning , and calling her foster parents "mom" and "dad." The Foster Parents, Ted and Terri, had grown used to having Theresa in their home and had become possessive of the baby. No one visited her other than social workers so she was like theirs.
Doyle always prepared her reports with pictures of the children, pictures of the housing, medical reports, and this time included a video made by the foster family to show how old Theresa was getting. Doyle personally delivered a copy of her report to both attorneys also after dropping off the report to the court. Doyle felt that it was important to put a picture of each child in front of the judge. Doyle personally believed that although children are not heard in custody court hearings, they can be seen, and felt with the proper presentation and photos. After all, she thought, 'It is their fate that is being decided.'
Court runs everyday Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Doyle felt lucky to get the case on the docket early at 8:45 a.m. that day. The clerk came out of the courtroom and asked for anyone involved with the Steel Family Custody Hearing to come inside. Doyle waited a bit and then went inside.
Virginia visited with the States Attorney to informed, "Theresa is now three years old. I hope she will be severed so she can get adopted. Pretty soon she will not have a chance."
"Me too." said State Attorney Flo, "Not only the age is the issue but also the attachment. The longer it takes to sever the harder it is for the foster family to let go."
"So true." Virginia stated.
The Bailiff arrived, "All rise, Judge Smith presiding."
Judge Smith came in heavily laden with papers and books.
"Please be seated. I have read the complaint and the request for severance and adoption to proceed. This is a case regarding an apparent parental abandonment of not only this infant but four children placed with an unsuitable relative out of state that are currently at risk. The child involved is listed as "baby girl" because the parent refused to complete the Birth Certificate."
Judge Smith looked at the prosecutor, "Attorney Giles, has the parent, Tanya Steel, made any contact with the child?
State's Attorney Giles responded, "No, not to my knowledge your honor."
Judge Smith, "Attorney Giles are you in agreement with the petition that the child should be severed and made available for adoption?"
State's Attorney Giles responded, "Yes, your honor."
Judge Smith looked at the defendant side. "Attorney Jones, do you have any evidence as to why this child should not be severed and made able to adopt.
Attorney Jones, "No, your honor."
Judge Smith banged his gavel, "The petition for parental severance has been granted this date. Court Adjourned!"
The Bailiff arrived, "All rise, Judge Smith left the room."
Doyle and State's Attorney Giles were the last to leave the courtroom. "Good job Doyle we finally did it!!" Attorney Giles stated.
"Yes, now to inform the foster family of the news." Virginia said.
"Good luck with that!" Attorney Giles stated.
Back at the CPS Office
Doyle pulled into the underground parking and headed to the elevator. The offices were on the fourth floor. Her boss nodded to her when she arrived in the office. Brian Walters was a protective sort, always worried about his staff and never left the office for home until everyone checked in safe.
"Hello chief, we've finally won this case and I can get Theresa adopted!." Doyle stated
Walters stated, "Great job! Persistence pays off in the end. I see that you have gotten in touch with the adoption a large stack of red files are sitting on your desk to review. A lot harder to get a 3 year old adopted, especially one who has had substance abuse. I'm actually surprised that there are so many."
"Yes, this is sure a tough deal for her. Hopefully we will find someone fantastic in that group. I have to get a sign off with the current Foster Family first. You know, the first right of refusal,"
Walters responded, "Aren't those folks in their 80's now?"
Doyle, "Yes, but our state does not have a limit on how old an adoptive parent should be.
Walters responded, "Oh yea, wish it wasn't so!"
Doyle, "Me too, they are very attached, it has been three years they have had her to themselves."
Walters, "Check out the red files first before you go and find a good match. Perhaps knowing that the baby will go to a good home will help tear her out of their grasp."
Walters, "Good luck, I wouldn't want your job today!"
Doyle made a quick call to the foster home to setup a meeting with them. "She has been severed." Doyle told Terri.
Terri stated, "Oh we knew it would happen some day. Every time you go to trial we worry because we have had her so long. We both struggling with the idea of loosing her."
Virginia responded, "I know it can be hard to let go sometimes but you need to think about the child. What is in Theresa's best interest. Well we'll chat more when I come to visit."
Terri said, "Okay, goodbye."
As Virginia hung up the phone, she knew that Ted and Terri had been foster parents for a long time and were good foster parents to all the children they receive. They had been good for Theresa as well, but they were too old at age 80 to provide her the type of active family life she needed.
Dangers of Ritalin
Foster Home Visit
Ted and Terri informed Virginia that Theresa had been recently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD]. Virginia knew that Theresa needed to run and play hard with this ailment because children with ADHD cannot sit still. Virginia stated, "We all know kids who can’t sit still, who never seem to listen, who don’t follow instructions no matter how clearly you present them, or who blurt out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Sometimes these children are labeled as troublemakers, or criticized for being lazy and undisciplined. These behaviors are part of ADHD and it makes it difficult for a child with the disease to inhibit their spontaneous behavior. Causing the family extra hardship to care for the child. A child with ADHD may do their best to be good, but still be unable to sit still, stay quiet, or pay attention. They may appear disobedient, but that doesn’t mean they’re acting out on purpose. By age four or five, when most children have learned how to pay attention to others, to sit quietly when instructed to, ADHD children say everything that pops into their heads and stand out due to their inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Terri, a RN, took Theresa to a psychiatrist and that doctor had prescribed Ritalin. Ritalin had been approved for use in children age 6 years and older for the treatment of ADHD, but not for someone only age 3. Terri stated that in some cases Ritalin may be prescribed for children younger than age 6 who are diagnosed with ADHD like Theresa.
