Articles on placements decisions

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Articles on placements decisions

Postby Marina » Sat Oct 06, 2007 6:13 am


There are many articles on the case of Ariana Payne of Arizona, who died in the care of her father, who did not have legal custody.

Social services and the police would not help the mother get him back even though she had full legal custody. When the child died they blamed her for voluntarily placing him there.

Last edited by Marina on Sun Nov 04, 2007 4:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Marina » Sat Oct 06, 2007 6:16 am


State reconsiders sending foster child to Mexico

Story Published: Oct 5, 2007 at 8:16 PM PDT

Story Updated: Oct 5, 2007 at 8:16 PM PDT
By Susan Harding and KATU Web Staff


The Oregon Department of Human Services appears to be having second thoughts about sending a 2-year-old Lincoln County boy to Mexico.
The agency confirmed Friday that they will have an entirely new panel hear Gabriel Allred's case.

His foster parents, Angela and Steve Brandt, have been caring for the boy since he was 4 months old.

A DHS adoption committee recently decided that Gabriel should be sent to Mexico to live with his grandmother, a home where his biological father, Roberto Valiente-Martinez, a convicted drug trafficker and child rapist, will most likely be staying.

The DHS committee emphasized Gabriel's Hispanic heritage in their decision, although his biological mother, Lindsey Allred was born and raised in the U.S.

After the case was publicized, the DHS decision drew public outrage, leading to Friday's news about the case being reconsidered.

In a KATU News exclusive, Susan Harding shows us why the boy's foster parents are worried about round two.


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Postby Marina » Sat Oct 06, 2007 6:20 am



Foster parents shocked by state's decision

Story Published: Oct 2, 2007 at 6:17 PM PDT

Story Updated: Oct 2, 2007 at 6:17 PM PDT
By Susan Harding and KATU Web Staff

A 2-year-old Lincoln County boy is at the center of a custody battle that involves a child rapist and a decision to send the boy to Mexico, even though he is a U.S. citizen.

Gabriel Allred's foster parents, Angela and Steve Brandt (pictured below), have been caring for the boy since he was 4 months old and are fighting the state's decision.

An Oregon Department of Human Services adoption committee gave the Brandts the news they thought they would never hear - Gabriel will be sent to live in a country where he has never been and to a home where his biological father, Roberto Valiente-Martinez, a convicted drug trafficker and child rapist, will most likely be staying.

"DHS would essentially be sending him to a home where there is a sex offender who is untreated and who has raped a 12-year-old girl," said Angela.

Valiente-Martinez is currently in prison in the U.S., but will be getting out soon and will be deported to Mexico.

"He will be released in two weeks and will end up in that same household where they are going to send our little boy," said Steve.

The DHS committee emphasized Gabriel's Hispanic heritage in their decision to send him to Mexico, although his biological mother, Lindsey Allred (pictured on the right), was born and raised in the U.S.

"You know, we're talking about his ethnicity being half Mexican, but he's half American (also)," said Angela. "His mother is an American citizen and he's an American citizen."

"The thing is, this little boy has never met his grandmother," said Steve. "A different language, a different everything. I just don't get it."

The Brandts want to emphasize that they are very pleased that the local DHS officials in Lincoln County have been very supportive. In fact, their case workers cried when they heard the news.

In speaking with state DHS officials, they said in cases like this, they feel that finding a biological parent or relative for a child takes precedence over what country the child should go to. They also said they will consider the aspect of the father being a child rapist when the Brandts appeal the decision.


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Postby Marina » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:40 pm


Montcalm County Alleged Murder-Suicide Raises Question: Why Was Killed Boy Living with Child Abuser?

Posted: 10/17/2007

The Montcalm County Prosecutor, Andrea Krause, says 9-year-old Nicholas Braman should not have been living with Oliver Braman. She says her office tried on several occasions to get him removed but Child Protective Services did not believe the boy was in danger.
Oliver Braman pleaded guilty to abusing two of his other sons with a cattle prod.
A spokesperson for the Department of Human Services told 9 & 10 News: "This is an awful tragedy...We are not at liberty to discuss child protective services investigations." Maureen Sorbet added that they will review the case which they do all cases that end in a tragedy.


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Postby Marina » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:51 pm

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Postby Marina » Sun Nov 04, 2007 5:14 am


Note that normally when parental- rights are terminated the relatives no longer have "legal standing" for preferential placement, since the parents are then considered "legal strangers." ... cessSearch

Child Welfare
Placement of Children with Relatives

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Placement of Children with Relatives: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 319 KB) publication.

Relative(s) Who May Adopt

Not addressed in statutes reviewed

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives

Not addressed in statutes reviewed

Relatives for Placement or Guardianship
Citation: § 419B.192

If the court finds that a child or ward is in need of placement, there shall be a preference given to relatives and persons who have a child-parent relationship with the child, as defined in § 109.119, including stepparents, grandparents, and relatives by blood or marriage.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives
Citation: § 419B.192

The relative must have the ability:
To provide safety for the child
To support the efforts of the department to implement the permanent plan for the child
To meet the child's physical, emotional, and educational needs ... cessSearch

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption


Who May Adopt
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 109.309

Any person may petition to adopt as long as at least one party in the proceeding is a resident of Oregon.


Who May Place a Child for Adoption
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 109.309

A child may be placed for adoption by:
A parent
A relative or other person
A licensed adoption agency


State To Send Foster Child To Mexico

Foster Parents Argue Decision Endangers Child

POSTED: 4:01 pm PDT November 2, 2007
UPDATED: 12:16 am PDT November 3, 2007

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The foster mother of a 2-year-old Oregon boy said Friday she plans to appeal a state decision to send the child to Mexico to live with his grandmother because the father has two attempted rape convictions and his mother has drug problems.

"It's the most unbelievable thing that could possibly have happened," Angela Brandt said about the Oregon Department of Human Services decision announced Friday.

Brandt -- the mother of four children -- and her husband, Steve Brandt, had sought to adopt the child after he was placed in their foster care when he was just four months old.

But a review panel affirmed an earlier decision to place the boy -- Gabriel Allred -- with his paternal grandmother in Mexico, said Ann Snyder, a spokeswoman for the state human services agency.

Snyder said the grandmother is well regarded in her community and able to support the boy financially. The grandmother also promised that the boy's biological father would not be allowed to visit -- and that her extended family, including members who live next door, would help her.

Snyder emphasized that the Brandts, who live in the coastal city of Toledo, were excellent foster parents. But she said the state is required by law to consider the biological family when placing a child for adoption.

"The good news is that Gabriel had two options that were safe and loving," Synder said.

But Angela Brandt said she remains concerned that the boy's 26-year-old father, Roberto Valiente Martinez, could pose a risk to the boy.

Martinez had been scheduled for release from prison last month after serving time for a drug-related crime. The attempted rape convictions involved a teenage girl.

Brandt said that parental rights had been terminated for both Gabriel's father and his mother, who failed to appear in court for sentencing on drug charges and apparently has left the state.

Brandt said that she and her husband, a Lincoln County sheriff's deputy, are concerned the mother had a serious drug problem with methamphetamine.

They are also concerned she might reunite with the boy's father and attempt to bring him home from Mexico, Angela Brandt said.

"Both parents rights were terminated," she said. "Somebody has to protect him."

Snyder said the three-member panel that reviewed the Sept. 28 decision by a state adoption committee to send the boy to Mexico was made up of a child psychiatrist and two psychologists with multicultural experience.

She said the state has placed 19 children in homes outside the United States in the past seven years, including 11 to Mexico.

Snyder also said it is not unusual to place a child with a grandparent.

Brandt, however, said she and her husband believe there are not enough safeguards to ensure Gabriel will not be at risk from his parents in Mexico.

"We'd do anything for that child," Angela Brandt said.


