Category: cps

Former Case Worker: Texas Foster Care Crisis Is Getting Worse

 Grace Reader, 21 hrs ago

Read original article here.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the pandemic continues to drag on, a former case worker says the already widely publicized foster care crisis in Texas is only getting worse.

“We have so many children in care, it might be due to the pandemic, there’s a lot of stress on families,” Mayra Butler, a former case worker in District 7, which houses Austin, said. Butler is now the chief executive officer for Homes in Harmony . “We have seen a rise in which there’s more drug usage on the biological parents.”

In July, national officials announced that overdose deaths went up in 2020 by roughly 30%. A record 93,000 people died of an overdose in the United States last year.

Butler also says they’ve seen a spike of kids coming into the foster care system as schools have reopened over the past couple of months.

In the state of Texas, as is the case in almost all states, teachers and school employees are considered mandatory reporters, which means they are legally required to report suspicions of abuse and neglect . They can be charged for not doing so.

“Now that the children are coming back and reporting to teachers of things that might have happened to them of abuse, neglect…so now they’re starting to share with teachers and so that’s where the rise comes in and there’s an overload of children in the DFPS offices,” Butler said.

Mandatory reporters

Even though DFPS says the total number of reports of abuse or neglect have not been significantly higher this year than they have previously around this time, there has been a shift in who is making those reports.

In 2018, more than 66,100 reports of neglect or abuse were made by schools in Texas , that was followed by more than 56,600 made by law enforcement. The numbers were similar in 2019.

In 2020, though, reports made by law enforcement outpaced reports made by schools. There were roughly 20,000 less reports made statewide by school officials.

Foster care failures in Texas, the latest

According to a report released last month by a group of independent court monitors overseeing a federal lawsuit against the state, 501 children spent at least one night in an unlicensed placement in the first half of this year alone.

Some children spent more than 100 consecutive nights without a “proper” placement. The report found that 86% of these children were teenagers, and many of them require intense or specialized care, due to serious mental health needs or past trauma, that they likely weren’t receiving.

The report also noted Texas has lost more than 1,600 foster beds since January 2020. DFPS officials have continually pointed to this loss of foster beds and treatment center closures as their reason for lacking placements for high-needs children.

“There is a dire need for a lot of foster homes, all over the state of Texas,” Butler said.

‘We do need our community to be more involved’

Seeing the desperate need for foster families in Texas, Butler, and a foster family that Butler knows from case work, opened their own foster and adoption agency out of Laredo. It also serves District 7, which houses Austin. They were officially contracted with the state in April of this year.

What they really need right now, Butler says, is for people to step up and open their homes to these kids.

“There is a great need. We do have constant emergency placements needed and children that are waiting in the office to be placed, especially teenagers,” Butler said.

A catastrophe’: More than 200 kids sleeping in CPS offices as need for foster care intensifies

“If you can provide a home that is safe, if you can provide love that is genuine, and just want to help a child in need, you’re highly qualified,” Butler said.

You can find the foster parent application for Homes in Harmony here .

9/11, cps
9/11 : I Remember

I remember exactly what I was doing on 9/11.

Do you remember where you were that fateful day?

It’s very surreal to remember.

To know.

My son is in his mid 20s now; but at the time, he was a very normal little boy, 6 years old, in the 1st grade. He was  enrolled at a private school in Clearwater, Florida.

We were living the all American life of 5 day workweeks, football Sundays, men on the bbq, kids playing in the neighborhood, women drinking wine and making family memories.

I remember, life was good. Very good.

At the time, my husband was a network engineer with a very good full time Job, and I  worked part time as a paralegal in a solo attorney’s office. Although I only had one boss, we worked in a shared building, so I had a few coworkers, about ten people total, 3 of which were attorneys.

I only worked part time so I could afford to pay for my son’s school and I could still have the afternoons off to pick him up and help him do his homework. I wanted to be a hands-on Mom.  I have always been a believer in stay at home moms and family dinners.  Family dinners were always important to me.

I remember how I believed in the system. I remember how I thought cases were judged on merit, the system was just and it worked and I believed everything I read and saw on TV without question.

I had not yet been tainted by the hard reality of the system and it’s flaws and corruption. I was not yet cynical. I was the definition of sheeple.

I arrived at work each day at about 830am and left about 2:30pm. September 11, 2001 was no different. Until it was.

I remember, just before 9am, my husband called me and said “did you hear the news?”

I was confused.

“What news?” I asked.

“A plane crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.  Turn on the radio, it’s all they’re talking about.”

