What I wish I had known. Case Preparation Child Welfare Cases.

Child Welfare Case Preparation

I wish I had known to DOCUMENT AND RECORD EVERYTHING when i had to deal with government agencies. I thought I could trust the people that worked for the state and I was really naive. Now I know, and though documenting and recording any involvement with government agents is a must, I am going to share a few helpful hints for parents who have to deal with the Department of Health and Human Services DIVISION of Families and Children Child Protection Services workers.

Your House:

  • This means locking knives, guns, and poisonous cleaning supplies and other chemicals where children cannot get to them.
  • Make sure your yards are safe.
  • Vaccinate your animals. You may need to build a fence to keep large animals away from small children.
  • Get ready for “the white glove test”. This means making sure that your house is safe and clean. Clean ceiling fans, the top of the refrigerator, behind the toilet, and any other place that you can think of that you may have forgot the last time you cleaned.
  • Do not forget to pay your utilities. The person that inspects your home will make sure that you have cold and hot running water and electricity.
  • Prove that you can financially care for your children. Keep, clothes, hygienic items, and food. Be ready to prove income to support your children consistently.
  • Laws pertaining to discipline vary across the states. Be familiar with the laws in your state. Take parenting classes if you need to. There is no shame in learning to be a better parent.
  • Let the worker know how much you care for your children and that you can emotionally care for your children.


  • Think about how important transportation is to you and your children.
  • If you own a vehicle, make sure it is clean and maintained.
  • Make sure the insurance is up to date.
  • If you do not own a vehicle, think about other ways that you can safely get your children to a doctor or school and other events. Are there buses, taxis, or other rideshares in your area that can safely transport you and your children?
  • If there is an emergency, do you know what number to call for an ambulance or the police?

Preparing for the Court:

  • Make a home office space somewhere in your home where you can safely keep important documents.
  • Get folders, a file cabinet, or boxes to store all of your paperwork in your safe office space.
  • Invest in a scanner/printer and other office supplies so you can stay organized and keep your originals in order. Scan these into GOOGLE DRIVE or another online source so that if you file complaints, they are easy to forward to the complaint investigator.
  • \Mark your calenders. Calenders are a good way to keep up with important dates and times.
  • Keep a Journal of important events with details of times, dates, places, people, phone numbers, addresses, offices, anything related to your case that may be important. (Sometimes we don’t think it is important but it really is so keep track of EVERYTHING.)
  • Make a couple of copies of your documents. Only share copies of your documents and evidence. Do not give your original documents away. I keep my originals in a separate file cabinet so that I do not get them mixed up with the copies and give the wrong one or too many away. Make sure you keep your original documents safe and don’t give them away. I keep one file cabinet for the originals and another file cabinet for the copies that I can easily grab to share with lawyers, legislators, or court clerks.
  • Create a “Timeline of Events” for your case. This is a good way to take what is on your calender and in your journal, along with your other documents that are stacked up in your file cabinets and make it all make sense. On a page or two highlight events; courtdates, meetings, important phone calls, visitations, shared parenting meetings, community family team meetings, child planning conferences, mediation meetings, or notifications. Things that happen that are key to what is going on in your case.  Keep all of the evidence of these events in your file cabinet or box in case you need them and just highlight in a few words or sentences what that big stack of paperwork is all about and in what order it all happened.
  • Save and make copies of text messages and emails.  
  • Get copies of case files, court transcripts, and even previous court documents that may exist (child support, child custody, etc). These can be obtained from the court clerk . (There is usually a fee to obtain files.)
  • Obtain any new case files that may be filed in between court dates. Sometimes these are filed right before court so you need to get files before and after each court date.
  • Identification; driver’s license or other state id.
  • Photos you can copy that are dated and show evidence of things in a clear fashion; like if your child comes to visitation with a huge bruise on his arm, take a picture close up of the bruise and further away so the bruise can be identified as belonging to him.  You will need at least three copies of each photo if you intend on submitting it to the court.
  • Recorded phone calls need to be transcripted by a court-approved transcriptionist if you want to introduce them as evidence.
  • Your Local District Court Rules.  Every district court (or collection of counties court) has their own rules to abide by which you will need to abide by. It is also helpful because most of the rules have outlines of education and requirements of attorneys to be able to practice as a court-appointed attorney in that county.
  • Previous client-attorney files of past attorneys, whether court-appointed or private. You can usually email them and request that they give it to you.
  • Prepare for what you will say in court.


