Fairbanks Daily News-Miner community perspective:
I am very concerned with some events connected with the Alaska Office of Children’s Services and the child custody court system.
About a month or so ago, I had a long conversation with a grandmother of two grandchildren. She said the first grandchild was taken away from the mother due to a marital breakup and false accusations by the father. In the meantime, the mother was pregnant. By her fourth month of pregnancy, the unborn child had been already adopted out by the state; they found this out later on. This grandmother said as soon as the child was born, she was taken from her mother. The mother pleaded with them and asked if she could at least supply breast milk to the baby. They refused. The first and second children were both adopted out, never to be seen since. There was no court trial; they were just taken. The grandmother has fought to see her grandchildren ever since. They were not taken to family members, they were split up and taken to different homes.
An audio file on YouTube at bit.ly/1UKX1tf details another incident. This mother’s son was taken with no trial. The mother says OCS has admitted wrongdoing and she told me she has gotten her son back since this horrific event. The incident in the YouTube audio happened during a legislative hearing. The legislators heard everything and it was Rep. Tammie Wilson who stepped in to help this family.
I have a dear friend who has divorced because of a bad marriage. Three kids were caught in the middle — a little girl, a young boy and an older boy. The father moved away. The mother had a great life here with her kids. Then this happened, as she explained to me, out of the blue, with no court case, no trial: She said Alaska State Troopers showed up with the father and yanked all the kids literally from her arms and took them 300 miles away. Oh, how they screamed and cried, she said. In response, she uprooted her entire life to follow them and has been in courts for the last six years. She says the children show signs of sexual and physical abuse, but when she mentions it in court, she is told she is the one who needs supervised visits and psychiatric help.
Once, a friend of mine was in an abuse shelter in Interior Alaska. She met a woman whose little girl was being sexually assaulted by her father. The woman shared with her how she took photos of the bruises and obvious signs of harm. She turned them into the police. She said the police blamed her and arrested her.
When Alan Dick was running for state office, his phone lines were burning up with hysterically crying parents who had lost their children to OCS and the courts. He said it was hard to sleep at night thinking of those calls.
Alaska has 2,000 children in custody looking for foster homes to be bounced around in. Doesn’t that seem a bit excessive to anyone? I feel it seems almost like human trafficking. Some cases are legitimate, I know. Some kids really are horrifically abused. How somebody can intentionally cause a burn to a baby or shake a toddler to death is beyond me. But many are in worse shape in custody then they ever were when they were with their parent or parents.
When a child is taken from family, it’s so traumatic it can cause severe mental health and emotional problems in the child. The stress of ripping kids away from their mom creates post-traumatic stress disorder in both mom and child. It also creates detachment disorder. It is kidnapping in the mind of the child and is completely unnatural to the way God designed their brains. They do not grasp or understand why they can’t see their parent. It is just another violent form of child abuse. You can’t explain to 1-year-olds who are at the tender age of separation anxiety why they can’t be with the only parent they’ve ever known.
The pain to the victim parent is so intense that after endless pleads and courts or letters or begging, they can become suicidal. Foster children, too, have a higher suicide rate than those who aren’t in foster care. Some foster parents are angels sent by God to repair broken children who have never known a gentle touch or kind word, but some are in it for the money and could care less about the kids at all. Foster kids are not only separated from their parents, they are bounced from one foster home to another. People are creatures who thrive on stable relationships. Bouncing kids around is just another form of mental child abuse.
I feel there are serious problems with the whole OCS system and the courts. When they get it right, it’s the best thing ever, but when they get it wrong, they destroy those kids and parents in ways that can effect them for generations to come. We need to shut the system down and do a reboot with public input. I believe every case needs to be fully reviewed and that many of these kids need to just go back home, including the adopted ones. Just because they were adopted, doesn’t mean it was right by any means. I appreciate Rep. Tammie Wilson and her efforts in this matter. She has called for investigations. I wish all the legislators that day would have done the same.
Pamela Samash is a mother and community activist. She lives in Nenana.
Fairbanks Daily News Miner March 25,2016
*The posts made in this blog are of our opinion only* Without Prejudice UCC 1-207