Michaels Story told by Virginia Doyle, Social Worker
You might say that it all began with a phone call placed by a landlord regarding a toddler of one of his tenants, 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 were years of neglect. Both parents refused to obtain treatment for their mental illness; partially due to the husbands' severe paranoia. Compounding that, there were incidents of, parental neglect, abandonment and abuse leading to other sired children subsequently needing removed by Child Welfare in Texas. Let's follow the events as they unfolded on the current complaint. I'm better at putting the pieces of the story together after the fact. My name is Virginia Doyle, and I am a Child Protective Services Investigator. This is Michael's story.
This is a true story of my involvement with Michael. All the names and places have been changed to protect innocents. It all began on a February Monday morning at or about 8:30 a.m. when a 911 Operator in Glendale Police Department received an emergency call, "Hello, I am calling in to make a report on a couple staying in my motel. I run a long term stay motel and had been getting lots of complaints from neighbors of Ned & Nancy. So this morning I went to Ned & Nancy’s apartment to discuss the complaints about the way they dispose of garbage. They have been improperly deposited garbage right outside their door. I had gone over and put out a garbage bin near their front door with latch but they continued to shove things outside the front door. The garbage is collecting insects and smells so I continue to receive complaints. I went to tell they to clean up or they would be evicted. But, that is only part of my concern. Once I got inside the apartment, I was shocked to see a toddler crawling around in a puppy pen with the puppies. They made no effort to collect him or correct him when he started licking the water in the puppy bowl and eat dog food on all fours with them. In fact they laughed and said they thought it was cute. I had to do something about this, I went over and picked him up and handed him to the mother. It was just awful." Mr. Smith stated.
Police operator responded, "I understand what you are saying. It is a concern. Thank you for making the report, I will send this to one of the investigation units as soon as possible as well as Child Protective Services and you should expect to receive a visit."
Thank you." Mr. Smith said and hung up the phone.
Care Enough to Call
When incidents occur within the home, both police and child welfare send investigators. The Police Department is responsible to handle cases of child abuse outside the home and Child Protective Services handle cases inside the home. The Police Department assigned Detective Stan Fits, Child Welfare assigned investigator, Virginia Doyle. Both investigators were given a 5 hour window to respond to the complaint. During the time allotted, Detective Stan and Investigator Virginia started their case files. Took the time to locate any records from past incidents. reviewed rap sheets, and any welfare complaints for two purposes;  Knowing who they are dealing with helps alleviate potential danger for the investigators health and welfare, and  Knowing what happened before tells the investigators whether or not they have done things before and if they are a first time offender or this is a pattern of behavior. Prevention is the best response in most cases, no investigator looks forward to walking into an unknown situation that proves dangerous without backup
Child Welfare Starts Case
Virginia started adding to her case file. Documenting events is continuous when dealing with legal issues. She will put in copies of the temporary custody order she will hand the couple when she takes the child, her court report, the current complaint from the 911 operator and anything that happens during the investigation as well as conversations in the front of the folder. All other printed reports from Child Welfare Texas and the police department they already have as well as any other report from the past will be placed into the back sections. As Virginia punches holes into the printed report she notes there have been multiple reports over the course of the last 10 years mirroring today's event. The tab where she places other reports is full, and she will have to start another folder if she gets more evidence from the past. This evidence presents a picture for the judge that these parents have a history of neglect and child removal for their safety. .Frequent moving to allude capture and refusal of medical and/or psychological exam even when offered free, indicate there has been little cooperation from the family. Reports indicate lack of credible relative placement options. Ned and Nancy will be arrested for child endangerment today and a credible placement is always sought with a relative first. She also looks to see if There any medical reports and it either take psychotropic medicine or health related medicine. This way she can make sure they get their medicine and be aware about behavioral concerns. The reports show no medicine has been issued but, indicates they have been arrested for taken illegal substance. The court reports received from Texas court list severe danger to the health and well-being of multiple children in the past. Documenting four daughters over the course of 10 years were removed when infants. There is a warning noted to be sent to newborn hospitals requesting a call if Nancy came in.