“ok I will” and with that, we hung up.  I was curious but not really alarmed. After all, planes crash, it happens. Of course this was after only the first plane hit, not both.

I got up from my desk in my office that was painted dark green, positioned first down a short hallway, tucked back between the front lobby and the lunch room. 

I remember walking up front to the receptionists desk where I found about half of my coworkers huddled around a static-sounding old clock radio. I remember the looks of disbelief on their faces.

“I just heard about a plane crash…?” I began to say..

They shushed me, quickly and obviously telling me to be quiet and listen.

Sure enough I heard it, the plane had hit the first tower. How awful, I remember thinking. About that time two of the attorneys we worked for pulled into the parking lot, so we scattered. 

Still, only one plane had hit at that point.

I remember that I did notice my boss took a little extra time leaving his vehicle to come inside. I had begun my days’ work, at that point it was still business as usual.

I worked for an elderly man from Israel. He was a devoutly Jewish man, who was a brilliant Harvard trained attorney. Our area of practice was mostly personal injury with some civil trial litigation and family law.  He was in his early 80s at the time and a very kind man, with allot of wisdom to share. I was his only employee besides the shared receptionist. She also worked for a real estate title attorney housed in the same building.

I was in my 20’s, young and just married, raising my young son.

I worked there for 8 years and I was dutiful and loyal. All fuss aside that morning, I had work to do, and the morning must continue despite the external excitements on the news.

Still, when my boss walked in I exclaimed, “did you hear about New York? A plane crashed. ?”

He said very calmly, Yes, but it was two planes….We are under attack.”

I remember thinking ‘what does he mean by that? Who’s under attack?’ I didn’t have a radio at my desk and this was before smart phones. 

The static sounding radio was inaudible all the way from the front to my desk, so it wasn’t until lunchtime  that I knew more about what happened that morning.

I remember the last two hours of my workday were painfully slow.  I only knew a piece of what had happened, and I couldn’t stop thinking about what my boss had said.

“America is under attack..? By who? & How,?”

The fearful anticipation of getting to a radio was chewing at me. I was scared from not knowing what was going on and having allot of friends who are from New York.

That afternoon I picked up my son and we stopped at a bar and grill near my house to see my best friend who worked there. She was from Albany. New York.

When I walked in the restaurant, every TV was tuned in to the news and everyone in the place was watching. Some seemed to be in shock. Tears rolled down many faces. No jukebox was playing,  No laughter or the cracking of balls on the billiards table like normal afternoons.

I remember how silent everyone was that day- all the patrons staring at the TV and the repeating voices of the news anchors talking about the first and second plane hitting the two towers, and a third plane hitting the Pentagon and the towers falling and people jumping to their deaths to keep from burning alive. I remember the fourth plane that the passengers took down in a martyrdom act of selfless bravery.

I remember when I saw the images of horror for the first time. Images of the towers collapsing, the Pentagon with a large hole blown in it and smoke smoldering from the fires that incinerated the plane that crashed into it and the debris field of the crash by Camp David where the passengers thwarted that flight from going to DC. The pictures of the hijacker’s and Osama Bin Laden… The most wanted man who was responsible for planning the attack.

I, too, began to cry, and watched intently.

Over the next few days and weeks that was all I could think about. That was all that anyone talked about. It became a war on terror. We were out for justice and revenge and hunting Bin Laden and Al Queda, the terrorist group that carried out the attacks.

CNN was always on my TV at home.

I bought an American flag for my house and hung it over my garage. I had a bumper sticker with a flag on it for my car. A flag for my car window. I was supporting the troops. I was supporting our President.

I wanted to share in the voice of the patriotic support for my country and honor the first responders and New York Police and Firemen who ran to their death trying to save people on September 11th.

I didn’t know about building 7 yet. 

I didn’t consider that there existed political powers that could be using the attack to further their own agendas.

I thought Clinton was a good President who balanced the budget. I didn’t care if he had an affair, because so long as the budget was balanced, and the state of the union was strong, he was doing a good job.

I didn’t particularly care for President Bush, but I didn’t need to like him. After all, I was young and didn’t follow politics that much. I didn’t think I needed to. My life was going great.

I believed we were in good hands as us citizens. The government cared about us, right? We were, after all, a country built on integrity and freedom, right? Home of the brave?  A democracy, not tyranny.  Not here in the United States, right?

At the time there was no swamp to drain. Yet.

I knew nothing about the evils of the world. The mass surveillance, NSA or the New World Order.  I had no idea there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attack.

