Monday, May 31, 2010

My Nightmare With CPS

My Nightmare With CPS

The following is this blog's author Denise Dopkins' account of her horrific experience with CPS

This case took place in Spokane, WA.
Region One DCFS

Throughout this document, there are law statute references. I must note that some of the laws were amended after the initiation of my CPS case in 2005. I will continue to attempt to locate the law references as it stood prior to the initiation of my CPS case. I want my readers to know that the references were listed on the RCW site at the time my case began, however, have either been since amended or deleted all together. Please feel free to contact me at with any questions regarding this issue.

One of the most oppressive and frightening experiences of this entire Dependency action was the constant contradictory message I was given by CPS agents and court commissioner Valerie Jolicouer. I was told that I must 'make progress in services'. I was simultaneously confronted with the reality that their active intention was ultimately to permanently separate me from my son regardless of what I did or did not do. (A very terrifying and oppressive reality to function under.) The fact of the matter is that I didn't have a prayer of regaining custody of my son because CPS had an agenda and it was going to be accomplished come hell or high water. Their plan from the very day they entered my life was to terminate my parental rights so that Micah could be sold into the foster-adoption industry.

It was never made clear to me exactly what they meant by 'make progress in services'. It was always a shot in the dark. They made it absolutely impossible to build a mother-child relationship with Micah due to the oppressive and restrictive circumstances under which we were allowed interaction. (Keep in mind the fact that they took Micah from me when he was just 9 days old.) We further were only allowed three hours of visitation per week for nearly the entire duration of the case. I would try to follow anything I was told and yet seemingly did not get it right. I am not a stupid or inherently ignorant person. The hard cold truth of the matter is that when CPS wants to keep your children, they will do so. Child dependency laws mandate CPS to clearly specify what behaviors will be expected prior to the return of the children RCW 13.34.030(17)(f) and RCW 13.34.136(2)(b)(1) However, the laws are not enforced and CPS continues to run wild, wielding injustice against families everywhere in this nation.

There seemed to be a lot of circle talk and what I refer to as confusing psycho babble in the entire duration of my dependency case. Not to forget the junk science involved (disguised as psychological evaluations.) Ironically, I was diagnosed with traits of  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the very end of my CPS case... immediately prior to the termination trial. (On the very day of the termination trial, to be exact.) Talk about a rush job! It was never mentioned in the entire duration of the CPS case. (Three years.) I assert that all of the oppression I was subjected to caused this PTSD. I am speaking of the intimidation during visits with my son. I was put on stage and expected to perform and hope and pray that the counselor would speak positively to the court regarding visits. It includes the severe lack of visitation I was allowed with my infant son. It includes the oppressive circumstances and environment my son and I were forced to visit under. It also includes the legal abuse I suffered in the entire duration of my CPS case. I was constantly brow beaten in court for trying to assist in my own defense. My own 'defense attorney' Mark B Callen informed me that I could not continue contacting government officials, such as the governor or senators. He stated that it only confirmed CPS accusations of mental illness. I was accused of firing attorneys when in fact I did not. One attorney, April B Pearce was secretly conflicted out of my case and I was informed three weeks later. Another attorney, Gina M Costello, I did not accept as my legal representative to begin with because she informed me during our first meeting that she did not want my son returned to me. Well of course I did not want an attorney that appeared to be working for CPS. The third attorney that was appointed to my case, Mark B Callen, was with me for the remainder of the case and I never once fired him or asked him to resign from the case. As a matter of fact... he threatened to drop me if I continued to seek redress for the grievances committed against me. I practically begged him to not withdraw from the case. Out of great fear and intimidation, I toned down my efforts to hold the state agents accountable for their actions. I have the email correspondence to back my claims on this issue. I was even left unrepresented for three months prior to the appointment of Mark B Callen because the Court Commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur refused to assist me on that issue. The Spokane Public Defender's director John T Rogers refused to appoint me legal representation... insisting that I already had 'an attorney of record'. Nevermind the fact that this 'attorney of record' did not answer my phone calls and she failed to show up in court for hearings that I was party to. There is even proof in the court transcripts that the Court Commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur asked where attorney Gina M. Costello was and the AAG stated that she did not know where she was, and that she had been informed of the hearing.

Violations of DCFS

The Department (CPS/DCFS) allowed the foster care providers, Meegan and James Ware to change Micah's name prior to the initiation of adoption. Mr. and Mrs. Ware began coaching Micah to refer to himself as Austin prior to the termination of my parental rights... and prior to my last visit with him. I know this because at one of my last visits with Micah, he stopped me dead in my tracks and informed me in no uncertain terms that "No! I not Micah, I Austin!" How cruel was it to have my son referring to himself as an entirely different name prior to the termination of my rights? How hurtful and alarming to me. How pompous and assumptive of them. I was startled and caught completely off gaurd. The fact that Mr. and Mrs. Ware would not wait until after my last visit with Micah to begin changing his name is (a) illegal and (b) unbelievably cruel. But then again, we are speaking of the foster-adopt industry and CPS.

The Spokane Department of CPS (Melly Keith) failed to notify me in writing and orally at the soonest possible moment of their involvement in my family. That was required by law in prior to the subsequent amendments to that law. That particular law reference has been amended to CPS advantage, however, the law as it stood back in March 2005 when my child was taken from me, specifically stated I was to be notified in writing and orally at the soonest possible moment of their involvement in my family. Instead, though the ‘investigation’ was initiated several weeks before I gave birth, I was notified of their involvement in my life in my hospital room only 12 hours after I gave birth via cesarean section. I was nowhere near recovery from the surgery. I was still extremely tired and still somewhat affected by the drugs that were administered during the surgery. I was also still being given very strong pain medications that caused me to be very sleepy and exhausted. I could hardly move, due to the pain after the operation. I was in no position to defend myself against this sudden confrontation at that time.

Ms. Keith coerced and intimidated me into signing a ‘safety contract’ and authorization forms for the release of personal psychiatric and criminal records. I was informed that if I did not ‘cooperate with’ the social worker, she would remove my baby from the hospital and file a dependency petition against me. I signed the safety contract and other forms under extreme duress and would otherwise not have provided my signatures. My understanding of the act of coercion is that it is a gross misdomeanor according to the statutes. See RCW 9A.36.070. It is also my understanding that coerced cooperation is unconstitutional and a violation of a constitutional right. However, apparently social workers and other state agents are free to do whatever they so please without fear of punishment-- because that's exactly what happens in the CPS arena. That is why so many thousands of families are illegally and unjustly torn apart by CPS and juvenile courts every day in this nation.

In the hospital, I requested an attorney to be present during the interview with Ms. Keith. She stated to me that I did not need an attorney unless this went to court. She also stated that this would not end up in court if we could work together and if I would allow her to provide services in my home. She went on to convince me that she just wanted to make sure that Micah and I were comfortable and safe at home. I soon came to realize that this was just the beginning of a lengthy nightmare in my life. Thankfully, I was able to have a friend present during that initial interview.

At the end of the above referred to conversation, Ms. Keith informed me that she needed to consult with her supervisor Nora Scott for her approval of the safety contract we had discussed. She informed me also that she would confirm with me when she received approval from her supervisor. My point in addressing this issue is that Nora Scott did indeed approve the 'safety contract' which included that I would participate in Family Preservation Services in my home. Apparently, she agreed that the program would be beneficial to me and Micah and could prevent out of home placement while protecting Micah. So, I can not figure how it is that I was denied that service when I was abiding by the 'safety contract' while Micah was in my care and custody. To me, it spells out the real intentions of the Department in this case, which was not to keep this family together and certainly not to reunite after removing my son from my care and custody. Reasonable Efforts were not attempted by the Department before or after they took Micah from me. Reasonable Efforts is a legal term and is required of the Department in order to receive financial incentives from the government. RCW 13.34.065(4)(d). Well supposedly required-- as many thousands of families nationwide have learned, CPS does as they please- when they please. They lie, cheat and steal. They kidnap children from innocent, non abusive and loving parents. They are fraudulent in their reports and in their testimony against the parents in court... they manufacture stories and false evidence against the parents and the Court Commissioners and Juvenile Court judges rubberstamp their every whim and wish, without demanding evidence that the child was indeed in harms way prior to the signing of orders for removal. The reason for all of this illegal behavior? Financial incentives and bonuses. The more children that are in the system... the more money the system (CPS agencies) receive from the government. This includes all of the people that look to the children as their bread and butter. There are the social workers, their supervisors, CPS directors, Gaurdian ad litems, CPS contracted therapists, child therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, phychologists, parenting assessors, visitation monitors, state appointed attorneys, AAG's, Court Commissioners, judges, Court personnel, even fostercare providers and adoptive parents. The list is seemingly endless. All of these individuals seek their very livelyhood by entrapping children in the system for as long as possible. Let us not forget the foster-adopt industry. The states receive money and bonuses for every successful adoption out of the fostercare pool. Therefore, it profits the system far more to destroy natural families and sell the children to perspective foster-adopters. There is no financial security or incentive to keep natural families together or to quickly reunite them after separating them.

When I asked for a copy of the written recommendation of Nora Scott, which would have included her reasoning for authorizing the 'safety contract' that I signed in the hospital, I was informed that they couldn't possibly explain that to me. AAG Lisa Lydon said they have no way of knowing what Ms. Scott's reasoning was regarding her authorization of services in my home. Ms. Scott had conveniently retired long since her approval of that initial safety contract. I find it suspect that Nora Scott's notes are seemingly not located in the social file and that the AAG asserts she is not aware of Ms. Scott's reasoning behind her approval of the initial safety contract that I signed in the hospital. I believe the reason the AAG and CPS agents claim they are not aware of Ms. Scott's reasoning for approving the initial safety contract is that they would have to explain why the services agreed to were not offered or provided in my home prior to removing my son from my care. They swear up and down in court proceedings that services were indeed offered and provided prior to the removal of my son from my care, however, they are not required to prove that they did so. All they had to do is testify in court (under oath mind you) that the services were provided and it stands as truth. Then the court commissioner and judges rubber stamp it as fact... whether or not it actually happened. Another point I want to make regarding the issue of the provision of services in my home is the fact that CPS out and out lied to the court when it stated that the services provided failed to correct the alleged parental deficiencies. That was obviously a lie because there were no services provided.

Melly Keith breached the very contract that she, through intimidation and threats-- coerced and frightened me into signing in the hospital. She did not allow me to work any part of the safety contract. I did not violate any part of the safety contract and I abided by it during the brief period that my son was in my care and custody. This social worker did not allow me to get services set up in my home nor did she assist in setting up the services for me. To my utter amazement, the Department has consistently declared in court documents that they made Reasonable Efforts to keep Micah in my care before taking him from me. They list all of the safety contract stipulations, though I was not allowed to work the contract. They even go so far as to take credit for something that I did solely on my own to protect my son in a time of trouble. (Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.) It seems to me that the Department asserts that the Nursery was stipulated in the safety contract that I signed in the hospital. (Contract is located in the CPS social file.) It was not stipulated in that contract. I sought out that community service on my own through my pregnancy counselor whom I signed up with several months before I gave birth to my son. Therefore, it was also several months prior to CPS interference into my life.

I believe that Melly Keith is guilty of Custodial interference according to RCW. I also believe that the director from Vanessa Behan Crises Nursery (Amy Swanson?) is guilty of the same law violation… or at least of assisting in the social worker’s committing of the offense. When I informed Ms. Keith that I intended to pick my son up from the Nursery on March 22, 2005 I was instead encouraged by her and the Public Health social worker (Adwena Skinner) to go ahead and leave Micah there for one more night. They both stated that I needed to be fully rested before picking him up from the Nursery. I unwittingly chose to abide by their ‘advice’ and waited until very early the following morning. I called the Nursery staff around 8:00AM (will verify exact time if required) on 03/23/05 to inform them I would be in right away to pick up Micah. I was informed that I needed to wait until 1:00PM so I waited and then showed up at that time. To my utter shock, I was met at the door by the social worker whom said “Hi Denise. I’m here to place your baby.” I pleaded for her to allow me to at least kiss and say good bye to Micah, however, it fell on deaf ears . I believe they had already removed Micah from the Nursery before I arrived to pick him up. (There appears to be evidence of this located on a document in the social file.) I even tried to explain to the social worker that my doctor had called me the very night before and instructed me to immediately stop breast feeding. Dr. Brasch stated to me it was possible that the medication could have been causing Micah’s excessive fussiness and crying. This social worker coolly replied “that’s not my concern.” I was in essence punished for using a community service to assist in protecting my son in a time of trouble. I needed immediate and temporary respite while I simultaneously attempted to figure out what was causing my son’s discomfort. The social worker failed to attempt Reasonable Efforts to resolve the problem so my son could remain in my care.

When Melly Keith and the public health nurse Jan Bostian visited my home on 03/21/05 I had one of my close friends, Marge McAlpin present for the meeting. During the meeting, Marge held and rocked Micah so that I could focus on my meeting with the social worker and PH nurse. She even changed Micah's diaper and clothes once while the meeting occurred. In her subsequent petition to the court, Ms. Keith stated that I had very minimal contact with my son and that mom's friend fed, changed and held Micah during the entire meeting. My response to all of that is this: So what if mom's friend did tend to her infant while she was busy with another task-- be it resting or other necessary business? All new mothers can use some assistance, especially during the first few weeks after she gives birth. I was made out look like a disinterested, emotionally removed mother... which was so far from the truth! Keep in mind the small fact that except for that very brief meeting with the social worker and PH nurse, I did not have any assistance. I was continually in physical contact with my baby boy. I did all of the changing, feeding and comforting of my son. (As much as I could console him due to the extenuating circumstances.) The only time I had 'minimal contact' with my son (prior the his removal from my custody) was during that one and only 20-30 minute home visit with the social worker and Public Health nurse. Note- most mothers have the assistance of someone everyday for the first several weeks after the birth of their babies. I did not. Yet, in her haste and determination to have a judge sign an order permitting the removal of my son from my care and custody, she exaggerated this event of the home visit that she conducted. I find it to be a two edged sword in that CPS claims that they encourage a support system for new mothers, however, out of the other side of its mouth, CPS accuses a mother of emotional disconnect with her newborn if she accepts that support from others. Can they really have it both ways? Mom is set up to fail, regardless of what she does.

I believe Melly Keith was feverishly attempting to compose and file a dependency petition so as to get a judge’s authorization to remove my child from my care and custody. While she did this, I was actively prevented from picking Micah up from the Nursery. When I requested to receive my son from the Nursery (twice) I was not informed of the actual reason I was prevented from doing so. I believe this was fraudulent, cruel and certainly misleading.

Melly Keith’s dependency petition is not entirely accurate or truthful. When she did tell the truth, she exaggerated her claims. She also out and out lied in her petition. (There is previous court testimony from the person she alleges made statements against me, testifying to the contrary and rebutting her allegations.) I can further elaborate on the inaccuracies and untruths of the social worker’s dependency petition if I am asked to do so. This social worker also spoke of mental health issues as if it were current information. Furthermore, she was operating on what ifs and nothing that could not have been attended to while Micah was in my care and custody. Again, the Department failed to attempt Reasonable Efforts in order to allow my son to remain in my home and in my custody. RCW 13.34.020. (Prior to the subsequent amendment to that law reference.) Melly Keith also lied to the court when she asserted that the Department had provided services that failed to remedy the alleged issues. She informed the court that the services stipulated on the initial safety contract failed to remedy the alleged issues. Services were not provided, so how can CPS honestly assert that the services failed to remedy the alleged issues. They can not... however, they do it every day to families in this nation and the courts rubber stamp it every time.

The Department, I believe it was Melly Keith who made a fraudulent and misleading statement to the public disclosure department of the Sheriffs Office when she claimed that I was under investigation for the abuse or neglect of a child. Let the record show that I indeed was never under investigation for alleged child abuse or neglect of any child. Furthermore, my infant son had not even been born at the time of Melly Keith's statement to the Sherrifs department. The referral allegations were in regards to my unborn child. I believe the Department obtained my criminal record by lying to the Sheriffs Department. Let’s not forget how Ms. Keith coerced, intimidated and threatened me into providing my written authorization for said records.