Virginia contact local birth registry and was provided with a faxed birth certificate and the name of the birth hospital.
Next she contacted the hospital, "Hello. Investigator Doyle here, may I speak to records please. Hello Dorothy, I need to get a copy of hospital records on Michael sent to us. Can you provide assistance? Was the child healthy? Are there any listed relatives?
Dorothy stated, "Records indicate that Michael was born a healthy 8 lb. 3 oz. baby boy. There was no medicine in Nancy's blood to trigger concern. There are no relatives listed on our sheet except her spouse, Ned. Social work reports no odd behavior and the hospital staff reported no issues or concerns. The baby was discharged shortly after his birth. Parents stated they couldn't afford longer stay. No concerns listed." Virginia replied, "Thanks for the report Dorothy. We'll need copied faxed to us."
Virginia contacted Detective Stan, "Hello Stan, see you were assigned the case on Michael." Stan stated, "Yes, I pulled multiple rap sheets from Texas police. The reports I have indicate Ned has a history of violent behavior and petty theft as well as abuse issues. I'm going to bring along backup and head out now. Virginia stated, "Good to know, my reports indicate alleged mental health issues, no trigger is indicated. Glad for backup; we need to be cautious. My secretary just handed me the map so I'll heading out soon."Stan replied, "Right, see you there."
Virginia briefly updated Unit Supervisor Ralph. "Ralph, history of child abuse, mental illness suspected, previous removal of children. have custody notice completed and will take child. No relative known, will follow-up with parents prior to their arrest. Ralph, "Okay, is it safe?" Virginia, "Yes, Stan is bring backup." Ralph, "Okay, I'll call placement to get ready when you contact them." Virginia replied, "Thanks," then headed out to the sight of disturbance.
Stan arrived at the home first. Both he and the Landlord, Mr. Smith, were waiting for Virginia in the apartment. Stan said, "Nothing has changed since Mr. Smith left this apartment except Michael was put down again in the cage with the mother dog and puppies. I tried to talk with them about it, but they do not see the issue. We are here because of the smell. Feces from dogs and child in the pen."
Virginia replied, "Okay, I have a temporary custody notification prepared and intend to remove Michael from the home now. "
Stan replied, "Good. I am arresting both parents. I also contacted the pound and they are on the way to collect the animals."
Virginia replied, "Okay."
Stan proceeded back inside with the 3 officers he brought for back up. "Ned and Nancy, I am placing you under arrest. Let me read you your rights..." His officers placed Ned and Nancy in handcuffs.
Virginia stepped up, "My name is Virginias Doyle, I am an investigator with Child Protective Services. I will be taking your son into protective custody now. Here is the temporary notification. Do you have any clothing for the lad?"
Nancy responded, "No we just leave him be."
Virginia replied, "Okay, do you have any family in the area that may serve as a temporary placement for the child?
Nancy responded, "No."
Virginia informed, "Okay then, I will place Michael into a foster placement today. Once you are released from incarceration we will hold a meeting to see how we can proceed. Here is my card. I'll place one on your kitchen counter as well. The police have my number and will give it to you when you are released. Please contact me."
The parents were placed into squad cars and removed. An officer remained until the pound had removed the animals.
Mental Health Issues
First Foster Home
Virginia collected Michael and contacted Child Placement, "Hello, Doyle here, I need a placement for a two year old boy. Best be a long term placement potential because I do not know how long he will need it."
Becky Placement Specialist, "I have a placement at the home of Foster Parents, Kay and Kyle. These individuals are “well seasoned,” as they run an emergency receiving home as well as registered for long term placement.
Virginia replied, "Thanks Becky, I am well aware of these individuals. They are fantastic, glad they have an opening."
Virginia contacted the Foster family. "Hello Kay, I'm on the way with a 2 year old male. He may be there for some time. Family had no clothing for the lad and have him wrapped in a blanket."
Kay, "Understand, we'll get out appropriate items and be ready." Emergency receiving homes have enough new clothing available in multiple sizes for any arrival.
