Monday, December 31, 2012

DHS Needs a Dose of Common Sense

by Mary Callahan -author of "Memoirs of a Babystealer"

Three years ago, I had a foster child who was not allowed any contact with his mother. He was diagnosed with Attachment Disorder and Dissociative Personality Disorder. The team decided that he would never attach in his present circumstance until he detached with his past.

I bought into it. I even enforced it. When he asked about his mother, I answered, "Your mother is not a part of your life any more."

Then I had one of those moments of clarity you hear about. It came courtesy of terrorists flying planes into buildings, but suddenly all I could see was that we could all die tomorrow in a terrorist attack and I had a child in my home who hadn't heard his mother say "I love you" in a year. I knew that was wrong. His DHS worker knew it too and gave us his mother's phone number.

My foster son has since developed a very close relationship with his mother. He just spent Christmas with her. That relationship has done more to solve his behavior problems then all the years of counseling or any other tact we took to try to correct it.

What happened to me in that moment of clarity was that I replaced the junk science I was relying on with common sense.

Junk Science

Earlier this month when I participated in the 5 day Walk for DHS Accountability, I heard many a story in which common sense was replaced by junk science. Then that junk science used to justify actions that are not just wrong. They are cruel. Any unnecessary separation of parent and child is cruel

Common sense would tell us that children behave better where they are happier and are destructive in a home where they don't want to be. But DHS says when children are destructive in their foster home but well behaved with their birth family, it indicates that they are only comfortable being themselves in the foster home. This bizarre logic is frequently used to stop family visits and even cease reunification efforts.

And the junk scientists tell us that a baby who rocks for hours in the crib at his foster home is telling us he has been sexually abused in his birth home, that the rocking is masturbation. Common sense, even my nurses training, tells me that miserable children rock to sooth themselves and a child who has just lost everyone he knows and loves would be miserable.

Psychological Disorders

Sally Schofield said Logan Marr was the most "parentified" child she had ever seen because she was so protective of her sister Bailey. That psychological term shines the light of blame back on the mom, Christie Marr, implying that Logan started playing the parent role because Christie wasn't doing it. DHS bought that logic and was using it to justify terminating Christie's parental rights. Now that we know the truth, that those girls were in an abusive foster home, doesn't it seem like normal behavior on Logan's part to have been protective of her sister? Did DHS miss some signs that could have averted Logan's tragic death because they preferred the junk science explanation? (Her foster mother who was also a DHS child protective worker, killed her. She was 5 at the time.)

Possibly the worst misuse of psychology is the labeling of all birth parents as personality disordered. I met one on the Walk who was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disordered because she was always well dressed for meetings, and another who was called Depressive because she didn't dress well enough.####

  • If they bring their family to court with them, they have Dependent Personality Disorder. 
  • If they come alone, they are too isolated. 
  • And if a parent gets too emotional at what is happening to their family they can be diagnosed as Histrionic Personality Disorder. 
  • If they are not upset enough, they must not care. 
  • And if they bring a stack of letters from teachers and doctors supporting their case, they are called manipulative, possibly to a sociopathic degree, to be able to fool so many people into thinking they were good parents. 
  • Then there is the ubiquitous "denial." Parents either have to agree that they are bad parents or they are in "denial."

These diagnoses may come directly from the DHS worker or they may come from a professional who is hired by DHS to make the diagnosis. There is one group of such professionals who have bragged publicly that "not one in one hundred" parents come out of their evaluation without a diagnosis.

Predetermined Diagnoses

Doesn't that mean the outcome is determined before the test is even administered? Isn't that junk science?
2004 promises to be a new beginning for DHS. They will be merging with BDS. A new commissioner will be named to run the newly combined organization. But on the Walk for DHS Accountability the question asked over and over was, "Will anything really change?" Will it be a new beginning for the children and families of Maine or just the bureaucrats?

Common Sense

It could be a new beginning if DHS would throw out the junk science evaluations and replace them with common sense. If they would try to see the parents through their children's eyes instead of some shrink's tests, that could change everything. Children don't care if their parents dress to well or too poorly, have too much support or too little, get too upset or not upset enough. That's what unconditional love is all about and that is what should count MOST in any determination of what is best for children.