I received a letter dated 03/30/05 from Nora Scott informing me that the referral allegations were investigated and determined by CPS to be unfounded. (Locate letter in social file.) They did not close the case and return my baby boy to me at that time and they are still detaining my child to this day. They continue to state the very same reasons as were determined to be unfounded at the conclusion of their own investigation. The letter actually states that there was no maltreatment or neglect of Micah. I also believe that they did not have requisite evidence of any imminent danger of harm to Micah if left in my care. Their ‘concerns’ were not sufficient to justify the removal of my child from my care and custody and they should have provided services in the home. I should have been allowed to work the initial safety contract. The judge or commissioner should never have signed an order granting CPS permission to remove my son from my custody. See RCW 13.34.050 for law mandate on this subject.

The Department failed to make Reasonable Efforts to prevent the removal of my child from my home. The statutes clearly states that the Department shall indeed make Reasonable Efforts. Also in RCW 13.34.020 it clearly states that “the family unit should remain in tact unless a child’s rights to conditions of basic nurture, health or safety is jeopardized.” Micah’s well being was not in jeopardy and it was due to my actions that he was kept safe.

I am not aware of any return home plan having been made as is mandated in RCW I further am not aware of any specific case plan with the goal of return home. There were no specific steps to achieving that goal.

Micah was not initially placed in a foster home as close to my home as possible, as is mandated in RCW 13.34.136, (2) (b) (iii) He was placed in a home in Elk, WA. I reside in Spokane, WA.

The maximum amount possible of visitation was not encouraged as it should have been all along, according to RCW 13.34.136, (2)(b)ii. To the contrary, visitation was severely limited and rashioned. I was also santioned and punished with decrease in visitation absent any legal grounds for the denial of increased and unsupervised visitation. As a matter of fact, visitation was never increased in the entire three years of the case.
Visitation has been used as a sanction against me. Commissioner Jolicoeur has stated to me in court that “I will not authorize more visitation until you get it”. I am still unclear as to what she meant by “get it" In my opinion, she was saying that she would not authorize more or unsupervised visitation until I made progress in services, though I have been 100% compliant with services and have never violated a court order. Furthermore, 'progress in services' was never clearly defined for me. The court has not allowed adequate, meaningful visitation in this case. The statutes expressly state that parents shall not be denied visitation even if they are in violation of court orders. I have never violated a court order in the duration of this dependency action. I have worked very hard to comply with all of the court’s orders. It is stated repeatedly in court testimony that I have complied and have been flexible, cordial and pleasant during visits and counseling sessions.

‘Services’ were not provided until nearly one year into this dependency action. Counseling was not even provided, though court ordered considerably long before it was provided. The social workers (Gina Miles and Patricia Murman) did not abide by court order to provide referrals. Furthermore, I do not believe that the services that I have participated in for nearly two years were meant to remedy any problem. I firmly believe that the Department placed me in the services in order to find problems. The law does not support that action. The law clearly states that the Department is to name specific parental deficiencies and then provide the services to remedy the problem. The Department has not even specified what aspect of parenting I am allegedly unable to provide to my son. DCFS placed me in ‘services’ with Sue Elg and Carla Paullin on a witch hunt, not to remedy a problem. They have based their entire case on what ifs and nothing specific. They make an open ended general statement in their termination petition regarding mental health issues. They state that the mother has a severe psychological disorder that prevents her from parenting her child. (Based on an old history of mental health diagnosis and the shoddy clinical interview that Dr. David Bot conducted with me in August of 2005.)

The Department seemingly is not aware of what Ms. Elg has provided in the line of ‘services’, other than that of play therapy. (Or are they?) They are either unaware of the fact or they simply do not care that Ms. Elg has made a routine of sitting in the same room during visits, actively and consistently engaging with my son. She succeeded at building a social bond and friendly relationship with my son. This occurred for nearly two years. (Since my son was 11 months of age.) She then unfairly states that ‘Micah does not migrate predominately towards the mother during visits’. (Unreasonable assertion.) Of course he didn't go primarily to me because he was spent equally as much time with Ms. Elg as he did with me. I further believe that Ms. Elg and Ms. Paullin were biased and that they were merely two parrots for the Department. Ms. Elg even admitted to me that she simply did not object to social worker- Ms. Murman's recommendation for decrease in my visits with my son.

The social worker, Patricia Murman (a mandated reporter) failed to investigate reports of suspected abuse or neglect of the foster home when I reported it to her. This occurred on June 8th of 2006. See RCW 26.44.040. I finally had to call the hot-line and make the referral myself-- when it occurred to me that the social worker was not going to investigate. As a matter of fact, Micah's injury had nearly healed by the time anyone got around to visiting the foster home.

The foster care provider told two completely contradictory stories regarding the cause of Micah’s first eye injury, yet the investigator failed to note it as fact. (I have email documentation of the visitation therapist’s agreement with the foster mother’s initial explanation to her and me on June 8th 2006.)

I have received very little in the realm of ‘supportive caseworker services’ in the entire duration of this dependency action. (Supportive caseworker services are mandated in previous court orders.) As a matter of fact, Ms. Murman's supervisor, then Amy Schindler, informed me via email that the social worker would no longer engage in document format with me regarding anything not directly pertaining to visitation arrangements. I guess the social worker no longer was obligated to communicate with me regarding court ordered services in my case. Email evidence in social file.

I believe the Department failed to implement a return home plan upon Commissioner Jolicoeur’s finding that “nothing prevents the Department from placement with the mother on or before the next review hearing”. Ruling in legal file dated approximately April of 2005. The ‘next review hearing’ of that time was scheduled for May 13, 2005.

I do not believe all of the requirements have been met in order to file for the termination of my parental rights. According to RCW 13.34.180, the statute requires all of the conditions to be met. RCW 13.34.180(1)(a) states that the child must be found to be dependent. I assert that the court commissioner improperly ruled my son as dependent on the state because of a lack of evidence to support the ruling. For example, a psychological assessment had not been conducted at the time of that ruling, though the Department had been ordered to provide one. They failed to submit the appropriate paper work for one scheduled evaluation and canceled another scheduled psychological evaluation. It was even stated at a meeting early on in this dependency action that the psychological evaluation would be postponed until at least July or August of 2005... and it was.

The current social worker, Ms. Murman failed to respond to many of my attempts to contact her regarding various issues of concern to me. I have abided by the court’s order to be in regular contact with the social worker, however, she did not provide much in the line of supportive caseworker services, such as returning correspondence and contact attempts as is ordered by Commissioner Jolicoeur; provide referrals short of being warned of intent to motion the court regarding the issue; inform Micah's caregivers of critical appointments; schedule make up visits... one of which was finally granted to me 9 months after the missed visit. etc...

Unreasonable Assertions of DCFS

The Department asserts and the court seemed to agree that the mother was 'focused on her feelings of victimization'. Well of course I was focused on that-- because that was the absolute truth. I was a victim caught in the web of the system. If a person is a victim... they are a victim. I was helpless to change the situation at hand and I was very distraught at what was happening to my son and me. It is unfair of the Department and the court to assert that my feelings of being victimized were inappropriate or without merit. As even the Department stated at one of the three meetings that we had in mid 2007, it is expected that parents in this situation would be hostile and angry. They even went so far as to say that it is not used against the parents unless physical violence (or threats of physical violence) is involved. In short, I mean to say that the fact that Micah and I are victims in the system does not mean that I am not focused on my son. I was very focused on Micah. I fought long and hard to get him safely returned to my arms. (Care and custody.) In the real lives of families in this world, parents often have adult issues to contend with... for example different types of legal matters. Does that mean that all of those parents are neglecting their children by tending to the legal matter or other issues in life? That is an absurd conclusion or assertion. Using the example cited in the termination order: The Department asserts that I redirected Micah or sent him off to play with a toy instead of being emotionally connected with him. I guess half of America should have CPS intervention into their families-- because every parent redirects their children or gives them a toy to play with from time to time. The Department has acted as if this is something that only unfit parents do and that it is harmful to a child's psychological and emotional well being. They also used the example of my fixing a snack or lunch for Micah as something abnormal or evidence of emotional disconnect with my son.

DCFS asserts in the termination petition that ‘the mother’s sever psychological disorder prevents her from effectively parenting her child’… though they do not directly correlate mental health issues with inability to parent effectively. They rely on what ifs and not requisite evidence of current parental unfitness. They made this assertion even before a thorough psychological evaluation was conducted. See more explanation about this- further down under subtitle 'Dr. Mary Deitzen's psychological evaluation' below. Furthermore, Dr. Deitzen opined that I do not suffer from any personality or psychological disorder.

DCFS asserts that I have not demonstrated the ability to meet my son’s physical, psychological and emotional needs. They have, with the assistance of court orders, prevented me from being placed in a parental/care giving role. They have caused the problem by placing roadblocks in my path. Those roadblocks include, but are not limited to:

1. Denying increased and unsupervised visitation… without sufficient reason despite the law statute that mandates the Department to encourage the maximum amount of visitation possible.

2. Denying me any holiday time with my son. (They went so far as to retaliate against me with cruel accusations.) They stated in open court that I was selfish, paranoid and desiring only to disrupt the foster family’s holiday plans. They also accused me of requesting court intervention only to ‘make a point’ and not because I truly desired holiday time with my child. They further asserted that my insistence for court intervention was evidence of mental health issues. I was also accused of requesting holiday time with Micah for my own benefit and not for his. How unfair of an assertion is that?

3. Denying me the right to be present with my son during his doctor visits. I repeatedly asked to be allowed to do so and was denied each and every time. Finally, nearly 28 months into the dependency on July 17, 2007 at a meeting between the Department, me and my attorney, I was informed that I could attend future medical appointments with my son. The clincher here is that there are now only yearly visits to the doctor for Micah. His next pediatrician visit was to be after my last visit with him. I was consistently denied the opportunity and right to be with my son during all of his frequent medical appointments when he was growing from infant to toddler. Furthermore, when I asked the Department at this meeting why I was never allowed to attend doctor’s visits with my son after his removal from Rita Clark's care, the social worker stated the reason being that ‘there were no doctor’s visits’. Apparently, Micah did not attend even one pediatrician visit during the time he was in the care of the current care providers? This statement can be backed by several witnesses that I had present at that meeting. CPS agreed to allow me to attend medical visits with my son when they knew there would be no more for me to attend. How malicious can CPS be? There seems to be no end to its cruelties committed against families.

4. The Department and court have stated that I am so involved with my case (assisting in my own defense) that it has rendered me ‘emotionally unavailable to my child’. Commissioner Jolicouer made that statement to me in court. I believe this is an unreasonable assertion, given the fact that I have the right to disagree with this Dependency action and to rebut the Department’s allegations/assertions. I believe I have legitimate reason to be very upset with the Department's invasion and destruction of my family. I also believe it is unreasonable because of the way the Department has handled this entire Dependency action. (Delay tactics such as: failure of the Department to comply with some court orders, purposely pushing a court ordered psychological evaluation out until five months into this Dependency action… when it was ordered by the court in the first few weeks of the case. Another routine delay tactic of the social worker(s) is the fact that they failed to make court ordered referrals in timely fashion. Mr. Callen had to warn of intent to take it to court if Ms. Murman did not comply with one order in particular.

5. The Department asserts that I am fighting a battle for my own sake and not for the sake of my son. I do not entirely agree with that statement. Yes, I suppose I am ‘fighting’ in part for my own sake. After all, Micah is my child and of course I am determined to do everything I can to defend against the state permanently separating him from me. I am, however, also fighting for my son’s God given right to be reared by his own mother. In reality, I am fighting for my family. Micah and I are a family unit. I do not understand how the Department and their contracted providers can assert that I am so selfish in my pursuit of the safe return of my child to my care and custody. I believe it is in Micah’s best interests to be reunited with me… his own mother. I do not understand exactly what I could do differently. I have faithfully complied with all court orders. I participated diligently in the services the court has ordered. I have consistently asked questions of the therapists, especially the ‘therapeutic visitation’ therapist regarding the services that they provide and how I can ‘progress in services’. I have constantly demonstrated my deep desire for more time with my baby boy since he was taken from me. I have taken responsibility for any part I played in delaying this case. (Which was in the very earliest part of the case.) I can’t say the same for the Department or their contracted providers. They have consistently and continually lied in court and on court documents. Furthermore, I have talked a lot with my individual counselor, Carla Paullin about issues of this Dependency action and the great emotional and psychological distress it has caused me. Ms. Paullin informed me more than once that it was indeed appropriate to talk with her about issues of distress in my life and then she criticized me for doing just that. This Dependency action is probably the most horrific experience I have ever endured in my entire life.

6. DCFS asserts in the termination petition that ‘the mother’s sever psychological disorder renders her incapable of caring for her child’. They have not specified what specific aspect of parenting I am incapable of performing. They are stating ‘what ifs’ and not requisite evidence of any parental unfitness in me. (At least not anything that could not be remedied with appropriate services and counseling.) Furthermore, the Department will assert that this would require a lot of time. I then respond to that by stating that if the Department had provided services in the home (Reasonable Efforts to keep my son in my custody), I would have assuredly been farther along in the healing process long before now. Furthermore, they wasted time by insisting upon keeping me under the supervision of Susan Elg during visits- though they were fully aware that there was not a healthy, trusting - working relationship there. The Department refused to provide any other service or service provider until they were forced to do so with the Circle of Security Project that I located and then fought for and won in court. We had to go to court to force the Department to provide the COS service to me and Micah.

The Department asserts that there has been absolutely no change in circumstances in my case. That was AAG Lisa Lydon's response to Commissioner Jolicoeur when my attorney, Mr. Callen informed the court that there was obviously a change in circumstances in my case. It is unreasonable and absurd for the Department to respond that way when indeed it is evident that circumstances have changed. The court is clearly mandated to consider changes in circumstance when deciding whether or not to grant amending of dependency orders. (RCW13.34.150 Modification of orders.) For example: 1. The issue of men-- Mr. Benvegar and Mr. Barrett. 2. Attitude. (Refer back to the one and only lengthy conversation between GAL Kim Dunham and me. (August 2006.) During that conversation she commended me about the positive changes in my attitude and willingness to work with the Department. She stated that she had seen a 100% turn around. Then she immediately supplemented that statement by saying that she had seen a 150% turn around.) She attributed it to the fact that I had cut ties with Mr. Benvegar who was a trouble causer to say the very least. Documentation letter in social file proving that Ms. Dunham did not disagree with or provide discrepancies to my version of that conversation.

Maliciousness of DCFS

The Department (CPS/DCFS) allowed the foster care providers, Meegan and James Ware to change Micah's name prior to the initiation of adoption. Mr. and Mrs. Ware began coaching Micah to refer to himself as Austin. I know this because at one of my last visits with Micah, he stopped me dead in my tracks and informed me very matter of factly that "No! I not Micah, I Austin!" How cruel was it to have my son referring to himself as an entirely different name prior to the termination of my rights? How hurtful and alarming to me. How pompous and assumptive of them. I was startled and caught completely off gaurd. 

I assert that the Department was prejudiced against me from the start. I believe that they decided that I had mental disabilities and that they were not open to attempting reunification for that reason. Actually, I believe that they hung their hat on that, whether or not they believed that I had mental health issues. I believe they were hell bent on adopting Micah out and were using that as their ace in the hole. I further assert that Ms. Elg was a parrot for them and provided tons of negative reports for them to use against me in court. (Though anyone can clearly see that some of the statements of Ms. Elg were clearly idiotic. Such as her statement that "Micah would be emotionally abused if he participated in the Circle of Security Program". Or "Micah will come to associate Christmas with a negative experience if he is forced to spend it with his mother." Or "Micah has moved on". Or "Micah has decided that he can't expect emotional intimacy from his mother." Or "Visits are no longer beneficial to Micah". Or "Denise doesn't bring full lunches for Micah." Or "Denise, I see you as on stage." I only put these statements in quotes to separate them, however, her exact words would be in the reports that she has written.