Virginia left the apartment with Michael. Virginia thought about Kyle and Kay. "They had cared for and adopted many children over the years and maintain contact with the children and families they foster. Those families and children referred to them as, Grandpa and Grandma. The home overflows with photos of get-together. graduation photos, etc. Kay and Kyle will be wonderful for Michael." she thought.
Kay greeted Virginia at the door, "Here's the little lad." she coed. Kyle grabbed Michael in his arms cooing and playing peek-a-boo with him. "He is a beautiful baby boy!" Kyle said.
"Yes, he is." Virginia agreed. While Kyle and Kay played with Michael, Virginia completed the intake paperwork. On the paperwork Virginia instructed, "Please see that Michael is given a physical at the doctors. Don't know if he has seen a medical professional since he left the hospital 2 years ago." Once finished, Virginia handed the paperwork to Kay.
"No problem Virginia." Kay stated.
"Here is my fax number for the report." Virginia stated. "Well I'm all done here. Any other questions or concerns?"
"No." both stated.
They said their goodbyes.
Severance or Long Term Care
Should the Judge rule "severed" and allow Michael to get Adopted?
Court Rules Long Term Care
Virginia thought about the case on the way back to the office. She needed to get the report done for temporary custody. The case would be held within a week and all the evidence needed to be prepared.
Meanwhile at the police station, Ned and Nancy had been arrested for child endangerment and neglect. Once incarcerated, an in house lawyer had been assigned for them. This lawyer wasted little time requesting a free evaluation for both Ned and Nancy to prove whether or not they were capable to stand trial.
Within a two week period and armed with the psychological reports, this lawyer, Alexander Swift, quickly files for their release. His reports state they did not know what they were doing.
Those reports crossed the desk of Detective Stan and Investigator, Virginia. "We now have credible psychological reports on both mother and father for our records." Virginia reported to Ralph.
The law in each state is different. In Texas Child Welfare could sever parental rights and put the children up for adoption if child abuse was evident even if mental illness of the parents existed. Unfortunately for Michael, the rules were not the same. Having a diagnosis of mental illness even with clear and present abuse at best puts Michael at Long Term Care. This is really a shame too as Michael is a fine looking youngster who would enjoy a permanent home and have many individuals wanting to adopt such a handsome child.
The documents were filled, evidence presented and the judge ordered Long Term Foster Care for Michael. Ned and Nancy were provided weekly visitation as long as they were appropriate and supervised.
Virginia transitioned the case to an on-going Foster Care Worker, Julia, who would oversee his continued foster care until he became an adult. Virginia closed the case and put it away.
Child Protective Social Worker, Julia, will keep up with Michaels progress as Court Appointed Guardian. She made home visits with the foster family, made court reports, reviewed medical, psychological, and school records. She went to school parent nights and had annual reviews with each teacher as Michaels' Court Appointed Guardian. Michael had weekly Court ordered visitations with Ned and Nancy, who visited Michael each week every year. The foster family were church goers. Ned and Nancy joined that church so they could sneak a peek of Michael on Sunday as well. Julia remained on top of the case; even though Michael was one of 40 or so cases she maintained.
Foster Mom Talks about Long Term Care
Meeting with Michael Age 8
When Michael was age eight, the school system contacted Julia concerned about Michael. Reports indicated that Michael who was generally jolly began crying in class. Julia went to the foster home and school attempting to find out what was wrong. She requested the school psychologist, attempt to chat with him. Finally, Julia contacted Virginia and asked for her help.
Julia called the Intake Unit, "May I speak with Investigator Virginia Doyle please?"
Secretary Adam responded, "Sure one minute please." Adam turned around, "Hey Doyle transferring an in-house call your way." he shouted.
"Doyle here." Virginia stated when answering the call.
"Hello Virginia," Julia stated. "I am calling you because you are familiar with foster parents Kyle and Kay and the boy, Michaels' case. There is a problem."
"What kind of problem?" Virginia responded. Virginia was one of those people who remembers children so did not need to review the case.
