a detailed story of the efforts made by our family to adopt a child who
was in the state of Texas Foster Care System. Our desire in presenting
this personal tragedy is to inform the nation that Child Protective Services
will lie, alter their casefiles, spend thousands of dollars in litigation,
rip children from the only love they have known, and the court system will
support them. There is no justice in Judge Pat Shelton's court when Judge
Bob Molder is presiding. Eventually everyone loses, especially Rebekah.
On July 16, 1999, Judge Bob Molder in Houston Texas allowed a family who
had not expressed ANY desire to adopt Rebekah in over a year and who openly
and repeatedly perjured themselves, AND GOT CAUGHT IN THE LIES ON THE WITNESS
STAND, to adopt our baby girl.
WHY? Money? We will
explain the financial aspects as soon as we get the presentation with all
documents necessary to verify the validity together. This tragedy should
never happen to any child or family!!! Unfortunately it happens quite often
and we will give you the stories. We hope YOU will write
the letters asking for someone to investigate.
Bekah is the nickname for a little girl named Rebekah. It is a very long story, and I have tried to shorten it here. Bekah came into our lives in March of 1997. She was eight months old and in the foster care of my half sister. Her biological
mother was sentenced to a seven year sentence in prison for felony child abuse and the father was unknown. Both were terminated on.
bond developed between Rebekah and me and she captured a special place in
the hearts of my entire family.
family includes our
21 year old daughter who is a Senior in honors college and works as
a Behavioral Therapist with children who have autism, our 14
year old daughter who is a socialite to the core and has a smile
that will knock you out, our 13 year old son who lights up the room with his presence, and my husband
who is the Operations Manager for a nationwide telecommunications company
and an extremely loving, kind man, and the most patient father I have known.
I am a full time, stay at home mom and I often teach various computer classes
at the community college. We also have two cats, Lucky
and Cloey and
recently adopted a rescued Greyhound, Holly.
two weeks of Rebekah coming into foster care she began spending weekends
in our home. As any caring mother and father would do, over time we purchased
and kept items such as clothes, diapers, shoes, play pen, high chair, and
toys in our home for her frequent visits. Priscilla, the foster parent
and my half-sister, was very supportive of the contact and Bekah's presence
in our family occurred with increasing regularity. She was with us at special
events, holidays, weekends, and many, many weekdays, always staying overnight.
This included Easter, our daughter's
party, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July (which is also Bekah's birthday),
Thanksgiving, and Christmas. She also went with us on a weekend trip to
a cabin on a lake and spent several days with us at a dude ranch in Bandera.
We took her to area parks, the neighborhood pool, and the zoo where we
rode the train as well as saw the animals (and petted stinky goats!). She
loved bike rides to see the ducks at a nearby lake most of all. Rebekah
was not very impressed with the classical music productions at the ampitheatre
in Houston! All of these events are recorded in pictures and on videotape,
using the automatic date and time stamp. In addition, I have proof of me
taking her to the pediatrician (who the judge refused to allow to testify) over 20 times in 11 months (Rebekah suffered
from frequent upper respiratory, ear, and sinus infections). I doubt any
of my birth children have seen the doctor that many times in their entire
lives!! I even took Rebekah to the hospital on my daughter's birthday and
spent the night with her in her hospital room when she was ill. My daughter was very understanding and supportive of the need to take care of this special child that had become such an important part of each of our lives. When the
nurses attempted to take her from my arms so they could put an IV in her
arm I informed them that I would stay with her because I did not want her
to think I had just abandoned her and let strangers hurt her. I've done
the same thing with my birth children because I love them; I'm their mom.
Why is this detailed data important? In denying our adoption, after it
had been approved by Linda Hollie, head of adoptions, we were told we could
not adopt her because we didn't have a "significant relationship" because
the foster mom said Rebekah had spent no more than five nights in our home!