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Postby Marina » Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:17 pm


Mexican grandmother eager to take in Oregon foster child

YouNewsTV™Story Published: Nov 10, 2007 at 11:54 AM PST

Story Updated: Nov 10, 2007 at 11:54 AM PST
By JOSEPH B. FRAZIER Associated Press Writer

Watch the story PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -

In the blue-collar town of Toledo near Oregon's coast, Steve and Angela Brandt are dreading a knock on the door that could mean they will never again see Gabriel Allred, 2, whom they raised from infancy.

He was American-born to a Mexican father and an American mother, one a now-deported sex offender, the other a meth addict, and both stripped of parental rights.

Now the boy may be returned to Mexico, to a grandmother who didn't know until last year that he existed. The Brandts are headed to court, but in adoption matters blood ties can trump a lot.

So far they have trumped the bonding the Brandts have developed with the foster son who came to them at age 4 months.

His mother, Lindsey Allred, who is in Utah, has said her son should stay with Brandts. The father, Roberto Valente Martinez, before he left prison, agreed.

"It is interesting that both biological parents have gone public saying they want Gabriel to stay with us and be our son," Steve Brandt, a Lincoln County sheriff's deputy, said Friday. "Both did it on their own accord. We appreciate that."

The question, he said, is whether that holds weight with the state.

Oregon's Department of Human Services found Gabriel's grandmother in a farm town in the largely rural Mexican state of Puebla. She says she is eager to take him in.

Two department panels ruled that the boy should be sent to Mexico.

"The decision was based on family and cultural ties, and they count for a lot in this situation," said department spokeswoman Ann Snyder.

"When a child is free for adoption to families from other states or countries we work with our equivalent agencies ... to conduct checks. In this case everything was very positive," she said.

She said the boy's father had not contacted the grandmother, Cecilia Martinez, in years and that she had not known of his whereabouts. "She is one delighted grandmother," she said.

"The hearings carefully weighed his family culture to his current attachments, and it came out pretty close," she said. "The primary goal of the agency is to reunite families."

She said in the past seven years Oregon has placed foster children in 19 countries to relatives who expressed interest, 11 of them in Mexico.

"What's unusual here," she said, "is that all the elements are combined and that the foster parents also seek adoption. That's what's at issue."

But the Brandts don't seem convinced of the good intentions.

"He's completely bonded to us. We're all he knows - we're his family," Angela Brandt told The Associated Press Friday. "(The state) is being spiteful. They aren't looking after the best interests of the child. If they find blood, they will always go with blood."

She said if the issue had arisen much earlier, things might have been different. "But the bond has become stronger," she said. "We're his family, his culture, we're pretty important to the little guy."

On Wednesday, an attorney for the Brandts, Marcia Buckley of Newport, filed papers in Lincoln County Circuit Court arguing that the couple may not be Gabriel's biological parents but they are the psychological equivalent. Buckley asked for an order to keep the boy with the couple until the case is resolved.

Angela Brandt said she has been told Gabriel could be taken in as little as three weeks, but Snyder said it more likely would be a matter of months.

Cecilia Martinez's four children are grown, and while one landed in prison on attempted rape charges, another is a doctor and one is studying nursing.

She told The Oregonian she farms a small plot and sells clothing from her home, earning the peso equivalent of about $600 a month, above average in rural Mexico. Since Gabriel is a special-needs child because his mother used meth during her pregnancy, Martinez will be entitled to $375 a month from the state until he is 18.

But Snyder said Martinez hasn't asked for the money.

Martinez said the father won't be allowed to visit and told the Oregonian she hopes to stay in touch with the Brandts.

"All my children are grown, and Gabrielito will be like my own that I can raise again," she told the paper. She said she has filled a bedroom with toys for him.

The Brandts have raised other foster children and live on five acres with farm animals and fruit trees. They say Martinez is welcome to visit and that they'll send pictures, but they aren't giving up the custody fight.

Steve Brandt said legal and other fees are mounting beyond their means, but residents have been donating to an account at Washington Mutual Bank.

"The public wants him to stay right where he is at," he said. "People have been very generous."


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Postby Marina » Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:19 pm

. ... news05.txt

Posted: Nov 09, 2007 - 09:05:27 PST

Toledo couple files court action to retain custody of foster child

By Steve Card Of the News-Times

A recent decision by the Oregon Department of Human Services to send a two-year-old foster child to Mexico is being contested in court by the Toledo couple that has cared for the child since he was just four months old.

Steve and Angela Brandt have filed an action against DHS through their attorney, Marcia Buckley. On Tuesday afternoon, a "petition to determine custody" was filed in Lincoln County Circuit Court, and a summons was served Wednesday on a DHS representative.

The Brandts are seeking permanent custody of Gabriel Allred, whose biological parents - Roberto Valiente-Martinez and Lindsey Danielle Allred - had their parental rights taken away during a court hearing in August. Valiente-Martinez was recently released from prison after serving a sentence for a drug conviction, and he has been deported to Mexico. Allred pled guilty to felony drug charges in Lincoln County last year, but she failed to show up in court for sentencing, and there are several warrants for her arrest. Her whereabouts are unknown.

After the parental rights were terminated, the Brandts hoped to be able to adopt Gabriel, something they have wanted to do pretty much since day one. But in late September, a DHS adoption committee voted 2-1 to send Gabriel to live with his paternal grandmother in Mexico. The Brandts appealed that decision, and on Oct. 26, a second adoption committee was convened. This time, the committee unanimously voted to send the child to Mexico. The Brandts were notified by telephone of that decision on Friday, Nov. 2.

"The problem is that mom and dad have had their parental rights terminated, so DHS is really the custodial parent," Buckley said. She opted to file the Brandts' custody petition as a domestic relations case, rather than in juvenile court because there is a state statute "that says if you're not a mom or a dad, but you fulfill the role of being a psychological parent of a child, that's how you apply for custody." This is the method by which someone like an aunt or uncle, grandmother or other involved party would seek to gain custody of a child.

"The only other option I had was to file a petition for them to do an adoption," continued Buckley. "Every adoption in the state of Oregon - stepparent, babies at the hospital, whatever - DHS has to approve. You think that would happen? No."

Buckley has also filed a motion for a "status quo order." If approved by the court, this would prohibit DHS from removing Gabriel from the Brandt home until the custody issue has been settled.

In an interview with the News-Times Thursday morning, Steve Brandt said they are seeking the status quo order "so they (DHS) can't jerk him out of our house. That wouldn't be good for him, especially if he does end up going to Mexico ... to transition him to yet another house before he has to transition to Mexico. That would just rip him up."

DHS spokesperson Ann Snyder acknowledged that DHS has been served the summons in the custody matter. When asked where it goes from here, she said, "The administrative process, obviously, is done. At this point, it's up to the courts and the attorneys to schedule whatever they do."

As far as DHS removing Gabriel from the Brandt home prior to the custody matter being resolved, Snyder said, "It's not something we would do. Gabriel's in a safe environment, and we've been saying all along this isn't a judgment against the Brandts. We would not normally, unless a child seemed to be in danger, remove the child." Snyder said the whole purpose of the foster care system is to provide safety and stability, "so we try to minimize moves."

Further reassurance from the court that Gabriel will not be moved would give the Brandts some added peace of mind. "That way at least we know, if it's a court order, they can't get Gabriel. I won't have to worry about going back to work and leaving Angela here," Steve Brandt said. "It's a little bit scary still because if they (DHS) are in charge, which they are as of this minute, they could show up right now, knock on the door and say, 'Give us Gabriel.' That's scary to us."

The Brandts were told verbally last week that it might be anywhere from three weeks to two months before Gabriel would be sent to Mexico, but that could be up in the air now. As of Thursday, the Brandts still had not received anything in writing from DHS regarding the agency's latest decision.

Snyder said that letter has been mailed. "We knew they'd been waiting (to hear the results of the Oct. 26 hearing), so in the interest of notifying them as soon as the whole administrative process had concluded, they got a courtesy call Friday (Nov 2). Then the formal letter was sent out earlier this week. Obviously, we wanted them to know as soon as possible."