Julia continues, "Michael is crying at school at inappropriate times and appears sad. I had the medical doctor and school psychologist check him out. There are no medical issues. He won't talk to me about it. And the foster parents are unable to get anything out of him either. Can you talk with him?"
"Just a moment, I'll talk with my supervisor." Virginia said and put Julia on hold. Ralph, Michael is having an issue at school and Julia wants me to question the lad. Is it okay if I go over there? Virginia ask.
"Sure, Doyle." Ralph stated. "You're caught up with intakes and all your reports are done. Go ahead."
After getting permission from her supervisor, Virginia returned to the phone. "Julia, I'll head over to the school."
"Julia responded, "Thanks, I'll tell them you are coming and to cooperate with you."
Virginia stated, "Okay I'll get back to you with a report today."
"Virginia Doyle here." she stated at the front desk of the school.
"We are expecting you." the receptionist stated.
Two women came to greet Virginia, "Thank you for coming Virginia. My name is Principle Brown and this is the school nurse, Miss Violet. We just don't know what to do. Our school nurse will take you to Michaels' classroom."
"Thanks." Virginia stated. "I want to chat with him in a small room one-on-one."
Principle Brown responded, "Well, let's see, the psychologist room is empty today, he only comes every other week. Will that do?"
"Sure." Virginia stated as Miss Violet lead the way to Michaels' third grade classroom.
The nurse briefly spoke to the teacher and went over to Michael took hold of his hand and brought him outside the room. "Michael, this is Virginia, do you remember her?" Miss Violet asked him.
"Don't know?" Michael said looking up at Virginia.
"That's okay Michael; you haven't seen me for many years. Let's go have a good chat, okay?" Virginia responded.
"Sure.: Michael responded.
So they headed to the interview room heart-to-heart discussion. Once situated Virginia started. "Hello again Michael, my name is Virginia Doyle. I was the person who placed you in your foster home. Your case worker, Julia, asked me to visit you today. Seems you have been upset. Your foster parents and case worker are concerned and hope I might be helpful to solve whatever is bothering you. So, what's up?"
Michael told Virginia, "I am afraid I will have to leave my foster home. I love my Grandma and Grandpa. And I have been there it seems like forever. I see children coming and going all the time. Grandma tells me that I don't need to worry but I don't want to leave!"
Virginia explained, "I understand Michael you were a baby when I took you to stay in that home. There is something that you may not understand about the work that your foster parents do. Both your grandpa and grandma help children out when people like me have to take them away from their parents.
Because your foster family is so good for children, they help many children every year. Some of the children only stay a few days. Others many stay longer but only you and one other child are there until you are old enough to leave as an adult. Others have parents that can fix why the children were taken and get them back."
Michael stated, "My parents tell me they want me back. But, I don't want to leave. I don't want to live with them. Please don't make me!"
"Well, as far as I know, there is nothing about you leaving your current placement. If it is okay with you, I need to do some investigation, and I will come back and talk to you about what I find out. Until then, don't worry. You are not moving anywhere for now. Okay?"
Michael responded, "Okay!"
"Now let's get you back to class." Virginia left the room and Miss Violet came in and escorted Michael back to class.
Virginia called in to her supervisor, "Michael states that his folks want him to live with them. He is upset."
Ralph responded, "Perhaps we'll need to investigate."
Virginia responded, "I think a contract is in order. Having Kyle and Kay sign an agreement with Michael that's official like stating that he can stay with them until he is 18 years old."
Ralph responded, "Good idea. Get it done."
Virginia contacted Julia. "Julia, Michael is upset because Ned and Nancy keep telling him that is going to move in with them. He doesn't want to leave. He sees all the children come and go. I think a contract between Kyle, Kay and him would calm him down. We have some samples in the office, I'll have my secretary draw one up after I have a chat with Kyle and Kay to see if it is something they would feel comfortable signing."
Julia responded, "Thanks so much."
Virginia headed over to the foster home. Kyle and Kay greeted her, "Hello Virginia, sit here." they said pointing to a chair in the living room.