We proved "significant past contact resulting in a significant relationship"
in court on Nov. 4, 1998.
and I discussed my family adopting Rebekah and she was extremely supportive,
even calling the supervisor of Unit 45 and expressing her confidence in
our ability to be a good family for Rebekah. She kept me informed as to how the case was proceeding with the termination, placement of Rebekah's half brother with his father, what family members expressed interest, what the caseworker was saying about anything that concerned Rebekah. Repeatedly I asked Priscilla if she was interested in adopting Rebekah but she always assured me that although she cared about Rebekah, she was looking forward to the day when Rebekah would move to our home permanently. She made statements to me
such as, "I cannot imagine Rebekah being anywhere but in your home," and
she encouraged Rebekah to call me Momma. She had frequently made the statement,
"I could never love her (Rebekah) the way I love my girls" (two sisters
she adopted)." Priscilla told me who to contact at CPS to find the information for the classes and after the classes started, she agreed to give us a written recommendation as one of the references required by cps. I sat on her bed with her and helped her spell numerous words while she filled out the form. Either she didn't mail it or Tamara Carroll "lost" it.
October of 1997, my husband and I enrolled in a ten week CPS class in order
to become certified as foster and adoptive parents. We had been told by
CPS that we would need to become dual licensed and after receiving our
license when Bekah's "Plan" became termination of the mother's rights,
we would be able to take her into our home as a foster child and after
the mother's rights were terminated, we could adopt her. We were also told
to ask the instructor of the parenting classes, Tamara Carroll, to contact
the Unit 45 supervisor and get a written approval from the supervisor stating
that she was okay with our adoption. We were very excited at the prospects
of having Rebekah become our legal daughter. We completed the class in
January of 1998.
After we had been caring for Rebekah for a period of over ten months, and after
we had taken the required course and had necessary inspections, on Jan. 6,
1998, we were told by Sergio Portal, foster parent's development worker,
that we had to get special permission from Rebekah's caseworker to have her
stay with us, or for any other sort of visitation with her. This made absolutely
no sense to us because at the time we had completed the parenting classes
mandated by CPS, had our home inspected by the fire marshall, had physicals,
and submitted to a home inspection, and background checks by the FBI. We
were as clean as a whistle! Nonetheless we tried to cooperate with CPS
and we began trying to reach the caseworker but were unsuccessful. I called
the supervisor but again, no response. Finally I called the attorney ad
litem for Rebekah. His response: "I don't hire them and I can't fire them."
I wrote a letter to the caseworker introducing our family to her in mid-January
in an attempt to make contact.
January 20, 1998, I went to the caseworker's office and waited for her
to come in to work. We met, she looked through the photo album I have of
Rebekah's first year in custody, she assured me that once the plan for
Rebekah was termination, Rebekah could move into our home until everything
was finalized. The caseworker and supervisor of Unit 45, Kathleen McMahon,
authorized weekly visitation from Friday morning until Sunday night and
allowed a five day visit to commence the following day, January 21, 1998.
February 9, 1998 we attended a meeting with Linda Hollie, head of adoption
at CPS, and Tamara Carroll, our parenting class instructor, to discuss
adopting Rebekah. We were told that we would not be approved as foster
parents (because we had shown an "inability to separate" from a child we
were trying to adopt) but as long as the caseworker and her supervisor
agreed, we would be approved for the adoption; all the approval would take
is, "the clicking of a mouse" stated Linda Hollie.
following day, February 10, 1998 we attended a Permanency Planning Meeting
that we had been invited to by Amanda Belshaw, the caseworker. Amanda
said if no family member came forward, she believed Rebekah would ultimately
end up with us. We were then informed that the termination trial would not occur
until September 1998. In September Rebekah would have been in foster care
19 months. In our opinion, this was too long for any child to be kept in
state custody, especially Rebekah. I was at a loss as to what I should
do so I wrote Judge Shelton in mid February and explained the situation.