Another twist in this case has recently come to light. The biological father, Valiente-Martinez, said in an interview before he was released from prison that perhaps it might be best for Gabriel to remain with the Brandts. That interview was aired Wednesday evening on Portland television station KATU.

Speaking through an interpreter, Valiente-Martinez said, "I am very appreciative of that family (Brandts) that has him. They're giving him everything, and they're giving him everything that I couldn't give him, because I couldn't be there for him as his father.

"It's the only family he knows," continued Valiente-Martinez. "He has everything, and if it means we take Gabriel and he's going to suffer, my son is better off there."

Snyder said as far as DHS is concerned, Valiente-Martinez's statement carries no weight at this point in time. "It has no bearing. His parental rights have been terminated. He's welcome to his opinion, and frankly, many statements he has made have not been deemed credible. That may be his opinion, but whether that opinion is designed to manipulate or not is a different issue."

In addition to now moving through the legal proceedings, Steve Brandt said he may also make an appeal to the paternal grandmother, Cecilia Martinez, in Mexico. "There's a guy I work with who speaks Spanish real fluently, and he said he would do that - call her on the phone and talk to here, to see where she's coming from and tell her where we're coming from ... just try to reason with her."

The Brandts said Gabriel has never met his grandmother, and he does not speak Spanish.

Buckley also said that if Gabriel is sent to Mexico, "DHS is going to send them a nice fat check every month for his care until he's 18, after the adoption is done. I would think $600 to $700 American dollars in Mexico is a lot."

The Brandts have received a number of telephone calls and e-mails from people wanting to know how they can help. "They can call their politicians," Steve Brandt said. "Call Jean Cowan and Joanne Verger, and call the governor. He could intervene and overthrow the (DHS) decision, but so far he hasn't shown a willingness to do that."

People wanting to assist the Brandts in their fight for custody may also contribute to the "Baby Gabriel" legal defense fund by stopping in at any branch of Washington Mutual.

Steve Card is assistant editor for the News-Times. He can be reached at 265-8571 ext. 224, or [email protected].


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Postby Marina » Wed Nov 14, 2007 7:15 pm


Kulongoski and CNN's Lou Dobbs weigh in on Foster Care debate

Father: Keep my son with Oregon foster parents
Gabriel Allred's mother backs foster parents
Story Published: Nov 13, 2007 at 9:25 PM PST

Story Updated: Nov 14, 2007 at 5:14 PM PST
By Thanh Tan and KATU Web Staff

The fight over Gabriel Allred's future is gaining some serious attention as both Oregon's governor and one of the country's most outspoken newsmen, CNN's Lou Dobbs, weigh in on the issue.

Two-year-old Gabriel Allred is at the center of a custody battle that has pitted a Lincoln County family against Oregon's Department of Human Services.

Steve and Angela Brandt are the boy's foster parents and they wish to adopt him, but DHS has decided the boy would be better off in Mexico with his biological grandmother.

Gabriel's biological parents have no legal rights to the boy - his father is a convicted sex offender awaiting deportation to Mexico and his mother has a history of drug abuse.

The story has pulled at the heartstrings of many Oregonians, who wonder why the state would choose to send the boy to a country he has never been, and to a grandmother he does not know, when he has a loving family here in Oregon.

On the flip side, some believe DHS made the only decision it could - sticking to rules that state they need to place children with a biological family member if at all possible.

No matter what side you are on, it is clear that the fight over Gabriel Allred's future will be a bitter one.

The Brandts have said they will fight the decision by DHS all the way and have already filed custody papers in Lincoln County to try to keep their foster son here in Oregon.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ted Kulongoski jumped into the mix, saying he would ask the Attorney General to look into the authority he has over the boy's future. He hopes to have an answer by the end of next week.

"It's a tough call and there are good arguments on both sides of this," Kulongoski said. "We'll just have to wait and see."

That was an answer that confused the Brandts.

"We were always under the impression he could overrule the decision," said Steve Brandt. "Maybe that's not the case. At any rate, we are pleased that he has stepped in."

Local media attention on the 2-year-old boy is spreading quickly and now the story is reaching a national level.

The newest advocate calling for DHS to keep the boy on U.S. soil is CNN's Lou Dobbs, who said he plans to take the issue to our congressional delegation,and to the federal government.

It is a message the Brandts said touches them.

"Lou Dobbs has an audience that's going to listen," said Angela Brandt. "And there are a lot of Americans out there who are going to see Gabriel's little face and they're going to say 'this isn't OK' and this agency needs to change their policies and they can't deport a U.S. citizen like this."

Lou Dobbs interviewed the Brandts on Tuesday for his show. If you missed it, you can read a transcript online (note that you will have to scroll through the transcript to find the portion where he discussed the Gabriel Allred story).


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Postby Marina » Fri Nov 16, 2007 9:00 pm

. ... el-oregon/

Foster Parents Still Hoping To Keep Gabriel In Oregon

By Colin Fogarty

Portland, OR November 15, 2007 5:39 p.m.

Governor Ted Kulongoski wadded into another legal morass this week, an issue that also involves Oregon’s connections to Mexico.

The case of Gabriel Allred has received widespread media attention since the Oregon Department of Human Services decided the two-year-old boy should live with his grandmother and extended family in Mexico.

He’s been living with foster parents in Toledo near the coast. Steve Brandt says he and his wife Angela are trying to keep Gabriel at the five-acre rural home that he’s known since he was four months old.

Steve Brandt: "If we were to just rip him away from all that. it doesn’t matter if it’s Mexico or Poland or California. I mean these are going to be strangers to him. That’s still just a huge issue in the development of this little child and the problems he might face in the future because of it. It’s just the fact that he would be moved with what he knows and loves."

But Gabriel Allred’s grandmother -- Cecilia Martinez -- has said she will raise the boy as her own in Mexico.

An Oregon review panel ruled that reuniting the boy with his extended family is in his best interest. But this week a judge in Lincoln County put that order on hold for a month.

Governor Ted Kulongoski is having state attorneys map out his legal options. The Democratic governor could announce a decision next week.

Meanwhile, Steve Brandt says he and his wife -- have tried to shield the Gabriel from all the hullabaloo over his future.

Steve Brandt: "We are honestly in it for his best interest. You know we’re not in it just for our sake. He’s only two years old and we are his parents. And we’re going to stay in it until the bitter end, you know. And we’re not going to give up."

Gabriel’s biological father faces deportation to Mexico after being convicted of drug and sex abuse charges. His American mother has also been convicted on drug charges and has lost custody.

On the same day that Steve and Angela Brandt challenged the state Department of Human Services in court, they also filed papers asking to adopt Gabriel.


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Postby Marina » Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:23 am

. ... news02.txt

Posted: Nov 16, 2007 - 09:33:19 PST

Judge agrees to hear motion regarding foster child

By Steve Card Of the News-Times

A Lincoln County Circuit Court judge this week signed a "show cause" order related to the custody dispute involving2-year-old Gabriel Allred.

Last week, foster parents Steve and Angela Brandt of Toledo filed a "petition to determine custody" with the court, seeking to gain permanent custody of Gabriel. The Oregon Department of Human Services is currently the child's legal custodian, since both of his biological parents have had their parental rights terminated. And at this point, DHS is intending to send the 2-year-old to Mexico to live with his paternal grandmother.

Along with the petition to determine custody, the Brandts' attorney, Marcia Buckley, filed a motion for a "status quo order." If approved by the court, this would prohibit DHS from removing Gabriel from the Brandt home until the custody matter has been resolved. It was this status quo order that was acted upon this week by Circuit Court Judge Robert Huckleberry.

"He signed my order to show cause for a status quo order," said Buckley. What that means, she said, is DHS now has 30 days to object, to tell the judge why the status quo order shouldn't be made permanent while the custody case is pending. "By Judge Huckleberry signing that order, that tells me he believes we can proceed with our petition for custody in his courtroom," Buckley said.

No court hearing dates in the case have been set.