And I ask my fellow foster parents to consider this irony. We don't have to have parenting evaluations to do what we do. Only the birth parents do. How many of us do you think could pass them? Imagine if you had to pass the test just to keep your own children.

So try to open your mind to the possibility that your foster children's birth parents aren't the demons you've been led to believe they are. You might even find you have a lot in common with them. After all, you love the same child. Maybe you could even consider opening your homes to them, if that would make your foster child happy.

Remember, sometimes when a child says. "I want my Mommy," it doesn't mean he has a trauma bond with her, or that he is "parentified" or that he is responding to his mother's manipulative personality disorder. Sometimes it just means he wants his Mommy.

It's common sense.

Mary Callahan
Lisbon, Maine
(207) 353-4223
Originally published in the Sun Journal (Maine) on Sun. Jan 5, 2004

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May you find Strength in Your Higher Power,
 GranPa Chuck

Five Ways Attorneys Waste Money

 Just thought I would share this checklist of points to consider, in "plain English" when working with a lawyer. I am not affiliated with the group writing this article, but I am appreciative of those who are clear in their presentations.

Always ASK Why and/or

Before reading the article, here are just a few related thoughts to consider:

 So do read on since it is vital the know the State Statutes particular to your concerns, with or without a lawyer, to protect yourself and your precious family.

Five Ways Attorneys Waste Money
Posted on:
By Valorem Law Group

Attorney Inefficiencies that Leave Clients with High Costs
When it comes to cost, attorneys don't have a reputation of coming cheap, but how do you determine if their charges are necessary or over the top? Attorney Patrick Lamb of Valorem Law Group, a value-driven business litigation firm in Chicago, has five ways lawyers often waste client money.

1. Filing needless motions
  • To file a motion, it has to be written and filed. There is often also some lengthy brief prepared, and then at least one, and frequently two, court appearances. All too often, these motions serve no strategic or tactical purpose. They simply do no affect the outcome of the case.
2. Too many hands on deck
  • Why send two lawyers to court, or have two or more attend depositions? Why have younger lawyers draft something that is almost entirely redrafted by a more senior one? These work process inefficiencies can be easily avoided, but attorneys aren't trained to consider process efficiencies.
3. Every stone doesn't need to be picked up and examined
  • Cases turn on a very small number of facts and a very limited number of documents. There are always times where people wonder why something happened or didn't, but most of the time, its just curiosity and not something that needs to be investigated. The desire to know all that is knowable about a case is just not a necessary indulgence in today's world.
4. Picking needless fights
  • Lawyers like to fight about process things--what order things will happen in, or where, or how many. Make a deal and move on. The fights are never worth the effort, and are always very costly.
5. Missing opportunities for resolution
  • Lawyers don't like to appear weak, and they feel that making an overture to settle makes them look that way. That thinking is old school. Smart attorneys settle cases early, before running up a lot of costs.
Valorem Law Group handles litigation using alternative fee arrangements; creating budget certainty for its clients while utilizing a number of innovative practices to generate results, not hours. Taking this outlook one step further, Valorem includes a "value adjustment line" on every invoice; allowing clients to mark the bill up or down so it reflects the value the client received. This aligns the firm's best interests with those of the client.

About Valorem Law Group
Valorem Law Group is a Chicago-based business litigation firm that believes clients are entitled to budget certainty, and to a real and realized commitment in dealing with cost pressures. Valorem is comprised of skilled, courtroom BigLaw firm refugees who consider themselves revolutionaries, risk-takers and entrepreneurs at their core. The group uses technology and efficiency to guarantee value-conscious legal service. Although they may not always take themselves too seriously, the quality of the work they provide clients remains a top priority. For more information visit Find them on Facebook at "Valorem Law Group."

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May you find Strength in Your Higher Power,
 GranPa Chuck

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Featured Legal Site - LII Building Blocks

Eventhough this site page is recommended for Legal Educators, doesn't mean us Common Folk can't take a look.

