Child Services pulls out all the Tricks on one desperate Mom
By Michelle Green
Michelle Green has done everything DCFS/CPS has asked in a case with no abuse or neglect. And she still can’t get her kids back.
March 20, 2017. Virginia (ONN) I didn’t have a clue how the system worked. I fell on hard times. Homeless, pregnant, substance dependent and nowhere to turn. I knew things were going to get difficult. I detoxed immediately. I completed parenting classes. I began substance abuse therapy. In the course of the year, I have completed 68 drug tests. We have spent 20 months fighting to be the parents of our children. We have never been accused of any abuse or neglect of any kind. This is my story.
I am a loving mother of six beautiful children. My fiancé is a two-time Iraq War veteran. We are by no means perfect. After a tough divorce and custody battle in 2014, I became sick. After nine months of misdiagnosis and continued prescribing of opioid medication, I was diagnosed with an infectious disease called C.Difficle. It was treatable but my physical dependence to opiates was another story.
Doctor’s orders lead to addiction
Once I realized I had an issue, I sought help. Soon, my fiancé and I discovered I was pregnant with handsome Ryland. I attempted to detox myself in March of 2015 because I had never been on medications pregnant. I was hospitalized at Virginia Baptist where I learned opiates are a monster all of their own.
Federal guidelines and leading medical experts advise NOT to detox while pregnant. I struggled knowing this could cause more CPS involvement. Bedford County Virginia had already taken my youngest daughter three hours from her home in May. I didn’t have a clue how the system worked. I fell on hard times. Homeless, pregnant, substance dependent and nowhere to turn.
I delivered a healthy nine-and-a-half-pound baby boy named Ryland James in August 2015. The Department of Social Services in North Carolina was called because I delivered at Duke University Hospital. Even though the only substance I tested positive for was opiates, I knew that things were going to get difficult.
Everything they asked for and still no justice
Ryland was taken by the Department of Social Services the morning after his birth. After months and months of struggling we got the case moved to our hometown in Virginia. In the course of all of this, Bedford County had motioned after three months to terminate my rights for my nine-year-old daughter. Even with depression, I struggled through and had hoped Halifax County would do the right thing and return Ryland.
I detoxed immediately after he was born. I completed parenting classes. I began substance abuse therapy. In the course of the year, I have completed 68 drug tests. Rollins was placed with a foster couple that had just become foster parents – a young 24-year-old couple who could not have children. We read the manual for CPS in Virginia and believed that the agency would follow their own protocol. We believed that Ryland would be returned if we did what we were supposed to do.
The stress of CPS involvement caused my fiancé and I to separate for a few months. We both lived with different people briefly but we reconciled and put our lives back together. We found a nice home in a nice neighborhood. We began working towards the goal of reunification. I became pregnant with twins during our separation. I did lose one of the babies, but Greyson was born in August of 2016. A happy healthy beautiful baby boy.
Under the microscope
I spent the entire year jumping through hoops for the Department of Social Services. We were limited to one-hour visits bi-weekly with our son. CPS investigators had no reason to remove our new baby. We were tested at the hospital for any substances and released home. I took Grayson to the pediatrician everyday for the first few weeks and then spaced out the appointments. I set up services with New Hope support so that DSS would have someone to rely on to communicate our progress.
We were sent to complete psychological evaluations in Richmond. I had no elevated markers for any major mental health disorders. After a 45-minute meeting with a psychiatrist in October, she felt I met the criteria for borderline personality disorder based on my instability and relationships. She stated in her report and regards to ramifications for parenting that borderline personality may affect parenting choices regarding general stability and my personal life. She stated however that it was not necessarily a contraindication to parenting.
I was instructed by the judge to start dialectical behavioral therapy as recommended by the psychiatrist. I began in November. Because it is relatively a new form of therapy, the case manager could not find a local therapist. I researched and found a therapist a few hours from my town. I knew this would be difficult and expressed my concerns to DSS. I faithfully attended therapy except a few weeks prior to Christmas when I had medical documentation of having the flu. I began therapy again right after Christmas.
No abuse or neglect, just a ‘risk’
I had a letter from my therapist stating I had made great progress and was very compliant. I requested Prevention Services in October for Grayson and was finally contacted in December by a prevention worker. I took a urine test on December 27th and met with her on December 28th. On December 30th, I was instructed by DSS that the biological father was not allowed to return Grayson after his visit. When I asked what the accusation of abuse and neglect was, I was told there did not have to be one. I was told that a child could be removed due to the risk of abuse.
I was never given a definitive answer as to a reasonable explanation of what the risk was. My pediatrician had expressed that Grayson was happy, healthy and thriving, he was breastfeeding well and she had absolutely no concerns. My mental health support case worker, who was with me 4 to 5 days a week, expressed to DSS that she had had no concerns and felt they had no reason to remove my child. She being a 13-year veteran CPS investigator, I thought that would make her a credible eyewitness. I was wrong when I realized that DSS does not want anyone who supports the goal of reunification.
On January 4th, I was told that the goal for reunification for Ryland was changed to termination of parental rights. On January 6th, I was served with a protective order for abuse and neglect on Grayson. It stated that I had another child in foster care, that my psychological evaluation indicated the inability to parent without intensive therapy that I was not receiving, and I had failed to divulge legal information.
None of this constituted abuse or neglect. My psychological exam did not indicate an inability to parent. I disproved allegations of federal drug charges. I provided the Department with a letter from my therapist stating I had made sufficient progress.
CPS strikes again
A week after Grayson was placed with his biological father, he was then removed from him under an emergency protective order. Now they claim there was a bruise on Grayson’s foot that was not appropriately explained. The baby had never been sick while he was in my custody or ever had a mark on his body. Once removed from my custody, he became very ill with staph pneumonia and was placed in Duke Hospital.
As standard protocol, they had a Child Protective Services doctor evaluate and they concluded that there wasn’t any medical neglect or physical abuse. The Department placed allegations against all four parents involved anyway. Even though the so-called bruising was disproved as a blister he received when he was not in my custody, it’s continuously stated in document after document.
Blatant perjury – such as testifying to the judge that I had federal drug charges, that my psychological evaluation indicated the inability to parent without intense therapy, that I was not receiving therapy at all, that there were questions regarding the child’s failure to thrive, and numerous other allegations – were accepted by the court as facts.
It has been 63 days and I have not had an adjudication hearing. I have only seen my newborn baby one time. And even though we provided kinship options, our baby was placed with the same foster parents that have Ryland. They stated in court documents that there were no other individuals available and the child had to be placed in foster care.
I have proof of all of the lies, perjury and continued corruption taking place in the system. The Guardian at Litem even stated that the foster parents could not have children and they deserved mine. When I offered to move out of my home so that my fiancé could get his son home, I was told that he works too much. My fiancé did not fight for his country and the Constitution to have our civil rights violated over and over again. We have spent 20 months fighting to be the parents of our children. There has to be accountability and transparency in the Family Court system before anything will ever change.
Children are being taken when their parents are not financially stable and given to strangers who are paid to care for them. They are preying on my family because they know we are not financially sound. They are preying on my family because my children are beautiful and profitable. They are targeting us because they feel we have enough children. They feel because we had a rough spot and had issues that we don’t deserve a chance. We have never been accused of any real abuse or neglect of any kind. We need advocacy and support. Contact me via email at [email protected].
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