For the first time since the custody battle began, Gov. Ted Kulongoski has spoken publicly on the matter. Kulongoski on Tuesday said he is waiting for the Attorney General's Office to tell him if he has authority to step into the case, and if he does have authority, what his options are. Kulongoski stopped short of discussing his position on whether or not to keep Gabriel in Oregon.

Steve Card is assistant editor for the News-Times. He can be reached at 265-8571 ext. 224, or [email protected].

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Postby Marina » Thu Nov 22, 2007 3:40 pm


Candace Clark's sister says she still wants the children

By Susan Latham Carr

Editor's note: The following story is being used with permission of the Star-Banner, Ocala, Fla.

OCALA, Fla. -- Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth on Monday announced the appointment of Ed Hardy Sr. as the department's new Director of Criminal Justice Services.

The position was created after a review of the Courtney Clark case determined there were weaknesses in the department. Courtney, 2, who was in DCF's care, was missing for four months before her disappearance was reported to law enforcement. A search for her whereabouts led to the discovery of a woman buried behind a West Oneida Street home in Portage.

Stacey Scarborough of Marion County, Fla., feels there are weaknesses in the system, too. Scarborough is Courtney's aunt. She has been fighting unsuccessfully since 2006 to get custody of Courtney and, now, Courtney's two younger sisters.

"Of course I want the children, but there's only so much I can do," Scarborough said by phone Monday. "My husband and I don't exist. We have no rights. We have no say-so. I have put it in God's hands. That's all I can do."

In September 2006, Courtney's mother, Candace Clark, absconded with Courtney from the Pinellas County home where the child had been placed. The Sarasota Family YMCA Inc.'s Safe Children Coalition was managing the case for DCF.

On June 14, Courtney, and two younger sisters, were found in Portage. All the children were placed in the care of Wisconsin's child welfare agency.

Scarborough still has hopes she will get custody of the children, but her hopes are waning. She said she has written the judge and called child welfare officials but has had not responses. She said her sister, Candace Clark, does not want her to have the children although Candace has asked her for money for her canteen and to pay lawyer fees. It is possible the children could end up with Candace's mother in Kentucky, Scarborough said. If that happens, she is hoping for rights to visit the children.

"I still have the baby beds up," Scarborough said. "I just hope they are with somebody safe and loving."


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Postby Marina » Thu Nov 22, 2007 3:55 pm

. ... tion-case/

Gov. Kulongoski Orders Review Of Adoption Case

By Colin Fogarty

Portland, OR November 20, 2007 12:06 p.m.

Governor Ted Kulongoski ordered a review of the case of Gabriel Allred Tuesday.

Allred is the 2-year-old boy the Oregon Department of Human Services has decided should live with his grandmother in Mexico, rather than his foster parents in Toledo.

Kulongoski said he’s given the new director of the state's Children, Adult and Families Division -- Bryant Johnston -- two weeks to work with the two families.

Ted Kulongoski: "The committee that looked at it both times was placed in the position of choosing one family over the other. What I’m interested in is how do you get both of these families in a win situation? How can you get a situation in which both the custody and visitation would be part of any resolution of this."

Kulongoski says this is the first time that foster parents in Oregon and a biological family member from another country are both seeking to adopt a child who has dual citizenship.


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Postby Marina » Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:13 pm

. ... news06.txt

Posted: Nov 21, 2007 - 09:05:48 PST

Gabriel Allred adoption case to get another review

By Steve Card Of the News-Times

A decision by the Oregon Department of Human Services to send a 2-year-old foster child to Mexico to live with his paternal grandmother will be given another review.

On Tuesday, Governor Ted Kulongoski and DHS Director Bruce Goldberg announced they have asked Bryan Johnston, interim assistant director for the DHS Children, Adults and Families Division, to take a fresh look at the adoption case involving Gabriel Allred.

Steve and Angela Brandt of Toledo have been foster parents to Gabriel since he was four months old. When the rights of the child's biological parents were terminated, the Brandts hoped to be able to adopt Gabriel. But in late September, a three-person DHS adoption committee ruled Gabriel should be sent to live with his grandmother in Mexico. The Brandts appealed that decision, and a new adoption committee was convened, which met on Oct. 26. This committee affirmed the original decision.

The Brandts have since taken legal action, filing a petition with the Lincoln County Circuit Court seeking custody of Gabriel. They have also filed a status quo order, which would require that DHS not remove the child from the Brandt home while the court case is pending.

Tuesday's joint announcement by the governor and the DHS director throws yet another spin on this case, which has generated national and even international interest.

"This situation is unique in Oregon," said Goldberg. "It involves a complex web of social, emotional, legal and jurisdictional issues that need to be resolved in a way that best ensures Gabriel's safety and well-being. To that end, the governor and I have asked Bryan (Johnston) to work with both families to achieve a mutually agreeable solution."

Kulongoski said, "There are three important things to remember as this matter moves forward. First, the child is safe and cared for. Second, he will not be sent anywhere until this matter is resolved here in Oregon. And third, any decision made will be in Gabriel's best interest."

Kulongoski last week had asked the Oregon Attorney General for advice on what, if any options he has regarding the case. The attorney general said DHS administrative rules provide authority over adoption committee decisions to the head of the Children, Adult and Families Division (Johnston).

During the past seven years, Oregon has placed 19 children with families in other nations, according to DHS. Fifteen of those children were born in the U.S. However, noted Goldberg, this is the first time that U.S. foster parents and biological relatives in another country have both sought to adopt a child who is a citizen of both countries.

"We have given Bryan until Dec. 3 to work out a satisfactory resolution to this issue," said Goldberg. "Given his background and experience, I have every confidence he will be able to create a positive solution within that timeframe."

Johnston, noted Goldberg, is uniquely qualified to address this complex issue.

"Bryan has been director of Willamette University's Center for Dispute Resolution, has directed DHS, and manages a consulting practice that focuses on mediation, ethics and values," said Goldberg. "I can't think of anyone more qualified to bring this matter to a successful resolution."

"I believe everyone has Gabriel's best interests at heart," Johnston said, "and that is an excellent situation to be in. As long as the focus stays on what is best for this child, I believe we can develop a very positive outcome for Gabriel."


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Postby Marina » Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:50 am

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Official Needs More Time To Decide Custody Dispute

POSTED: 12:59 pm PST November 30, 2007
UPDATED: 1:37 pm PST November 30, 2007

A state official has asked for more time to resolve the fate of 2-year-old Gabriel Allred.

Angela and Steve Brandt took custody of Gabriel after a court terminated the parental rights of his biological parents and now they want to adopt him.

A state committee recommended sending him to the Mexican state of Puebla to live with his biological grandmother.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski asked Bryan Johnston of the Oregon Department of Human Services to take a fresh look at the adoption case and initially gave him until Dec. 3 to work out a satisfactory solution.

Johnston said Friday, given the international challenges of the case, it will take at least two more weeks to give everybody involved a chance to discuss what's best for Gabriel.

"The most important thing we can do is take the time needed to reach a good solution that is in Gabriel's best interests," said Johnston. "Because I want to give all parties adequate time to meet and discuss what we can do for Gabriel, I've requested an extension of the timeline."

Johnston said he expects to reach a conclusion by mid-December.


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Postby Marina » Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:08 am

. ... xml&coll=7

Grandma to be brought to Oregon in foster-child case

Mexico - State officials want the boy's relative to take part in the mediation

Saturday, December 01, 2007HARRY ESTEVE The Oregonian Staff

State officials have delayed a decision on what should happen to Gabriel Allred, the 2-year-old foster child ordered to live with his grandmother in Mexico, to allow time to bring the grandmother to Oregon

Bryan Johnston, head of Oregon's child welfare system, is reviewing the boy's case and decided the grandmother, Cecilia Martinez, should participate, said Greg Parker, spokesman for the state Department of Human Services.

"She's biologically related to Gabriel," Parker said. "Two sets of administrative panels recommended that Gabriel be placed with her. Bryan has a sense that it's appropriate to include her in the discussion."

The decision has upset Allred's foster parents, Steve and Angela Brandt, who have sued to block the state's order, adopt Gabriel and raise him as part of their family on the Oregon coast.

