The Boston Globe recently ran a piece titled “The call from DCF: ‘We have your children.’” The article was written by Jessica Rinaldi, it spotlights how the DCF can overstep its boundaries by unfairly taking children from their parents without doing a full investigation. “Did she deserve to lose her children, all of them, forever?” asks Rinaldi. The author is referring to Cynthia, a proud mother of six who was a victim of domestic abuse, both as a child and an adult. Cynthia never got arrested or abused drugs.
In 2014, the DCF opened a case on her family, mostly due to her children’s father. They had an unhealthy relationship from the start – he had a mental illness and would hit her.
This all started when Cynthia’s oldest daughter came home with a cut on her finger, this led to DCF starting an investigation on all three of her kids. They were all taken from their school. The DCF believed all three children were being sexually abused by their father. Yet the state had not investigated this fully until her children were already in foster care.
During this time, DCF had begun to ramp up their work due to the death of Jeremiah Oliver – a 5 year old boy from Fitchburg who had gone missing and was later found dead. A DCF worker was supposed to check up on Jeremiah before he went missing, but failed to do so for months. This meant a more interventionist policy for DCF, as Rinaldi notes, “statewide, the number of petitions to remove children from their homes jumped almost 30 percent in two years.” Hundreds of caseworkers, lawyers, and foster homes were added, this also meant that children were taken from their parents longer. Cynthia’s case fell in the midst of all these changes.
Like many parents, Cynthia felt the process was repetitive and disheartening, yet she fought hard to get her kids back, tackling everything on her checklist – going to therapy and avoiding her ex.
The court clearly saw Cynthia’s hard work and dedication to get her kids back, so they returned her children back to her. Cynthia did everything in her power to make sure her children wouldn’t be taken in again, following all the required steps and doing everything she should’ve. Yet four months later, her children were taken again. The oldest daughter cried and screamed to stay with her mom as the case worker pulled her away. According to DCF, the children were removed because of significant clutter in the home, and because Cynthia was overwhelmed and resistant to services, all of which Cynthia denies.
By the end of 2015, the state changed its goal for Cynthia’s children from family reunification to adoption. Of course, Cynthia was heartbroken. In a state of grief, seeking comfort, she regrettingly got back with her ex. She became pregnant again, and when her child was born, it was immediately taken by DCF and sent to foster care.
Cynthia held onto hope that she could gain custody of her youngest child, yet the state offered her a deal cornered her; she would be granted one visit per year of her youngest, but only if she would give up her rights to her child without a trial. She couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing her kid again, so she signed the papers.
Although the law requires the state to make reasonable efforts to help parents get their children back, for far too many families this is not the case. Cynthia’s is one of many families who were unfairly targeted by DCF and undeservingly had their children taken from them forever.
Kevin Seaver is an experienced, trusted lawyer who successfully represents clients against DCF from Boston, Massachusetts. Call Kevin at (617) 263-2633 or request a Free Consultation online!