The Department states that I do not have an emotional connection with my son and that he does not have one with me. In the termination order itself, it states that Micah does not see me as his primary attachment figure or as a parent. My response to that is to say that it is malicious... (unreasonable at best) to insist that it is my fault that Micah and I do not share an 'emotional attachment' when indeed it was due to the oppressive circumstances under which we were forced to visit and interact. We were allowed the minimum amount of visit time possible. We were, as Ms. Elg stated 'on stage' as it was set up to be. That is part of the malice that I see in this whole picture. We were constantly observed, often with a pen and note pad clearly visible. We were interrupted during our interactions. Ms. Elg would instruct me one way and then intervene to 'show me a different way' to discipline or redirect Micah. I see it as Ms. Elg changing the rules mid stream. I believe that also undermined my parental authority in Micah's eyes. (See email: 10/25/07, 2:13pm in social file which documents one very clear example of what I am trying to explain.) Everything about our sessions with Ms. Elg was oppressive. It was uncomfortable to say the least. Though we managed to be civil and polite during visits, there certainly was not a healthy, trusting therapeutic working relationship between us.

Regarding the assertion that Micah did not see me as his primary attachment or as a parent, I must say that our relationship was 100% appropriate, considering the circumstances involved. (1) Micah has visited with me less than 1% of his life. He has known first the Moyers and now, the Wares as his primary care providers. All he knows is that his home is with the current foster caregivers. That is his life as he knows it. Of course he does not see me a his primary attachment figure, let alone a parent. This is not Micah's or my fault, yet the Department, Ms. Elg and the court all place the blame solely at my feet and use alleged 'mental health' issues to try to support their unreasonable assertions. They actually had to concede to the fact that even the 'professionals' disagreed on whether or not I suffer from personality or psychological disorders. It has not been proven by clear, cogent or convincing evidence that I have a disorder that precludes me from raising my son, though they assert in their termination petition that the mother suffers from a severe psychological disorder that prevents her from caring for her child. For heaven's sake, they can't even agree on what the diagnoses is or is not! They have stated so many diagnoses that I am confused about it. Then it is stated that I may have been incorrectly diagnosed in my past with Borderline Personality Disorder. (Dr. Mary Deitzen informed me that she tends to believe just that.) She also informed me that when she oversaw therapists at Spokane Community Mental Health, she became exasperated at the fact that women were often mistakenly diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, when indeed they ought to have been correctly diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. She also states that she believes that I suffer from traits of PTSS. Furthermore, even if I did suffer from Borderline personality Disorder-- it has been proved that women with that disorder improve with age and the disorder deescalates with age.

The social worker (Patricia Murman) through the AAG was very cruel by her words to me in response to my requests for time with my son on major family holidays. During the holiday season of 2006, I was accused of being selfish, paranoid, wishing only to make a point in court, wishing only to disrupt the foster family’s holiday plans, not placing my son’s needs above my own, amongst any number of other cruel accusations. It was also stated that Christmas is a holiday more for adults and that children Micah’s age do not have any concept of the day or when the holiday is celebrated. That logic was used to deny my son time with his own mother on a major holiday. I was only allowed to go on a supervised outing with Sue Elg as the supervisor… the day before Thanksgiving. I was then only allowed to take Micah for pictures with Santa five days prior to Christmas.

The Department again attempted to deny my son time with his mother on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in 2007. I had requested a mere few hours with my son on each of those holidays. Unfortunately, we were again forced to seek the court’s decision regarding the request. The Guardian Ad litem informed me via email that she was not in support of unsupervised visitation during the holidays in 2007. When I inquired of her what her reason for opposition was, she responded via email that it is just an issue of current court order for supervised visits. She provided no other reason for her opposition to my request for unsupervised visitation, so I assume she had no other reason to be in opposition to it.

During the meeting between GAL Kim Dunham and me (August 2006) she tried to persuade me to willingly relinquish my parental rights. This she did directly after informing me that she had witnessed a 150% turnaround in my attitude and willingness to work with the Department. Contradictory at best. She went on to try to frighten me into signing an Open Adoption agreement by informing me that if the Department took me to trial and won, I would not see my son again- at least as a minor. She went on to say that if I did choose to agree to Open Adoption, I would be able to see Micah from time to time and receive photos and letters about how he is doing. In short, the Department, via the GAL and my therapist at the time, Carla Paullin, tried to convince me (intimidate me into relinquishing my parental rights... while at the same time complimenting me on the progress I was making! How underhanded and malicious. And-- there was that word again- 'progress'.

The Department begrudgingly provided the referral to Circle of Security. They did not allow me to complete the program. Furthermore, they did not even enroll Micah until nearly 5 months into my sessions with Ms. Beth Fergin. Micah and I would have had far more time to participate in this program together if he had been placed in it with me to begin with. Instead, the Department left me under the supervision of Susan Elg for nearly 6 more months. (Even though the GAL argued in court that COS was a duplicate service... and believe me-- it is not.) They knew of the oppressive nature of visits under Ms. Elg and they were well aware that there was not a trusting therapeutic working relationship between us. If that wasn't bad enough, the Department, with the assistance of the court, denied me the opportunity to participate to the fullest extent in the COS program. As a matter of fact, during a meeting (at my request) in July 2007, I asked the Department if they intended to allow me to participate to the full capacity in the COS program and to please define their definition for 'full capacity'. They responded by telling me to look it up in the dictionary! (This incident reminds me of another meeting where the Department informed me that they could not provide their definition of the word 'love'... even though they had agreed that "There is no question but that Ms. Dopkins loves her son and enjoys her time with him." (Stated in court document.) Their response was to inform me that CPS is just an entity... and that they therefore could not define their definition of love. (Even though they agreed that there is no question but that I love my son.)

The Department failed to state any deficiencies in my home until I requested and received the one and only home visit I was ever granted with my son. Once they begrudgingly 'agreed' to the home visit for Christmas Eve day 2007, they scheduled a home 'inspection'. Ms. Murman and GAL Kim Dunham came to my home on 12/23/07. We sat in my living room, along with my close friend Marge McAlpin and held conversation for approximately 45 minutes. Marge basically listened as the SW, GAL and I talked. They did not 'inspect' my home. They simply followed me through my home-- peeking into the rooms and nodding their heads. They noted one issue that they never mentioned before during the entire 3 years of this Dependency action. Some-- not all of my windows had insulation covering them to prevent drafts of cold winter air from coming into my home and to cut down the outrageous heat bill that I incurred. They stated that it was a fire hazard and needed to be removed in order for Micah to come and visit me for a few hours on Christmas Eve day. I take issue with this because this was never once brought up before this occasion-- even in court, several over one year prior when my attorney, Mr. Callen stated that he wanted to be sure that he understood the Department's answer regarding the condition of my home. He also stated in court that he didn't want to be several months down the road and have this to contend with again. At that time, the Department agreed and still stated again that the home was not an issue regarding the return of my son to my care and custody. Well, not until a year and a half down the road did the Department raise the issue of a supposed 'fire hazard' as reason to prevent Micah from visiting my home for a few hours. Note: Some of my windows had the insulation in them for several years prior to CPS involvement in my life, yet they did not so much as mention it until 3 years into the Dependency action. I tend to believe this was just an attempt to prevent the in home visit for the holiday. As Mr. Callen confirmed by way of the social worker's own testimony during the termination trial, the visit almost did not occur. As a matter of fact, Mr. Callen informed the Department that if they couldn't find anyone to transport Micah to the visit, he would stay in town and transport Micah to and from the Christmas visit himself. Mr. Callen was subsequently able to locate a social worker with the Office of Public Defense that was willing to monitor the visit- and so he did. The gentleman's name is Joseph Gutierrez. Mr. Gutierrez was authorized to and did provide the transportation as well.

Lack of clarifications and omission of facts by DCFS

The Department states in the termination order that the mother failed to complete the first scheduled psychological evaluation, however, they do not include the true reason for that. The actual reason that the initial court ordered psychological evaluation was not completed is because the Department prevented me from having the evaluation done at that time. As court testimony will prove-- the Department failed to get the referral paperwork in for that evaluation. I did not refuse or fail to show for any appointment. As a matter of fact, back in April or May of 2005 (exact date in social file), the Department (Melly Keith- social worker) informed me that the psychological evaluation would be pushed out until at least July or August of that year. I have witnesses that were present at that meeting. The second evaluation was canceled by my attorney, April Pearce. We agreed that perhaps a psychiatric evaluation would be more appropriate because there was an issue of medication as possible reason for negative and positive behaviors. Dilantin is thought to have contributed to some emotional issues and possibly could have influenced behaviors. Then in 2000 a new seizure medication, Lamictal-- was thought to have treated depression and to have helped to stabilize it. (See testimony and reports of Carla Paullin, adult therapist for more on this claim.) I take Lamictal to this date and it controls my epilepsy. In my case, it is not prescribed for depression, however, as Carla Paullin testifies, it could very well be treating depression in me.

The Department social worker Melly Keith and Edweena Skinner omitted the fact that the Department was planning to take Micah from me at the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery on the very day to which they encouraged me to leave him there. Instead they led me to believe that they were attempting Reasonable Efforts to keep my son and me together in my home. In retrospect, I should have shown up at the door of the Nursery the very evening that I initially intended to do so and then demanded that Micah be released to me that very moment. There was not yet a court order (that I am aware of) on March 22, 2005 and they could not have prevented me from picking Micah up at that time. The court's order was signed on March 23rd, the date to which the social worker and WIC social worker encouraged me to wait until to pick Micah up. Not only was I prevented from picking him up on March 22ND-- I was required to wait until later in the day on March 23rd. I called early that morning to inform them that I would be there shortly thereafter and the Nursery staff informed me that I would have to wait until at least 1:00 that afternoon. When I arrived to pick him up, the social worker met me at the door and said "Hi Denise... I'm here to place your baby." She was grinning from ear to ear as she made that statement.

Unethical, dishonest statements/actions of DCFS

During one of the meetings that I held with the Department, Lisa Lydon stated that the initial referral was determined as unfounded. She further stated that summary assessment revealed more issues. That is an untruthful statement. All of the issues they say that they discovered subsequent to the initial determination of unfounded were the very same referral allegations that initiated the 'investigation'. There were no new issues revealed. The truth of the matter is that the Department simply did not allow me to work the safety contract that I signed in the hospital under intimidation and coercion. So they made up this story about supposed subsequent discovery of issues. As a matter of fact-- the 'issues' were stated in the original referral that the Department received.

Even though they had my coerced authorization for my criminal history records, the Department fraudulently obtained the documentation. I located a document in the social file that states to the disclosure department that “Denise Dopkins is being investigated for allegations of abuse or neglect of a child”. This statement was made nearly 5 weeks prior to the birth of my son. The fact of the matter is that I was never accused of the abuse or neglect of any child. The Department was merely ‘investigating’ a referral of supposed ‘concerns’. I refer to their concerns as ‘what ifs’ and not requisite evidence of current parental unfitness. There was no legitimate reason to remove my son from my care. I protected Micah every step of the way. The court commissioner contradicted herself when out of one side of her mouth she commended me for taking Micah to Vanessa Behan Crises Nursery for immediate and temporary respite. Out of the other side of her mouth, she told me it proved that I was not ready to parent my son. In essence, every parent must be warned of the possible, rather probable consequences of taking a newborn baby to Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery or any other community service.

Social worker Patricia Murman fabricated a lie regarding the intentions of my individual therapist Carla Paullin. In her report to the court dated August of 2006 Ms. Murman asserted that Ms. Paullin stated to her that ‘she was considering terminating services with me because of my inability to benefit from the therapeutic process due to my mental health issues’. Ms. Paullin later testified in court that she never made any such statement. She further stated in court that she would never tell any of her clients that. She also stated that she shares with me anything she informs the Department and court of in regards to me prior to sharing with them. Ms. Paullin never informed me that she was considering termination of her services with me and, as she testified, has never informed Ms. Murman or anyone else of such. Referred to report is in the legal file.

I believe the social worker, Patricia Murman lied to me regarding the actual reason I was not served with the initial termination petition and notification of the scheduled trial. The initial petition was filed in September of 2006, without the knowledge or me or my attorney! Ms. Murman provided at least two completely different stories as to why I was not served or notified. My own attorney, Mr. Callen informed me that he was not notified by anyone about a filed petition or of a scheduled trial regarding such petition. He informed me via email (of which I have a copy) that I was the first person to notify him. I became aware of the fact of a filed termination petition only four days before the scheduled trial date. I was in the court house on a completely separate issue when it was brought to my attention by the Family Court Facilitator. The first reason Ms. Murman stated to me via email was: that there would be no hearing because she was ‘unable to serve Charles and me in time’… which indicates to me that she claims she was actively attempting to serve me clear up to the time allowed by statute. I am not a difficult person to serve legal documents to. The Department was aware of my whereabouts several times during any week. I could have been served via certified mail with my signature required as proof of service. I could have been served through my attorney— if he would have been notified. As a matter of fact, I had regularly inquired via email whether or not the Department was planning to file a termination petition and on what grounds. That was just one more opportunity for Ms. Murman to inform me that she was allegedly attempting to serve me with the court documents. The second reason I received for the Department’s failure to notify me of the filed termination petition and notification of a scheduled trial date: Ms. Murman, at a meeting with several witnesses present, informed me that they just let the petition sit doormat due to the issue of paternity needing to be established. (one and one half years into this Dependency action.) The actual truth of the matter is this: The Department and the AAG were aware of the issue of paternity before they filed the first termination petition.

I have requested a copy of the affidavit detailing the dates, times and locations of alleged service attempts. I have yet to receive the affidavit. My concern is that my attorney was not notified of the termination petition or scheduled trial date. How can he defend me if he is not informed of filed legal documents and scheduled hearings? I certainly hope Mr. Callen is telling me the truth in that he claims he was not informed. I believe that it would be worse to find that he did know and hid this information from me. Ms. Murman, her supervisor and other superiors in the Department have repeatedly ignored my emails and attempts to locate the affidavit. It makes me wonder what really was the case. Was Ms. Murman really trying feverishly to serve me with the legal notification documents? Or was she purposely neglecting to do so? Why was Mr. Callen not notified of this termination petition and hearing date concerning it? (Or was he?)

Contradictory statements of the DCFS, court and treatment providers

It has been repeatedly stated by the court and by the treatment providers that they are impressed at my survival from child abuse and neglect. (Though I am not sure it is legal to consider one's childhood when deciding whether or not to return his/her child.) They commend me for not choosing to become involved in the abuse of alcohol and controlled substances, despite the fact that drugs and alcohol abuse was very ingrained in my family. Court Commissioner Jolicoeur stated to me that she doesn’t know how I survived that traumatic of a childhood. Out of the other side of their mouths, they state that I am a victim of the abuse I suffered as a child, however, do not explain what it has to do with my parenting skills or how it proves that my son would be in harms way if returned to me. If, as they say, I have risen as a survivor from childhood abuse, why do they make so many statements to the contrary? They contradict themselves by simultaneously stating that I am a victim of the abuse I suffered as a child. They continue to use my history of childhood abuse as a reason to keep my son from me, claiming that they fear I might... just might abuse or neglect him. They also continue to use my old history of mental health treatment/diagnosis as reason to keep my son from me-- whether or not it was all accurate diagnosis. ‘What if… what if… what if’. Not requisite evidence of current parental unfitness. Especially given the most current and extremely thorough psychological evaluation with Dr. Mary Deitzen whom does not diagnose me with current psychological or personality disorders. (Though I refer to psychological evaluations as junk science, Dr. Deitzen's report was still basically disregarded and Dr. Bot's emphasized.) Of course his was given more weight, after all, he was parroting the Department's wishes concerning my case.

The Department and court commissioner Jolicoeur chastises me for not trusting 'those who are just trying to help me'. Out of the other side of its mouth, the Department expresses distrust and concern about bias in regards to an actual social worker with the Office of Public Defense. During the holiday season of 2007, Mr. Callen located a visitation monitor for my home visit with Micah, due to the fact that the Department supposedly couldn't find anyone else to do it. At a meeting including Joseph Gutriezz, Ms. Murman, me and Mr. Callen, it was stated that Ms. Murman was concerned that the visit monitor we had secured would be biased in my favor. Did she not know he was just another one of the team members that wanted to help me and Micah? (I must confess to some sarcasm there-- or maybe rhetoric) I don't understand why Ms. Murman would distrust him. I think it was more than that in and of itself. I think Ms. Murman would have preferred someone who would have been at least somewhat biased in the Department's favor and written their notes to reflect more of their agenda... sort of like those of Ms. Susan Elg and Dr. David Bot. Again, who has the trust issues here? I think Ms. Murman jumped the gun so to speak. Perhaps she ought to have waited to see Mr. Gutriezz's report before she expressed concern about bias or prematurely accused him of being dishonest. I, on the other hand, have had very legitimate reason by way of experience with CPS, to distrust the words and actions of CPS agents and other parties to the case, such as the GAL and the Department's contracted treatment providers. (I am referring to the childhood experiences with CPS, as well as my experiences as the mother in this case.) CPS left me in abusive foster homes as a child. (Drug addicts, sexual abusers, physical abusers.) Ironically, CPS refers to my childhood abuse (much of it allowed by CPS) as reason to be concerned about my ability as an adult to protect my son. How is it the system causes problems for children and then uses it against those children in their adult lives?