I didn’t really care at the time about Afghanistan. I never had supported the idea of war before that, but after 9/11, that changed.  I was scared and angry, but even moreso I was proud to be an American.

I was fully in support of the u.s. troops who would hunt down and find Bin Laden and make him pay for the September 11th attacks.  Who wouldn’t be?

20 years later I can’t believe how much my views have changed.

The harsh reality of life since then has regrettably changed everything i remembered of that day. … Of that time. Everything I knew about life. … was a lie.

I watched  ‘Turning Point: 9/11 And The War On Terror’ , be the new documentary series on Netflix. Although I suspect much of it is probably tailored more towards the mainstream narrative, being Netflix and all. Though it was still very enlightening to see how that Biden has recently pulled troops from Afghanistan and the takeover by the Taliban has begun.

Hrmmm …

Now I see more of what’s probably happening, or what did happen, and, well, maybe what could happen…I think…and all I can think now is I wish I only knew life in the things as I remember them. Through the naive eyes of a time of innocence. As a young American girl with hopes for her future and her family’s future. Haplessly working for the weekend and partying when the Tampa Bay Bucs made it to the Superbowl.

I remember a time before all the big tech owned and controlled everything and the spying eyes of the internet and the shadow government were not okay but unstoppable so nobody tried. I remember a time before the political agendas became so ridiculously far to the left and to the right. Basically, far from anything true or on our side, or even reasonable. Before the three ring circus it is today. I remember when journalism required a college degree not just a smartphone and opinions.

A time when kids were kids and parents didn’t have to worry about masks and pandemics and vaccinations and more, I remember believing in things, in life. In lies.

Before the Patriot Act took our freedoms quietly out from under our noses without us even noticing, I remember the feeling of feeling safe. Of feeling content and looking forward to Friday, dreading Monday.

I remember being proud to be an American on that day September 11,2001, that day that changed me, it changed everything.

What do you remember? Please show your support by sharing this and other posts on it’s Almost Tuesday with your friends and family. Join our mailing list and leave your comments below. Where were you on September 11th? Tell us you story.< /p>

Godspeed America.



aging out, cps
California is the First State to Approve Guaranteed Income For Foster Youth

Aging out of foster care has to be one of the most difficult and scary times for foster teens. This is a time that sees many whose fear leads them to attempt or commit suicide before they age out.

I’m extremely happy to see an initiative to address those going through this delicate process. I’m interested in seeing how those who receive the help fare as time passes. Of course money is only one of many complex needs these teens face in their transition into becoming an adult.

Please comment with your thoughts.

Thank you and Godspeed.

Many thanks to ELIZABETH AMON for this article.

In a historic move to support young adults raised by the government, a monthly check of up to $1,000 — with no restrictions and no strings attached — will be sent to thousands of California foster youth once they leave the state’s custody, guaranteeing them the first statewide universal basic income.

Veronica Vieyra benefited from the UBI program Santa Clara County has in place for former foster youth.

California’s state Senate and Assembly unanimously passed the $35 million program on Thursday, which was then approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday.

Responding to the news in a text message, Vieyra, 25, celebrated the state leaders’ decision. 

She said the benefit “has now become the one helping hand youths are in search of when feeling lost or alone after exiting the foster care system.” 

Legislative analysts estimate that the taxpayer-funded program will serve between 2,400 to 2,500 young people like Vieyra who exit the foster care system each year.

“It’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have for these young people,” said Priya Mistry, the director of community initiatives at the San Jose-based nonprofit Pivotal, which supports foster youth with education and employment support. Mistry said the money will make a profound difference, allowing young people to “actually have a place to live, pay rent, bills, and money for a cell phone — which is critical.”

The amount former foster youth receive will be determined by local governments and organizations, but will likely be $1,000 a month, aiding these young adults who struggle far more than others their age with homelessness, educational delays and incarceration.

In May 2020, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved a universal basic income pilot plan, with no-strings-attached payments to help keep former foster youth’s lives stable in turbulent times.

The plan provided a lucky group of former foster youth, ages 21 to 24, with $1,000 monthly payments for up to a year. It was the first time the nascent idea of universal basic income has been granted specifically to foster youth.

“We’re already doing it, and it’s been successful so far,” said Sparky Harlan, the CEO of the Bill Wilson Center, which provides services to more than 5,000 children, youth, young adults and families in Santa Clara County.

The local government decision came in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, as unemployment rates in California approached a devastating 24%.

The Santa Clara County supervisor who spearheaded the effort, Dave Cortese, later became a state senator and this year, introduced Senate Bill 739, which was combined with the governor’s universal basic income proposal.