Virginia expressed concern about Theresa being placed on Ritalin. She has older children on the medicine and having issues. Ritalin is a controversial medication at best for older children and the long-term impact of ADHD medication on the youthful, developing brain is not yet known. Some researchers believe Ritalin might interfere with normal brain development. And Theresa has already been substance exposed in the womb. Ritalin also has been found to trigger hostility, aggression, anxiety, depression, and paranoia. Children with a family history of suicide, depression, or bipolar disorder are at a particularly high risk, and should be carefully monitored when taking stimulants. Theresa' mother was always self medicating for depression and who know what type of disorder she might have had.
Terri stated, "I understand the risk of taking Ritalin but feel it is in the best interest of Theresa. You know Ted and I would do nothing we felt would be harmful to Theresa. We have grown tired of the ever-changing faces in our home over the years. Theresa. has been living with us for three years now and we are attached. We considered her a part of our natural family by now and we have been making decisions about her and what she does ever since she was born."
Ted piped in, "Yes, most of the children we receive come and go within six months to one year. This little one has stayed so long we just hate to see her go."
Virginia told them, "I understand, you love her! But we must consider all options. I will make every attempt to find a family who will not mind having you as an extended family, grandparents, for Theresa so you can continue to be a part of her family for as long as you live." Lets look at the facts, both of you are eighty years old now. Don't you feel that Theresa needs someone younger, agile and able to run with her?"
Intellectually both Ted and Terri understood what Virginia was telling them. They knew it was not in the “Best Interest” of an infant to be adopted by someone their age. Even if they were lucky by the time she was age twenty, they would be 100 if they were still alive. Geriatric tables indicate that most individuals do not last much past age ninety. But they would not give in so easily.
Virginia figured they might take this approach so she was ready with facts and figures to reason with them.
Ted countered, "The rules state that Foster Parents have the first right of refusal with regard to the adoption of a child placed with them. This rule allows foster parents to be first in line to adopt any child placed in their home. And in the state there is no age end to prevent an adoption of a baby to an 80 year old couple."
Virginia stated, "That is true but you both need to decided to think about what is best for Theresa. It would be better for her to have a younger adoptive couple with maybe a brother or sister for her to play with? Someone who could run and play ball with her?"
Finally after a long two hour visit, Terri & Ted agreed and signed off for the adoptive search to begin.
Finding the Perfect Adoption Family
Virginia read the red adoption files from top to bottom seeking a "perfect match. Eventually, a potential adoptive family popped out of the pile. They had a son about the same age as Theresa. Virginia contacted them and they stepped forward with interest in adopting her. The potential father was a young pediatric doctor; the potential mother was a homemaker with a side business that allowed her to be at home most of the day.
The initial visitation was a grand introduction. Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Andy played with Theresa. Mr. Smith got down on the floor with the children and played games. Lots of laughter and hugging was going on. To Virginia, Theresa's new potential family and brother fit. Andy and Theresa actively played together laughing. Theresa appeared comfortable with the potential mother, father, and brother and didn't want them to leave. Virginia remarked "Looks like a perfect match!"
During the visit, Theresa’s Foster Parents watched quietly. The young couple told the Foster Parents during the visit, "You will be welcome in our family as grandparents for Theresa and our son if you like."
Virginia thought it was appropriate for Terri and Ted to maintained contact with Theresa throughout her life in a more appropriate role as her grandparents..
Terri told Virginia after the visit, "We both like the young couple and their little boy. But....." Terri quickly went into another room without finishing.
Ted said, "Its hard to think of loosing Theresa, she is a big part of our life.".
Virginia stated, "I know how you feel but you have had many children over the years and know how important it is to provide them an exit from your temporary home into a permanent one.
Ted nodded, "Yes, but this is different somehow."
Virginia said her goodbyes and hugged Theresa and left the home.
Adopted Child Returned
The Sad Turn About
Within the week Terri and Ted changed their mind about allowing Theresa to be adopted and petitioned the court by letter to adopt Theresa. Because the law is the law, the court had no other option but to grant their petition.
Terri and Ted's adoption was approved by the State and Theresa lost her chance for a “normal life” with a biological family more suited to her age.
Virginia was devastated. She had worked so hard to find a perfect match for Theresa, and the potential family she had found were also in despair. They had such high hopes of Theresa being the missing addition to their family.
But in the end it was most unfortunate for Theresa. Virginia had seen it happen before and sure enough, when Theresa turned age 12, she was returned to State by Ted and Terri who stated they were no longer able to take care of her. Virginia was present when Theresa was returned like a puppy who became a dog delivered on the doorstep at the pound.
The reason given, Ted and Terri stated, "We are just too 'old' to keep up with her anymore. She's always buzzing about and we get too tired. Plus, we are unable to control Theresa's behavior anymore!"
The intake worker took Theresa into care and she was placed in a Group Home. Theresa now age 12 had little potential of being adopted again. So she would live her days out on foster group home with no family.
Theresa continued to struggle with depression throughout her life and had multiple episodes of “suicidal attempts” which was a side effect of the Ritalin she was prescribed for her ADHD.
Virginia often thought about poor little Theresa's plight as do many others and eventually the law may change for the better.