"We don't think he's being practical," Angela Brandt said about Johnston. "They just keep pushing things out further and further."

The case has sparked huge public controversy, with some charging that Gabriel should not be sent to Mexico because he is a U.S. citizen and has bonded with the Brandts. Others, including state child welfare officials, say it is best for children to be raised by blood relatives.

Gabriel's father, Roberto Valiente Martinez, served time for drug crimes and attempted rape of a 12-year-old girl. He now faces three charges of illegal entry into the country. Gabriel's mother, Lindsey Allred, visited her son some in foster care but those visits tapered off.

In September, a state adoption committee ruled Gabriel should live with his paternal grandmother, a decision that was upheld by a second committee.

After public outcry, Gov. Ted Kulongoski appointed Johnston to review the state's order and serve as a mediator between the Brandts and Gabriel's biological family. Kulongoski set a Dec. 3 deadline.

On Friday, the deadline was extended until later in the month, although not to a specific day.

Brandt said she heard that Johnston wants Cecilia Martinez to tour their home to see how her grandson lives. She said she doesn't see the point of such a visit.

"This is about Gabriel and his best interests," Brandt said. "It's not about whose house is nicer."

Parker said he doesn't know what role Martinez will play in the mediation. He said the state is working with the Mexican Consulate to arrange transportation for her.

A Friday news release from the Department of Human Services about the delay didn't mention the decision to bring the grandmother up for a visit. Instead, it said the "international logistical challenges" required more time.

"The most important thing we can do is take the time needed to reach a good solution that is in Gabriel's best interests," Johnston said in the news release.

Harry Esteve: 503-221-8226; [email protected]


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Postby Marina » Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:36 am

. ... 50126.html

Oregon mediator trying to settle Mexican-American adoption fight

03:55 PM PST on Sunday, December 9, 2007

By WILLIAM McCALL Associated Press Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A deadline for deciding whether to send Gabriel Allred to Mexico to live with his grandmother or let him stay with the Oregon couple who want to adopt him has passed quietly with a top state child welfare official still considering the 2-year-old boy's future.

"He's being circumspect," said Greg Parker, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Human Services, about Bryan Johnston, the interim assistant director for the agency's Children, Adults and Families Division.

Johnston, a former state lawmaker, law professor and judge, has a reputation as a mediator who can untangle the most twisted corporate or government knots.

Now Gov. Ted Kulongoski is counting on him to make a decision that might challenge King Solomon.

Steve and Angela Brandt are devoted to the little boy they have raised from infancy as foster parents. They have been in custody of the boy after his Mexican father, a convicted sex offender, and his American mother, convicted on methamphetamine charges, were stripped of their parental rights.

Background: ahref="">State considering foster child adoption plan

The Brandts want to formally adopt Gabriel. But the state has twice recommended sending him to Mexico to live with his blood relatives -- his biological grandmother, Cecilia Martinez, and her extended family.

The Brandts have gone to court to ask a judge to give them permanent custody before the state takes him, and Johnston plans to mediate in private sessions to ease some of the pressure that has been building up.

At some point, the grandmother is supposed to visit the Brandts at their home in the coastal town of Toledo so they can get to know each other and try to iron out their differences. Possibly because of the potential for conflict, state officials aren't saying when exactly that visit will occur. Neither are the Brandts.

Questions abound, without any easy answers.

Conservative broadcasters and columnists have sided with the Brandts, including radio talk show host Lars Larson of KXL-AM in Portland and Lou Dobbs of CNN.

"You're championing a noble cause," Dobbs told the Brandts in an appearance on his show last month.

David Reinhard, a columnist with The Oregonian, has called on the state's political leaders "to reverse the bloodless

bureaucratic decision to send Gabriel to live with his grandmother in Mexico."

In a commentary that appeared on Sunday, Dec., 2, Reinhard noted his view was shared by Gabriel's foster care caseworker and the caseworker's supervisor, along with the boy's court-appointed special advocate.

Little has been heard from the boy's biological family, partly because rural Mexico is a long away from Oregon, and partly because the biological parents are both convicts.

But Martinez told one TV stateion in Portland that she was remodeling her house in San Jose Miahuatlan, outside Mexico City, to prepare it for Gabriel, whom she had not met.

She told the station that Gabriel would have everything he needs in Mexico, and that his aunts and other relatives would help raise him and take care of him.

The woman who wants to adopt him, Angela Brandt, says Gabriel already has everything he needs in Oregon -- a rural home with pets and plenty of land for Gabriel to play with her four sons, a loving father who is a deputy sheriff, and most importantly, familiar faces who have been his family since he was four months old.

"This is not about who has the better home," she said. "It's about Gabriel's attachments. I truly believe if we moved to Mexico he'd do just fine. It's about living with strangers and his attachment to us."

Brandt, who has schooled herself in adoption procedure, apologizes when she chokes up in interviews, blaming the stress and the fear of losing the little boy she has come to call her own. She also worries about meeting Martinez, and how the two families will handle a relationship that has been forced upon them by circumstances.

She says the state has been able to observe her family through caseworkers, but she questions how closely they have observed the Martinez family in Mexico.

Parker, the Department of Human Services spokesman, says Johnston will take it all into account as he works to find a solution. The governor said before the Thanksgiving holiday that he had hoped for a resolution by Dec. 3.

"Our goal here is to have an outcome that everyone supports, and of course, at its core is in the best interests of Gabriel," Parker said. "But what we are looking for here is a family for a child, not a child for a family."

Angela Brandt, however, says the process has already taken too long.

"I'll be glad when it's over," she said. "And I pray it will have some impact on other children besides Gabriel in the long run."


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Postby Marina » Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:49 pm

. ... etail.html

Gabriel To Remain In Oregon, DHS Says

POSTED: 7:44 pm PST December 12, 2007
UPDATED: 7:06 am PST December 13, 2007

TOLEDO, Ore. -- The Oregon Department of Human Services announced Wednesday evening that an agreement has been reached in the mediation between Gabriel Allred's paternal grandmother and his foster parents.

Allred, a 2-year-old child born in Oregon who holds dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship, has been at the heart of a contested adoption between his biological family in Mexico and his foster family in Oregon.

In brief, Sra. Martinez, Gabriel's paternal grandmother, will withdraw her request to adopt Gabriel. As a result, Gabriel will be freed for adoption by Steve and Angela Brandt, the foster parents who have raised Gabriel for the past 22 months.

In return, the Brandts will commit to continued contact with Gabriel's biological family as well as other specific terms agreed to in the mediation settlement.

"I was very pleased to see both parties come together to reach a decision that I believe ultimately will be in Gabriel's best interests," said Bryan Johnston, interim DHS assistant director for the Children, Adults and Families Division, who mediated the daylong session Wednesday in Newport.

Johnston noted that he has asked the Oregon Department of Justice to take the legal steps necessary to give the mediated agreement full legal effect.

"This agreement gives Gabriel the best of all worlds," said DHS Director Bruce Goldberg, M.D., who, along with Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, had directed Johnston to seek common ground between the two families. "Gabriel will have the stability of remaining with the Brandts in a safe environment and will be able to grow up knowing his grandmother and extended family in Mexico."

Oregon, which is a pioneer in mediated adoptions, brought Martinez and the Brandts together as the final step in a process that included two adoption committees and an administrative review of the committees' recommendations.

"Typically an adoption process doesn't proceed to this final stage, but mediation is always an option when two families both hope to adopt a child, and particularly when grandparents or other biological family members want to remain part of a child's life," said Johnston. "What we have learned from this unique case is that we need more tools to deal with the increasingly complex world of open adoptions, extended families, multicultural families and geographically dispersed families."

"This adoption decision drew a lot of attention because of the international aspect of the case," said Goldberg, "but in actuality it moved through each step of the normal adoption review process that serves as a guide for all adoptions. I support the efforts of the staff and volunteers who made this process work."

Goldberg added that Oregon continues to need more families interested in providing permanent homes to children in the state's care.