Gov. Newsom announced in May a statewide universal basic income program, building off of efforts in Stockton, Oakland, and other cities. These programs have been gaining momentum with plans previously announced in New Orleans, Louisiana; Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Tacoma, Washington; and Gainesville, Florida; according to the Associated Press.

Sen. Dave Cortese announcing the Santa Clara County foster youth UBI program. Photo courtesy of the office of Dave Cortese.

Under California’s state law, local governments and organizations will determine the size of the monthly payments, which can range from $500 to $1,000 per person each month. Pregnant people will also be prioritized for benefits, as well as other low-income Californians, according to the most recent state budget summary.

Former foster youth April Barcus told The Imprint in March that even before the pandemic wrecked low-income people’s finances, California’s housing costs kept many of her peers from building savings and a sense of security. 

“Even if you work a minimum wage job full-time, it’s not enough,” Barcus said. “You’re always working, and you’re always behind.”

Barcus is among the thousands of young people emerging from foster care who will soon be able to rely on a steady income.

The law had bipartisan support and passed 36-0 in the Senate and 64-0 in the Assembly, according to the AP. However, Vince Fong, a Republican Assembly member from Bakersfield, told the news service that guaranteed income programs “undermine incentives to work and increase dependence on government.”

“We should be pushing policies that encourage the value of work,” said Fong, who abstained from Thursday’s vote. “Guaranteed income doesn’t provide the job training and skills needed for upward mobility.”

But many of these young people are working, and the money provides “a cushion, so they aren’t on the edge of homelessness,” director Harlan said. And given the added burdens of the pandemic, many people need that help to pay for car insurance or repairs, as well as upgrading technology so they can join Zoom meetings or participate in online learning.

The concept of a UBI payment for former foster youth recently received the strong endorsement of University of Chicago social work professor Mark Courtney, a leading researcher on young people aging out of the child welfare system. In a Feb. 5 opinion piece published by the nonprofit news outlet The Appeal, Courtney advocated for guaranteed direct cash assistance to help young adults “bridge the gap” from foster care to independence.

Courtney makes this case after spending decades surveying thousands of young adults across the country on the hardships they face after leaving the system.

“The government functions as their parent,” wrote Courtney and co-author Shanta Trivedi, a fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, “and then swiftly extinguishes financial support, depriving foster kids of the safety net that so many of their peers increasingly find necessary.” 

This is HUGE! New Laws in Texas have Passed Protecting Families

Parents have a constitutional right to raise their children free from governmental interference.

Defendants also have rights under the condition, and now, Texas has passed laws reflecting those rights.

This is HUGE! If these laws had been enacted in 2004 when my son had been kidnapped, things might have been quite different for us.

TX HB567

Relating to the procedures and grounds for terminating the parent-child relationship, for taking possession of a child, and for certain hearings in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship involving the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Bill Summary

Relating to the procedures and grounds for terminating the parent-child relationship, for taking possession of a child, and for certain hearings in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship involving the Department of Family and Protective Services.


Courts Courts–Civil Procedure Family FAMILY & PROTECTIVE SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF Family–Child Protection Family–Parent & Child

Sponsors (22)

James Frank (R)*, Bryan Hughes (R)*, Candy Noble (R)*, Gene Wu (D)*, Keith Bell (R), Greg Bonnen (R), Briscoe Cain (R), Jeff Cason (R), Harold Dutton (D), Ryan Guillen (D), Bob Hall (R), Juan Hinojosa (D), Eddie Lucio (D), Mayes Middleton (R), Ina Minjarez (D), Scott Sanford (R), Valoree Swanson (R), Steve Toth (R), Cody Vasut (R), Royce West (D), James White (R), Erin Zwiener (D), 

Last Action

Effective on 9/1/21 (on 05/15/2021)

Official Document Companion Bills)

 H.B. No. 567

AN ACT relating to the procedures and grounds for terminating the parent-child relationship, for taking possession of a child, and for certain hearings in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship involving the Department of Family and Protective Services.