  • Prepare a three minute, five minute, fifteen minute, and thirty minute speech. We never know how much time we will be given to speak so it is important to think ahead and make words count.
  • Learn to advocate for yourself and your children. Talk to lawyers and social workers to find out what they expect and require from you.
  • Hire a lawyer. I interview lawyers before I pay them. I want to know that they do not have any conflicts and that they are on my side and understand that I expect them to fight with me for my family. You will hear that there are lawyers out there that just take your money and do nothing for you and that can be very true and very sad. There are also lawyers out there that will fight for you and your family. Make sure that the lawyer you hire is up to date with current laws and policies that may affect your outcomes. One such policy is the Family First Preventative Services Act of 2018. This act allows states to be paid for kinship placements though not all states have implemented this law yet, it is still law. There may be new laws in your state that legislators have passed that lawyers may not know about. Recently Arkansas passed laws that require fathers and other family members to be represented in child custody and child protection cases.
  • Ask your lawyer to record hearings.
  • Hire your own court reporter. Court reporters can record and document proceedings for you.
  • If they require you to talk to their doctor, psychologist or to take a drug test from one of the courts testers, do that, and also hire your own doctor or psychologist that can make evaluations and testify in court. You can also go to various places for drug tests. Go to the one you are court ordered to go to, and if the result is a false positive, go straight to the next reputable tester and test again. 25% to 50% of those tests give false positives. Sometimes an over the counter medication or prescription can also make a drug test look dirty.
  • Make use of notaries and certified mail to document evidence and communications. It may be necessary to sign power of attorney over to a grandparent or other family member. Notaries can sometimes be cheaper than lawyers for this.
  • Keep your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites clean. Judges, employers and other people with authority look at social media posts.

Find Case Laws and Learn what is happening. Judges, lawyers, and child protection workers do this every day. You are just plugged into their routine so learn what the process is and how to communicate with them. Some federal acts that may be relevant to your case include; the UCCJEA, VAWA, Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Indian Child Welfare Act, and Family First Act.

A useful resource: What Are Buzzwords and Why Do They Matter?

Related Articles: From a mom shoved on to the system:, How to approach a legislator, lawyer, judge, and any other important person in a legal case.,

Case #8300

Reblogged from another platform ….This month of National Adoptee Appreciation Month means more to me than some of my non adopted people could ever start to comprehend. I was left on the steps of an orphanage, without a name. I was taken in and eventually given a case number thru Holt International as they proceeded to prepare me for adoption.

I am case #8300 and became Choi, Kyung-ae/ai. I am an international transracial adoptee. I am one of over 220,000 South Korean babies adopted out. Korea was the largest child exporter for years generating an estimated 3.3 billions of dollars between adoption agencies and Korea.

Not all cases were legitimately done. I became a survivor of domestic violence in the form of child abuse of near 15yrs as a young adoptee. I tried to commit suicide at age 8 and no one knew about this attempt until my late adult life, including my adopted family of which some still don’t know, until now. I am also an aged out foster child.

I am indebted to Honorable Judge Robert Foster, my attorneys, the late John Torreano and then prosecuting attorney, Michael Kusz, and finally, social worker, Susan Cox who’d been part of my case since a child. I did not choose my life, my parents or have a say who could adopt me. However, I love my adopted family and they mean everything to me and they love me.

Though my story is deep, complex, full of trauma and intricate sadness, not sure if I would trade it in. I became the fierce woman I am today, because of my circumstances. Understand this, not all adoption stories are wonderful and fairy tale like.

I share my story for raw and pure awareness of how complicated adoptions are, human trafficking is real, and when there’s suffering, it’s the adoptee who does the most suffering along with birth parent(s).

My fellow adoptees, it is our time to be heard…across the globe. This is my story, these are my truths, this is my pain. #truthislouder, #naam2020 ~ Tabby Tab

Do the best you can until you know better.