"While the process in this particular case gathered a lot of interest, the truth is that we successfully place three children each day in permanent adoptions," said Goldberg. "And, more importantly, right now several thousand children are waiting for permanent homes. Gabriel was fortunate to have two good families seeking to adopt him. I would hope to see more children receive the same attention."

The mediation was requested by Johnston. Martinez was able to attend through the cooperation of the Mexico Consulate of Portland. She was supported in the process by a representative of the Consulate.

Judge Robert Huckleberry, of Lincoln County, offered his courtroom and requested Judge Paul Lipscomb of Marion County to facilitate the session.

Lipscomb met with the parties Tuesday at the Toledo, Ore., home of the Brandts, then convened the mediation session at the Lincoln County Courthouse Wednesday morning. By Wednesday evening, he had led the parties to a mutually acceptable resolution.

"Gabriel Allred will have parents in Toledo, Ore., and an extended family in San Jose Miahuatlan, Puebla, Mexico," said Johnston. "He will grow up loved and protected by many people. It is an excellent outcome."

The details of the mediated agreement include:
Sra. Martinez, Gabriel's paternal grandmother, will withdraw her request to adopt Gabriel.
Steve and Angela Brandt, Gabriel's foster parents, will be allowed to proceed with the process to adopt Gabriel.
The Brandts will provide Gabriel with Spanish-language lessons to enable him to become fluent in both spoken and written Spanish.
An ongoing regular schedule of telephone calls and e-mails between Martinez and Gabriel will be established.
Martinez will have continued visitation rights to see Gabriel in Oregon.


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Postby Marina » Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:23 pm

. ... ?track=rss

Couple Trying To Adopt Grandniece Have To Battle DCF, Which Favors Foster Family

Couple Fighting DCF To Adopt Baby Grandniece

DAWN AND JAMES TALLAKSEN of Longmeadow want to adopt a 22-month-old grandniece who has been in foster care with a family that wants to adopt her. DCF says the couple expressed interest in the girl only after a year, when she had already bonded with her foster family. (SHANA SURECK / April 2, 2008)

By COLIN POITRAS | Courant Staff Writer
April 3, 2008

But the couple, who had waited nearly a year before coming forward, were surprised to find out they were too late.

"I was shocked," James Tallaksen said in a recent interview. "We were just summarily dismissed."

Though the Tallaksens are part of M.J.'s biological family, the Department of Children and Families said M.J. already had bonded with her foster family, whom she had lived with since birth.

The foster family also wants to adopt the little girl, who will turn 2 in June, and DCF supports placing M.J. with them.

Officials at DCF said the case typifies the difficult decisions child welfare workers and judges must make to protect the best interests of an abandoned, abused or neglected child.

The Tallaksens said the case illustrates how DCF says one thing publicly and does another behind the closed doors of juvenile court.

DCF Commissioner Susan Hamilton has repeatedly said the department would rather place foster children with relatives than strangers. DCF also tries to keep siblings together in foster care.

But that won't happen if M.J. remains with her foster family, the Tallaksens said. M.J. will be separated from her 5-year-old brother, Christopher, who is being cared for by James Tallaksen's sister, Jill.

DCF spokesman Josh Howroyd declined to discuss the specifics of M.J.'s case, citing state confidentiality laws for children in foster care. The Courant is using only M.J.'s initials for the same reason.

But Howroyd said social workers weigh many factors in recommending placement for a child, including time spent with a foster parent and any emotional attachments.

"We have to balance a lot of different interests on a case-by-case basis," Howroyd said. "We're not dismissive of relatives. Relatives in most cases are usually our first choice."

The Tallaksens aren't giving up. The Longmeadow couple has enlisted the aid of state Rep. Karen Jarmoc, D-Enfield, whom they know through a mutual friend. Jarmoc got the child advocate's office involved.

Jarmoc said she was amazed at how DCF was treating the Tallaksens, who were once threatened with arrest for disclosing the name and address of M.J.'s foster parents in an e-mail to another state lawmaker in their attempt to get help.

"I'm pursuing this because it's just not right," Jarmoc said. "[DCF has] been bullying and using their powers in an inappropriate and unprofessional way because they know they can."

The Tallaksens, who have four children of their own between the ages of 2 and 10, weren't sure they wanted to take in another child when they first heard M.J. was in foster care. But their conscience kept nagging them.

"It was the greatest moral decision of my life," James Tallaksen said. "Ultimately, we realized we couldn't sit back and watch someone else raise a member of our family."

The Tallaksens first contacted DCF about possibly adopting M.J. in April 2007, when she was 10 months old. They said they were told over the phone that they couldn't do anything until the agency terminated M.J.'s parents' rights.

James Tallaksen said he called DCF again in July 2007 and this time was much clearer about his interest in taking care of M.J. But he was told it was too late. DCF social workers have resisted the couple's efforts ever since, Tallaksen said.

Jarmoc has asked DCF Commissioner Hamilton to explain why the agency didn't do more to reach out to the Tallaksens when they expressed a possible interest in adopting M.J. She suspects DCF is purposely delaying any consideration of the Tallaksens now to extend the time M.J. spends with her foster family, thereby increasing her chances of bonding with them.

"I believe DCF is scrambling right now to make a case for what they want to do," Jarmoc said. "Instead of admitting their mistake, they are digging their heels in."

Other families have complained about DCF social workers being harsh, unbending and retaliatory. Many people dealing with DCF are afraid to challenge agency workers for fear of making matters worse. The fact that state child protection courts are closed to the public further protects the agency and limits scrutiny of any possible mistakes, some critics have said. Attempts to open child protection courts to the public have failed in the legislature in the past two years.

State Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein said DCF social workers need to work with families and help them do what's best for a child in a professional and responsible manner.

"Too often we see workers being dismissive and disrespectful to families," Milstein said. "Good social work is really about being able to work with people in the lives of a child and to focus on the health and well-being of a child without demonizing people. A worker needs to be respectful and understand the ramifications of the situation on the family."

Related links
Dawn And James Tallaksen Photo
James Tallaksen said he wishes DCF had been clearer about how pressing it was for the couple to act. The Tallaksens tried to intervene in M.J.'s case in court, but were told they missed the deadline for getting involved.

It was not until Jarmoc and the child advocate got involved that the Tallaksens finally saw results. After Jarmoc started calling DCF in January, the agency — which hadn't even asked the Tallaksens their last name for the past six months — agreed to a meeting. But nothing changed.

A Superior Court judge is expected to decide where M.J. should live sometime this spring. The DCF social worker's recommendation will carry a lot of weight.

Ultimately, DCF likes to see biological family members involved in a foster child's life even if they don't win custody, Howroyd said.

But the Tallaksens said they don't want visitation; they want custody.

And sources familiar with the case said M.J.'s foster family has not shown much interest in continuing contact with M.J.'s sibling or her extended family once the adoption is finalized. In such cases, Howroyd said, DCF tries to work with the families to continue the relationships.

"There are a lot of factors at play in these cases and we try to make decisions that are in the child's best interest," Howroyd said. "These are not easy decisions to make and they are not ones we take lightly."

Dawn Tallaksen, who said they'll appeal in court if M.J. remains with her foster parents, worries about the long-term ramifications for the girl.

"If this goes through, M.J. will grow up thinking her family doesn't want her," she said.


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Postby Marina » Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:36 pm

. ... _headlines

Kalab at home without oversight?
No open case, but Indiana agency reportedly called for end of 'visit'

By Libby Keeling (Contact)
Sunday, April 6, 2008

Before 3-year-old Kalab Lay's death last week, allegedly from a beating delivered over a 10-day period in his Evansville home, the Indiana Department of Child Services did not have an open case file on the boy. He had been returned to his biological parents in January after spending virtually his entire life in foster care in Illinois.

Based on a general description of Indiana's policies related to child protective services, the lack of an open case indicates no local case manager was assigned when Kalab and his twin sister arrived in Evansville in January, and caseworkers were not conducting home visits to check on their status.