Section 107.003(b), off the Texas Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
(b) In addition to the duties required by Subsection (a), an attorney ad litem appointed for a child in a proceeding under Chapter 262, [or] 263, or 264 shall:
(1) review the medical care provided to the child;
(2) in a developmentally appropriate manner, seek to elicit the child’s opinion on the medical care provided;
(3) for a child at least 16 years of age:
(A) advise the child of the child’s right to
request the court to authorize the child to consent to the child’s own medical care under Section 266.010; and
(B) ascertain whether the child has received the following documents:
(i) a certified copy of the child’s birth
(ii) a social security card or a replacement social security card;
(iii) a driver’s license or personal
dentification certificate under Chapter 521, Transportation Code;
(iv) any other personal document the
Department of Family and Protective Services determines appropriate; and
(4) seek to elicit in a developmentally appropriate manner the name of any adult, particularly an adult residing in the child’s community, who could be a relative or designated caregiver for the child and immediately provide the names of those individuals to the Department of Family and Protective Services.
SECTION 2. Sections 107.004(d), (d-2), (d-3), and (e),

Family Code, are amended to read as follows: (d) Except as provided by Subsection (e), an attorney ad litem appointed for a child in a proceeding under Chapter 262, [or] 263, or 264 shall: (1) meet before each court hearing with: (A) the child, if the child is at least four years of age; or (B) the individual with whom the child ordinarily resides, including the child’s parent, conservator, guardian, caretaker, or custodian, if the child is younger than four years of age; and

(2) if the child or individual is not present at the court hearing, file a written statement with the court indicating that the attorney ad litem complied with Subdivision (1). (d-2) An attorney ad litem appointed to represent a child in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services or a child who is the subject of a proceeding under Chapter 264 shall, before each scheduled hearing under Chapter 263 or 264, determine whether the child’s educational needs and goals have been identified and addressed. (d-3) An attorney ad litem appointed to represent a child in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services or a child who is the subject of a proceeding under Chapter 264 shall periodically continue to review the child’s safety and well-being, including any effects of trauma to the child, and take appropriate action, including requesting a review hearing when necessary to address an issue of concern.

(e) An attorney ad litem appointed for a child in a proceeding under Chapter 262, [or] 263, or 264 is not required to comply with Subsection (d) before a hearing if the court finds at that hearing that the attorney ad litem has shown good cause why the attorney ad litem’s compliance with that subsection is not feasible or in the best interest of the child. Additionally, a court may, on a showing of good cause, authorize an attorney ad litem to comply with Subsection (d) by conferring with the child or other individual, as appropriate, by telephone or video conference. SECTION 3. Section 161.001(c),

Family Code, is amended to read as follows: (c) Evidence of one or more of the following does not constitute clear and convincing evidence sufficient for a court to [A court may not] make a finding under Subsection (b) and order termination of the parent-child relationship [based on evidence that the parent]:

(1) the parent homeschooled the child; (2) the parent is economically disadvantaged;

(3) the parent has been charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor offense other than: (A) an offense under Title 5, Penal Code; (B) an offense under Title 6, Penal Code; or (C) an offense that involves family violence, as defined by Section 71.004 of this code; (4) the parent provided or administered low-THC cannabis to a child for whom the low-THC cannabis was prescribed under Chapter 169, Occupations Code; [or]

(5) the parent declined immunization for the child for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief; or (6) the parent allowed the child to engage in independent activities that are appropriate and typical for the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, developmental abilities, or culture. SECTION 4. Section 161.101, Family Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 161.101.


(a) A petition for the termination of the parent-child relationship is sufficient without the necessity of specifying the underlying facts if the petition alleges in the statutory language the ground for the termination and that termination is in the best interest of the child. (b) A petition or motion filed by the Department of Family and Protective Services in a suit for termination of the parent-child relationship is subject to Chapter 10, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, and Rule 13, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

SECTION 5. Section 261.001(4),

Family Code, is amended to read as follows: (4) “Neglect” means an act or failure to act by a person responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare evidencing the person’s blatant disregard for the consequences of the act or failure to act that results in harm to the child or that creates an immediate danger to the child’s physical health or safety and:

