DCF: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

By Amy M. Voltero

How many of you are familiar with the Department of Children and Families? Not all, but most parents struggling from substance abuse, I know have had their children placed into DCF custody, or have had a case opened,  at one point or another. Some have even lost their children to adoptive families, because they just couldn’t stay sober.

I am one of those recovering substance abusers, whom shared a short period of my and my daughter’s life, having a case. When I found out I was pregnant, I was around 3 weeks into my pregnancy. I was homeless and actively using drugs. That was enough for me to enter treatment in May of 2010. I realized it wasn’t just about me anymore, but now an innocent child. My daughter didn’t ask to be born, nor did she deserve to suffer the consequences of an uneducated, self-centered addict, I had become.

I was on methadone during my pregnancy, which meant the possibility of my daughter having to be weaned off the methadone, by small doses of morphine, until she would be free of withdrawal symptoms. This was indeed my biggest fear. How would I forgive myself for what I had done?

I worked hard on changing the person who walked through the doors, day after day. I surrendered, and took an honest look at the damage my using had caused, and the painful lives of loved ones, whom I had hurt. I held on, without any family support, and continued my journey.

My mother was there for me the day I delivered a healthy baby girl, on January 13, 2011. My daughter, stayed in the hospital for three days for observation. Miraculously, she never had to be treated for methadone withdrawal.

DCF interviewed me, and due to my honesty, as a substance abuser with an extensive history, opened a case on my daughter’s behalf, for neglect.  My worker visited the program regularly, spoke to my counselors, and program staff to ensure progress in my recovery. I truly was changing.

I moved in August, 2011 to a sober living program, for women and children called, Dennis McLaughlin House, in Charlestown,MA. The visits with my worker continued, until the department felt secure enough to close the case.

Having DCF in my life, was truly a blessing at that point in time. They supported me through my transition, to ensure the safety and security of myself and my daughter.

Not all stories are like mine, however. A very close friend of mine, has a two and a half-year old son, whom she has not had custody of since he was two months old. She was sober during her pregnancy, and had also had a long battle using substances. He was admitted to the Neonatal ICU, due to needing surgery on his rectal area. That meant she could not take him home, which is every mother’s fear.

To sum up the story, she was overwhelmed and had post partum depression, and eventually relapsed. She was not going to probation due to her long days and nights, spent at the hospital, and from her slip.

We, as substance abusers, use to avoid having to deal with life, and not to deal with feelings. When we use, it numbs us temporarily. Having education now on the scientific part of addiction, we now can see that using only creates a band-aid effect. Our problems will still exist, whether or not we mask them.

DCF entered her life and took custody of her newborn son. My friend was arrested for not complying with probation, and was sentenced to seven months in MCI Framingham. She had plenty of time to think, get educated on how she could change her life, and be reunited with her son.

She went to a residential program and graduated, then went to a sober living home to continue treatment. Her son was placed into a white-collar home, with two young parents, in the medical field, who also had another child. My friend’s visits continued, once per week, only with DCF supervision. The visits were held at the mutual meeting place, the DCF office. Leaving him was never easy. He called her mum and the foster-mother mum as well. She would leave the visits, crying, and isolate herself. Although she was deeply saddened and depressed, she refused to allow the system to get to her.

A trial was conducted for her to regain custody of her son. After months of grueling testimony, the judge came back with the decision. My friend was deemed an unfit mother, and her rights to her son were revoked. They would only allow her two more visits, and that would be all. She was in shock!

How could a judge, deem her an unfit mother, as she had now, over a year of clean time, was committing to therapy once per week, at one time, even had two therapists, attending school to get her GED, voluntarily attended classes for self-help, could provide a home, love, emotional and mental support, and had truly changed? I’ll tell you. Rumor has it that the DCF worker assigned to the case had a personal relationship with the now adoptive foster family.

My friend, along with her mother’s support, contacted almost every political office in Massachusetts, looking for support. John Kerry’s office went to bat with her, only to find that DCF painted a deceiving picture of her in a letter addressed to the senator.

She would now have to appeal the judge’s decision, which could take possibly two years or more. That’s a great idea!! Let’s revoke her visits, so this foster family can strengthen their relationship with her son! I’m sorry, a mother’s natural place is with her child, UNLESS, they pose a current danger to herself or others. My friend DOES NOT fall under that category!!!

She is now fighting for visits with her son, during this appeal process. She is a woman I have watched complete a one hundred and eighty degree turn around. She has established herself, became educated, and continues to do the right thing on a daily basis.  Despite her current situation, she continues to hold on,  to prove the members of the judicial system wrong and to her son, she will not go down with out a fight.

I sincerely hope the judge can sleep soundly at night, knowing she is biased, and has no idea, what it’s like to be on a journey of self discovery. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes lady. You are denying her, a woman, of her God-given right, to be a mother. Try a little empathy, Lady!! People are capable of change; however, it takes a real person to have the ability to see that!!

I ask you, from the bottom of your hearts, to please help me, help her fight for her child! If anyone knows of an advocate, politician, or even someone whom has been through a similar situation, please comment on this article on this page.

Thank you for all your support!