Here is the Introduction, which will lead you to the Resources on this site:

  building blocks

A unique resource for law teachers

Since 1992 the LII has been building and distributing electronic materials strongly oriented to the needs of legal educators, via the Internet and on disk.  The LII "Building Blocks" series of documents is intended to help law teachers use the extensive collections and technology tools developed by the LII in support of their teaching and other electronic publishing activities.  Here you will find listings of what we have, information on how to search our materials and make pinpoint links to particular cases, statutory provisions, regulations, rules of evidence or procedure, how you and your students can make use of our current awareness services, and information on the LII's downloadable and CD-ROM based core course materials in fields ranging from civil procedure or the Uniform Commercial Code to legal ethics. Just follow the links from the list below. Note: Our normal revision cycle involves annual updates to these materials which occur during the summer months and are generally completed by August 15. If your use of the material is time- or version-bound, you may want to check with us about the status of any new version.

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May you find Strength in Your Higher Power,
 GranPa Chuck

The "Legal 101" Basics

Learn about all those fat law books called "Reporters", and how to use them in citations of caselaw authority, how to research for supporting caselaw, and starting points for all federal and state laws, rules, regs, and etc.
  • Before you dive into the many links given below, may want to check out this blog of one of my affiliates who helped a mom in her time of need. It shows the basic parts needed to defend yourself: Basic Example of a Great Defense 
  • Also, thanks to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, they have given State Statute Summaries relating to Family Issues. Here is the link to the Index  on our NFPCAR web site.
You must become an Advocate for Yourself to defend your Precious Family, with or without a lawyer, by doing your homework. Not an easy task, but Vital. 
  • Jurisdictionary. Has great courses on CD/DVD for sale. Excellent dictionary is FREE. Also, Dr. Frederick Graves travels around the country, hosting free legal seminars for groups of people.
  • All about Caselaw and those Reporters: This map from WestLaw shows the USA divided into the corresponding caselaw Reporter regions, i.e., each group of States that use the same Reporter. This PowerPoint presentation is an excellent and easy review of the National Reporter System, or, the collections of all those State and Federal caselaw volumes, and how it all works.
  • How to Cite Legal Authorities: Introduction to Basic Legal Citation by Peter W. Martin.
  • Legal research in the United States: This quick Wikipedia article will quickly get you up to speed on how to find what you need to know.
  • Great free caselaw search # 1: LexisOne is the trimmed down, and free, version of Lexus-Nexus.
  • Great free caselaw search # 2: FindLaw is a top "all things legal" site, with caselaw search.
  • Links to Federal law and etc.: Constitutions & Codes. Federal Constitution, Codes, Regulations, Court Rules, and etc.
  • Links to States' law and etc.: Listing by Jurisdiction. Links to all 50 + DC: law, codes, rules, and etc., "at the tops", so you can find everything you need.
  • Browse by Topic/Area of Law: Listing by Topics/Areas. Links to all 50 + DC: law, codes, rules, and etc., so you can focus on a particular topic or area of law.
  • Analysis of the U.S. Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation of the Constitution. From Justia's US Supreme Court Center, an analysis and interpretation of the Constitution of the United States of America. Each portion, Preamble, Articles, and Amendments, are provided along with relevant caselaw, annotation and discussion.
  (+)  More Federal and State legal links:  Still limited, but growing sporadically, here's some links to other Federal and State specific pages for even more relevant information you might be looking for.
  (+)  Law Dictionaries:  Learn what a common law term or phrase means, or that set of latin words:
  (+)  More legal info than you can shake a stick at:  A service of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, their "Building Blocks page has categorized links to virtually everything you could ever think of, when it comes to litigating any case.
  (+)  Still need more?:  How about using the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain records of what you need? Many things fall under federal fingers now, so use the federal FOIA laws, instead of state FOIA, Open Door, Open Access, etc., laws. Here is Wikipedia's link to federal FOIA info, a customized link for obtaining state records of Title IV-D records, and the SPLC's online FOIA letter generator. Go fish!
Click HERE to learn "How To Win In Court" ... without a lawyer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  Also, a Great Document for Your Library--Now Available
"Standing in the Shadow of the Law", 4th Ed.