Delay tactics of DCFS

DCFS would have a higher court believe that they gave me more and more time in efforts to reunify me and my son. The fact of the matter is that they purposely delayed and dragged their feet on many occasions... with the goal of wasting enough time that it would convince a judge to terminate my parental rights on the premise of 'no time for progress'. They purposely left me in services with Susan Elg for nearly two years while she consistently provided negative reports. "concerns still exist" types of reports. They did this even though the AAG erroneously state during a meeting that 'You weren't ready for service at that time'. CPS was well aware of the oppressive nature of the relationship between Ms. Elg and me. They knew there was absolutely no therapeutic working relationship and should have offered another service long before I had to fight for the Circle of Security service on my own. Again, the law mandates that the Department is to offer all reasonably available services capable of correcting parental deficiencies within the foreseeable future. They did not. I sought out and won the Circle of Security program on my own initiative... just as I did in establishing the therapy sessions with Carla Paullin back in 2006... due to the social worker's lack of assistance in the matter. It seems to me that her failure to provide referrals was a direct violation of the court's order at that time.

DCFS failed to arrange for paternity testing of Douglas P. Barrett in the beginning of the Dependency action, though it was ordered by the court. If they had chosen to abide by the court's order- the issue of Charles Benvegar would never have been-- because the biological father would have already been proven and I could therefore not have presented Mr. Benvegar as an alleged or possible father.

DCFS canceled scheduled court ordered psychological evaluations and delayed until August 2005. (5 months into dependency action.) This they did purposely as evidenced by their own statement at a meeting held back in April or May of 2005 where it was stated that a psychological evaluation would be pushed out until at least July or August of 2005.

DCFS, when they finally got around to it, employed a psychiatrist who merely interviewed with me for 45-50 minutes. He briefly went over some documents that DCFS provided him… asking me questions about previous contacts with Community Mental Health and some hospitalizations. (All old history and not evidence of current parental unfitness.) He then basically rubber stamped an old history of diagnosis and stated it as current fact. There was no hard testing data to refer to. DCFS promptly claimed Dr. Bot’s evaluation as evidence of current parental unfitness by way of their testimony in court, though Dr. Bot did not testify in court at that time. I still wonder what the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is. Apparently, very obvious difference: Dr. Bot conducted absolutely no evaluation. Dr. Deitzen conducted a very thorough and detailed evaluation including initial interview with Mr. Callen and me, several in-depth interviews with me and at least two psychological tests (hard data to evaluate.)  I have since learned that it didn't make any difference how the psychological or psychiatric evaluations were conducted. These "evaluations" are junk science and the results are very subjective and easily manipulated by the doctor conducting the so called tests. The answers given by the patient can be manipulated to mean whatever the doctors so wishes to testify to as truth. Their so called professional opinions align with whatever CPS intentions are for the case.

Ms. Murman failed to inform the foster parents about a critical appointment that Micah and I had scheduled with Carol Thomas in October 2007. This appointment had been scheduled several weeks in advance. When the appointment date came around, Micah did not show for the assessment. One of Micah's care providers informed me that she was not told about any appointment for October 27th, 2007. I took it upon myself to schedule a new date for the parenting assessment with Ms. Thomas which could not be fit in until better than one month later-- November 30th). Hence, Ms. Murman caused a nearly three month delay in this case by failing to inform Micah's care providers of the appointment date in October.

The Department, through the GAL, Kim Dunham caused yet another delay in the case by challenging a reasonably available service (Circle of Security program) that I located on my own and requested of the Department that I be allowed to participate in. I do not believe the GAL was acting as a separate party to this case. I believe, as the AAG's statement at the hearing regarding it suggests that the Department did not wish to be caught depriving me of a reasonable available service, capable of correcting 'parental deficiencies'. When addressed by Commissioner Jolicoeur, the Department responded by in essence admitting that they did not really want to provide the COS program to me, however, were not technically objecting because, according to the AAG's own statement, they feared the repercussion of a termination being overturned on appeal due to their failure to provide all reasonably available services. They never did provide all reasonably available services and I believe that they never intended to in the first place.

Questionable actions/lack of action by DCFS

DCFS placed me in sessions with Mary Anne Sacco instead of making the referral and following through with a psychological evaluation that was ordered by the court at that time.

I noted that the Department was unwilling to compose answers to my questions in document format, however, that they insisted on having a list of questions from me prior to any meeting that I requested. I found that rather suspect that they would not put their answers in writing or other document format, yet they required it of me. Perhaps they were just guarding against being held accountable for their actual 'answers' to my legitimate questions and concerns?

Violations of Commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur

Commissioner Jolicoeur failed to assure that I was legally and actively represented for three months. She commented in open court that she had no control over the Public Defender’s Office and that her only advice to me would be to ‘be persistent with them’ in my request for active counsel. Even the Public Defenders Department Director, John T. Rogers blames Commissioner Jolicoeur for failing to order legal counsel, when it was in her power to do so. (Mr. Rogers made this accusation in a statement he submitted to the Washington State Bar Association in attempt to defend against my assertions that he refused to appoint active legal counsel.) There is documentation to back this statement.

Commissioner Jolicoeur has accused me of being ‘obsessed with the letter of the law’ and has used that amongst other things to sanction me with limited visitation. She repeatedly refused to grant more visitation time with my son. She stated to me in court that I was "so obsessed with the letter of the law that it rendered me emotionally unavailable to my child". I have always been under the impression that as an American citizen, it is my right to pay close attention to the letter of the law and to aid in my own defense. I think any mother who loves her child would fight back if she only knew she had that right and if she knew where to locate the information to assist her in that battle. I further assert that if the court commissioner had been paying more attention to the letter of the law, I would not have had to be so busy at it.

Commissioner Jolicoeur repeatedly denied me additional time with my son for no legal reason. She stated to me that she would not authorize more time with my son "until I get it." The law expressly says that a parent can not be denied time with her child unless she is abusing or harming him. RCW 13.34.136(2)(b)(ii). The law even goes on to say that even if the mother is violating court orders, she can not be denied visitation or sanctioned with decreased or limited visitation, as long as the child is not being abused or harmed. I was repeatedly and consistently denied any more than 3 hours per week with my son-- even though I was never accused of abusing or harming him during the minimal time I was granted. I even had to fight for make up visits that Micah and I were owed. Sometimes Commissioner even denied those visits!

Unethical/unreasonable comments or actions of Commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur

Commissioner Jolicoeur state in court that she was 'also aware of the statutes and therefore was obligated to grant the Circle of Security program to me'. (Exact wording would of course be in the transcripts.) I point this out because her attitude was the same as that of the Department and I believe her motives were also the same as theirs. The Department absolutely did not want to offer or provide the Circle of Security program to me. As they even admitted in court during the hearing regarding it: 'We are not objecting to the service because we fear the repercussion of a termination being overturned due to the all reasonably available services clause of the law'. (Exact wording can be located in transcripts.) In short, the Department was going to provide the service only if it was ordered by the court to do so... and not out of a desire to attempt reunification efforts. As I state prior in this document, I firmly believe that the GAL's motion to prevent Micah's and my participation in the Circle of Security program was merely an effort to abide by the Department's real intentions in this case. I do not believe it was her individual opinion or recommendation against the COS program. I do not believe Commissioner Jolicoeur willingly granted the Circle of Security program to me either.

Violations of previous counsel

Attorney April B. Pearce

Attorney April B. Pearce assisted in violation of my Due Process rights by encouraging me to sign a document stating that I agreed that my son should remain in Shelter care. I believe she was aware that Micah should not have been removed from his home and that he was denied the chance to remain with me while we participated in services promised to us during the conversation in the hospital. She was clearly informed by me that I did not agree that my son should have been removed from my custody and that I did abide by the Safety contract that I signed in the hospital. (For the very few days I was allowed to do so.)

Ms. Pearce assisted in violation of my Due Process rights by advising me to sign an agreed order of Dependency. I very obviously did not understand what I was signing at that time. Furthermore, I was desperate to be reunited with my son. I have since located in the RCW’s that by signing the document, in essence I stated that I agreed that my son was Dependent as described in that statute. Ms. Pearce said to me that ‘this is just routine… nothing to worry about.’ I was with the understanding that if I signed the affidavit I would be granted custody of my son. (If I agreed to abide by court ordered services.) Ms. Pearce failed to inform me of the consequences of my signatures.

Ms. Pearce failed to present to the court the letter stating “the findings of this investigation are unfounded”. (Letter is in the CPS social file dated 03/30/05 from Nora Scott.) Instead, she merely waived her hands at me, saying “throw it away, they send those to everyone”.

Ms. Pearce failed to object to claims of CPS in that they did not have evidence to support their claim that their unfounded allegations deemed me currently unfit to parent. Instead, she advised me to sign stipulated orders; incorporating Department composed ISSP’s (Individual Service and Safety Plan.) Apparently I am in the record as having agreed that my son should remain in Shelter Care and that he was dependent. I have never agreed that my son was dependent or should remain in state custody. I signed documents at the advice of my attorney at the time. It was not explained to me that I was in essence agreeing that my son was dependent on the state. I have since located statutes that declare that if I signed any stipulated order I agreed that my son was dependent as described in RCW...

Ms. Pearce failed to assure that my husband at that time was adjoined to the case when he stepped forward as a possible father to my son. At least 4 months had elapsed before her removal from this case. She was ‘conflicted out’ of the case without my request. She was also removed from the case without notifying me until after the fact. I never requested the removal of Ms. Pearce from my case. It was just done.

In the beginning of this Dependency action, it was ordered by the court that Douglas P. Barrett undergo paternity testing. Ms. Pearce failed to assure that this order was followed by DCFS. If she had done so, I would not have allowed Charles Benvegar to present as Micah’s father and I certainly would not have married him. This was completely avoidable, had the system done its job. Furthermore, when Mr. Benvegar came forward as a possible father to Micah, he should have been required to undergo paternity testing at that time; however, this was not required by the court until October of 2006, nearly one and one half years after he entered the case.

Attorney Gina M. Costello

Ms. Costello initially informed me that she did not want my son out of Dependency. I immediately informed her and the Public Defender’s Department director John T. Rogers that I did not accept her as my legal counsel. I wanted an attorney that believed in me and would defend me to the maximum extent. Ms. Costello failed to request the court’s permission to withdraw from the case, though I clearly requested that she do so. She ignored my phone messages and failed to appear at hearings that I was a party to. She further failed to assure that services were provided to me and Micah. I had to try to assure this for myself-- of my own initiative. This went on for three months, until she finally motioned the court for withdrawal from my case on January 26, 2006, only moments prior to a review hearing. There I sat, again without legal representation. Not one moment before her withdrawal from the case was I appointed actual active legal representation. Mr. Callen was assigned right from the hand that refused to provide me with active legal representation the preceding three months.

Issue of legal representation by Mark B. Callen

Before I address any issues regarding the legal representation of Mr. Callen, I must say that I wish to try to win on appeal without getting Mr. Callen into any trouble. I say this because, though he certainly did not say or do everything as per my wishes or that he ought to have done, I believe he did put forth some good and sincere effort to defend me under the circumstances. I feel that the system can be cruel and intimidating to anyone that is under its thumb (or- probably more appropriate-- anyone under its iron fist.) Not knowing how to interpret every part of child dependency law, I may not completely understand all of it or how it applies. Therefore, perhaps I am not thoroughly correct in my current interpretation or understanding of a defense attorney's legal and ethical responsibilities. I know what I have found and read in my research efforts on the subject of attorney ethics and rules of conduct. I consider myself to be of at least average intelligence, and probably somewhat higher than average. Perhaps some of what I have read in the process of my researching may have to be explained to me at some point and I am certainly open to receiving explanation.

I did indeed inform Mr. Callen from time to time that I thought he was doing a good job considering the mess that he inherited when handed my case. I thought he was doing a good job because he seemed to be doing what he was supposed to. I have learned since then that he did not do half of what he ought to and could have done to defend me. I learned by way of my own research and reading of child dependency laws as well as rules of conduct for attorneys.

I must point out the fact that I was constantly browbeaten regarding the issue of legal representation in this case. I was falsely accused of having battles with my attorneys (assertion of the Department.) I was accused of firing two attorneys-- when indeed I did not 'fire' Ms. Pearce and I never even accepted the appointment of Ms. Gina Costello. I recall that I did write across a letter to her that Ms. Costello was 'fired' as the attorney on this case, however, it was not due to my having accepted her as my attorney. She was merely appointed and I was notified weeks afterward. During the one and only meeting that I held with her, she informed me that she did not want my son out of dependency. Of course I did not want her as my 'legal defense' attorney- if she was not going to defend me and seemingly sided with the Department in their refusal to return Micah to me. In short, I have not made a habit of firing attorneys. One was conflicted out of the case without my knowledge prior to it happening. One attorney was appointed without my knowledge-- and I was notified to contact her weeks after Ms. Pearce's removal from the case. Mr. Callen was appointed to my case and I never once asked for his removal from the case. I worked with him and diligently followed most of his advice... in retrospect, somewhat to my demise. As a matter of fact, Mr. Callen once threatened to withdraw from my case if I continued to be proactive in my attempts to seek redress for the grievances committed against my son and me.

In retrospect, I believe that I made a huge mistake in going along with Mr. Callen's strategy to, in essence, agree with the state's assertion that I suffer from mental illness. I regret that I did go along with it. I believe Mr. Callen failed in his duty to defend me against the flimsy and false allegations of the Department. (Their assertion that I could not parent Micah due to a severe psychological disorder.) His job really was to refute their accusations and remind the Department and court that it is not my burden to prove their accusations false... but to the contrary, it is their burden of proof of the allegations they assert. The law clearly states that the court can not remove a child from his parent- even if she suffered from mental illness. Again, they must prove that the mental illness prevents the parent from safely and effectively parenting her child.

During the termination trial, some witnesses lied. Though I fear this may not be an appeal-able issue in and of itself, I believe the issue of lack of objection or rebuttal on the part of Mr. Callen is pertinent to the appeal. I noted that he failed to challenge some of the statements of witnesses, such as Ms. Murman regarding the allegation that I was seen with Mr. Barrett behind his booth in the park in September 2007. Another statement Mr. Callen failed to challenge or require evidence for: Pat Carol testified that I had basically threatened her during a conversation about Christmas Eve visitation arrangements. She told the court that I informed her that I would have a witness present at the visit who would be monitoring her. The Department nearly succeeded at preventing the one and only home visit with my son, by way of this dishonest SCAN worker. Mr. Callen ought to have challenged that by reminding the judge of how foolish that would have been for me to say such a thing to this visit monitor when I wanted this home visit with my son so very dearly. He ought further to have reminded the judge that there has never been any accusation that I have ever threatened anyone else in the entire duration of this case-- so why then would I be foolish enough to chance ruining an opportunity of a lifetime? (to have my little boy home for part of the holiday.) It doesn't make sense. Isn't the real test in all of this: what would any reasonable person have believed, given known circumstances of previous interactions and conversations between me and others party to the case? Why, then, would it be so quickly believed that I was hostile to this Pat Carol?

I believe that Mr. Callen ought to have addressed Ms. Elg about the issue of law regarding decrease and/or termination of visitation between parents and children. If Ms. Elg is not aware of such law, she ought to be informed that visitation can not be decreased, limited or terminated under any circumstance other than abuse or neglect of a child. If she is made aware of this fact, perhaps she will make far fewer recommendations for the unnecessary and I dare say illegal decrease, termination or limitation of visitation. There is certainly a difference between "Micah is becoming confused as to why he comes to visitation" versus the clear abuse of a child. There is certainly a difference between "The mother is on stage" versus the clear abuse of a child. If Ms. Elg does not know the difference... and I believe she does-- then the Department social worker or an attorney ought to clearly explain it to her.

