What Rebekah's Pediatrician Wanted Did Not Matter

CPS Attempts To Shut Us Down!

In April 1998, my husband and I filed a petition in Harris County Family Court to adopt Bekah. At that time, Bekah was about 21 months old (see All About Bekah) and had spent a large amount of time in our home between March 1997 and February 1998. In June 1998, the foster mother, my half-sister Priscilla who had never expressed any interest in adopting Bekah, intervened in our case and filed a petition to adopt her. The case went to trial on July 12, 1999. Much to our utter amazement, we lost in our efforts to adopt Bekah. Adoption was granted to my half sister. This was a tremendous blow to our family in many ways. The following summarizes what occurred in the trial.

My husband and I had to prove that CPS wrongfully denied our license to adopt Rebekah. We were told by our legal team that once we had proven our license was wrongfully denied, we would then have to prove it was in the best interest of Bekah that she become a permanent part of our family. Court got off to a rocky start on July 12th. CPS' attorney, Butch Cox, successfully argued that CPS' only reason for being present was the "wrongful denial" part of the case, and therefore the only testimony that could be presented was evidence to support wrongful denial. {It is interesting to note that, at the time of trial, their own attorney no longer felt the need to present "all cps' evidence" as to why Rebekah's adoption was denied. Suddenly it appeared CPS no longer needed to fight us. By now Priscilla Ackley had been manipulated into doing their dirty work for them!} Our attorney argued that the two were inextricably intertwined and that to separate the two issues would require two separate, yet identical, trials. Nonetheless the first three hours of testimony by Larry were filled with Butch jumping up and down and objecting. It was a circus to say the least!

At some point the attorneys met with Judge Molder and the nonsense stopped. Larry continued to testify through the second day and at the end of that day, Scott Ramsey, the foster parent's attorney, cross examined Larry. The morning of the third day our attorney redirected. I thought it was really strange that Larry was testifying to what I did, thought, said, etc. I was there. I was perfectly capable of saying what I did, thought, said, etc. Our attorney was asking most of the questions and the judge allowed a lot of room for error I suppose. Scott Ramsey attempted to make a big issue out of the anonymous letter I sent to Judge Shelton back in Jan. '98. When I wrote the letter we were not a party to this case. My hope was that Judge Shelton would ask questions about Bekah's situation, that of languishing in foster care for 10 months with no end in sight, after receiving the letter. CPS had planned to request a September 1998 trial date for Bekah's mother's termination of parental rights. We were very concerned, based on the information given to me by Priscilla Ackley, that the birth mother could very well walk free (due to Judge Ted Poe's shock treatment) and have her children returned to her; after all, her boyfriend had only received probation. In September 1998, the children would have been in foster care for 19 months. In September 1997 legislation was passed to expedite the permanency plans for children in foster care and 19 months would not be expeditious. I certainly do not believe that judges base their decisions on anonymous letters! I hope not anyway!

Then Joel called the foster father, Kenneth, to the stand. "Bless his heart" was the comment Priscilla made and that pretty much sums it up. He testified that Priscilla Ackley does have Sarcodosis, a lung disease that both of them denied existing both in their interrogatories, in their deposition, and had failed to report on the Family Profile forms required for CPS to grant foster and adoption licenses. His testimony was short and didn't really add much to the case in my opinion. He said that he quit school in the seventh grade and that at the most, he only drank two beers a week when he stopped off at the beer joint on Friday evening after work. "I do all my drankin' away from the house." I wonder why the detective found an empty case of Lone Star beer at their home?