However, investigation of Kalab's death, ruled a homicide by the Vanderburgh County Coroner's Office, has revealed someone with Indiana DCS apparently contacted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services about unsafe conditions at the Lay residence in Eastbrook Mobile Home Park.

"I can confirm that they said: 'Get the children out of the home,'" said Chief Deputy Coroner Annie Groves.

Kalab and his twin had lived with their parents, Terry G. Lay, 40, and Amanda J. Brooks, 33, for three months before emergency personnel responded to reports of a 3-year-old not breathing Monday at their home.

Kalab was declared brain dead Tuesday, and authorities determined three of the couple's other children also showed signs of abuse.

Lay and Brooks are expected to appear in court Monday to face charges related to Kalab's death allegedly as the result of blunt force trauma.

"The specifics of the case I cannot disclose at this time, but I can disclose there was no case open prior to the recent case opened due to (Kalab's death,)" said Susan Tielking, communications director for the Indiana Department of Child Services.

"Any time there is a fatality or a near fatality, we will open a case and look at that."

Confidential files

When a child in protective services dies in a home approved for placement, questions are many and answers few. Confidentiality laws protecting the child's privacy essentially silence those who might be able to offer explanations.

"It is a tough one, and it's one of the things we struggle with most," said Jim Grace, assistant director of the Kentucky Division of Protection and Permanency. "There's an ongoing discussion nationally concerning the opening of juvenile court systems."

Sharing information is tough, Grace said. Even after a child has died, siblings and family members remain.

"It is a double-edged sword, and I struggle with it every day," he said. "But I tend to fall on the side of, if we're going to expose this to public scrutiny, the media or otherwise, we are going to expose that child."

Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, according to the state of Illinois Web site, all utilize the same automated child welfare information system for disseminating information about abusers and the neglected and abused among counties within each individual state.

However, no comparable national system for the sharing of data exists. From Evansville, it is possible to be in Kentucky or Illinois in just a matter of minutes. Grace said proactive communication does not always occur.

Challenges also result from the amount of variation in practices, laws and expectations among states, Grace said. Discussions of a uniform federal data system have gone on for years.

Tielking provided a general discussion of Indiana's procedures related to protective placements of children from other states in Indiana and the return of children removed from their homes to their biological parents.

According to Tielking:

n When a child in another state's protective services comes to Indiana for a visit of a maximum of 30 days, the state of origin is not required to request approval from Indiana child services.

n If a visit will extend past 30 days, the child's state of origin should request an Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children. That allows Indiana to approve the placement and open a case file, or deny the placement, after determining the home is unsafe, and not open a case. If a case file is opened, Indiana will work with the state of origin, if desired, to assign a case manager and conduct home visits.

In December, a judge in the Circuit Court of Saline County, Ill., ordered Kalab and his twin returned to their biological parents for a visit Jan. 3, against the recommendation of Lutheran Social Services and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

On Feb. 26, the visit was extended to June 3.

In Indiana, Tielking said, caseworkers check on children placed in homes or sent to parental residences out of state a minimum of once very 30 days, unless caseworkers in the receiving state agree to visit.

Trial periods

After parents whose children have been placed in other homes because of abuse or neglect fulfill the requirements for their return, Tielking said, a trial period, which may last 6 months, begins. A caseworker visits a minimum of once every 30 days until the period ends.

During its fiscal year 2007, Indiana recorded 36 abuse and neglect fatalities. Of those, nine occurred in families with at least one prior substantiated child protective services investigation.

In its fiscal year 2007, 48 children died as a result of abuse or neglect by a biological parent or parents in Illinois.

Last year in Kentucky, 26 children died at the hands of parents or caretakers. According to Grace, the state receives more than 30,000 referrals related to child abuse and neglect each year.

"I always caution people, particularly with child fatalities. We know that is, by far, the worst, most horrible, emotional event that can happen in an agency or in a family. But if we go to a point where we are becoming so focused solely on those events, as often happens — and I think that's human nature — sometimes we lose perspective," he said.

"What leads up to situations is just as important because we want to make sure the day-to-day abuse and neglect happening to kids gets as much focus, and that's a tough one for all of us."


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Postby Marina » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:42 pm

. ... news04.txt

Posted: Apr 09, 2008 - 08:14:05 PDT

Adoption of foster child by Toledo couple now complete
By Steve Card Of the News-Times

Gabriel Brandt

The adoption of the two-year-old foster child who was at the center of a controversial custody dispute last year is now complete. On Friday, Gabriel Allred officially became Gabriel Brandt when Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Robert Huckleberry signed the adoption papers.

Steve and Angela Brandt of Toledo have cared for Gabriel since he was four months old. When the rights of the child's biological parents were terminated, the Brandts hoped to be able to adopt Gabriel. But in late September of last year, a three-person adoption committee with the Department of Human Services ruled Gabriel should be sent to live with his paternal grandmother in Mexico. The Brandts appealed that decision, and a new adoption committee was convened, which met in late October. This committee affirmed the original decision.

And then in early November, the Brandts, through their attorney, Marcia Buckley, filed an action against DHS. This "petition to determine custody" was filed in Lincoln County Circuit Court, where Buckley has also filed a motion for a "status quo order," which would prohibit DHS from removing Gabriel from the Brandt home until the custody issue had been settled.

But before the matter moved into the courts, Governor Ted Kulongoski and DHS Director Bruce Goldberg asked Bryan Johnston, interim assistant director for the DHS Children, Adults and Families Division, to take a fresh look at the adoption case. The purpose was to work out a satisfactory resolution to the issue, which by that point had generated national and even international media attention.

In December, DHS announced that an agreement had been reached in mediation. Through this agreement, Cecilia Martinez, Gabriel's grandmother, withdrew her request to adopt the child, clearing the way for adoption by the Brandts. In return, the Brandts agreed to continued contact with Gabriel's biological family.

The mediation had been requested by Johnston. Martinez was able to travel to Oregon and attend the mediation through the cooperation of the Mexico Consulate of Portland. She was supported in the process by a representative of the consulate.

After the agreement was reached in mediation, Johnston said, "I was very pleased to see both parties come together to reach a decision that I believe ultimately will be in Gabriel's best interests." Goldberg added, "This agreement gives Gabriel the best of all worlds. (He) will have the stability of remaining with the Brandts in a safe environment and will be able to grow up knowing his grandmother and extended family in Mexico."

The Brandts had originally hoped to complete the adoption process by sometime in January, but it wasn't until Friday that everything became official. As part of the mediation agreement, they were to take Gabriel to Mexico for a visit with his grandmother by the end of March. But they were unable to obtain a passport for the child until the adoption was complete, so that trip is now being planned for next month.

Although this is the only required trip to Mexico, Martinez does have the right, under the mediation agreement, to come to the U.S. to visit Gabriel on an annual basis.

After next month's trip to Mexico, the Brandts look forward to resuming a more normal life for themselves, for Gabriel, and for their four other children still at home.


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Postby Marina » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:55 pm

. ... /803230315

Woman lashes out at DCS

[email protected]
• March 23, 2008

A Gibson County grandmother is accusing the state Department of Children's Services of violating its own rules in a custody fight that involves her slain daughter's 14-month-old son.

Cheryl Alford and her attorney, David Camp of Jackson, have asked state Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson, for an investigation of the DCS's actions in the case to determine whether they were proper.

Cheryl Alford said department officials violated procedure by not contacting her before placing the child with her ex-husband, Tommy Alford, and his wife, Lisa Alford, after her daughter's death. Cheryl Alford also contends that DCS violated its policy by failing to interview her about her ex-husband before deciding to place the child with him.

"I believe a close scrutiny of the Department's conduct will support Cheryl's belief that actions taken were in violation of policy and procedure and corrective action should be taken," Camp wrote in a letter to Finney.

The DCS denies any wrongdoing.

"The Department is confident that it has been following its policies closely in this regard," DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said. "But I can't talk about specifics because of confidentiality laws."

Finney could not be reached Saturday for comment.

Said Tommy Alford: "I just feel like the DCS did their job."