I loathe the day I sent Judge Shelton that letter only because it has been
so misconstrued by those involved in the decisions of Bekah's case. I did
not know the hierarchy of CPS and they certainly were not going to tell
me who to contact. The foster parent's attorney made a big deal of the
fact I wrote the judge but after repeatedly trying to speak to CPS and
no one returning my calls, speaking to the children's attorney ad litem
who had never even taken the time to meet the children and having him refuse
to help the children, who was left? I was not a party of any legal case
at that time and had no idea that one day I would be in that judge's court.
Who else would look out for the best interest of Rebekah? Her mother was
doing 7 years in prison for child abuse and her father has never been identified.
delays were due in part to the caseworker being on maternity leave and
confusion concerning CASA doing a diligent search for family members who
might adopt Rebekah. I believe the main reason for the delay is the fact
that Amanda had 40 cases (recommended average is 12-14). She assured us
that she would fax CASA immediately, on February 10, 1998, and get the
diligent search completed. (According to Amanda's testimony during her
deposition in June 1999, she did fax CASA on February 10 but for some reason
the document was no longer in the case file. She testified it WAS in the
file at one time.) On February 23, 1998, she faxed CASA and asked them
to look for family members. Eleven months after Rebekah came into foster
care family members were finally being sought! Although it was impossible
to reach Amanda, she is the ONLY person at CPS who remained honest and
up front throughout this horrible ordeal. I wonder if that is why she was
taken off Rebekah's case after being her caseworker for almost 18 months.
The foster parent's development worker, Sergio Portal, became Rebekah's
caseworker further insulating her from any independent decisions being
made in her best interest.
on February 12, 1998, for reasons still unknown to us, Child Protective
Services, CPS, changed their mind!! We were told by the supervisor of Unit
45, Kathleen McMahon, that we could not so much as take her across the
street from her foster family to the park. Why?!? We were told by Kathleen
that it was because of CPS' concern for OUR liability should Rebekah
get hurt while in our care! Right! During the deposition of Tamara and
Amanda, we learned that Tamara had called Amanda on February 12, 1998,
and told her, "the Wright's are calling various cps employees and getting
generic information and applying it to their case." Amanda did not verify
this information and visitation with Rebekah was stopped immediately. Neither
Tamara nor Amanda could identify anyone we had called nor could Tamara
tell our attorney during her deposition what "generic" information we supposedly
had used. Maybe she was dreaming. Maybe she is a liar of great proportion.
With this one reckless, unverified statement, our lives have been forever
changed. Kathleen lied to us about their "reasons." Had we been told the
truth, we could have addressed them immediately and perhaps avoided the
ensuing nightmare to which we have been subjected.
February 26th CPS challenged the amount of time that Rebekah had spent
with us. We were told by CPS workers the foster mother, Priscilla, had
said Rebekah was not in our home more than five days total in the past
year. Our adoption was denied based on the grounds that Rebekah supposedly
had spent no more than five days in our home, thus, according to CPS, we
did not have "standing" because we did not have a "significant relationship."
later learned that on February 25, 1998, Judge Shelton called all parties
to the case into his chamber, a result of the anonymous letter I had sent.
So, on the 25th the judge called CPS in and requested an explanation as
to why this case was dragging on so slowly and set the termination trial
for April instead of the date CPS had planned in September. The following
day, February 26, 1998, we were told we could not adopt Rebekah because
suddenly, we did not have standing. Our denial was pure retribution for
the letter to the judge. The letter was not intended to slam CPS, and it
didn't. It was intended to get these children out of foster care and into
a permanent, stable, and loving home. I would hope that judges do not base
their decisions on anonymous letters they receive!
appealed the decision through normal CPS channels and CPS did not bother
to respond. According to CPS' Standard Operating Procedure, 7800
Administrative Case Review, CPS is supposed to respond verbally and
in writing to our appeal. They would not even respond to our attorney.