Priscilla was the third person to testify. Joel asked her if she had ever filed for divorce from her husband. "No!" Have you ever said he was tyrannical? "No!" Are you sure? "Yes!" Then he handed her TWO separate motions she had filed, with two different law firms, earlier in their marriage in an attempt to divorce Kenneth. The filing for the divorce is not so important since it happened a long time ago. What is important is the fact that she lied in the present, under oath! The evidence was old, but the lies were brand new. Joel asked her if she had ever been involved in a lawsuit involving taxes or anything besides adoptions. She said they were paying on past income taxes that had not been paid but other than that, nothing. Joel then handed her several suits that the state had filed against them for failure to pay taxes! Kenneth had testified in his deposition that they had NEVER had a checking account, "Don't believe in 'em." You should have seen Prissy's face when Connie handed her a certified copy of a felony hot check in her name!! She also testified that she often babysits other children in her home which is a direct violation of the foster parent guidelines. It is interesting to note that the foster parents were in serious financial trouble, signed the note to give their home back to the owner to "Avoid Foreclosure" three months before becoming foster parent's. Priscilla testified that she had never been supportive of our adoption of Rebekah, it "made her sad." According to testimony given later by Bekah's previous caseworker, Amanda Belshaw, she had talked on the phone with Prissy quite often, probably once a week, and Priscilla always seemed very pleased with the placement of Bekah in our home for adoption. When questioned about the relationship we had with Rebekah she minimized it to the max. She said that she and her husband had always loved Bekah and some other nonsense about their plans and her fear of my son. We have never hidden the fact that Brian had severe ADHD and presented status epileptic seizures in 1996 which left him unable to speak or care for himself for several months. He is now an A and B student with excellent conduct grades and has been completely mainstreamed into regular education. He has never been in a fight and doesn't have a violent bone in his body! That was the first time I had heard that one. At one point she stared me straight in the eyes and lied. It is so easy for her that it is frightening! It was just more of the same from her. It is noteworthy that Judge Molder seemed not to care that Priscilla lied repeatedly, and even seemed to be incensed at one point that our attorney would dare present evidence from so far in the past. I guess it did not occur to him that if Priscilla could so easily lie about things that did not seem to matter to him, how could any of her other testimony be believed. Aren't judges supposed to uphold the law? Isn't lying under oath a crime in the State of Texas? Apparently not in Family Court, or at least not Judge Molder's court.

After Priscilla testified it was my turn. I don't really remember much about my own testimony. I took notes during everyone else's questioning but my own was like a blur! My husband and our attorneys said I did great so I will just have to take their word for it. When I was asked about my son's hospitalization in November 1997, I explained that I didn't know the actual diagnosis (he was in his father's care when he was hospitalized and my husband and I were out of town with Bekah), but that his Depakote and Dilantin levels had dropped below therapeutic levels and...Scott jumped up and said, "Objection" because I wasn't a medical professional. I looked at him and said, "it is in his medical report." From the look on his face you would have thought I had smacked him or something!LOL!! I didn't know I wasn't supposed to speak when he was hollering. In answering a question, I said something about Bekah not being happy and of course, he objected saying that I could not testify to how the child felt. Again, I looked at him and the Judge and said, "I've been a parent for 20 years. When a child is crying, they aren't happy."

When I had finished testifying, Judge Molder decided to change the rules we had been working under. He decided that the opposing counsels would not be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses and he wanted our witness list cut. He said that he did not believe there was a mental health condition in our family that would inhibit our ability to effectively parent a foster or adopted child. Judge Molder said he believed that Larry and Joanna Wright could provide an appropriate foster and/or adoptive home for a child. He did not want to hear from the health professionals, my mother, and various other individuals who were keenly aware of the relationship we had with Bekah, including her pediatrician. The detective video taped the foster family driving around with the kids out of car seats and seat belts, staying out until after 1 a.m., drinking and then driving the kids home, leaving the children without any supervision to play within 50 feet of a busy, four lane road while a garage sale was going on (which meant there were strangers driving up to the house and then leaving while NO Adults were present for 55 minutes straight) was also not allowed to testify. A portion of the video was shown but without the testimony of a third party, the detective, the most obvious thing on the tape was the fact that the children did not wear seat belts, the foster parents allow them to play in the street which is near a four lane, very busy street, without supervision (the detective would have testified that the children were completely ALONE for 55 minutes!), and the foster parents violate the fire code for foster homes by having a garage piled to the ceiling with boxes of donated clothing and mattresses jutting out at the top. They were having a garage sale, selling the things that had been donated by their church, local hospital, and others who cared about the children. Judge Molder said he also didn't want to hear any comparisons between the foster family and our family. How is a decision made as to which family is better for a child to grow up in if both families are not presented? We are certainly not perfect and we have had our share of challenges but we are proactive, honest, and have a very loving and close family.

The foster parent's development worker testified that CPS had received up to FIVE reports of abuse, neglect, and one report of sexual abuse of a child no longer in the foster family's care. I suppose the development worker and the foster family were quick to ASSume those calls came from us or our friends. To my knowledge NO ONE IN MY FAMILY nor anyone I know made these calls and I would be more than willing to submit to a polygraph. This was and is a particular concern for Larry and I because the calls to CPS were not handled as seriously as they would have been otherwise, in our opinion. I have NEVER reported my sister and her husband to CPS' hotline for abuse, or to anyone else in CPS, except during the deposition. **If you or someone you know made these calls, please contact CPS again and leave your name. I have never known of CPS to divulge this information to the person when they investigate them.**