Cheryl Alford wants to get custody of her grandson, Taylor James McIllwain. There is a hearing set for June in Gibson County Juvenile Court.

The child's father, Billy Earl McIllwain Jr., has been charged with first-degree

murder in connection with the June 3 shooting death of the child's mother, Jody Alford. His trial is scheduled for May 13 in Gibson County Circuit Court.

The shooting occurred at the Dyer home of Tommy and Lisa Alford.

The DCS took Taylor into protective custody on or about June 4, the day after Jody's death, Camp said in the letter to Finney. Tommy and Lisa Alford filled out paperwork to be the child's foster parents on or about June 4 or 5, Cheryl Alford said.

She didn't immediately contact DCS because "I was in shock" over the shooting, she said. "I wasn't thinking, 'I'm going to run to DCS ...'"

The DCS's policy on pre-placement of a child in Taylor's situation states "... It is the responsibility of departmental staff to engage the family in identifying relatives who may be willing to serve as a placement resource. Staff shall make reasonable attempts to contact the relatives and assess their appropriateness to serve as a resource."

Cheryl Alford pointed out another procedure she believes was violated, which states: "In the home study process, the quality of past and current significant relationships will be assessed."

On or about June 6, DCS requested the child be placed with Tommy and Lisa Alford, according to Camp's letter to Finney. A probable cause hearing was held on or about June 12.

Cheryl Alford later filed a petition in Madison County Chancery Court to adopt Taylor. Camp said the DCS intervened in the adoption and moved to dismiss her petition.

"While at the hearing, the Department took the lead in challenging the right of Cheryl to adopt Taylor," Camp wrote. "One of the Department's arguments was that Cheryl did not have physical custody of Taylor and therefore under TCA 36-1-115 was not permitted to adopt.

"The irony is that the Department is the agency that unilaterally made the decision to place Taylor, failed to give Cheryl notice of the hearing, and when Cheryl was not present, recommended that placement be made with Tommy and Lisa Alford," Camp wrote. "Needless to say, the court sided with the Department and dismissed Cheryl's petition to adopt her grandson."

Cheryl Alford gets one weekend of visitation a month with her grandson.

The first meeting she was ever invited to concerning Taylor's custody was in July, she said.

"No explanation has ever been provided as to why the Department chose Tommy Alford over Cheryl Alford for placement," Camp wrote. "Cheryl has remained concerned that the decision was not based on neutral criteria, but instead on the fact that individuals in the Department knew Lisa Alford, the step-grandmother of Taylor."

Lisa Alford said that had nothing to do with Taylor's placement. But the fact that Jody and Taylor were living with her and her husband did play a part in the decision, she said.

Camp said in his letter that Jody had been living at her father's home for about two weeks before her death. Cheryl Alford said Jody had lived primarily with her in Jackson and was staying with her father so her sister-in-law could baby-sit Taylor.

Jody had taken only a few outfits to her dad's house and planned to return to live in Jackson, where she worked, Cheryl Alford said.

Tommy Alford said as far as he knew, Jody planned to stay with him and Lisa because they were planning to get a bigger house.

As far as the DCS is concerned, Lisa said, "We did everything we were told that we had to do."


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Postby Marina » Sat Apr 12, 2008 3:48 am


Couple Fears DHS May Send Granddaughter To Mexico

POSTED: 8:12 am PDT April 11, 2008
UPDATED: 8:41 am PDT April 11, 2008

HILLSBORO, Ore. -- A Hillsboro couple is fighting to keep their granddaughter from being sent to Mexico.

Luz and Maurice Cephus said they're worried the Department of Human Services will send 2-year-old Faith away.

The couple said DHS is planning to send Faith's half-siblings to live in Mexico with their father's family. The agency is also considering sending Faith in order to keep the children together.

The couple said Faith isn't related to the family in Mexico and doesn't know them.

They said they've been raising Faith since she was born and they're fighting to keep her in Hillsboro.

"We wanted to adopt her," said Maurice Cephus. "She's our blood granddaughter. She has our name. And we are ready and willing to take care of her and raise her."

Faith is a U.S. citizen, but her parents are in prison.

Her grandparents said they're hoping for as much support as possible.

"We want our granddaughter," Cephus said. "We love her and we'll do anything it takes to keep her."

DHS officials said media coverage of the case may be premature because no decision has been made on whether or not to send Faith to Mexico.

The case surfaced just days after the custody battle over Gabriel Allred came to a close. Last year, DHS ruled Gabriel would move to Mexico to live with his biological family whom he had never met. His foster parents fought the move and an agreement was eventually reached with Gabriel's paternal grandmother in Mexico.


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Postby Marina » Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:11 pm

MON., AUG 4, 2008 - 10:08 PM
State will review custody case that ended in child's killing
[email protected]

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families will review a Dane County child welfare case in which guardianship was granted to a relative with a violent criminal history who is now accused of killing the child in Ohio.

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Postby Marina » Thu Oct 09, 2008 6:32 pm ... xml&coll=6

Body of girl killed in Mexico returned

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 By Kurt Eckert
The Hillsboro Argus
The Argus

The body of a Cedar Mill girl murdered in Mexico in 2005 has finally been returned to her family, casting light again on the Oregon's Department of Human Services' practice of relocating foster children to be with siblings, regardless of citizenship.

A memorial service for Adrianna Maria Romero-Cram, a U.S. citizen who was beaten to death by her biological aunt and uncle at age 5, was held Sept. 15.

Her aunt is in year three of a 45-year sentence for homicide, said Adrianna's mother, Tausha Cram, who had to go through a grueling bureaucratic process to bring her daughter's body back home.

Tausha brought infant Adrianna to live in Cedar Mill with her grandmother Evonne Cram, escaping an abusive husband.

DHS took custody because the family couldn't find affordable insurance to buy necessary prescriptions, Tausha told the Argus in 2005.

Evonne couldn't take the girl because she and Tausha were feuding, and a restraining order had been filed. Tausha had drug problems, and though she admits she couldn't take care of Adrianna, the state should have placed her with a local family. The return of her daughter's body and the funeral service doesn't bring closure, she says.

"I won't feel like her death had any meaning until this never happens to another child again," Tausha said Wednesday. "There should be no American citizens being sent to other countries.

"The only one who didn't make a mistake was Adrianna, and she's the one who paid."

page 2

The funeral service brings to mind the plight of Hillsboro's Maurice and Luz Cephus, who still haven't received final word on whether the DHS will send their 2-year-old granddaughter Faith to live with the grandparents of her half-siblings in Mexico, who aren't related to her at all.

Three separate committees have reviewed the case, and while it was determined there is a bond between Faith and the two children, Faith will remain with her grandparents until a judge makes a final decision, Stewart said. Both fathers and the mother are in prison.

In March the DHS said it was in Faith's best interest to stay with the two children her mother had with another man, rather than stay with American relatives, sparking media interest.

Like Adrianna, Faith is a U.S. citizen, leading the Cephuses to think the decision would be an easy one.

The DHS originally placed all three of the children in one foster home after they were taken away from their mother, but that family had to get out of the situation for personal reasons, spokesperson Lauri Stewart said. The DHS is provided with information that is usually not available to the public, and has to make decisions based on the facts.

"To categorically exclude all geographical locations because of one tragic case, I'm not sure that would be a practical policy decision," Stewart said. "Sometimes it just doesn't work.

"We're forbidden by law to exclude people because they don't live in the United States. Geographical locations are not supposed to be an issue."

Faith, a bright and happy toddler, calls her grandparents "mama" and "dada," though they remind her often they are her grandparents, not her parents.

The committees' decisions are subject to review by the department director.

Faith's mother and father have voluntarily surrendered their parental rights for now.

These incidents come on the heels of the adoption of Oregon's Gabriel Allred in 2007. Child welfare officials recommended be sent to Mexico to live with his grandmother, but a judge ultimately let his American foster parents, who had cared for him from age 4 months, adopt him.

Stewart said a decision on Faith Cephus could still be months away.

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