From what we have seen since, it appears they did not even bother to read
our appeal. In June of 1999 (15 months after we had sent the appeal and 14 months after they were legally supposed to respond) a
from an administrator with CPS informing us that we had no right to
an appeal. This is in direct contradiction to the 7800
Administrative Case Review policy of CPS. We also received a letter
from the Ombudsman's office apologizing for CPS ignoring policy and
procedures in this case.
precious little girl who calls me Mommy, is more than worth fighting for.
My husband and I retained an attorney to take CPS to court so that we could
adopt Rebekah. Again to our astonishment, almost two months later, my half
sister (the foster parent) intervened in the adoption, claiming she also
wanted to adopt Rebekah. She later received the approval of CPS in August
1998 to do so. For the year that Rebekah had been her foster child, my
sister had NEVER spoken of ANY desire to adopt her. She had told me that
it wouldn't be fair for her to adopt Rebekah because, "I could never love
her the way I love MY girls." CPS has also approved a subsidy (money) of
$1160.00 for Bekah's care after she is adopted!
majority of individuals I have spoken with do not realize that many individuals
adopt children and continue to receive payments each month from the state
(subsidy) until the child reaches age 18. It is our belief that state subsidy
invites adoption of children for money and not for love of the child. It
is interesting to note that in July 1998 Rebekah was diagnosed as "developmentally
delayed" and was described by the psychologist as "a very sad and withdrawn
little girl who is also nonverbal." Her IQ was determined to be only 85.
This was FOUR months after she was no longer allowed to see us. Shortly
before the trial in July 1999, the same psychologist described her as a
totally different child. Suddenly her IQ was above average and she was
a very outgoing and friendly child. My question is why does the foster
family receive state subsidy if Rebekah is no longer a special needs child?
According to the foster/adoptive parents she has been diagnosed with Fetal
Alcohol Syndrome now. This is absolutely ridiculous and nothing more than
Priscilla and Kenneth Ackley's attempt to insure their "livelihood" (Priscilla's
description of her duties as a foster parent) is not impeded. During one
year, I took Rebekah to her pediatrician at least 20 separate times. FAS
was never a consideration much less a diagnosis!
was our family before Tamara Carroll single handedly destroyed our world.
Our eldest daughter said, "Adoption is when a child goes from the arms
of one mother to the heart of another." Rebekah is in our hearts and
always will be. Misty, Brian and Kira
their baby sister. We all do! The judge, CPS, and my half-sister have taken
Bekah from me and my family, but they will never be able to remove her
from our hearts. They will never rob us of the memory of our precious Bekah
who called me Momma and my husband "Da." Bekah, you will always be a
part of us and I will take my last breath working to make the world a better
place for you to grow up in. We are so sorry your life has gone this way.
You are important to us and we did everything in our power to bring you
home and we will never give up trying to see justice in your life. We will
always be watching over you from afar.
I know this is a lot of information to try to absorb. Every single case I have known involving CPS is very long and detailed, with many turns and twists. It would seem confusion is their greatest weapon, brilliance certainly isn't.
My hope and prayer
is that each person who reads this page will feel moved to pray for Rebekah,
my family, my sister and her family, and yes... even CPS. I believe that
together we can move mountains. Please follow this
link to the letters and addresses for Governor George W. Bush and
others who need to be aware of what is happening to families like ours
and children like Rebekah. This insanity must stop! We must get involved,
for everyone's sake.
Post any comments you may have or your own experiences on OUR
FORUM or send
us an email. This whole experience has opened my eyes to a world
of governmental abuse against children, mothers, fathers, grandparents,
and other individuals who truly care about children.
for your interest and prayers. I certainly enjoy reading the various opinions
I receive via email and the message board. I am saving them in a folder
to share with Rebekah someday when she is old enough to comprehend what
happened to her Momma, Da (what she calls my husband), Bubba (Brian), Misty, and Kira.