"Hears the scoop folks," Virginia explained, "Michael is upset because Ned and Nancy keep telling him that is going to move in with them. He doesn't want to leave. He sees all the children come and go. I think a contract between Kyle, Kay and him would calm him down. We have some samples in the office, I'll have my secretary draw one up if it is okay with you.".
"What are we signing exactly?" Kyle asked.
"The document is brief." Virginia stated. "In the contract, the foster parents agreed to house and care for Michael until he turned eighteen. This contract is written in simple language that Michael can read and understand. It will help Michael deal with his anxiety. Essentially it states that unless there are some unforeseen circumstances or situations, You will remain foster parents to Michael and he can remain with you until he is an adult."
Kyle and Kay together, "We agree."
"Okay, can you come with me today to the school? " Virginia asked.
"Sure" They stated.
"Let me get Julia on the phone." Virginia stated. "Julia, Kyle and Kay agree to sign the document. Can you meet us at the school today?"
Julia responded, "Sure I'm heading over now."
Virginia made one other call to the school. "Principle Brown can you allow us to have the staff room and we have a document we need you and Miss Violet to witness. Michael, Kyle and Kay plus all of us will sign as witness."
"No problem." Principle Brown stated.
Everyone headed to the school. We all gathered together in the conference room. The document was read by Virginia and signed by everyone.
In front of everyone Kay and Kyle said, "Michael we love you and that although children will continue to come and go in our home, you can stay."
Michael was exuberant! "Really? Yea!!" He had a group hug with Kyle and Kay. Then he hugged Virginia, and the rest. Everyone could see a huge burden had been lifted off his little shoulders"
Biological Parents Get Involved
During the next weekly visit with his biological parents, Michael told Ned and Nancy that he was not going to live with them. He told them he would stay with Kay and Kyle until he was eighteen years old. Ned and Nancy were distraught and as soon as he left, they went over to the courthouse. A court clerk helped them file for "full custody" of Michael.
When biological parents petition, the court is legally obligated to listen. Within a week they had the first hearing. The biological parents reported they had been keeping weekly visitation with Michael for several years, they were babysitting neighbors children in the community, attending church and they wanted their son returned.
Presiding Judge Ramos ruled that he needed more evidence to make a decision about the request. He ordered Ned and Nancy receive attorneys to represent them. [Due to their mental illness each parent had two individual attorneys. One to act as their guardian, and the second to act as an attorney. This meant four attorneys were paid for just Ned and Nancy.] Charles already had a long-term case manager and attorney to represent him. The State had an Attorney General assigned, Frank White, since Michael was age 2. Mr. White presided in all Court Appointed Ward cases regarding Michael, plus went to Foster Care Reviews, and to the foster home. Mr. White was the eyes and ears of the court. Then, the judge ordered Child Protective Services to do a home study to see if in fact Ned and Nancy six year after the child was removed were now capable to parent Michael. The case came into the Intake Office and landed on Virginia's desk. She needed to complete a home study.
Ned and Nancy were delighted with the result of the trial. They wanted a chance to prove that they were suitable to care for their own child and welcomed the home study. They understood that a home study is completed to assist the court to determine the suitability of the family the judge was considering placing a child with. In a home study, the case manager, Virginia, reviews and writes about financial, medical, mental and social issues to give the Court an accurate picture of what the child, Michael’s, life would be like living in this home. The study also deals with how Michael’s presence in the home would affect the living standard of the Nancy and Ned.
Virginia Does Due Diligence
Records from Julia over the years indicate that Ned and Nancy lived on Social Security Disability Benefits and barely made ends meet. Ned and Nancy had historically refused mental health treatment so there was no current treating professional to consult. So, when Virginia got the case assigned, she submitted a request for a psychological on Ned and Nancy. The judge agreed and ordered a current Psychological Evaluation to determine Ned and Nancy’s mental ability to parent a child. Both would visit with psychiatrists in the same building for their convenience. Reports would be forwarded to all parties involved.