I assert that Mr. Callen failed to address all of my concerns to the court. (During hearings and at the termination trial.) Though I presented him with a lot of information that I wished to be in the record, he still failed to bring it forth. I can give example after example to prove my point. I have all of the emails and written correspondences between Mr. Callen and me, as evidence of my claims. One of the most important and critical concerns: The letter I received from Nora Scott dated 03/30/05 which stated that the referral allegations had been investigated and determined to be unfounded. That speaks loudly to me that when the Department failed to return Micah to me at that time, the Department had every intention of keeping Micah so as to adopt him out. He was a beautiful, healthy, drug and alcohol free baby boy. How easy it would have been to immediately adopt him out-- if I had not fought back as long as I did. As Mr. Callen did state at one of my hearings prior to the trial... we assert that the Department made no effort to reunify following the removal of my infant son from my care and custody.

I assert that Mr. Callen failed to file various motions that he could and should have, during his appointment as legal counsel in my case. Some of those motions- I requested that he file and he failed to do so. There were other motions I didn't necessarily request, but that he should have filed- as I would come to realize later. One in particular that he did not file was a 'motion to reconsider' before Judge O'Connor. She actually suggested this could be done in regards to the conflict between Mr. Callen and Ms. Lydon about the wording of the termination order. Following the judge's ruling of termination, Ms. Lydon attempted to add facts to and embellish the termination order. It did not accurately reflect the oral ruling of Judge O'Connor. Mr. Callen then appropriately filed a motion to address this issue before Judge O'Connor and she gave direction to the attorneys as to how to resolve the conflict.

One of the main reasons that I didn't say much to anyone about what I felt Mr. Callen was doing wrong was due to being brow beaten by the Department and court commissioner about legal representation. I was constantly reminded by the Department and the court that I was not an attorney and that I should rely on an attorney instead of trying to do things myself. So-- what did I do? I relied on Mr. Callen to do whatever he was supposed to do to defend me to the full extent of the law. It didn't help matters that I was so frightened to speak in court either. This is a very frightening and intimidating experience and that is an understatement at best.

Violations/questionable actions of Guardian Ad litems

Martin Kulagrub

Mr. Kulagrub failed to report on failure of CPS to comply with court orders as follows:

1. Mr. Kulagrub failed to inform the court that CPS social worker Melly Keith did not comply with the court’s order to refer Douglas P. Barrett Jr. for paternity testing. If this order had been complied with, the issue of Charles Benvegar would never have occurred because Douglas would have already have been proved the biological father. RCW 13.34.105 (1)(c)

2. Mr. Kulagrub failed to inform the court that the Department/AAG refused to immediately adjoin Mr. Benvegar to the Dependency action upon his statement that he was a possible father to Micah. Regardless of whether it was right or wrong for Mr. Benvegar to have been adjoined to the Dependency, is neither here nor there now. Of course, looking back, it was a very bad decision on my part to have involved Mr. Benvegar in the Dependency at all, however, just the same- Mr. Kulagrub failed in his duty to inform the court of the issue at that time.

Kim Dunham

1. Interestingly enough, Ms. Dunham has completely concurred with the Department’s plan of termination of my parental rights and anything they have ever requested of the court regarding this case. The first time I am aware of her ever having disagreed with the Department’s request was regarding the issue of my motion for the court’s order that I be enrolled in the Circle of Security Project. I do not believe the Department wanted to enroll me in the COS and I believe Ms. Dunham was simply the mouthpiece of the Department. She, through her attorney Keri Janda, filed a motion to prevent me from participating in a reasonably available and appropriate service. Ms. Dunham was supposedly acting as a separate party to this Dependency action, however, I do not believe she was truly doing that. I believe she was perfectly aligned with the Department’s agenda and plan. The Department just didn't want to appear to be attempting to deny me the opportunity to participate in the COS project. (Though, as the verbatim report will clearly prove-- they indeed were completely against offering me that service. The AAG's response to Commissioner Jolicoeur's question was evidence of the Department's true intentions. During the hearing regarding the Circle of Security Project, Commissioner Jolicoeur asked the Department for their comment. The AAG, Lisa Lydon answered by informing the court that the reason the Department wasn't technically objecting to the service was due to their fear of the repercussion of a termination being overturned due to the Department's failure to offer or provide all reasonably available services. Again, I assert that they never did provide all reasonably available services, nor did they intend to in the first place.

2. Ms. Dunham, back in August of 2006 informed me of the wonderful progress she had seen in me-- and during the same conversation attempted to persuade me to willingly relinquish my parental rights by signing an Open Adoption agreement. That seems rather contradictory and malicious in my estimation-- cunning and deceitful/misleading at best. If a mother is doing so well and making such good progress, why on earth would the GAL be trying to persuade her to agree to an open adoption? This attempt occurred nearly one year prior to Micah's placement in the 'foster adopt home' he now resides in! I firmly believe it is because it was never CPS intention or goal to reunify my son and me. Mr. Callen even asserted that the Department had not made reasonable efforts to reunify.

3. Ms. Dunham testified- during the August 2006 hearing, that she had attended about 30 minutes of a visit with Micah and me. That visit occurred very shortly before the August 2006 hearing. She further testified that she did not witness any bond between my son and me. I shared with Mr. Callen afterward, that I did not believe she was qualified to testify as to the bonding or lack thereof between my son and me due to three factors: (1) She only attended 30 minutes of one 90 minute visit in the entire prior to the hearing. (2) She is not an expert in the field of bonding and attachment or parenting issues. (3) She is fairly young and further did not have any children of her own at that time.

Questionable actions of GAL-- Diana Salinas

Ms. Salinas testified at a hearing regarding my son. She was a temporary GAL while Ms. Dunham was on maternity leave. I believe her testimony should not have held any weight given the fact that she had not really done anything on the case herself. She relied solely on the reports of Martin Kulagrub and Kim Dunham instead of doing her own interacting with me. She testified that she trusted their work and relied on for her reports in this case.

Violations and/or unethical/incompetent behavior of Susan Elg-- proclaimed child therapist

I believe Ms. Elg has been biased against me. I am concerned that Ms. Elg recommended decrease and termination of my visits with Micah-- even though the law clearly does not support the recommendation in this case. If she does not understand this concept, it should be clearly explained to her so that she does not waste the parent's, the Department's or the court's time reading her recommendation. Ms. Elg made the recommendation to decrease and/or terminate my visits at least three times... when indeed there was no abuse, neglect or harm to my son during any visit. I fear she does the very same thing to other parents involved with CPS as well. If this is indeed occurring in the lives of other families, Ms. Elg must be challenged and her deeds revealed.

To my recollection, Ms. Elg refused to respond with answers to my questions stated in an email to her. That specific email is dated 06/15/2007 and the subject line is: 'Questions'. My questions in that email pertained to her opinion regarding the Circle of Security program. She loudly objected to my participation in that program and she went so far as to say that Micah would be emotionally abused as a result of his participation in it. She state all of this in one of her reports. I subsequently composed a list of questions for Ms. Elg's consideration and I asked her to respond with answers. This example is just one of several.

Ms. Elg stated, during the third of three meetings with me and the Department, that she suggested face to face meetings with me to discuss my questions and concerns. She further stated that I did not follow through with that suggestion. That is not entirely true. Ms. Elg omitted the fact that she asked for the face to face meetings and then declined when I informed her that I wished to include my attorney and a few close friends/supports. Instead, she decided to go ahead and answer my questions via email. (Apparently she considered that particular email as important enough to respond to.) Recall the email I spoke of earlier in this document where Ms. Elg informed me that she would no longer be responding via email to my emails.

She never promoted any ‘therapeutic’ visitation. She merely situated herself in the same small room during visits and actively engaged in play with Micah, befriending and promoting a social bond with him. The instructional part of visits (if one can even remotely consider it having been professionally instructional) ought to have taken place outside of visits when Micah was not present. (Unless there was a significant problem or concern during visits that would have necessitated the intervention of the therapist)… which never occurred. Micah seemed confused about who was the mother in the room during visits at Ms. Elg's office because she constantly interrupted disciplinary moments and undermined my parental authority concerning my son. One very specific example is stated in a visitation documentation letter that I composed, located in social file as well as my email file. I can also cite other instances as well.

She reports that the child does not predominantly migrate towards his mother during visits, but shows affection and desire to interact with therapist and mother on an equal basis. The expectation that Micah would act any differently is absurd, given the conditions and circumstances under which we were allowed interaction time. (Refer to paragraph directly above.) Carol Thomas and Beth Fergin have both stated that the type of relationship the Department and Sue Elg have demanded is not possible given the fact that I have not been placed in the care giving role and have had such limited time with my son. Interestingly enough, Ms. Elg completely contradicts herself in an email to me where she states that she sees that Micah chooses me as his go to person.

Micah viewed Susan Elg as higher authority or boss in the room due to the fact that he is informed by her that he is visiting in her ‘home’. Micah was also very aware of the times when Ms. Elg instructed me and I followed her instruction… or when she corrected me and we discuss it during the visit. I believe Micah viewed me as a playmate and Ms. Elg as the boss over both of us.

She reported ‘concerns’ that there is a ‘lack of bonding’ between the mother and child. Given the circumstances under which Micah and I have been allowed to visit together, it is ridiculous to expect any closer bond than we share. Refer to prior court testimony and reports of Carol Thomas and comments of Beth Fergin. In addition to what they both stated, I believe and assert that inadequate visitation time has also aided in the result of alienation of affection and lack of emotional bonding... though Ms. Elg, the court and the Department readily place the blame solely at my feet. I further assert that 'lack of bonding' is not legal reason to keep children from their parents and certainly is not reason to terminate the relationship... especially when it is due to prolonged out of home placement.

I noted a lot of circle talk surrounding the issue of 'emotional connection' between Micah and me:

1. Ms. Elg would report that I was not 'emotionally connected' with my son and that "Micah has moved on".

2. It has been stated, I believe also by Ms. Elg, that I was not 'emotionally available' to my son. (Commissioner Jolicoeur also made a point of stating that in court.)

3. "There is no question but that Denise loves her son and enjoys her time with him". (If that is not a sign of emotional connection, I don't know what is.) However, when I asked the Department and Ms. Elg to state their definition of 'love' they both declined. Ms. Elg stated in writing that she could not answer that question. The Department stated at one of the three meetings that I should look it up in the dictionary. They used that response on more than one occasion when I asked for clarification of their statements.

I have since looked up the definition for 'love' in the dictionary. It is as follows:

[luhv] Show IPA
noun, verb, loved, lov·ing.
(a) a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
(b) a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

4. Ms. Elg reported that Micah 'enjoyed his time with his mother'. (But, not emotionally connected with her?) Just socially connected. Still connected just the same! He wasn't given a reasonable amount of time with me and he knew a completely separate life better than 99% of the time. Maybe Micah wasn't emotionally connected with me, however, I was emotionally connected with him. I continually dream about my son in the night. I cry because I miss him so dearly. I constantly begged for more time with him. I did what I could with the crumbs I was thrown from the Department and the court. They were unreasonable in there expectation and I believe they knew, as did Ms. Elg that their expectations could not be met under the oppressive circumstances that they placed me and Micah in. They did not encourage or allow the maximum amount of visitation in the least restrictive environments as the law mandates. Back in November of 2006, Ms. Elg, “therapeutic visitation counselor”, went so far as to state in a report to the court that Micah would likely come to associate Christmas with a negative experience if forced to spend any part of it with me. Out of the other side of her mouth, she stated to the court that Micah is too young to understand the significance of Christmas. Seems like rather contradictory reasoning in my opinion. It didn’t sound like intent to reunify this family. Ms. Elg has also stated in reports to the Department and court that she recommends that visits cease because she feels that “visits are no longer beneficial to Micah”. She has recently contradicted herself in stating to me that she does not view Micah’s visits with me to be negative in any way. (Documented email verification in the social file.)

Ms. Elg recommended (in her refusal to challenge Social Worker Ms. Murman's wishes) that my visits be decreased and then terminated. She made this recommendation at least three times that I am aware of. I only learned the third recommendation during my termination trial. The initial recommendation from July 31of 2007 was the one I learned of during my termination trial. I was shocked to say the very least. Ms. Elg gladly continued to sit with Micah and me week after week-- month after month for nearly another one and a half years after her initial recommendation for decrease and termination of visits. She also continued to collect payment for doing so. I believe this was very unethical on her part. If she did not feel that Micah and I were benefiting from her 'services' she ought to have recommended another service and/or service provider. I must also refer to yet another contradictory statement of Ms. Elg where she states that she does believe that I have benefited from her services. She gave that answer in response to a direct documented question from me. I asked her if she thought I had benefited from her services and she responded in document format stating that yes she thought I had. Email verification in social file.

Ms. Elg insists that her undying goal was to promote a strong parent-child relationship between Micah and me. I disagree. If that was really her sincere goal in this case, why did she consistently recommend the least amount of visitation that the court would allow? Why did she repeatedly recommend decrease and even termination of visitation? Why did she recommend decrease and termination of my visits so early on? I found out, by way of a statement by Lisa Lydon AAG, that the reason my visits were not again decreased to less than three hours per week was because "a legal opinion has been made that the statutes do not support decrease or termination of visitation at this point." This she stated at the last of the three meetings that I held with the Department, when I asked if the Department was indeed going to motion the court for another decrease in my visits with my son. I asked the question due to the email I received from Ms. Dunham, informing me that her office would be motioning the court for 'suspension of my visits with Micah'. Of course that legal opinion had been made- it is made very clear in the statutes that the Department or court can not decrease or terminate visits absent abuse or harm to the child. Interesting to me is the fact that this legal opinion came up following Ms. Durham's threat to have my visits suspended when I fought for the Circle of Security program. I challenged her in a response email when I informed her that visitation is a fundamental parental right and that it could not be taken absent abuse or neglect of the child. (During the Dependency process, anyway.)

Ms. Elg, as evidenced in one of the three meetings that I attended (at my request), stated that she sees me as always 'on stage'... concerned about what is going on around me. She states that this 'takes away from the moments with Micah'. My response is that: Of course I was always on stage. This is how the service was set up and continually operated. Ms. Elg continually watched and took notes on my every action or word. Additionally, she criticized and analyzed my words with Micah. (during visits and in his presence.) She made reference to my childhood and at least insinuated that my childhood experiences motivated the perfectly appropriate words spoken to my son. (Such as, for example: When I said to Micah-- "I think you're having a bit of an attitude today".) Ms. Elg undermined my parental authority by interrupting disciplinary issues and telling me a different way to handle it, when she ought to have instructed me in the absence of my son and- even though I was not harming, neglecting or abusing Micah in my choice of redirecting method. It is stated in court documents that I do not abuse or harm my son and never have. Back to the 'on stage' comment... how could I have felt any other way? I was indeed consistently and purposely observed. Furthermore, is every parent that is aware of what is going on around them to be considered 'emotionally unavailable' to their children? Even if it be so, is that reason for the state to remove and keep children from their parents? What family in this country has the perfect emotional connection? Who decides what that is?

Ms. Elg encouraged me to talk about 'the case' and how things were going concerning it. During sessions- from time to time-- she would initiate the subject and ask specific questions about what might be occurring with the legal aspects of the case. I believe this was completely inappropriate and unethical-- given the fact that this is something that was addressed as an alleged concern about me. It was made an issue of... that I spoke about the case during services at times. (even during sessions with my own individual therapist- where I ought to have not had to fear repercussions of doing so.)

Ms. Elg neglected to cite observances and examples to me, however, she then incorporated her alleged observances (mostly negative) into her reports to the court. I was often times caught off guard and completely by surprise concerning her testimony to the court.