Day 6 #notmynaam#naam2020“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou

Most adoption happens when a child is removed from their own family in order to “grow” or “complete” another, non-related family. This is what happened to me. I grew up as an only child. This was both a blessing and a curse.

It was a curse in that I missed out on knowing that I have at least 4 siblings. I missed out on knowing what it was like to have a sibling relationship. I missed out knowing them, as human beings, as my siblings, until I found them more than 36 years after being separated from them. (I was the only one of the 5 of us who was adopted.)

It was a blessing in that I didn’t have to grow up in a family that had any biological children of their own. I don’t think I could have handled that on a psychological or emotional level. I didn’t look like anyone in our household, but neither did anyone else, and I dealt with that pain alone.

But my mom and dad both have siblings. And their siblings have children (and, by now, grandchildren). Back when I was growing up, I either traveled with my mother or father (they divorced when I was 2 years old) on vacation. Either way, we almost always went to visit their respective siblings’ families – my aunts & uncles & cousins.

Being in those spaces, sitting around the dinner table with their families, watching tv on the sofa with their families, was incredibly sad for me because they all looked alike. Between my mom’s and dad’s side, there were 3 sets of aunts/uncles, and they each had 2 children. Each set of cousins looked like their sibling. And each set looked like their parents. And they all looked like the photos of their grandparents and great aunts and uncles. And then there was me.

To lose your own family – without a trace – is horrific. But then to be placed in situations in which you are subjected to small, nuclear family groups who have and take for granted the very core familial relationships you lost…and who are also the only family you have ever known…and who are also very kind and loving to you (except in that they don’t recognize the re-traumatization you are living through each and every time you are A Part of their daily lives while also being Apart)… it’s an undescribable pain and feeling of separateness and otherness.

Like I said, I don’t think I could have handled growing up as an adoptee in a household in which there were biological children. It may sound weird, but I am grateful I didn’t have to.

Without recognition and validation of the deep and nuanced impacts the loss of their entire family has on an adopted person, especially when they are children and absolutely need guidance to manage their grief and trauma in a healthy way, then even well-meaning adoptive parents are inevitably going to continue to re-traumatize their child through seemingly mundane, everyday (family) activities.

Without experiencing that loss, it simply wouldn’t occur to most people that some of the things they consider normal and joyful may actually be very hurtful to an adopted person.

Adult adoptees are speaking up about the various ways their initial trauma was multiplied during their childhood by the uninformed acts of “adoption professionals” (like non-adoptee, non-adoptee-trauma informed social workers) and adoptive parents alike. Now that we know better, I expect today’s adoptive parents to do better. There are no excuses. ~Abby Forero Hilty

You have adopted children in your classrooms.

See the source image
Janet Carter The Free Press

Reblogged from anpther site: …….Please share & tag your teacher friends ❤️You have adopted children in your classrooms. I was one of them! Now I’m almost 30 and able to express some of ways I was hurt during my school-age years by well-meaning educators. My intention isn’t to shame anyone, but to hopefully open your eyes to some of the situations I was put in. Some were just awkward, some were harmful. I know you love your students & want to do right by them, which is why you’re reading these words.

1. There may be adoptees in your class and you don’t even know it. I had a pretty uncommon last name growing up and attended a small community school corporation. I dreaded the first day of school because, like clockwork, this conversation took place, sometimes multiple times a day once I was old enough to switch classes…Teacher taking attendance: “Morgan ____ – oh, are you ___’s sister? I should have known – you look so much like her/your mom!” Me: Instant cringe! I am not genetically related to my sister! Or my mom! I know that I cannot look like them because we are not actually related.

Now I’m in an awkward position – do I say something and potentially make the teacher feel bad? But moreover…this teacher *seems like a liar to me and someone I can’t trust* because they’re saying something that isn’t true. I don’t look like people who aren’t related to me, but you’re saying I do, and now I remember that I’ve never actually seen anyone who looks like me and I’m spiraling for the rest of the class time.

My anxiety takes over and I have a stomach ache. I wonder if and when I should tell this teacher the truth. When I tell them I’m adopted, it’s always such a big deal and they say a lot more awkward things and it doesn’t seem worth it.