Virginia had Ned and Nancy come in and complete a home study form.
Virginia spoke to both in the conference room before taking them one at a time back to one-on-one room. "A home study is a large document. It is done to provide the Court with an accurate glimpse of what a life with Ned and Nancy is like. This home study will help the judge to determine if Michael would be safe in your home. Your home study will included visits by me. I will be talking with your neighbors, friends and others about you. My visits will be both announced, and unannounced. I will visit your home during different times of the day."
Nancy asked, "What are you going to ask them about us?"
Virginia replied, "I will interview your neighbors, apartment manager, preacher, and friends, asking about your relationship with each other and others plus your behavior towards children and adults. This way I provide the judge information about what others think. I might ask them to write something and submit it. You can have some letters sent in as well if you like. Will you provide a list of folks I should contact?"
Nancy said, "Sure."
Virginia left 2 large pieces of paper and two pens for them to compose a list.
Then after a few minutes Virginia had Ned then Nancy join her in the one-on-one room to complete the long questioner.
After they completed the form, they were driven home by a social worker.
Virginia documented the meeting and copied the questioners completed for the report. That afternoon, Virginia went over to the motel where Ned and Nancy lived, Virginia noted that Ned and Nancy had moved from the motel they lived in when Michael was taken. They were now staying in a Long Term Motel down the block from the other, but in the same area.
Virginia started with the manager. "Hello, my name is Virginia Doyle and I am a Child Protective Services Investigator. I am doing a home study on Ned and Nancy in room 341 in an effort to see if their son may be returned to them. Have you had any complaints or concerns about them?
Mr. Norman replied, "We have on-going issues about garbage. They toss it out the front door causing insects. I have put garbage can near the door and they seem unwilling to use it. I spray insecticide it helps a little, but the smell is an on-going issue. I am also concerned about the cats in the home. I have reports about them making noise. They have three I think. I have just about decided to evict them, my attorney has informed me of the evidence I need."
Virginia replied, "Okay, will you be kind enough to write this down and fax it to my office. If it is okay with you, I will be talking to some of the neighbors.""
"Certainly." Mr. Norman stated. "Please tell me if you need help. And tell them about the trash issue if you think you can help.""
"I'll mention it to them." Virginia stated.
Virginia went down the list speaking to folks on the list provided by Ned and Nancy. Most of the individuals on their list told Virginia, "Ned and Nancy loved each other." They did not go on about them and didn't care to chat.
One neighbor came out her door as Virginia walked by. "Hello, excuse me, my name is Mrs. White. I understand you are making a report on Ned and Nancy so they can get a child?"
Virginia responded. "Who told you that?"
"Oh, we all chat about what's going on you know." Mrs. White stated. "I live three doors down from Ned and Nancy. I'm Nancy's friend. I would be unsure about adding a child. Ned tends to get drunk every night and hit Nancy causing bruises who knows what he'd do to a child.. Nancy has a black eye today. I told her to call the police on him, but she refuses. I felt it was something you needed to know. I've seen him do it." Mrs. White continued.
"Yes, thank you. Will you jot that down on this paper and sign it for me?" Virginia asked.
"Sure." Mrs. White stated and took the paper inside.
Virginia recollected that when she visited the home, years ago there were empty booze bottles at the front door. Perhaps nothing has changed. That alone supported Mrs. Whites' allegation.
"Here it is." Mrs. White stated returning with the written note. "I don't think even Nancy is safe in that home."
"Thanks." Virginia stated as she waved good-bye.
So it went from person to person in the complex. When Virginia had sufficiently canvassed those home, she went back to the office and place the notes and letters on file."
Virginia noted the evaluations of Ned and Nancy were on her desk. She looked at Ned's psychologist’s tests first. The tests and psychiatrists comments regarding them revealed that Ned had violent temper, which would pose a potential risk to Michael’s safety." Virginia thought, "This also supports the statement from Mrs. White."