(A) includes: (i) the leaving of a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to an immediate danger [a substantial risk] of physical or mental harm, without arranging for necessary care for the child, and the demonstration of an intent not to return by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of the child; (ii) the following acts or omissions by a person: (a) placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or an immediate danger [a substantial risk] of [immediate] harm to the child; (b) failing to seek, obtain, or follow through with medical care for a child, with the failure resulting in or presenting an immediate danger [a substantial risk] of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury or with the failure resulting in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child; (c) the failure to provide a child with food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of the child, excluding failure caused primarily by financial inability unless relief services had been offered andrefused; (d) placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to an immediate danger [a substantial risk] of sexualconduct harmful to the child; or (e) placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to acts or omissions that constitute abuse under Subdivision (1)(E), (F), (G), (H), or (K) committed against another child; (iii) the failure by the person responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare to permit the child to return to the child’s home without arranging for the necessary care for the child after the child has been absent from the home for any reason, including having been in residential placement or having run away; or (iv) a negligent act or omission by an employee, volunteer, or other individual working under the auspices of a facility or program, including failure to comply with an individual treatment plan, plan of care, or individualized service plan, that causes or may cause substantial emotional harm or physical injury to, or the death of, a child served by the facility or program as further described by rule or policy; and (B) does not include: (i) the refusal by a person responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare to permit the child to remain in or return to the child’s home resulting in the placement of the child in the conservatorship of the department if: (a) [(i)] the child has a severe emotional disturbance; (b) [(ii)] the person’s refusal is based solely on the person’s inability to obtain mental health services necessary to protect the safety and well-being of the child; and (c) [(iii)] the person has exhausted all reasonable means available to the person to obtain the mental health services described by Sub-subparagraph (b); or (ii) allowing the child to engage in independent activities that are appropriate and typical for the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, developmental abilities, or culture [Subparagraph (ii)]. SECTION 6. Section 262.116(a),

Family Code, is amended to read as follows:

(a) The Department of Family and Protective Services may not take possession of a child under this subchapter based on evidence that the parent:

(1) homeschooled the child; (2) is economically disadvantaged; (3) has been charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor offense other than:

(A) an offense under Title 5, Penal Code; (B) an offense under Title 6, Penal Code; or

(C) an offense that involves family violence, as defined by Section 71.004 of this code; (4) provided or administered low-THC cannabis to a child for whom the low-THC cannabis was prescribed under Chapter 169, Occupations Code; [or] (5) declined immunization for the child for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief; (6) allowed the child to engage in independent activities that are appropriate and typical for the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, developmental abilities, or culture; or (7) tested positive for marihuana, unless the department has evidence that the parent’s use of marihuana has caused significant impairment to the child’s physical or mental health or emotional development.

SECTION 7. Section 262.201,

Family Code, is amended by amending Subsections (e), (g), (h), and (n) and adding Subsections (g-1) and (q) to read as follows:

(e) The court may, for good cause shown, postpone the full adversary hearing for not more than seven days from the date of the attorney’s appointment to provide the attorney time to respond to the petition and prepare for the hearing. The court may shorten or lengthen the extension granted under this subsection if the parent and the appointed attorney agree in writing. If the court postpones the full adversary hearing, the court shall extend a temporary order, temporary restraining order, or attachment issued by the court under Section 262.102(a) [or Section 262.1131]

for the protection of the child until the date of the rescheduled ful adversary hearing. (g) In a suit filed under Section 262.101 or 262.105, at the conclusion of the full adversary hearing, the court shall order the return of the child to the parent, managing conservator, possessory conservator, guardian, caretaker, or custodian entitled to possession from whom the child is removed unless the court finds sufficient evidence to satisfy a person of ordinary prudence and caution that: (1) there was a danger to the physical health or safety of the child, including a danger that the child would be a victim of trafficking under Section 20A.02 or 20A.03, Penal Code, which wa caused by an act or failure to act of the person entitled to possession and for the child to remain in the home is contrary to the welfare of the child; (2) the urgent need for protection required the immediate removal of the child and reasonable efforts, consistent with the circumstances and providing for the safety of the child, were made to eliminate or prevent the child’s removal; and (3) reasonable efforts have been made to enable the child to return home, but there is a substantial risk of a continuing danger if the child is returned home. (g-1) In a suit filed under Section 262.101 or 262.105, if the court does not order the return of the child under Subsection (g) and finds that another parent, managing conservator, possessory conservator, guardian, caretaker, or custodian entitled to possession did not cause the immediate danger to the physical health or safety of the child or was not the perpetrator of the neglect or abuse alleged in the suit, the court shall order possession of the child by that person unless the court find sufficient evidence to satisfy a person of ordinary prudence and caution that, specific to each person entitled to possession:

(1) the person cannot be located after the exercise of due diligence by the Department of Family and Protective Services, or the person is unable or unwilling to take possession of the child; or (2) reasonable efforts have been made to enable the person’s possession of the child, but possession by that person presents a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child caused by an act or failure to act of the person, including a danger that the child would be a victim of trafficking under Section 20A.02 or 20A.03, Penal Code. (h) In a suit filed under Section 262.101 or 262.105,