2. Please get rid of family tree assignments! Because…which family?! I feel like a big fat phony faker writing down my adoptive family, because I know it’s not actually where I came from. But I also don’t know where I came from, so I can’t write that down either. And please don’t just make an adjusted lesson for adopted students – because, as previously mentioned, you might not even know who the adoptees are!

Students might also be the children of adoptees! I imagine my own daughter would struggle with such an assignment because she knows my adoption story. If state standards/curriculum require a family tree project, can it be about characters of a novel the class had read, or a historical figure instead?

3. Same goes for genetic traits! Oh, biology class. Please don’t ask me to figure out my parents’ possible blood types based on my own. Or eye color. Reminder after reminder after reminder that I don’t know where I came from, I don’t look the same as my family, and it feels like everyone else here does. These type of assignments can still be done in a more generic way, not with our own personal situations.

4. Baby/childhood photos Depending on the time of their adoption, many kids might not have access to pictures of themselves as a baby or as a child. And please don’t do something stupid like “Well, just draw a picture of yourself instead!” Adoptees already struggle with identity. We don’t know who we are. Now you want me to draw it for you? BIG YIKES, teach.

5. Don’t tell adopted kids they are “chosen” or “special” This is like, the chief complaint of adoptees I know. We don’t want to be special, we want to be normal. Special is pressure. Special is a high standard to live up to. Special is the nightmare for adolescents who just want to fit in with their peers. We also were not chosen – no one lined up 100 potential babies in front of our parents and asked them to choose the one the liked best. I know it comes from a good, well-meaning place. But we’re adopted not because we are special or chosen, but because we are no longer with our biological families. That’s it. We know this. We wish everyone knew this and would be okay with it, instead of trying to put a positive spin on it.

It makes me feel like I’m not allowed to be sad. It makes me feel like my loss doesn’t matter.——————-Teachers, I know it’s already just *so much*. This year has been an entire cluster and dumpster fire and you’ve been pushed to the limits of your professional capabilities and sanity. I admire you all.

Thank you for wanting to love your students well. Thank you for caring enough to keep learning about them. Adopted children grow up and you are a formative part of their upbringing. Thank you for doing the work to be a positive part of their story.#nam2020#naam2020#nationaladoptionmonth#adoptee#adopteevoices#teacherlife#notyourorphan#teachersoftiktok#teachergoals#teachersrock#listentoadoptees#adoption#fostercare#ffy#RedforEdAdoptive FamiliesFoster Care & Adoption#truthislouder ~Morgan Shea Massey

Pastor of Texas church and board member of a foster parent association, a father of adopted children himself, arrested for producing and transporting child pornography

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Texas announced in a statement that a grand jury indicted David Pettigrew, 48, and Chad Michael Rider, 46, on charges of conspiring to sexually exploit children. Pettigrew was also charged with transporting child pornography.

Pettigrew was the head pastor of Denison Church of the Nazarene, a board member of a foster parent association, a father of adopted children, a crossing guard, and a substitute teacher at Neblett Elementary. Pettigrew is also married to an unnamed school teacher who is a mandated reporter!

88% of children rescued in sex trafficking operations were trafficked from state custody!

The FBI compiled data that shows that of the nearly 25,000 runaways reported to NCMEC in 2017, one in seven were likely victims of child sex trafficking. Of those children, 88 percent were in the care of social services when they went missing. In 2017 alone, NCMEC’s Cyber Tip line, a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation, received over 10 million reports.

Matt Agorist from the Freedom Thought Project explored further and wrote a chilling Report that shows that 88% of missing sex trafficked children come from US foster care system (Matt Agorist 2018) and that other governmental organizations have corroborated this horrifying trend. In a 2013 FBI 70-city nationwide raid, 60 percent of the victims came from foster care or group homes. In 2014, New York authorities estimated that 85 percent of sex trafficking victims were previously in the child welfare system. In 2012, Connecticut police rescued 88 children from sex trafficking; 86 were from the child welfare system. 