Next Virginia read Nancy's' psychologist’s tests and psychiatrists comments. The report shows that Nancy has moderate mental retardation. The testing showed that Ned was the leader in the home and Nancy would not protect a child from Ned. Also Nancy told the psychiatrist that she receives discipline from Ned. She thinks of Ned like a father figure."
Virginia reported to Ralph, "The result from both psychological evaluations and psychiatric review indicate that Ned runs the home. Nancy is like his child and will not protect another child from Ned. So, the home is potentially unsafe for Michael to live in.
Ralph stated, "Worthwhile report to have. This report alone should resolve any further issues with Michael staying in our care. Finish the home visits and send in the report."
Many Children in Long Term Care
Home Visit for Home Study
Virginia makes her first in-home announced visit, Virginia arrived finding, bottles and trash sitting outside the door in bags. There was a black and white cat sitting inside on the windowsill.
Nancy opened the door part way to greet Virginia when she knocked. "Hello Virginia." Nancy said. "Please come in."
Virginia was verbally invited but the door would not open enough for Virginia unless she squeezed in. Virginia peeked inside the dark room. Being a trained Welfare Officer made Virginia not hesitate. "Nancy, the chest of drawers you have placed against the door of your home making it impossible for you to open your door properly. The dresser must be moved so the door can be easily opened to allow access and exit from your home before I can come inside."
Ned got up from the sofa to help Nancy pushed the chest away from the door and against the wall. Virginia looked to see if she would be safe to enter the dark apartment now and saw no more obstacles. Thank you." Virginia stated as she walked inside.
"Here you go." Nancy said as she offered Virginia a wooden chair to sit on after she removed papers that were laid on it.
Virginia pulled the chair out and placed the chair near the front door and across from the sofa where Ned was seated. She noted a well-worn path to the sofa, to the kitchen, into the hall and to the bedrooms lined with a variety of empty TV dinner cartons, newspaper, magazines and clothing stacked about on the floor. There were additional papers, wrappers and other bags partially filled with what knots on the furniture. Ned and Nancy rose and quickly moved things around so they could sit down. Nancy sat on a chair she moved next to Virginia.
Virginia stated, "This was a scheduled home visitation. Did you remember that I was coming over to meet with you today?"
Ned got up and went over to the calendar on the wall. "Yep, it is here with the time."
Nancy rose, "Is it okay if I make tea? Can I get some for anyone else?"
Ned and Virginia stated, "No thank you."
Nancy excused herself to the kitchen nearby after muttering "Tea quiets the nerves."
All Child Welfare workers are trained not to interject their personal feeling into their home study. Virginia merely mentions actual events in order to provide a “snapshot” of what they see and experience during visits.
Today, Virginia had various standardized questions for each parent to answer, in order to help pass the time. Since Nancy was in the kitchen. Virginia began with Ned.
Virginia turned to Ned, "So how are you doing today Ned?" she asked.
"Can't complain." Ned replied.
Virginia went on, "You did not complete your family history questionnaire when you were in the office the other day. I thought I'd give you an opportunity to finish it today. What can you tell me about your family?
Ned began, "Well, Michael is not our only child you know. Child Welfare Department in Georgia took two daughters and Child Welfare Department in Texas took two more."
Virginia said, "Really."
Ned continued, "Yes, our rights were severed and the girls were all adopted out to never be seen again. If we had only known." he started then, grabbed a hanky from his pocket to whip his eyes. "Well just wanted to say we are grateful for you folks here. You have allowed Nancy and I to visit with Michael over the years. He is a wonderful boy."
Virginia concurred, "Yes, he is."
Nancy returned to the living room and sat down in a chair next to Virginia. Nancy sat her teacup on the coffee table and Ned picked up the pen and paper and left the room.
Virginia asked, "Nancy I was attempting to complete the family history questionnaire you started in the office the other day. Can I help you complete the form?"
"No, I'll do it." Nancy stated as she began to write in silence.
Virginia noted that it wasn’t long before a rather large brown roach ventured up the coffee table, climbed upon the saucer, and plopped into the tea.