if the court finds sufficient evidence to make the applicable finding under Subsection (g) or (g-1) [satisfy a person of ordinary prudence and caution that there is a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child and for the child to remain in the home is contrary to the welfare of the child], the court shall issue an appropriate temporary order under Chapter 105. (n) If the [The] court does not order possession of [shall place] a child by a [removed from the child’s custodial parent with the child’s noncustodial] parent, managing conservator, possessory conservator, guardian, caretaker, or custodian entitled to possession under Subsection (g) or (g-1), the court shall place the child [or] with a relative of the child [if placement with the noncustodial parent is inappropriate,] unless the court finds that the placement with [the noncustodial parent or] a relative is not in the best interest of the child. (q) On receipt of a written request for possession of the child from a parent, managing conservator, possessory conservator, guardian, caretaker, or custodian entitled to possession of the child who was not located before the adversary hearing, the Department of Family and Protective Services shall notify the court and request a hearing to determine whether the parent, managingc conservator, possessory conservator, guardian, caretaker, or custodian is entitled to possession of the child under Subsection (g-1). SECTION 8. Section 263.002, Family Code, is amended by amending Subsection (c) and adding Subsection (d) to read as follows: (c) At each permanency hearing before the final order, the court shall review the placement of each child in the temporary managing conservatorship of the department who has not been returned to the child’s home. At the end of the hearing, the court shall order the department to return the child to the child’s parent or parents unless the court finds, with respect to each parent, that: (1) there is a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child; and (2) returning the child to the child’s parent or parents [The court shall make a finding on whether returning the child to the child’s home is safe and appropriate, whether the return is in the best interest of the child, and whether it] is contrary to the welfare of the child [for the child to return home]. (d) This section does not prohibit the court from rendering an order under Section 263.403.

SECTION 9. Section 263.401, Family Code, is amended by adding Subsection (b-3) to read as follows: (b-3) A court shall find under Subsection (b) that extraordinary circumstances necessitate the child remaining in the temporary managing conservatorship of the department if:

(1) a parent of a child has made a good faith effort to successfully complete the service plan but needs additional time; and

(2) on completion of the service plan the court intends to order the child returned to the parent.

SECTION 10. Subchapter E, Chapter 263, Family Code, is amended by adding Section 263.4011 to read as follows: Sec. 263.4011.


(a) On timely commencement of the trial on the merits under Section 263.401, the court shall render a final order not later thanhe90th day after the date the trial commences. (b) The 90-day period for rendering a final order under Subsection (a) is not tolled for any recess during the trial. (c) The court may extend the 90-day period under Subsection (a) for the period the court determines necessary if, after a hearing, the court finds good cause for the extension. If the court grants a good cause extension under this subsection, the court shall render a written order specifying: (1) the grounds on which the extension is granted; and (2) the length of the extension. (d) A party may file a mandamus proceeding if the court fails to render a final order within the time required by this section. SECTION 11.

Section 263.403(a-1), Family Code, is amended to read as follows: (a-1) Unless the court has granted an extension under Section 263.401(b), the department or the parent may request the court to retain jurisdiction for an additional six months as necessary for a parent to complete the remaining requirements under [in] a service plan [and specified] in a transition monitored return under Subsection (a)(2)(B) [the temporary order that are mandatory for the child’s return].

SECTION 12. Section 264.203, Family Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 264.203. REQUIRED PARTICIPATION.

(a) The department may file a suit requesting [Except as provided by Subsection (d),] the court to render a temporary [on request of the department may] order requiring the parent, managing conservator, guardian, or other member of the [subject] child’s household to:

(1) participate in the services for which the department makes a referral or services the department provides or purchases for:

(A) alleviating the effects of the abuse or neglect that has occurred; [or]

(B) reducing a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child caused by an act or failure to act of he parent, mantaging conservator, guardian, or other member of the child’s household [the reasonable likelihood that the child may be abused or neglected in the immediate or foreseeable future]; or

(C) reducing a substantial risk of abuse or neglect caused by an act or failure to act of the parent, managing conservator, guardian, or member of the child’s household; and

(2) permit the child and any siblings of the child to receive the services. (b) A suit requesting an order under this section may be filed in a court with jurisdiction to hear the suit in the county in which the child is located [The department may request the court to order the parent, managing conservator, guardian, or other member f the child’s household too participate in the services whether the child resides in the home or has been removed from the home]. (c) Except as otherwise provided by this subchapter, the suit is governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure applicable to the filing of an original lawsuit [If the person ordered to participate in the services fails to follow the court’s order, the court may impose appropriate sanctions in order to protect the in health and safety of the child, including the removal of the child as specified by Chapter 262]. (d) The petition shall be supported by a sworn affidavit by person based on personal knowledge and stating facts sufficient to support a finding that: (1) the child has been a victim of abuse or neglect or is at substantial risk of abuse or neglect; and

(2) there is a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child caused by an act or failure to act of the parent, managing conservator, guardian, or other member of the child’s household unless that person participates in services requested by the department [If the court does not order the person to participate, the court in writing shall specify the reasons for not ordering participation]. (e) In a suit filed under this section, the court may render a temporary restraining order as provided by Section 105.001.