Bekah's previous caseworker testified to pretty much the same thing she had said on June 16th in her deposition. She was pleased with the idea of placing Bekah with us for adoption and she did not know there was a problem until Tamara Carroll, our CPS parenting class instructor, called her and told her we "were trying to manipulate the system." Evidently Tamara told this to her supervisor, Linda Hollie, as well. Linda testified we were manipulating the system by calling others in CPS offices and taking generic information we received and applying it to our case(she testified using Tamara's notes!). No One could identify anyone we had called nor any generic information we received and/or used. Linda had testified in her deposition, in June or '99, that she did not approve us to adopt on February 9, 1998, but in the courtroom she testified that she had approved us. All five caseworkers testified that nothing happened or that we did nothing, between Feb. 9th, (when we were approved to adopt Rebekah), February 10, 1998 when we met with the caseworker and February 26, when our license was denied, that would cause them any concern. Linda Hollie testified that on February 26 Larry and I admitted that we had only had Rebekah in our home overnight on five occasions and then said that we didn't want to adopt her! (I CAN count! We had CPS authorized visitation from Jan. 21-25 and then every Friday morning through Sunday evening.) Go Figure! The supervisor, Pat Lee, who was responsible for our appeal, said she sent the appeal back to the people who originally denied it, which is against procedural policy. Linda Hollie, the individual responsible for initially denying our license, testified she had not had the appeal returned to her. Pat Lee also admitted that, to her knowledge, no one responded to our appeal. She is a supervisor of supervisors but she didn't know the policy for handling an appeal which was dated Jan. 1998, 7800 Administrative Review.

Every single caseworker admitted to not knowing the Policies on "special studies," "legal risk placement," "kinship placement," "kinship visitation," and the appeal process for applicants. We requested and received copies of these policies, dating back to 1997, directly from CPS. According to the Ombudsman's office CPS has always had Operating Policies. Not even the supervisor of adoptions, Linda Hollie, knew CPS policy on these types of adoptive/foster placements. That's her job! I know of no office, except CPS, that would allow their employees to act as supervisors if that employee did not know the policies and procedures for that office. Do you?

The instant our attorney rested our case, Judge Molder pulled out the papers concerning the foster parents adopting Rebekah and began his prepared speech. We still do not understand what in the world he was talking about but he said CPS did not deny our license on Feb. 26th (although five workers said they did) because Rebekah wasn't available for adoption! He said they denied our license in June. To our knowledge, a child does not have to be free to adopt for a family to receive a license to foster and adopt (any child). That is why legal risk policies exist. That is why we were being dual licensed! Also I do not know of a single thing that occurred in June that would have decided our license again! Although 5 cps workers testified that they denied the license on February 26th, Molder knows better! Then he started his repertoire about how we had not proven the foster family wasn't fit to adopt Rebekah.

Judge Bob Molder ruled that CPS did not deny our adoption without cause in February because Rebekah was not available for adoption in February 1998, but rather they denied it in June. Would someone please inform the obviously dense Judge Bob Molder that when CPS denied our license to adopt Rebekah in February that was the same as them denying our adoption, without the license we could not adopt! We were given no opportunity to appeal our license being denied since CPS did not follow their own procedures. When CPS denied our license, they denied the adoption.

I cannot see how it is in the "Best Interest" of Rebekah to be raised by people who are in their 50's, already have four small children they have adopted (all "special needs" requiring subsidy), have poor health, do not believe education is important, who do not have the means to take care of her without state aid, who where caught in lies over SIX TIMES while under oath on the witness stand, who have repeatedly been reported to CPS for abusing and neglecting the children in their care, including sexual abuse, and most importantly, had NEVER expressed ANY desire to have her be a permanent part of their family until AFTER we had originally filed to adopt her and AFTER the foster mother was disciplined by CPS for "farming out" one of her foster children. I do not believe Priscilla "farmed out" Bekah. She knew we loved her with all our being and would do anything necessary to care for her and love her for the rest of her life, and the foster mom is my half-sister. We have always loved Rebekah and always let CPS know that should she be free for adoption, we wanted her to be a permanent part of our family. Based on CPS' response to us, we had every reason to believe that is exactly what would happen.

On Monday, July 19, 1999, Judge Molder granted opposing counsel attorney fees to be paid by us in the amount of $12,000.00. He also said we had to pay the attorney ad litem, whom Judge Molder never allowed to speak on Rebekah's behalf, $1,175.00. We also learned in the trial that Judge Molder had approved Prissy and Kenneth's adoption of two little boys only eight months months before our trial. How could he now say they were not an appropriate home after his having approved them to adopt two other children?