A. In her July 31, 2007 report, Ms. Elg states that I did not bring Micah ‘full lunches’ as I agreed to do. She never brought this to my attention and further waited nearly one year to state in her report. She also does not specify her opinion of what a ‘full lunch’ consists of, nor does she inform the court prior to or Department of what I did bring Micah. I generally provide foods from several of the national recommended food groups. I always brought nutritious foods and snacks for Micah, including but not limited to: fruits and vegetables (vitamins, antioxidants and minerals); nutritious crackers (various grains); eggs and peanut butter sandwiches (proteins); yogurts and cheeses (calcium); juices, and more. I had also brought bran muffins, microwaveable foods such as burritos, raviolis, tuna casseroles, etc. Ms. Elg did not have an oven available for cooking 'full' meals.

Ms. Elg informed me very shortly after I enrolled in the Circle of Security Project that she would no longer be responding to any of my written correspondence, generally emails. She claims that it was due to what she claimed was a breeding ground for misunderstandings and miscommunication between us. Interesting and somewhat confusing to me is the fact that Ms. Elg waited to make this decision until August of 2007-- nearly13 months after I began composing visit documentation letters. I believe the reason she has ceased from responding to my emails is that she wished not to put anything more in documented format that would contradict herself. Note: Ms. Elg has previously stated in documented format—(email verification) that she has only responded to emails that she ‘deemed necessary’. She asserts also that she has not responded to all other email from me because she did not deem it to be necessary or important. Apparently, she no longer viewed any of my written communications as important. I also wanted to note that the social workers, attorneys, Guardian Ad litems, foster parents, etc… do much of their correspondence and communicating in document format. Apparently they all understand each other perfectly and never disagree? Apparently they are all constantly in perfect harmony and alignment.

Unethical/dishonest behaviors of Carla Paullin-- individual adult therapist

Ms. Paullin did not treat me for any accurate diagnoses-- though she stated several during her time as my therapist. As a matter of fact, ms. Paullin went on the information in Dr. David Bot's report from a very brief shoddy clinical interview he held with me. I further believe that even if she were treating me for any diagnoses, she was treating for inaccurate ones. She spoke of Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissism, Antisocial, Dysthymia. She did not mention PTSS in her reports until she found that Dr. Mary Deitzen had suggested that I may have traits of that syndrome, therefore, she did not treat me for it. I know she did not treat for that syndrome because I have done research and found the recommended treatment methods. Ms. Paullin did not use any of the stated modes of treatment for PTSS. Dr. Deitzen, on the other hand, does not diagnose me with Dysthimia, Borderline Personality Disorder or any other personality or psychological disorder. She diagnosed me with traits of some disorders. (And certainly not a severe psychological disorder.)

Ms. Paullin has stated to the court that I have not taken responsibility for my part in delaying this case. I do not understand where she is coming up with her assertion. I have indeed stated to her that I do understand my responsibility for some delay in this case. I informed her as well that I came clean with the court and confessed to having lied about my relationship with Charles Benvegar. I informed her that the actions that I did which caused some delay in the case took place very early on in the case... yet the Department continues to refer back to that incident and blame it for the entire duration of this case. I also informed Ms. Paullin that I told the court why I married Mr. Benvegar and why I lied to the court about the nature of the marriage relationship. Again, I can not say the same for anyone else that is involved in this Dependency action. Not one other party to the case has taken responsibility for or confessed to their dishonest, fraudulent and coercive actions. I guess I am confused about what else I could have done to convince the court, Department and their contracted providers that I have indeed taken responsibility and realize the seriousness of my actions in regard to lying to the court. I have already explained to the court that I did it all under severe duress and fear.

I believe that Ms. Paullin was unethical in sharing with the Department practically every conversation that she and I held. I was of course afraid to be completely honest with her out of fear of her blabbing my every word to the Department. I believe she violated that client and therapist confidentiality laws. I will never feel confident to share my inner most feelings or thoughts with therapists who will repeat everything I say to them. It just does not make for a trusting therapeutic relationship between a therapist and client. Yes, I guess I lied again in court during my termination trial when I agreed that I trusted Ms. Paullin. Again, I made this statement under duress and in desperate hope that I would appease the judge and convince her to let me take my child home. Wrong? Probably-- however, I know this goes on in so very many cases nationwide. People are terrified that if they don't say and do whatever CPS desires, they will lose their children forever. It also seems that I have read in the statutes where it is a defense when a person is signing documents or testifying under duress or coercion.

Ms. Paullin did not recommend any anger management classes even though she stated in court that many of my emails sounded angry and sarcastic. (She said that she read all of my emails provided to her by my attorney for her comment.) She disagreed with the Department's assertion that I am hostile in my written communications, however,she stated that she perceived many of them as angry and sarcastic. Apparently not necessarily unjustified anger or sarcasm-- because she informed me during a session that she did not feel that an anger management class was warranted or necessary. My point in bringing this subject up is to demonstrate that my own therapist seemed to believe that most of my fears and anger were well founded and not without merit.

Mr. Callen set up a meeting with Ms. Paullin directly after the termination ruling, without first notifying or consulting with me about it. He then chose to invite me-- told me to be there. Ms. Paullin attended the meeting, as did a couple of my close friends and supports. At this meeting, Ms. Paullin again tried to convince me to willingly give up. She pleaded with me to not go forward with an appeal regarding the termination of my parental rights. She went on and on about how she was so concerned about my emotional well being and that she wanted to see me go on to make more wonderful progress. She stated that she felt that I was not allowing myself to grieve the loss of my son if I continued on with the appeal. I don't think it is the business of any therapist to try to convince their client to not appeal a court's ruling. Appealing is a constitutional right that we have and is part of the judicial process. I was further appalled that Ms. Paullin seemingly dismissed all of the pain and suffering that I had endured during the three years of this dependency action, as if it were nothing compared to the stress of an appeal. At least I was allowed a small and limited amount of time with my son during the dependency action. I do not get to see him at all now. In short, I believe Ms. Paullin overstepped her boundaries as a therapist by trying to convince me to not file for an appeal of the trial court's ruling of termination.

Useless service provider-- Mary Anne Sacco

Mary Anne Sacco was enlisted by Gina Miles to conduct a rather quick 'parenting assessment'. Within several days of my last contact with Ms. Sacco (of which I had very few), a hearing was held before Commissioner Jolicoeur. At this hearing, Ms. Sacco was called to testify. To my great relief, my attorney at the time-- April B. Pearce proved one of my main points and grievances about Ms. Sacco. I had complained to Ms. Pearce that Ms. Sacco was confusing in her communications and seemingly not sure of herself and her therapy mode. As Ms. Sacco continued answering questions for Ms. Pearce, she repeatedly used the phrase "ya know what I mean?" She repeated this phrase at least six or seven times within a 15 minute time frame. Finally, Ms. Pearce stated in exasperation, "No, I don't know what you mean. I'm having a hard time following you!" My point being-- that Ms. Sacco is either incompetent, or merely another parrot for the Department. She obviously is not required to display any real competence or back up anything she said. She never provided any kind of therapy in the sessions that I attended with her. She spent more time either assisting a repairman in her outer office area or using beauty products for her skin and nails.

Another important point I would like to make in regards to the 'service' Ms. Sacco was supposedly enlisted to provide-- The Department insists that she wore several hats... which, even if this were the case, I think it would have been inappropriate at best. The Department states that she was to conduct a parent assessment, provide adult individual therapy, provide parenting instruction and marital counseling. That is not what was made clear to me. I was with the understanding that Ms. Sacco, according to Gina Miles (social worker) was contracted to conduct a parent assessment-- period. Ms. Miles even stated to me that "this would be cheaper than a full psychological evaluation." She also stated that "Why should the Department put out $800 for a psychological evaluation when it could be done for considerably less by Ms. Sacco?" I couldn't believe my ears! The only thing that mattered to me at that time was receiving my baby boy back into my arms and home. I was game for almost anything they wanted me to do.

I am aware that Ms. Sacco and the social worker at that time, Gina Miles were friends. I believe that influenced the intentions of Ms. Sacco. I think it was unethical for Ms. Miles to make a referral to a service provider of whom she is a personal friend. I also believe that Ms. Miles attempted to influence the testimony of Ms. Sacco. The reason I believe this-- amongst other reasons, is due to the nature of the conversation she held with the therapist from Family Service Spokane. I spoke earlier in this document about the hostility with which Ms. Miles confronted the Family Service Spokane therapist. That interaction is evidenced in the therapists report, located in the client file with that agency. In short, I mean to say that even though a good portion of Ms. Sacco's testimony was truthful and just stated the facts... she also twisted some facts and exaggerated others. I also agree that my sessions with her would likely have been less chaotic without the presence of Mr. Benvegar, as was evidenced in the sessions with Susan Elg and Carla Paullin.

Useless 'service' YWCA "hands on parenting instruction"

During the time I visited my son at this location-- that is all I did. I visited Micah while several very young people sat around in the same large room, conversing about their extracurricular activities and romances. There were generally at least two other families in this same area when I visited my son. Occasionally, one of the young people staffing the room would look over to see Micah and me and then turn right back to their leisurely conversations. Once in a while, the person supposedly assigned to 'work with' me would check in to suggest that I coo more with Micah. Brandy would merely suggest that I sing and talk to Micah-- as if I did not interact at all with my infant son. Needless to say, I was bored with the lack of services provided by this program.. I reached my limit when one day, I was changing my son's diaper and he was on the changing bed. I turned around and walked just a few feet to the sink to quickly wash my hands and was scolded by Brandy for not having one hand on my son at all times. First of all, Micah was not even two months old at that time and could not even roll over if he tried. Second, I was only several feet away from him and only for a moment and I turned back to look at him several times during the brief few moments it took to wash my hands. I was very conscious of my son and vigilant to make sure he was not harmed. I was, however, made out to look like an ignorant person who did not look out for her son's safety. I was treated as if I could not think to provide for my son's well being.

Dr. David Bot's psychiatric evaluation

Dr. Bot met with me one time for less than an hour. I had never seen or met this man before the day of the 'evaluation'. Dr. Bot merely chatted with me and asked some questions about some documents given to him by CPS. He asked me a few questions about previous mental health treatment and hospital stays. (Ancient history.) He did absolutely no testing such as MMPI or any other personality/psychological tests. He therefore had no hard data from which to base his 'opinion' and diagnoses. He merely rubber stamped an old history of diagnoses. He did not attempt to understand if perhaps previous diagnoses were indeed correct or even still present in me. He even went so far as to inform the court that I had gotten off on the wrong foot by choosing to make CPS my enemy instead of my ally. He painted me as unnecessarily obstinate and uncooperative with CPS due to my insistence on paying attention to the letter of the law. He actually asked me what was more important to me: my son or fighting a legal battle. I informed him that my son was at the core of the legal battle and that it was him that the legal issue was all about. He insinuated that my disagreement with CPS involvement in my family was evidence that I lacked the capacity to effectively raise my son. It was used against me for the remainder of the three year long CPS case. It eventually resulted in the termination of my parental rights.

I have to wonder what the Board of Psychchiatry would have to say about the conduct of Dr. Bot. I suspect they might inform me that he did not follow protocol for correctly diagnosing a patient. Anyone can sit and chat with a person for a short period of time, however, I dare say that the Board of Psychiatry would disagree with Dr. Bot's shoddy clinical interview as a method of diagnosing an individual with serious mental health disorders. Diagnoses that will follow that person for a lifetime. Diagnoses that are likely not even remotely accurate.

Dr. Bot was very instrumental in the eventual termination of my parental rights to my son. That was a very serious violation of my Constitutional right to rear my child absent unnecessary governmental interference. Dr. Bot played a significant role in that ruling. He also billed Medicaid and collected the payment for his unprofessional and illegal manner of diagnosing a patient. I believe he is guilty of Medicaid fraud and medical malpractice.

Dr. Mary Deitzen's psychological evaluation

This blog's author Denise Dopkins first presents another mother's mental health condition. I do so in an effort to explain my assertion that social services (CPS) unjustly, illegally and cruelly terminated the relationship and bonding experience between my son Micah and me. I was never diagnosed with any severe personality or mental health disorder... just minor traits of. Kim Noble on the other hand was diagnosed with substantially troubling mental health disorder. (Discotiative Identity Disorder.) She was allowed to keep her daughter in her care and custody while receiving therapy and other services in her home. Social services denied me the same opportunity. They simply removed my son from my care and custody and successfully built a dishonest case against me... causing a court to eventually permanently terminate my parental rights. Please read the story of Kim Noble: A woman divided.

Dr. Deitzen did a very thorough and complete psychological evaluation with me. She laid her foundation with collateral information and initial interview with Mr. Callen and me. She conducted several in-depth interviews with me... delving into my childhood and early adult life, on up to present day. I submitted to some written tests that she provided. I thought she was basically fair and honest, though I did not agree with every word in her report. I wish to point out some very important facts regarding her report.

1. Not only does Dr. Deitzen not diagnose me with psychological or personality disorders, she also uses phrases such as: 'she may' or 'it appears that' or 'victims of abuse tend to'... and so forth. She does not directly state that I personally exhibit these types of behaviors or symptoms... or even that I have displayed in the past. I contend there is not clear, cogent or convincing evidence that I suffer from a psychological disorder so severe that it prevents me from safely and effectively parenting my son. (Though the Department claims in its termination petition that I do.) Many people in this world have suffered child abuse. That does not automatically make them abusers of children. Statistical or not, it is not fair and I dare say it is illegal to terminate the parent-child relationships on the premises of what ifs. Nor is it fair or legal to terminate parental rights simply because a parent might... just might abuse her child. There have been people who were brought up in loving stable homes that went on to become seriously disturbed people. Many of those people committed crimes of violence towards family members as well. On the other hand-- many people who were abused as children did not go on to abuse their children.

Dr. Deitzen diagnosed me with traits of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That diagnosis wasn't even mentioned until the very end of my CPS case. I assert that I should sue the State for causing me to suffer from PTSD. My experience in dealing with CPS was the most traumatic experience in my entire 44 years of life on this earth! Furthermore, I was never treated for PTSD. So one could say that the state failed to provide all necessary and reasonably available services-- though they are required to do so by law.

I will be composing a letter to Dr. Deitzen requesting my entire client file from her. I will request copies of the exact tests that I marked on. I will be asking for the manual or other method of evaluating the tests that I took. I will be asking her for all documentation in the client file... be it her clinical notes from our sessions, her notes from our initial meeting with me and my attorney Mr. Callen, an exhaustive list of all collateral information that she reviewed and so forth. In short, I will be asking for a copy of everything in the client file.

Strengths of Denise Dopkins (mother)

Before I gave birth to Micah

When I discovered that I was pregnant with my son, I was full of joy and excited to experience giving birth. I soon sought out a pregnancy counselor. A close friend helped me locate a pregnancy counseling service ‘Life Services’. Though not required by law to do this, I wanted to do so in preparation for the very important responsibility of caring for and nurturing my baby boy. I wanted the very best for Micah. I did enroll in the Life Services and faithfully attended all appointments with Ms. Snider. I earned points towards baby items by attending sessions, watching educational videos and doing homework. I learned much valuable information in the process. In short, this was just one more example of evidence that I was fully aware of the necessity to provide the best and safest upbringing of my son.

I was pressured by Micah's father to terminate the pregnancy. He even hauled me all over town to obtain a 'morning after pill'. When I visited the Planned Parenthood clinic- he waited out in his vehicle for me to speak with someone there. I received the pills with directions on how and when to take them. I purposely botched the effectiveness of the medication by throwing it away. I wanted this baby and I do not agree with or believe in abortion. I truly wanted Micah then and I still do.

I enrolled in the WIC program and began regularly receiving medical and nutritional information throughout my pregnancy. I kept all of my appointments with the Public Health Nurse at the WIC office.

I received regular and consistent prenatal care and I did abide by all of my doctor’s advice and instructions regarding medical aspects of pregnancy.

I enrolled in Lamaze classes and enlisted my very close friends Marge McAlpin and Rita Clark to come to the classes with me, which they very willingly did. I opted to not include Micah's father for obvious reasons. We were not planning to raise Micah together. We never planned to get married. We never lived together or planned to do so. We no longer had an intimate relationship.

After I gave birth to Micah

I was allowed to take Micah home from the hospital, with the understanding that I would abide by a signed safety contract. I had signed the contract in the hospital, under severe duress and terrified that they would take Micah from the hospital if I did not cooperate with the social worker. (By cooperate, she meant that I needed to sign various consent forms for personal information and the safety contract as well. She also forced the issue of holding a conversation with me regarding any number of topics, including, but not limited to mental health history, drug and alcohol history, criminal history, childhood abuse issues and more.) She then proceeded to twist and turn my words and she blew everything way out of proportion in her petition to the judge for the removal of my son from my care and custody.