 

 

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4 Responses to DCF: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

  1. Oge Eke says:

    I do not do drugs, I do not drink alcohol, I do not live a questionable lifestyle. My only child was taken away by the DCF because the DCF was hired and paid to do that. The judge Paul Lewis presiding over the case accepted bribe from the Mass. College of pharmacy (MCPHS) Boson. At the last court date, the DCF layer Melanie Capwell, spitefully let the cat out of the bag by saying that mcphs had hired them. None the less, the corrupt judge Lewis still preferred my child to be in a foster care. Judge Lewis said the girl was to make money for all concerned. My only child read at college level by age 4; yet Judge Lewis and mcphs and the DCF gave my only child away. Do think these people can sleep at night? God is still God.

    • desiree says:

      My story starts in 2002 with dcf when ii opened a voluntary case.i have six children five which were removed in 2010.i followed their service plan jumped when they told me to,and when the court date came dcf decided they were going to back me into a corner and used my past and present case including my juvinile history to terminate rights,at first i didnt want to do it but they had me and manipulated me.my children are now adopted.and my son and my daughter are with their father and no matter how much i have changed the probate court is allowed to use your dcf records past and present.i asked them for help as a single parent and needed directin not to have my children taken from me

    • Shelli says:

      My current situation is very similar. I am an addict with a year sober. My father got custody of my daughter when she was 1 year old and i had 2 years sober. I was on methadone but i had been off of everything else the entire pregnancy and the whole time i had my daughter. My father began dating my dcf worker’s co worker that he met during my case. My entire case was extremely biased. i never failed drug tests nor did i relapse until my rights were basically terminated for absolutely no reason. they still cannot give me specifics they seem to keep saying “it was multiple things” and yet cant name a single one. So once my rights went I became deeply depressed and started doing heroin for the first time. Before the case i had only dabbled in oxycontin. I then moved to the needle and have overdosed 8 times. I am since a year sober and i have plenty of drug tests to prove it. But in the mean time my father will not let me see my daughter and still lives with Jen (the hyannis dcf worker) and they both still do awful things to me through the courts for no specific reason. He has paid off any and everyone that will listen including my past lawyer though i cannot prove it, i know it was done. My father lost custody of me when i was a child due to his alcoholism and the fact that he beat me and my mother but dcf proceeds to taKE my daughter away due to my “past” and the fact that i was 19 even though i was a damn good mom. But do u think Jen Difede from Hyannis, MA dcf office had any reprocussions? NOPE.. she continues to work there and i am continued to be denied rights to my daughter no matter what i do and what evidence i bring to court. It is inevitable and if i wasnt as strong as i was i probably would have tried suicide by now. This is the worst thing a mother can go through. I am now pregnant again and they are claiming they are going to take action against me. I am so scared im going to lose my second child for absoloutely no reason. I dont know what to do other than harrass DCF until they put a stop to SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH CLIENTS. So my father currently lives with my daughter and Jennifer (the dcf worker that he met on my case) and nobody has done anything about it, nor has she been at the least bit scorned or spoken to about how wrong what she is doing is. I feel like they will always win no matter what and the corruptivity in this system is undeniable and disgusting. Any advice would be best appreciated!

  2. Shelli says:

    My current situation is very similar. I am an addict with a year sober. My father got custody of my daughter when she was 1 year old and i had 2 years sober. I was on methadone but i had been off of everything else the entire pregnancy and the whole time i had my daughter. My father began dating my dcf worker’s co worker that he met during my case. My entire case was extremely biased. i never failed drug tests nor did i relapse until my rights were basically terminated for absolutely no reason. they still cannot give me specifics they seem to keep saying “it was multiple things” and yet cant name a single one. So once my rights went I became deeply depressed and started doing heroin for the first time. Before the case i had only dabbled in oxycontin. I then moved to the needle and have overdosed 8 times. I am since a year sober and i have plenty of drug tests to prove it. But in the mean time my father will not let me see my daughter and still lives with Jen (the hyannis dcf worker) and they both still do awful things to me through the courts for no specific reason. He has paid off any and everyone that will listen including my past lawyer though i cannot prove it, i know it was done. My father lost custody of me when i was a child due to his alcoholism and the fact that he beat me and my mother but dcf proceeds to taKE my daughter away due to my “past” and the fact that i was 19 even though i was a damn good mom. But do u think Jen Difede from Hyannis, MA dcf office had any reprocussions? NOPE.. she continues to work there and i am continued to be denied rights to my daughter no matter what i do and what evidence i bring to court. It is inevitable and if i wasnt as strong as i was i probably would have tried suicide by now. This is the worst thing a mother can go through. I am now pregnant again and they are claiming they are going to take action against me. I am so scared im going to lose my second child for absoloutely no reason. I dont know what to do other than harrass DCF until they put a stop to SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH CLIENTS. So my father currently lives with my daughter and Jennifer (the dcf worker that he met on my case) and nobody has done anything about it, nor has she been at the least bit scorned or spoken to about how wrong what she is doing is. I feel like they will always win no matter what and the corruptivity in this system is undeniable and disgusting. Any advice would be best appreciated!

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