Obviously CPS is so desperate for foster parents that they are okay in allowing Priscilla and Kenneth to continue adopting children in foster care. This case has proven they lied about their financial position when they became foster parents. Priscilla lied about her health. Priscilla lied about Kenneth's health. Priscilla lied about the amount of time Rebekah spent in our care. They both lied as to whether or not they had been involved in any legal disputes (lawsuits were filed by the State of Texas for failure to pay taxes.) As a matter of fact, Priscilla did not even tell CPS that she had five brothers and two sisters when she applied to become a foster parent!! In June of 1998, Amanda Belshaw wrote this Report wherein Priscilla so smoothly implies that my van is "very slowly" driving in front of her home. Had CPS or Amanda simply asked me my whereabouts on June 20, 1998, I could have simply shown them this statement or this check and even the back of the check for verification of our family's stay on Bolivar island the entire week; but no one ever asked so Priscilla's lies and deceit were taken as truth.

Surely CPS is not naive enough to believe the above lies are the only ones they have told! Then again, maybe they just do not care... ... and our baby girl pays the price. Please consider this. If Priscilla and Kenneth will openly and shamelessly lie in a court of law while under oath, how do they conduct themselves with their adopted children while behind the locked doors of their own home. CPS does not care. Judge Molder does not care. God, be with Bekah and watch over her as well as the other children in their home.

No One goes to the expense and frustration of a court battle with the intention of losing. I am sure anyone who loses in a trial becomes incensed over how the "system doesn't work." So, what makes this trial any different than any of the thousands that occur every single day? We can only hope this case is the exception rather than the rule! In summary:

  • It appeared to us that Judge Molder did not want to be bothered with the details of this case.
  • He seemed bored and disinterested throughout much of the trial.
  • He rushed the attorneys incessantly.
  • He pushed to reduce the number of witnesses, only allowing my husband and I to testify on our behalf.
  • He disallowed our expert witnesses.
  • He did not want to hear the testimony of Rebekah's pediatrician.
  • He ignored the foster parent's repeated perjury.
  • He changed the rules we were working under halfway through the trial with no prior notice, no cross examination allowed.
  • He had obviously made his decision well before the end of the trial.
  • Based on his decision, he did not listen to the testimony given by CPS caseworkers and supervisors. FIVE caseworkers testified our license was denied 2/26/98. Judge Molder somehow determined for himself that it was denied in June!?!
  • He made the statement, "I don't want to hear anymore comparisons between the Wright's and the Ackley's."
  • We believe a conflict of interest arose when the foster mother reminded him that he had granted them the adoption of two other children only eight months ago. He should have immediately recused himself.
  • The foster parents had been reported to CPS FIVE or SIX TIMES for alleged child abuse, neglect, and the sexual abuse of a child in their care. All reports appeared to have been virtually ignored.
  • Priscilla testified that she was "sad" when she discovered we were going to adopt Rebekah. Rebekah's caseworker then testified that she had spoken with Priscilla on a regular basis, "at least weekly," and Priscilla seemed "very pleased that we were adopting Rebekah."
  • Although the foster parents had NEVER expressed a desire to adopt Rebekah prior to our filing, they CHOSE to enter into this suit two months AFTER WE originally filed to adopt Bekah. Judge Molder ruled that we were to pay their attorney $12,000.00 in attorney fees. To date, the foster parents have not paid their attorney one red cent. The foster mother testified she had agreed to pay him. Why would a judge accept testimony from someone who has already been CAUGHT perjuring themselves SIX TIMES!? They had the choice of waiting until we had resolved this matter in court with CPS.

Judge Bob Molder ruled CPS did not wrongfully deny our adoption, or did not deny it without cause. He did not have to know what the cause was; there was no reason ever given that made any sense whatsoever. During the trial, no one testified that we had done anything wrong. During Linda Hollie's deposition she said that she believed we were deceitful because Prissy said we did not have Rebekah in our home for more than five days but we proved in court on Nov. 4, 1998, that was a lie. I wonder if Bob Molder even had an idea why our license was denied, I know that we have no earthly idea other than the lie Tamara Carroll told on Feb. 12, 1998, when she said we were calling cps agents and getting generic information and applying it to our case. Didn't that sound rather ambiguous to anyone? Why didn't she tell the caseworker who we were calling and what information we supposedly used? During her deposition and during the trial Tamara didn't even know who we had supposedly called. It just all sounds too "convenient" to me. Has anyone else had any interactions with Tamara Carroll? What was that all about? WHY?