'Nobody Gets Their Kids Back'

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The "Petition for Abuse/Neglect" filed on behalf of Cheyenne Irish by New Hampshire’s Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) alleges that the baby, who was born on October 6, was "neglected" by her mother on that very day in the hospital where the infant was born.

What this means is that Stephanie Taylor’s act of "neglect" was to give birth to her child, and that the only way she could have avoided that charge was to have Cheyenne killed in utero. Because Stephanie had neglected this supposed duty, the DCYF kidnapped Cheyenne a little more than 16 hours following her birth.

Barring a near-miraculous outcome, Cheyenne’s parents will never get their daughter back. So testifies New Hampshire resident Dorothy Knightly. Between August 31, 2005 and February 3, 2006, Dorothy (who prefers to be called Dot) saw three of her grandchildren abducted by the DCYF on the basis of spurious child abuse and neglect allegations.

Dot’s grandson Austin (who is now ten-years-old), was so traumatized by the kidnapping that he attempted suicide. As a result he was institutionalized and "medicated" with dangerous psychotropic drugs. All three of Dot’s grandchildren have been placed for adoption, and the DCYF won’t permit any contact with the grandparents.

All of this began on August 31, 2005, when Dot’s daughter Candy gave birth to a daughter named Isabella. At some point in the pregnancy Candy developed a condition called placenta previa. Although this usually requires that the child be delivered via C-section, Candy was put on a morphine drip and Isabella was delivered normally. Predictably, this meant that a urine test found morphine in Isabella’s bloodstream — a circumstance easily explained as a result of the circumstances of her birth, but was maliciously depicted as evidence that Candy had "abused" her baby through pre-natal drug use.

Isabella.

Believing that this matter would be quickly and easily cleared up, Dot and her husband applied for temporary custody of Isabella in their home. They eagerly and cheerfully cooperated with the DCYF out of the common but tragically mistaken belief that agencies of that kind are operated by people who actually care about children, governed by laws, and burdened with scruples.

"We let those people into our home," Knightly lamented to Pro Libertate. "We opened the door and greeted them with smiles. We gave them coffee and treated them well. We trusted them. We assured our daughter, ‘don’t worry — they’re not going to take your baby.’ We assumed that we had rights, that the law meant something, and that the people in the DCYF would have to obey the rules. We’ll never make that mistake again, and we hope other people won’t either."

Two weeks after Isabella was born, a false child abuse report was filed with the DCYF alleging that Austin and his sister Ally had been molested by their father, who was married to Dot’s other daughter, Holly.When they were notified of the accusation, Dot and Holly immediately took the children to the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center to be examined for evidence of molestation. A comprehensive screening revealed no evidence of abuse of any kind.

Nonetheless, during a preliminary hearing regarding custody of Isabella on September 26, 2005, DCYF official Kate McClure unflinchingly committed perjury by claiming that the medically debunked molestation charge had been "confirmed," adorning that lie with a critical decorative detail: The purported act has supposedly taken place in the grandparents’ home.

Once that charge had been made by the DCYF, the fate of Dot’s grandchildren was settled, in everything but the details.

A DCYF document entitled "Notice to Accused Parent" explains the ground rules that govern New Hampshire’s "family law" court system: "All Court hearings and records of abuse and neglect cases are confidential. The hearings are not open to the public and only people involved in the case, or invited by the parties and approved by the Court, will be admitted to the Court hearings." In practice this means that DCYF banishes from such hearings anybody who can speak effectively on behalf of the accused.

A "preliminary hearing" can result in the DCYF being awarded "protective supervision or legal custody" over a child, "which would give DCYF the right to temporarily remove your child[ren] from parental care and custody and determine where and with whom your child[ren] will live," explains the document.

At no point in the process is it necessary to prove that abuse occurred. Even at an "adjudicatory hearing" — the equivalent of a criminal trial — the standard is a "preponderance of evidence," rather than a requirement to demonstrate guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." But the threshold for a judicial decision to award custody of a child to the DCYF is merely the presentation of "evidence."

In substantive terms, an anonymous, unsubstantiated accusation of abuse qualifies as "evidence." In the same fashion, "temporary," as defined in New Hampshire child abuse cases, is a synonym for "indefinite." Once a judge has granted custody or protective supervision to the DCYF, the matter is placed beyond judicial remedy, and the child’s fate will be determined by the child-snatcher bureaucracy.

After Candy was charged with "neglecting" Isabella by receiving a morphine drip during a difficult delivery, the grandparents were forbidden to present evidence at either the preliminary or the adjudicatory hearing. On October 3, 2005, the DCYF seized Isabella, who at the time was a little more than one month old. She was never seen again by either her mother or her grandparents.

One particularly provocative aspect of this case involves Candy’s refusal to apply for DCYF-administered welfare benefits. On September 2, 2005 — less than a month after Isabella was born — DCYF employee Melissa Deane tried to persuade Candy to apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Candy refused to do so, pointing out that she and Isabella would be living with the grandparents and wouldn’t need welfare aid — or the invasive government supervision that would come with it.

On September 28 — two days after an adjudication hearing upheld the neglect charge against Candy — Ms. Deane signed the application and filed it herself. A few days later, DCYF kidnapped Isabella from her home, eventually arranging for her adoption to another family.

Dot Knightly points out that as long as Isabella remained with Candy, the DCYF would not be able to obtain federal welfare funding in her name. That problem was "solved" by filing an application over the objections of Isabella’s mother, and then stealing her child.

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William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.

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