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May you find Strength in Your Higher Power,
 GranPa Chuck

Friday, December 21, 2012

How False Accusations Affect Families

Allison Williams
Dec. 10, 2012

Thomas Kennedy, a father accused of raping his then 11-year-old daughter, was convicted but eventually freed when the child came forward with the truth. This dramatic story– its origination being with a false accusation by a child – is not at all uncommon in the child welfare context.

I’ve seen many cases dealing with child sexual abuse disclosure, and I know that no two cases are the same. Sometimes children are coached to make abuse disclosures. Other times, children’s ambiguous statements are interpreted erroneously to suggest some sexual inappropriateness by a parent or caregiver. Interviewers, whose bias prompts further “disclosures” by the child who aims to please the adult by “telling” his story, then ferret out the child’s statements. The ease of implanting false memories in young children can be referenced in the book, Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children’s Testimony.

In Mr. Kennedy’s story, his daughter later came forward and recanted the allegations. Luckily, her recantation was believed, and he was released from prison. However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, the prosecution often characterizes recantations as a “falsehood,” relying upon Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) as an explanation.

Consequently, even when a child recants their story, accused parents may remain jailed…
CSAAS is a non-diagnostic syndrome developed by Roland C. Summit in 1983 to describe how sexually abused children respond to abuse. He posits that abused children disclose abuse because they want it to end, but later recant the disclosure as a means of undoing the unforeseen effects of their actions, i.e. the incarceration of a parent, separation from siblings, weekly counseling, and meetings with multiple members of law enforcement and child welfare authorities. Consequently, even when a child recants their story, accused parents may remain jailed and/or severed from all contact with the child as a result of the initial allegation – even if it was all a fabrication.

The impact of a false sexual abuse disclosure is long ranging and often affects the whole family. Many times, the non-accused parent is placed in a position of validating the abuse disclosure – whether it is believed or not. If the non-accused parent does not support the child’s accusation, they face potential removal of the child from their custody because child welfare authorities allege that their failure to believe the child is harmful in and of itself.

The siblings of the alleged child victim also suffer. At times, unless the non-victim sibling accepts and recognizes the abuse, they may be subjected to weekly therapy where they are repetitively assured that their parent is a bad person who sexually assaulted their sibling, when no such thing ever occurred.
The issues surrounding child sexual abuse disclosure, recantation and prosecution, are complex, with no easy answers. We, as a society, must do better at seeking to not only protect our children, but to also prosecute only those true perpetrators of abuse.
Click HERE to learn "How To Win In Court" ... without a lawyer
  Also, a
Great Document for Your Library--Now Available
"Standing in the Shadow of the Law", 4th Ed.

 Learn More>> Click Here
May you find Strength in Your Higher Power,
 GranPa Chuck

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Attorneys, Professor, & Judges Speak Out against CPS Corruption

Before viewing this video, Please consider this Thought:
“We are joining forces with all persons affected by Parens Patriae to include parents, extended family, foster parents and father's and mother's rights groups. While this is a difficult endeavor due to various divisions, the focus will be on challenging the system with the unified goals and commonalities that each is suffering under in family courts and through CPS.”
(See Definition: Parens Patriae)
Video: Deconstructing America

CPS Corruption? Attorneys, Professors, and Judges
Speak Out!
 Lets make Family Law & CPS Reform the New Obama Administration's Priority Issue for 2013!
Lawyers, Judges, Professors, and Activist Speak Out as to why
State Sanctioned Kidnapping Occurs.
This Documentary was by Paul Ciccotelli
Uploaded on YouTube
by on Sep 5, 2011

Related Link: "Support the Anti-Corruption Act"

Click HERE to learn "How To Win In Court" ... without a lawyer
  Also, a
Great Document for Your Library--Now Available
"Standing in the Shadow of the Law", 4th Ed.

 Learn More>> Click Here
May you find Strength in Your Higher Power,
 GranPa Chuck