In the Big World Of Courts and Controls
Children's Voices are small
Rosie's parents were never married. She lived with Dad, who had legal decision making, but would visit Mom often. Dad's girlfriend was a convicted child molester in another state but failed to register in Arizona. One night, Dad, Rosie and the girlfriend had been pulled over for speeding and the girlfriend's secret was discovered. She had an outstanding warrant for her arrest and was under investigation for child pornography. Rosie was allowed to go home with Dad but he never told Mom about the incident.
Six months later, Mom got a call from a Phoenix detective informing her that during the course of their investigation they had discovered child pornography of Rosie which had been filmed at Dad's house. Mom immediately contacted Defenders of Children. With our help, Rosie was able to receive immediate free counseling and Mom was awarded custody. Rosie was rescued and is now doing well in school and is learning about personal safety.
Casey's parents divorced when he was 3 years old. Mom got remarried and Casey's new Step-father raised him as his own. When Casey was 13 Mother and Step-father passed away within 6 months of each other. Casey lived with his aunt while the Court searched for his father.
Father was located in another state but had not seen Casey since the divorce. The Court ordered Defenders of Children to facilitate Father and Son's reintroduction through therapeutic intervention. There were concerns and apprehensions by Father, Son and Aunt. After several months, Father and Son went on their first outing together. It was a success. Just over a year later, Casey chose to move in with Father. Father and the Aunt were able to work out an agreement that continued to support and foster Casey's relationship with both.
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Licensed foster parents Julie and Brian had inquired several times about adopting a toddler named Kip who had been placed in foster care over a year ago. Julie and Brian knew Kip, he was related to their own adopted son Kevin, and they had encouraged and maintained contact between the two brothers for over a year. They were looking forward to adopting Kip so that the two brothers could grow up together. (In Arizona, maintaining family relationships is one of the factors to be considered by the court in granting adoption placements.)
Although they inquired several times about when Kip would be eligible for placement, a selection committee was convened without notifying Julie and Brian. Another couple who lived almost 800 miles away was selected and Kip was sent there the next day. When the case went before the judge, the judge expressed shocked disbelief that a suitable placement closer to Kip's community could not have been found. He ordered a second selection committee be convened, and that Kip be returned immediately to his previous foster placement pending another selection.
When the next committee convened, Julie and Brian's application was among those considered. The agency caseworker warned the selection committee that Julie and Brian's home environment was "dangerous" and the committee again chose the distant family. Julie called Defenders of Children in tears asking for help. Defenders of Children eventually ascertained there was no evidence of danger in the home, they had previously been approved with flying colors by the very same agency which placed several foster children with them over the years.
Defenders of Children assisted Julie and Brian in drafting a motion to intervene on behalf of Kevin, which they then filed with the court. The judge granted their motion and assigned an attorney to represent Kevin's interest in the placement of his biological brother Kip. Through Kevin's attorney, a satisfactory compromise was reached whereby Kevin and Kip will not lose contact with each other through their growing years. The rights of both of these children to their relationship with each other were preserved and enforced by the court.
Some of our happier stories
(with names and details changed to protect privacy)
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Father came to Defenders of Children because of some serious concerns he had about 7-year-old Josh living in another state with Mother. During a summer visit with Father in Arizona, Josh related to a pediatrician that Mommy had locked him in the closet for two days without food or water while she cooked "mooley" on the stove. Josh cried when he told the doctor that he had soiled himself during that confinement.
The doctor immediately reported to CPS who began an investigation, but CPS was unable to confirm anything due to a lack of cooperation from the other state's child protection agency. Father could not afford an attorney but he knew he had to do something. This is when he called Defenders of Children for help.
With template pleadings from the Supreme Court website and guidance from Defenders of Children, Father filed an emergency motion in an Arizona Superior Court for change of custody. Defenders of Children contacted the other state's Attorney General for instructions on how Father could obtain numerous local CPS reports to introduce to the Arizona Court as evidence.
Father was successful in gaining temporary custody of Josh who is now blending into his new family. Father reports that Josh is doing very well in his new Arizona school, he has made lots of friends. A follow up hearing was calendared, and Defenders of Children obtained a volunteer lawyer to help Father make this temporary arrangement a permanent one for Josh until Mother could get things under control for herself. The judge ordered Mother to submit to supervised parenting time and regular drug screening.
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