Once home with Micah, I realized that he was excessively fussy and constantly cried. I was not getting 20 minutes of rest at any time around the clock. I was up and down continually, nursing Micah and attempting to soothe and comfort him. During this time period of 5 days, I was also contending with post birth medical issues. I was taking very strong pain medication which made me deliriously sleepy, yet I was getting no sleep. I was wearing a catheter, due to a cut bladder and had to remember amongst other things, to empty the bag. I was trying to recuperate from a Cesarean surgery and overexerting by getting up and down so many times to tend to Micah. I opted to enlist the assistance of my pregnancy counselor and close friends and I did not enlist the assistance of Micah's father Mr. Barrett. At my pregnancy counselor's advice, I chose to leave Micah at the Vanessa Behan Crises Nursery so that I could get some immediate and temporary respite. I also attempted to figure out what could possibly be the problem causing Micah to be so excessively fussy. I called my doctor and he strongly advised me to stop breast feeding. He indicated that the medications I was taking could have been causing discomfort in Micah. I did stop breast feeding at that time.

Once involved with CPS, I sought out a counselor for myself—while waiting for the social worker to provide referrals. The counselor I chose assessed me and found me to not fit the criteria for the services offered by Family Service Spokane. I was apparently not severely ill enough to be accepted as a client in their program. As it turns out, the counselor reported that the CPS social worker (Gina Miles) became hostile toward her about the fact that she did not provide a negative enough report regarding me. Ms. Miles also demanded my private client information, which the counselor informed her she would not provide to her without my written consent. Ms. Miles accusatorily asked this counselor if I had informed her of various incidents from my past. This counselor informed her that yes, I had indeed informed her of the facts Ms. Miles referred to. Ms. Miles became angry and hostile at her answers. This counselor responded by saying to Ms. Miles “If you are this hostile towards me, I can only imagine how you treat Denise”. Evidence of this report can be located in the client file with Family Service Spokane.

I may not have the exact wording, however, Court Commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur has stated in court that she commends my articulateness, intelligence, doggedness, will to survive, love for my son, and the fact that I have not abused drugs or alcohol. She has likely said more positive than that, however, this is what I recall from immediate memory. Court transcripts would reflect her exact words.

My counselor, Carla Paullin has repeatedly stated to me that she firmly believes that I should become employed doing some kind of legal research, perhaps even for a law firm. She commends my persistence, dedication and attention to detail, articulateness, intelligence and so forth. She has stated to me more than once, very emphatically that “Denise, we have got to get you a job doing what you do so well!” (Referring to my dedication to fighting for the safe return of my child… which has necessitated an active role in assisting in my own defense. This has included much legal research, reading, letter writing, and information gathering for my attorney and so forth.

Mistakes made by Denise Dopkins (mother)

Under extreme duress and terrified that the state could take my baby from me permanently, I chose to marry Charles F. Benvegar. We did indeed lie in court and to the Department regarding the nature of our relationship. Given the not so truthful or accurate petition of Melly Keith, I felt desperate to prevent the permanent termination of my relationship with my son and I made some very poor decisions. The petition stated allegations of mental health disorders, lack of paternal interest in my son; that the mother is single, indigent and unlikely to be able to defend against the father of Micah. I thought that if presented as married, financially supported and capable of defending against Mr. Barrett, I would have a far better chance of regaining custody of my son. Furthermore, April Pearce (my attorney at the time) convinced me that the court could take Micah from me permanently merely because the father is a convicted sex offender. (See letter dated mid February 2006, located in social file confirming, on the other hand, that social worker Patricia Murman stated to me that Micah could not be taken from me regarding Mr. Barrett if I did not allow unsupervised contact between him and my son.) I have never allowed unsupervised contact between the father and Micah. I even chose not to enlist the father’s assistance when Micah was in my care... even though there was not a court order stipulating such action. I chose instead to call my pregnancy counselor and other supportive friends for assistance. Note: Ms. Murman’s failure to respond to my documentation of our conversation indicated to me her agreement with my version and interpretation of it. (Referring to Ms. Murman's and my February 2006 conversation about the father of Micah.)

Regarding the paragraph directly above, Mr. Callen asked me in court if Ms. Murman had ever informed me that I could have absolutely no contact with Mr. Barrett. I answered that no she had not. I wished I had addressed the letter regarding the conversation between Ms. Murman and me from February 2006. As usual, I was too terrified to say much of anything in court and relied solely on my attorneys to speak in my behalf. I relied on them to relay to the court everything I asked them to address. As I have stated before, they did not get everything into the record that I asked them to-- or that was necessary to preserve for appeal. Mr. Callen... as well as Ms. Pearce had opportunities to get information into the record, however, did not act on those opportunities.

Facts regarding alleged ‘mental illness’ (mother’s)

I would first like to mention another mother's story so that my readers might more clearly understand why I assert that CPS and the Superior Court judge were unjust in their success at terminating the relationship between my son Micah and me. Please click on the following link to read the story of another mother whom dealt with social service workers.  Kim Noble: A woman devided.

As my Public Defender Mr. Callen asked in his comments regarding the appeal-- does a mother's mental disabilities preclude her from raising her child? In response to that comment I would just say that I still assert that the Department did not prove that any alleged psychological or emotional problems in me prevents me from caring for my son. Furthermore, even Judge O'Connor stated in her own ruling that there is some disagreement between the doctors as to whether or not I suffer from any personality or psychological disorder. That equals that there is not clear, cogent or convincing evidence that I have a disorder that would preclude me from caring for and raising my son or that I would not protect him from any known or perspective harm. Read the story of Kim Noble to more clearly understand why I make the assertion that I am not incapable of caring for my son. I already proved to them that I am capable of protecting my son in that I did not enlist the assistance of Mr. Barrett in my time of need when Micah was in my care and custody. Again- I did not enlist his assistance, even when there was not a court order prohibiting me from doing so. I do not require a court to order me to separate Mr. Barrett and Micah because I would do it on my own. There is documented evidence to back this up. When I stated in court that I would keep the father and Micah separated without DCFS approved supervision if a court's order required it, I just meant that I would also abide by the court's order. I did not mean to insinuate that I would need a court's order... just that I would not violate any court's order.

During the past two and one half years, I have exhibited very minimal, if any of the criteria for the various diagnoses that the Department is stating to the court. Refer to the necessary criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder or Dysthymia. They also list paranoia. I do not agree that I am paranoid. I do believe that I have well founded reason for being distrusting of the Department. I have never been under as severe duress as I have suffered during this dependency action. Studies show that I would have reacted completely differently than I have if I indeed suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder, Dysthymia or paranoia disorders. I believe I may have been incorrectly diagnosed when I was younger. Furthermore, in my distant past, I responded far more irrationally over far less stressful situations than what I have endured for the past three and one half years.

I do not feel that the Department has accurately specified how alleged mental health problems directly affect my ability to parent effectively. I do not feel it has been proved by clear, cogent or convincing evidence that any mental health condition in me renders me currently unfit to parent. Anything that they have said is open ended and full of vagueness. I believe the Department has made a generic, open ended statement in the termination petition: They allege that the mother has a severe psychological disorder that prevents her from effectively parenting. They can say anything, however, they must prove their claims, especially when a well known and respected psychologist has concluded that I do not suffer from any severe psychological or personality disorder. Do I have some emotional baggage from my history of child abuse and maltreatment, likely yes. Does it rise to the level of a disorder rendering me unfit or unable to safely and effectively parent my son? Absolutely not.

The Department finally arranged a ‘psychiatric evaluation’ 5 months into this Dependency action… very untimely. Dr. David Bot merely spoke with me for about 50 minutes, asking me questions regarding documents he obtained from the Department. (Old history of mental health diagnosis and treatment.) He did not conduct any paper testing of any kind, such as the MMPI test. There was no current hard data to analyze. He just rubber stamped an old history and allegations of the Department. He provided diagnosis based on a conversation with me lasting less than one hour. Dr. Bot even went so far as to accuse me of “getting off on the wrong foot by choosing to make the Department my enemy rather than my ally”. I have never viewed CPS as my friend and I certainly did not make them my enemy. They have done a good job at that of their own initiative.

Facts regarding the Department’s alleged concern about Douglas Barrett

The Department fails to recall that they determined in the beginning of this Dependency action that Douglas and I were not living together, had never lived together, were no longer romantically involved and did not intend to parent Micah together. (Never mind the fact that they also determined that referral allegations to be unfounded.)

The Department fails to recall that I protected my son from Mr. Barrett during the time Micah was in my custody and care. They fail to recall that I did not enlist Mr. Barrett’s assistance when Micah was so excessively fussy and he did not attempt to pursue contact with Micah. I chose instead to call my pregnancy counselor and other supports for assistance. In essence, I did not violate the safety contract I signed in the hospital and I proved that I was capable of keeping the father and Micah apart without DCFS approved supervision… despite the fact that I was not court ordered to do so at that time. All of this was made clear to Commissioner Jolicoeur in the beginning of this dependency action.

The Department fails to recall a ruling of Commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur during the very early part of this Dependency action. (Documentation of her ruling is located in the legal file dated approximately April of 2005.) She ruled that ‘nothing prevents the Department from placing with the mother on or before the next review hearing.’ The commissioner made this ruling with full knowledge of the fact that Mr. Barrett and I were associating. The Department is fully aware of her ruling and of her finding of fact regarding this issue.

Mr. Barrett has willingly relinquished his parental rights to Micah. He is not any part of the Dependency action and does not wish to pursue contact with Micah.

Mr. Barrett’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ed Averett did not recommend against supervised visitation, which leads me to believe that he did not deem him a high risk of harm to Micah. Furthermore, Mr. Barrett has received a notice from the Sheriff's department that he is eligible to apply to not be required to register his residence location because he was released from prison over 10 years ago and has not been in any trouble with the law since then. He has also been determined to be a level one offender, least likely to re-offend. If the Department of Corrections is not concerned that Mr. Barrett is a risk of harm to children such that they encourage him to apply to not be required to register his residence with the Sheriff's department-- in addition to all of the measures I have taken to keep Micah and him separated, then I am confused about why CPS makes such an issue of him now. Furthermore, Mr. Barrett has not proceeded to request that he not have to register his residence anymore. He also owns his own home now and is not transient as he was during my CPS case. They have enough evidence to conclude that I certainly would not allow contact between Mr. Barrett and Micah, however, they act as if they do not. I am perfectly capable of protecting my son from him or any other known, perceived or perspective harm. I must clarify that in pointing out the positives of Mr. Barrett's situation, I am not suggesting that he be allowed unsupervised contact with my son. He further has shown no interest in contact with my son. I am merely stating facts as per his psychiatrist and DOC's reports. Refer also to a case the Washington Appellate Project prevailed in regarding the state's accusation regarding a convicted abuser of a child.
Title of Case: Docket Number: 59291-2 In Re The Dep. Of M.s.d, Kyisha Davis, App V. State Of Wash., Dshs, Respondent; File Date: 02/04/2008

During the last few years, I have been amicable with Mr. Barrett. We have talked on the phone and occasionally met for coffee. I have updated him on the status of the Dependency case as well as the status of the paternity action when it was pending. He has occasionally given me rides to services and to do things such as laundry or grocery shopping. That ceased in August of 2006. We have not been sexually involved since shortly after I became pregnant. Micah has not been any part of my interactions with Mr. Barrett. He has not ever been around Mr. Barrett without DCFS approved supervision. The Department has no reason to believe that I would ever allow contact between Mr. Barrett and Micah. They are again basing their allegations on what ifs and not requisite evidence of parental unfitness. Again, the Department has every reason to believe that I would NOT allow contact between Micah and Mr. Barrett… based upon my choosing not to enlist Mr. Barrett’s assistance when Micah was in my care. Many women would have enlisted their boyfriend/ex boyfriend to help them, however, I did not. That separates me from those that would.

As far as I know, parents are afforded the right to associate with people who have been in trouble in their past, as long as their children are protected from any potential or known harm and as long as the parent is not participating in criminal activity with such persons. Fit parents are capable of protecting their children from potential or known harm. Many people have been known to help people who have been in trouble, however, they are not punished by the removal of their children from their care and custody. The Department has speculated that I am not capable of effectively parenting my child, however, they have not proved it. This is again an issue of ‘what ifs’ and not clear, cogent and convincing evidence that I would harm my child or allow him to be harmed while in my custody.

Additional issues for consideration

I wish for the higher court(s) to know that many of my answers and statements in court during the entire duration of the Dependency action, as well as the termination trial were made out of fear. I did not lie merely to lie or to be deceitful. I was desperate to be reunited with my baby. I was terrified. This entire experience with CPS has been the most terrifying, oppressive and emotionally torturous one I have ever endured in my life. I even confessed to false guilt in my desperate attempt to say whatever they wanted to hear and to hopefully appease them so they would release my son to me. Obviously, it does not matter what you say or do, right or wrong-it is all subjective and if CPS wants to keep your baby and adopt him out, they usually succeed. I have heard far too many devastated parents speak of the same experiences that I have suffered at the hands of the child welfare system as it operates today. For heavens sake-- Senator Nancy Schaefer, other political figures and national leaders met on 09-26-08 in Washington DC to discuss, as Senator herself says 'the financial and moral corruption' within the CPS arena. Senator Schaefer is horrified at the awful things that CPS gets away with and the paths of destruction they leave behind-- all for the almighty dollar. (1.Adoption incentive-- financial bonuses for every child they adopt out... and even more when they exceed the set quotas. 2. Funds to keep children in state care. The longer CPS can string a case out-- the more money the agency gets and the more likely they are to succeed at terminating the parents relationship with his/her child and then adopt them out.) She further wishes to do something about it in order to curtail many of the horrific actions of agents of CPS and to protect families near and far-- from the unnecessary break up of their homes. I only wish I wasn't so terrified during my encounter with CPS so that I could have spoken every word of which I am able to say in document format. I am better at writing or composing than I ever could muster up courage enough to speak it all in court. I'm not certain that I could even think straight enough in court to be able to remember everything that I should say. This is precisely why I never wanted to represent myself in any legal proceeding of any kind. Mr. Callen constantly advised me to not file motions or documents on my own, so I didn't. I chose to abide by his advice.

Interestingly enough, animals will kill or severely wound anyone or anything that so much as approach their young. Human mothers, on the other hand, are expected to keep their cool, comply with anything CPS demands- whether it is necessary or not, show undying gratitude for CPS very presence in their family's life, and admit to anything CPS asserts or says. If you fight back or disagree with anything they say- they retaliate and cause unbearable suffering. They use it against the parent and accuse them of being non-compliant or obnoxious-- even denying them any more than the minimal amount of visitation with their children. Then, while the legal battle rages on, time also is wasted. Time is almost always the parent's enemy when dealing with CPS. Time is nearly always CPS's friend- because the more time that passes, the more likely they are to be successful in convincing a judge that there is 'no time for progress' and terminate the parent-child relationship. (Never mind the small fact that in this case, and I fear many other cases, the Department fails to clearly explain what 'progress in services' means... or what I must specifically do in order to receive my child back in to my care and custody. They are very vague and generic in their statements. They provide excellent opportunity for treatment providers such as Susan Elg to make general negative statements such as 'concerns exist' or 'concerns still exist' or 'there is a social bond, however, there is not an emotional connection or an emotional bond between mother and child'. How do they know that? If you agree with CPS, they use that against the parent by saying that after all, they agree that they have problems severe enough to warrant the removal of their child from their care and custody. I never intended anything I said to be interpreted as that. It is a losing battle for the parent either way. There really is no accountability where CPS is concerned-- and the parents can be punished, regardless of what they do or say, right or wrong.

Who decides when a parent-child relationship is good enough, absent abuse or neglect? As Mr. Callen did say (I believe it was during the termination trial), "the Department is painting with a very wide brush" in this case. I believe that the Department and court is playing God where they have no business. (Refer to: If there is no abuse or neglect and no clear, cogent or convincing evidence that Micah would be in imminent danger of harm if left in my care, why has he not been placed back with me, his own mother? Again, they base their decisions on what ifs and speculation. Mere statistics do not merit the removal of children from their parents and certainly does not justify the permanent severing of the parent-child relationship.