Nancy exclaimed, “Oh my, and scooped the roach out of the tea using her finger, and then picked up the cup and took a sip."
Virginia was astounded. The event seemed as if nothing happened. A short time later a white rat quickly scurried across the living room floor and into an open cabinet.
Nancy noted Virginia's gaze saw the mouse and said in a loud voice, “Ned, go get the cats.”
Then, turning to Virginia, she softly said, "You know our food bill for the cats has been reduced ever since they became good mousers." We always had mice on the farm back home. Cats are a necessity you know.
"Never heard that before." Virginia replied, "Nancy, can you describe a typical day?"
Nancy stated, "Sure, I've been making extra income by providing childcare in the home for a neighbor’s three-year-old female toddler named Lacey. She comes her before her mother goes to work and leaves when her mother returns. She only works part-time." Nancy continued, "I want the judge to know that others think I am good enough to take care of their children so I can have mine back."
Virginia asked, "Nancy what is the name, address and phone number of Lacey's parents?"
Ned returned with the finished paperwork. "Thank you." Virginia stated.
Then, Virginia asked, "Now before I leave, is there anything else you wish to tell me?"
Ned and Nancy shook their heads, "No." and all said, "Good bye."
Virginia hurried down to the car outside the motel and contacted her supervisor, "Ralph, Nancy is babysitting a female toddler in her home. We need to do something."
Ralph agreed, "Yes, Virginia, call the child abuse hot line report a suspected child abuse report on Lacey. Tell the worker who takes the report they need to request an immediate investigation, per me. I will assign another worker to go talk to Laceys' parents and offer Free Licensed Child Care services to that family for a year. We need to keep Lacey safe. No need for you to get involved as a conflict of interest might be suggested."
Virginia replied, "Okay, that's great Ralph, usually childcare services are available for low-income families on a sliding fee."
Ralph stated, "Yes, but we need to make sure that Lacey is kept safe. Hopefully she will stay safe and have no issues. She will be old enough for pre-school next year."
Virginia sighed in relief and drove went back to the office to typed the report. Once the home study was typed it was reviewed by Ralph and then submitted to the Court for review. All six attorneys received a copy of the court report with the home study attached. A hearing was held shortly afterward.
When the parties had assembled in court before the hearing, Ned, yelled treats to Virginia's well being because of what was written in the report. In front of witnesses in open court. Ned stated, "I personally or someone I know will kill you, Virginia, for what you wrote in the home study!"
Presiding Judge Ramos pounded on his gavel, "Order, order. Bailiff go stand by Ned." Counselors can't you control your defendant? Ned you cannot shout in court. You also cannot not go about making threats to public officials. Virginia is a Court Appointed Official and when you threaten her you also threaten me. She has done her due diligence, collected evidence in the form of letters, reports, and visual testimony. Your behavior today only cements the facts in the evidence collected and confirms all the concerns your neighbors, friends, and professionals have about your violent outbursts. That alone is adequate to deny your request for full or even partial custody of Michael. If anything happens to Mrs. Doyle you will be the first person visited after that outburst. Further more, I order you to take Anger Management classes if he ever want to visit your son, Michael, again you need to gain control of your temper. I also order that you get clearance from a psychological professional that you are safe for Michael to visit before any further visitation can occur. I also order drug testing to be clean before the visit.
Michael remained in care living with Kyle and Kay until the age of eighteen. Ned and Nancy continued to have weekly supervised visitation after a time had passed from the above mentioned trial and drug testing clearance received prior to each visit..
Long Term Care or Adoption
Should the Judge rule to Sever now? Michael could be adopted by his foster parents.
Sad commentary ends this case. Once Michael “aged out” at age eighteen, he moved in with his biological family and lives on welfare.
Kay and Lyle offered to have him stay at no charge, but he refused. Michael continues to maintain contact with his long-term foster parents and foster brother. N
Ned and Nancy go with Michael to Kay and Kyle's home for extended family get-togethers at their home.
It is a sad scenario for Michael who was a cute child who could have easily been adopted and had a better, “quality of life” if he was provided the chance.