Whitney Manning, a grandmother in Virginia that advocates for foster children and raises awareness to mental health issues recently visited Washington D.C. where she met the “Grandmother of all advocacy for foster children”, Kathlee Arthur and many other advocates and family members that came together to ask for child welfare reform and to defund ASFA which is the 1997 adoption and safe families act. Kathlee Arthur explains how ASFA targets poor children and does not offer services to other children that may need them. She goes onto explain how this has created the fostercare to prison pipeline.

I also did some further research on how states could be supplying 88% of sex trafficked minors and found that the United States Department of State even reported that the United States foster care system is a problem. The 2019 Trafficking In Persons Report from the Department of States (TIP) says,

“In the United States, traffickers prey upon children in the foster care system. Recent reports have consistently indicated that a large number of victims of child sex trafficking were at one time in the foster care system.”

The 2021 TIP Report states that individuals in the United States vulnerable to human trafficking include: children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, including foster care; runaway and homeless youth; unaccompanied children; individuals seeking asylum; American Indians and Alaska Natives, particularly women and girls; individuals with substance use issues; migrant laborers, including undocumented workers and participants in visa programs for temporary workers; foreign national domestic workers in diplomatic households; persons with limited English proficiency; persons with disabilities; LGBTQI+ persons; and victims of intimate partner violence or domestic violence and that some U.S. citizens engage in extraterritorial child sexual exploitation and abuse in foreign countries.

Foster and adopted children are dear to my heart and they are our most vulnerable citizens. Once children enter the foster care system and other juvenile facilities, their contact with their own family and the people they know is severed through court processes. Often times foster and adopted children are moved out of state where they are not familiar with their surroundings and can easily get lost and fall into the hands of sex traffickers if they run away, which they often do. One solution that could be considered legislatively is localizing foster care in a way that children never have to lose all of their family and friends and so that they remain in places that are familiar to them where they can get to someone that they trust and will confide in when things go wrong. Too often children that are severed from their families feel unwanted and lost in this world. We can do something to change that.

Child Sex Trafficking and the Child Welfare System

Family: The Original Child Welfare System

Federal legislators have taken an increased interest in confronting the sex trafficking of children now that more and more people are becoming aware of how prevalent that problem is, and talk about it. It is estimated that over 40 million US adults living now are survivors of sexual child abuse.

The national attention towards the issue of human trafficking has created opportunities to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for better childhood outcomes.

Homeless children, foster care system, refugees, and LGBTQ youth are the most likely victims of childhood sexual assault. It is estimated that 100,000 children are sexually exploited in the United States each year.

It is clear is that many of the minors who are trafficked interact with the child welfare system at some point in their lives. Child welfare workers are in the perfect seat to identify problems with the foster care system and advocate for much needed changes that will prevent future abuse. Children that are sexually assaulted in foster care and have no ties to family never fully heal from their wounds and will always carry the scars of the abuse.

It is also clear that between 75% to as many as 98% of the children taken into state custody were never abused. Study after study shows that children with biological family are the least likely to be abused.

Predators prey on children from broken homes, group homes, foster care, and runaways. The U.S. Department of State reports that foster care is a consistent problem. Live-in parents and step parents are 20 times more likely to abuse a child than a biological parent.

City reports show that between 60% to as many as 90% of the children rescued in sex trafficking stings were in foster care before they were trafficked. Often, when they are rescued, they are returned to state custody where they will likely run away again.

Studies show that children in foster homes are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than children that live with biological parents. Children that live in group homes are 28 times more likely to be abused.

How Foster Care Youth Become Trafficking Victims

See the source image
photo Huff Post

The CDC reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experienced sexual abuse as children. Most will never tell their stories out of shame and fear. Some children do not live to tell their stories.

Predators put themselves in situations where they have access to children. A predator can be a family member, school teacher, principal, police officer, fire fighter, doctor, therapist, counselor, and even Sunday school teachers and preachers.

Children with intact families are less likely to suffer abuse. Predators prey on children from broken homes, group homes, foster care, and runaways. The U.S. Department of State reports that foster care is a consistent problem. Live-in parents and step parents are 20 times more likely to abuse a child than a biological parent.

City reports show that between 60% to as many as 90% of the children rescued in sex trafficking stings were in foster care before they were trafficked. Often, when they are rescued, they are returned to state custody where they will likely run away again.