I believe I am a victim of legal abuse. I truly believe I have suffered at the hands of the legal system within Juvenile court. I feel that the parents and defense attorneys are not really listened to in Juvenile courts. Even when public defenders actually do their job in defending their clients, they are often ignored and brushed aside so that the Department gets what they want from the court. I believe the testimony of Department contracted treatment providers, DCFS social workers and Guardian Ad litems hold far more weight than that of the parent and/or their attorney… often times public defenders. I further believe and have personal experience/documented evidence to substantiate my belief that public defenders often do not make certain to get everything into the record... as in this case. The fact of the matter really is that even the attorneys are actively involved in assuring that the parent's are permanently separated from their children. They do so by failing/refusing to bring forth a vigorous defense for the clients.

At the third of three meetings that I held with the Department, my attorney and some of my close friends, I was informed that the reason I was not offered any other services than that of Susan Elg in the earlier stages of this case was because-- and I quote Lisa Lydon: "You weren't ready for services at that time." I could not believe my ears! Her statement was in response to my question "Why hasn't the Department offered or provided any other reasonably available services in the duration of this case" If I 'wasn't ready'... ready for what? If I 'wasn't ready'... why was I in services with Susan Elg? What really was her purpose as the treatment provider in this case?

Somebody flat lied about the accusation of seeing me with Douglas Barrett behind his booth in the park in September of 2007. I even asked Ms. Murman who made this accusation and, as is her general practice in this case, she failed to answer me. I believe it was therapist Carla Paullin who testified to this at the termination trial. When I questioned Ms. Paullin about it- she informed me that Ms. Murman informed her that someone had told her that they saw me in the park with Mr. Barrett. This was hearsay in court. My attorney and I refuted their claim in court as well, however, the Department was never forced to come forward with evidence of their accusation. I did do some research and found that Mr. Barrett did not even have a booth in the park that year.

The issue of Domestic violence in my history has been used as another reason to keep Micah from me. I have read some case law that states that even if a child has witnessed the act of violence in the home-- it is not legal to remove that child from his home merely based on that fact. I would assume also then, that since Micah has never witnessed any violence from me towards him or anyone else, the state can not permanently separate me from him due to past history of domestic violence.

I was forced to sign consent forms throughout the Dependency action, against my will. It is supposedly a person's right to refuse to sign anything, however, the juvenile court ordered me to sign releases of information anytime it was requested of me. I was also ordered to sign consent forms to allow any and all parties to the Dependency action to collaborate, share provider's reports and discuss my case with one another. I was basically forced to sign blanket forms allowing open ended and indefinite consent for communication and information sharing between providers, the Guardian Ad litem and attorneys. I tried to refuse through Mr. Callen, however, he encouraged me to sign the consent forms. I did so under protest. I tend to believe that the treatment providers and the Department, GAL and attorneys would collaborate and share information regardless of whether they had consent forms anyway. If they were allowed to do so anyway, then why was I asked and further ordered to sign consent forms?

In several documented cases where the termination a parents rights was overturned, it speaks of the parent having completed various services, such as parenting class, anger management class, and so forth. For example-- see Washington Appellate Project case: "In the matter of the Dependency of T.L.G." where it talks about the appellant having completed specific courses or services. In my case, to my recollection, there was never any completion date stated or even in sight. There was never any specified completion date for services with Ms. Elg or any other so-called service that I participated in. I was never informed of exactly what was expected of me in order to receive my son back into my care and custody. There was always open ended circle talk about it. They spoke in vague terms. For example: "Make progress in services" or "Work on your relationship with your son" or "Bond with your son". This is the kind of direction I was given in the entire duration of this case. This directly conflicts with the law that mandates that "The agency plan shall specify what services the parents will be offered to enable them to resume custody, what requirements the parents must meet to resume custody, and a time limit for each service plan and parental requirement". (RCW 13.34.136 (2) (b) (i)

I believe it is not in the best interests of any child Micah's age to suddenly have all ties with his mother cut off. Especially when she is the one and only constant in his young life. I never abused or harmed my son in any way. The sad fact here is that the adoptive parents are punishing me for refusing to sign an open adoption agreement and willingly relinquish my parental rights. Furthermore, if I had won this appeal, a substantial amount of time would have passed. How is it in the best interests of a child to first be suddenly cut off from the one and only constant in his life thus far, and then, if the court had ruled in my favor, to be torn from a home he has know for the better part of his life and placed with someone who is once again none more than a stranger to him. Make no mistake in misunderstanding my statement-- I do not mean to suggest that I don't want my son back in my care and custody. I want to be reunited with him very much so. I think he should be placed back with me. I am just concerned for his well being due to the horrific actions of the Department and court. (The unnecessary prolonged out of home placement and the severe lack of interaction allowed by the court during such placement.) At the same time, I am worried that the higher court would order him to remain in the home he is in-- once again using the logic that it would be detrimental to his well being to be taken from the home he has know for the better part of his life. This is the exact problem that the system as it stands today causes. It is a crying shame. Something must be done to prevent this. If a parent has not harmed or abused their child(ren), they should be allowed at least supervised visitation throughout an appeals process, so the child can stay familiar with their parents and therefore make the transition back into their care far less traumatic... should the higher court rule in the parent's favor. Instead, the parent is cut off at the knees so to speak... even though the parents were never even accused of abuse or neglect. The state proclaims its sincerest sorrow for the abuse a parent suffered as a child and then proves its supposed sympathy by severing any interaction what-so-ever.

I recall that Micah was constantly asking to come back home with me to visit after his Christmas home visit with me. He was familiar with me. He liked me. We had fun together and I believe he knew I loved him. We cherished our time together. It is so hurtful to recall how Ms. Elg and the Guardian Ad litem repeatedly stated that Micah "tolerated visits well" with his mother. What kind of statement is that? He either did or did not enjoy his time with me. The Department and providers make contradictory statements regarding the nature of visits between my son and me.

I must explain my main purpose for composing this document. I do so in large part to paint a clear picture of exactly how much I had to endure in my attempts to appease the Department. I also wish to convey how upset I have been and the very legitimate reasoning behind it. I feel, as do many others, including several therapists I have interviewed since the termination of my parental rights, some friends, and many others nationwide, that I have handled extremely well- the duress and fear I have suffered for nearly five years, not to forget the retaliatory actions and cruel and unreasonable accusations of the Department. I have not reacted in many of the ways various diagnoses would indicate that I would- if indeed they were accurate diagnoses. For example, despite the horrific duress the court and CPS subjected me to, I have not once threatened to or attempted to commit suicide, hence, I am not suicidal. I have not threatened anyone or their property with physical harm. I remained in services for a considerable amount of time- even though it seemed very oppressive to me. (For example, I did not refuse to continue seeing my son under the observation of Ms. Elg when she informed me back in December of 2006 that she was going to recommend decrease in my visitation time with Micah.) Though I certainly had the right to demand to visit with my son elsewhere, I did not. At the advice of my attorney, and seemingly to my demise, I chose to stay put until such time as the court would allow me to visit Micah somewhere other than that of Susan Elg's office. I was compliant, flexible and congenial during services with Ms. Elg, even though we did not have a healthy, trusting or therapeutic working relationship, and despite the fact that she gave a lot of circle talk and psycho babble to me when I asked questions regarding issues of bonding and attachment and disciplinary issues. When I did receive answers from her, she would often contradict herself and sometimes change the rules- if you will- after she had instructed me one way. She did this in the presence of Micah. She regularly undermined my parental authority and confused my son in the process. I did not violate court orders. I did it all in the best interest of my son and in order to be reunited with him.

People should not have to be afraid of the government or any of its agencies/agents. People near and far are afraid of CPS. Once they have been involved with CPS and if their children are ever returned to them, they tend to always watch their backs and continue to be terrified that CPS will again take their children. I know that I will always fear CPS if my son is ever returned to me.

People should not have to be afraid to use community services, such as Vanessa Behan Crises Nursery in Spokane, WA. They commend parents for being brave enough to ask for help. (Q6 news commercial for a fund raiser for the Nursery.) Parents should not have to be afraid of losing their children to the state as punishment for taking action to protect their children. Yet, I fear that so many are punished that way. Prior to the parent leaving their children at the Nursery, they ought to be required to forewarn the parents that Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery staff may contact CPS. What happens then? CPS gets involved... meets the parents at the door of the Nursery and takes their children from them. Then, the nightmare begins. As it operates today, CPS doesn't need a real concrete reason to remove children from their parents custody... never mind the fact that the law mandates that they do. Just a suspicion that they might... just might be in harms way. CPS is required by law to make Reasonable Efforts to keep the family together in their own home while providing community services to correct any alleged problems. They promise parents that if they cooperate and sign safety contracts and any number of other consents for information that the parents can keep their children. Often not true! They are not allowed to work the safety contract that they were likely frightened and intimidated into signing and then CPS begins their efforts to build a case against the parents... generally by way of their own 'department contracted treatment providers' negative reports, winding the clock down so that they can file a termination petition and ultimately permanently separate the children from their parents... even adopting them out to perspective adoptive couples. (Not only do these couples receive money and other benefits during the foster care period, they also receive subsidy payments and any other number of benefits, even after the adoptions are final.) Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery is a breeding ground for the permanent removal of children from their parents.

I have copies of the questions and 'answers' from the three meetings that I held with the DCFS/CPS the AAG, my attorney and some of my supportive friends. At each of these meetings, which, by the way, were at my request, many of the answers I received were vague, confusing and appalling. For example: It was stated in a report to the court that "There is no question but that Ms. Dopkins loves her son and enjoys her time with him." When I asked the social worker to define the word love, the AAG butted in and directed me to the dictionary for the definition. The Department of CPS couldn't even define its own statement to the court! The AAG, Ms. Lydon and the social worker, Patricia Murman routinely sidestepped questions and referred me back to the legal file, which, coincidentally, the AAG did not bring with her to any of the meetings we attended together. As a matter of fact, at the third and final meeting, Ms. Lydon informed us that she had accidentally brought the wrong legal file. She actually brought someone Else's file! Interestingly enough, Ms. Lydon initially cancelled the scheduled date for that meeting, stating that she needed 'more time to better prepare' to answer my questions, of which she already had a copy. (email verification of her request to cancel the meeting.) Then, she still came unprepared to answer my questions and concerns. Also-- for the record, other than the meeting that was held back when Micah was still residing with Rita Clark in 2005, I was never invited to even one staffing or team meeting of any sort. The statutes mandate the Department to include the parents in the planning of their treatment regimen. The Department failed to include me. I had to demand to be included in my own 'treatment' plan and when I did, they begrudgingly included me. The social worker, AAG, treatment providers and even my own attorney looked entirely annoyed at having to attend a meeting to clarify the specific goals and behaviors (RCW 13.34.030(17)(f) and RCW 13.34.136(2)(b)(1) that would be expected prior to the return of my son to my care and custody.

The one thing I would loudly warn parents to do is to REFUSE to speak with any state agent without the presence of an attorney to assist them. My biggest mistake was to ever speak with that social worker in the hospital without an attorney present. This should never be allowed in the hospitals. Mothers should not be allowed to be jumped by social workers without any warning or defense. An attorney would prevent the social worker from bullying the defenseless mother into thinking she was obligated to answer any questions or even agree to any conversation with him/her. Social workers will use everything you say against you. They will twist and turn your words. They will tell half truths and even outright lie in court reports to get a judge to order the removal of your baby from your care and custody. Social workers are not there to help you-- but to gather anything they possibly can to start building a false case against you. Once they have you under Juvenile Court's jurisdiction, they use their whores of the court to cement their case against you. By whores of the court, I mean to say therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, "parenting assessors", gaurdian ad litems, visitation monitors, foster parents, and the list goes on and on. Then the circle talk starts. All of the many catch phrases the state uses day in and day out in court. The judges and commissioners are well aware of all the catch phrases. Such as "lack of bonding" or "marginal progress" or "no time for progress" or "permanency for the child" or "in the best interests of the child". The vagueness of the entire process is sickening. There is no expectation of CPS or its cohorts to back anything they say with evidence. If they say it... it must be true. Then the judges and commissioners rubber stamp anything they request in court... right or wrong. Just or unjust. Doesn't matter- as long as their are children being run through the system, all is well and the federal funds continue to flow in. All of the jobs held by all of the whores of the court remain in tact as long as their are children languishing in foster care. Successful adoptions also bring in federal funds as bonuses for those adoptions. It keeps the foster-adopt industry going strong. Remember, many of those wonderful foster parents are really only planning and scheming to adopt you child. It is a set up from the start. Your child is placed in what is referred to as a pre-adopt home. This is where the social worker begins to attempt to strengthen the bond between your child and the foster care providers. She also works at weakening and destroying the bond between your child and you. Then this is brought into court and used against the defenseless mother... the mother who has continually begged for more time with her child to no avail-- bacause it fall upon deaf ears. The goal of CPS and Juvenile courts is not to keep your family together or to reunify the family. It is rather to destroy the family unit in order to manufacture state funded homes. Sounds mellow dramatic? Read former Nancy Schaefer's scathing report titled "The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services".

I must say that my appeal was unsuccessful. I received the mandate from the so called Washington State Appellate Court that my case has been completely closed and denied. Never mind the fact that my appellate attorneys repeatedly informed me throughout the appellate process that I had a "strong case". Never mind also the fact that they informed me repeatedly that they believed I was railroaded by CPS and family court. Never mind also the fact that my appellate attorneys informed me that-- "if CPS can take your baby for the reasons it asserted, it seems that ALL PARENTS are at risk of having their children removed from their care". My attorneys informed me also that the State appellate court only wanted to hear cases that affected people on a 'systemic level'. I guess I have to wonder what constitutes a "systemic level" in the eyes of the appellate courts. Apparently, the fact that CPS and juvenile courts railroad thousands of families everyday does not have any bearing on what cases it hears or rejects. The Appellate Courts are as unjust as the 'trial courts' in this nation. I mock the term trial courts because, in the context of Family courts, it is more appropriate to refer to them as kangaroo courts... considering the lack of due process transparency and justice for families. When we consider all of the blatant law and civil rights violations committed by DCFS and Juvenile court commissioners/judges... and the appellate courts ignore those violations, it is no wonder defenseless moms permanently lose their children and have no further recourse for receiving redress for the grievances committed against them and their children. My attorneys also informed me that the appellate courts didn't want to listen to "fact intensive" cases. I assume then-- that the greater the amount of factual violations committed by CPS and juvenile courts equals the lesser chance of receiving justice from the appellate courts.

Following is a list of all the players in my case;
Investigative social worker Melly Keith (Esmeralda Woodruff)
Permanency planning social worker Gina Miles
Permanency planning social worker Patricia Murman
Melly Keith's supervisor: Nora Scott
Gina Miles' supervisor: Amy Schindler
Patricia Murman's supervisor: Amy Schindler and Rick Holcomb
Marty Butkovich: Region One DCFS administrator
Guardian Ad litem Martin Kolagrub
Guardian Ad litem Kim Dunham
Guardian Ad litem Diana Salinas
CASA attorney Keri Janda
Foster care providers Amy and Louis Moyer
Foster care providers James and Meegan Ware
Child therapist Susan Elg
Child therapist Carol Thomas
Child therapist Mary Anne Sacco
Adult therapist Carla Paullin
Circle of Security therapist Beth Fergin
Dr. David Bot
Dr. Mary Dietzen
Defense attorney Mark Callen
AAG Heidi Holland
AAG David Turplesmith
AAG Lisa Lydon
Court Commissioner Valerie Jolicoeur
Judge Gregory Sypolt (Superior Court judge)
Judge Kathleen O'Connor (Termination trial judge)


Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you for all you've endured. Parts of your story sound as if they could have been written by people I know. The lies to you and about you. Making you jump through one hoop after another, but never telling you if you've jumped through enough of them or jumped high enough. The sickening feeling that no matter how hard you try, your baby won't ever be coming home again.

I no longer believe it's just one or two bad apples among the social workers. I'm convinced the entire system is corrupt.

I am very, very sorry about Micah. I hope one day he'll find this blog and reach out to you, the mom who will never stop loving him.