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Illinois department of children and family services / mistreatment

1 Bloomington, IL, United States

My story dates back to August 1989. I had my son June 14, 1989 and was married at the time. My mom whom was very vindictive my whole life hated my husband because she could no longer control me. She ended up lying to him causing him to leave me with my baby. One day as I was leaving her house, she got mad because I refused to stay that she said if I leave she will call DCFS and have my son taken away. At this point I was not afraid because I knew I hadn’t done anything to warrant her to call.

That night I had some friends over and we were drinking, my son was a sleep in his crib for the night. I got a knock on the door and there stood 2 women with brief cases. They asked to come in and I let them in. They proceeded to tell me that they had gotten a call stating that I had given my son 4 ounces of pure peach schnapps in his bottle. I looked at them and told them that I couldn’t even drink that and that is lubricous, that I would never do such a thing. They told me that apparently the person that reported me said that I was trying to soothe him because he was teething. I advised that a 6 week old baby doesn’t teeth, they just looked at me. During the conversation, they never once asked to see my baby but continued to talk to me and told me that if I signed some papers that I could keep my baby and that they would help me. During the course of our conversation I told them that my husband had just up and left. They stated that the papers I would sign would admit guilt, it was just a technicality to get me help and that I could keep my baby. I told them that I didn’t feel comfortable doing that so they told me that I could sleep on it and call them in the morning. Again, they never asked to see my son!

I had my friend over and she told me that I shouldn’t admit guilt because I didn’t do it; That I should fight them. I agreed that I wasn’t going to sign the papers. The next day I called the lady and told her of my decision that is when the nightmare begins.

The lady told me over the phone that if I didn’t sign the papers they might have no choice but to get my baby. I took that as a mere threat and wasn’t concerned for I knew I didn’t do anything. Within a few short hours I had a county officer and the lady there to take my son. I walked to my mom’s house to confront her at which time she slammed the door in my face.

Much of the next few months is a blur but I remember the first court date as if it just happened yesterday. There I sat with my public defender as we waited for the state to present their evidence. In comes my friend that told me to fight for my son and to not allow them to bully me into signing the papers. What was she there for I wondered; well she was the star witness for the state. She provided her testimony about how I poured 4 ounces of peach schnapps into a bottle and fed it to my baby because he was crying from teething. I just sat there in disbelief! My lawyer got up and asked her a few questions about the allegations. “What was the color of the peach Scnapps? “ Peach color, she answers. My lawyer turns to the judge and says that peach schnapps is clear, not peach color.

During the course of the cross examination, it comes out that she in fact didn’t see me give my son alcohol. Those charges were dropped and I was to get my son back but because I was now homeless I had to find a place to live, a job and complete a series of parenting classes. All of which I agreed to do. I was told by the state that the parenting classes were a must for any child returning home even in a case like mine; I agreed.

I moved in with my Aunt Shirley, whom my mom hated. My mom would harass me at parks or wherever I was. We would get almost in knock down drag outs and in turn she would call the cops on me. I found a job working at Jumers; A hotel in town. I would walk to work most days from the west side of town and I completed all parenting classes on time. I would visit my son every 2 weeks as that is what the court allowed. During the visits I would hold my son, feed him and play with him. I never missed a visitation. We had various court dates and each court date the state presented their side saying that I was not ready for my son. They claimed that my son didn’t know me and that we were not bonding during our many visits. They brought up issues with my mom so the court ordered me to complete therapy to deal with my childhood. I completed all sessions and each time I went to court I kept getting more push back. Here I was 19 fighting a system alone with a public defender whom I felt wasn’t doing anything for me.

I had grown a friendship with the foster mother; that was my first mistake now that I’m looking back. She and my mom whom seems to be at DCFS almost every time I’m there grow a bond as well. About a year after he was removed they came to me and persuaded me to allow Diane to adopt my son. They promised that they would allow me to see him and that one day they would explain to my son the truth. Here I was working a minimum wage job, living paycheck to paycheck . They told me that they could give him the life I couldn’t. The case worker told me that if we had to go to court again that the court might terminate my rights and this would protect any life I would have with my son. I thought it was the best thing for him so I agreed. We made an appointment for me to sign my rights over .

I remember that day all too well, very emotional but I thought it was the best thing for my son. I met the case worker and foster parent and in came my mom. At this point I was disgusted with her always being around so I signed the papers and went on my way. I was told they would be in touch with me once the adoption went through. I never heard from them again, 2014 my son finds me.

April 2014 my son and I make contact for the first time since our last visit the spring of 1991 ( my memory is a blur but I’m pretty sure it was spring of 91). My son was told all the horrible accusations which caused him much pain through the years. Here I was 44 years old having to explain to him why I didn’t have him. I provided him documentation on the case and told him that I could get more by contacting DCFS because when I signed the papers they told me that once my son turned 18 I could get all paperwork on my case because my rights were not terminated whi ch is another reason I signed them. I was afraid and felt that if they did terminate them I would never had a relationship with him.

I called DCFS and told them my story and they referred me to Midwest adoptions to get my paperwork. That is where they store all their documents. I was told by the caseworker I talked to that she seen where my rights were never terminated and that she would have my file to me within a few weeks. I understood that it would take time to get the paperwork with it being so long ago. Weeks passed as did months so I emailed her again asking how they were coming along. She told me that I needed to call her supervisor that they needed to verify my address prior to mailing them out.

I called her supervisor and what she told me just blew me away! She told me that I couldn’t have my paperwork because although my rights weren’t terminated, they remained intact all this time; I almost fainted! I was now hurt and confused and demanded a copy of the paperwork I signed that day; something she said I couldn’t have but that if my son wanted it, he could have it. I went through 6 months trying to get all my paperwork and now we have to petition for it again, this time my son has too.

My son grew up with his father and stepmother in Indiana and all this time I could have petitioned for some type of visitation rights yet no one ever came to me from the state to tell me that I had my right still. I never once got a letter or anything. I take blame in not following up but I truly felt in my heart I surrendered my rights that day so I didn’t have any say. To wake up from this nightmare 25 years later to realize that I did have my rights is devastating.

All because a mom had to be vindictive and a state of corruption within the system.

May 19, 2015

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