Studies show that children in foster homes are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than children that live with biological parents. Children that live in group homes are 28 times more likely to be abused.

Sometimes the predator is friends with the family or someone that the adults in the family think can be trusted, such as is the case often with teachers, preachers, and other children. Child sex abuse is most likely to happen when a child is between the ages of 6 to 11 years old.

One solution that will reduce child sex trafficking is to localize foster care so that children never have to run from place they are not familiar with. Many sex trafficked children ran away from a group home or a foster home when they landed in the hands of sex traffickers. Another solution to reduce both child sex trafficking and the need for foster care is to shift the ASFA funding in a way that allows states to be paid when they place a child in need with a family member.

#EndASFA #StopTitleIV #Stophumantrafficking #stopchildtrafficking #QuitShoppingForChildren #SaveYOURchildren

Let’s talk about adoption

The picture is of a letter from an adopted child to his biological mother.

Let’s talk about adoption. How does adoption affect a child? Do they really feel like their new family “saved them”? Do they want to go home? Do they want to run away?

I watched as the Department of Human Services Division of Children and Families made an attempt to celebrate “Reunification Month” last month and honestly the feedback they received from the families they have “helped” was not so good. Parents and grandparents spoke out on the Arkansas Department of Children and Family Services Facebook post saying, “Yes, Let’s talk about reunification” and sharing their experiences with the department with each other. Whoever moderates that page deleted the post most likely because the feedback from family members told the stories of separation rather than reunification. Throughout the whole month of June only one post remains on their page and it celebrates foster parents at the time of reunification and describes how a foster parent feels when a child goes home.

Why did the department not have any stories from children and their families to share? I looked at the reviews on the Arkansas Division Of Children Services Facebook page. Once again family after family has shared their experiences with the department. There are heartbreaking stories posted by family members that say they were overlooked and that the department did not try to place the children with family members. Their review rating is 2.4 out of 5 stars. What does this say about the services offered by the department? Have services been offered? It appears that the department could be discriminating against biological family members by choosing to place children with complete strangers instead.

The families speaking out are obviously devastated. Some parents have even spiraled further down hill since the removal of their children. Were services offered? Did anyone really try to pick the parents up and get them on the right path? I see some post are from disabled parents. Are disabled parents offered services? Or are they discriminated against? Let’s talk about adoption because that seems to be the goal of the Department of Human Services. How does a child feel about being adopted? Are they okay with living with strangers? Do they wish in their hearts that they were back home?

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

A little bit about me. I am a grandmother, mother, and a daughter. I was raised in a small town where everyone knew everyone during the 1970s and 1980s. The beginning of my career revolved around helping small businesses thrive. Later, as the world begin to change, I began to sometimes wonder if I still live in the same country that I grew up in. I watched things happen to others in my community and most often I was always fighting my own battles when it happened. “Hearts and Minds” a little voice inside my head would say and then go away. Years went by and I continued to see things changing and people suffering and sometimes that little voice would come back and say “Hearts and Minds”. Finally something happened that was so unbelievable and so indescribable that I felt like I had to do something to make a difference in this world for the people I care about, and for the people that don’t know that these things can happen to them too. Life changed and that little voice became stronger. I decided that I had to do something. I went back to school to improve my education and skillset and to learn how to effectively advocate for my own family and other families. I have seen some things that happened to people that just didn’t make any sense, and it certainly didn’t do anyone any good. If anything, most of what I saw happening hurt people. And it did not just hurt the individuals that were intended to be hurt or punished. Other people were also affected. Children and family members feel the ripple effects of other’s actions. Anytime someone sets out to hurt someone that is what happens. The end result will always be hurt and so few people will take a stand against anyone or anything when it doesn’t affect them personally. But it can happen to them. Their lives can change in an instant just like other lives have changed in an instance. Sometimes overnight. I am still learning. I will always be learning new things about people and life. I am using this blog to write about some of the experiences I have had, both my own and others and some of the things I research to learn more about. I hope I receive feedback and meet a lot of people like me that want to make a difference. People that connect the dots and intersections in life’s circumstances and look for solutions. The world needs more problem solvers.

“First they came . . .”

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 — Martin Niemöller