(f) The court shall hold a hearing on the petition not later than the 14th day after the date the petition is filed unless the court finds good cause for extending that date for not more than 14 days.

(g) The court shall appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of the child immediately after the filing but before the hearing to ensure adequate representation of the child. The attorney ad litem for the child shall have the powers and duties of an attorney ad litem for a child under Chapter 107. (h)

The court shall appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of a parent for whom participation in services is being requested immediately after the filing but before the hearing to ensure adequate representation of the parent. The attorney ad litem for the parent shall have the powers and duties of an attorney ad litem for a parent under Section 107.0131. (i)

Before commencement of the hearing, the court shall inform each parent of: (1) the parent’s right to be represented by an attorney; and (2) for a parent who is indigent and appears in opposition to the motion, the parent’s right to a court-appointed attorney. (j) If a parent claims indigence, the court shall requir the parent to complete and file with the court an affidavit of indigence.

The court may consider additional evidence to determine
whether the parent is indigent, including evidence relating to the parent’s income, source of income, assets, property ownership, benefits paid in accordance with a federal, state, or local public
assistance program, outstanding obligations, and necessary
expenses and the number and ages of the parent’s dependents.

If the
court determines the parent is indigent, the attorney ad litem appointed to represent the interests of the parent may continue the representation. If the court determines the parent is not
indigent, the court shall discharge the attorney ad litem from the
appointment after the hearing and shall order the parent to pay the cost of the attorney ad litem’s representation.
(k) The court may, for good cause shown, postpone any subsequent proceedings for not more than seven days after the date of the attorney ad litem’s discharge to allow the parent to hire an attorney or to provide the parent’s attorney time to prepare for the
subsequent proceeding.
(l) An order may be rendered under this section only after notice and hearing.
(m) At the conclusion of the hearing, the court shall deny the petition unless the court finds sufficient evidence to satisfy
a person of ordinary prudence and caution that:
(1) abuse or neglect has occurred or there is a substantial risk of abuse or neglect or continuing danger to the
physical health or safety of the child caused by an act or failure to act of the parent, managing conservator, guardian, or other member of the child’s household; and
(2) services are necessary to ensure the physical health or safety of the child.
(n) If the court renders an order granting the petition, the court shall:
(1) state its findings in the order;
(2) make appropriate temporary orders under Chapter 105 necessary to ensure the safety of the child; and
(3) order the participation in specific services narrowly tailored to address the findings made by the court under
Subsection (m).
(o) If the court finds that a parent, managing conservator,
guardian, or other member of the child’s household did not cause the
continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child or
the substantial risk of abuse or neglect, or was not the perpetrator
of the abuse or neglect alleged, the court may not require that
person to participate in services ordered under Subsection (n).
(p) Not later than the 90th day after the date the court
renders an order under this section, the court shall hold a hearing
to review the status of each person required to participate in the
services and the child and the services provided, purchased, or
referred. The court shall set subsequent review hearings every 90
days to review the continued need for the order.
(q) An order rendered under this section expires on the 180th day after the date the order is signed unless the court
extends the order as provided by Subsection (r) or (s).
(r) The court may extend an order rendered under this section on a showing by the department of a continuing need for the order, after notice and hearing. Except as provided by Subsection
(s), the court may extend the order only one time for not more than
180 days.
(s) The court may extend an order rendered under this
section for not more than an additional 180 days only if:
(1) the court finds that:
(A) the extension is necessary to allow the person required to participate in services under the plan of
service time to complete those services;
(B) the department made a good faith effort to
timely provide the services to the person;
(C) the person made a good faith effort to
complete the services; and
(D) the completion of the services is necessary
to ensure the physical health and safety of the child; and
(2) the extension is requested by the person or the person’s attorney.
(t) At any time, a person affected by the order may request the court to terminate the order. The court shall terminate the
order on finding the order is no longer needed.

The following provisions of the Family Code are
(1) Section 262.113;
(2) Section 262.1131; and
(3) Sections 262.201(b) and (j).
SECTION 14. Section 161.101,

Family Code, as amended by this Act, applies only to a petition or motion filed by the Department of Family and Protective Services on or after the
effective date of this Act.

A petition or motion filed by the
department before that date is governed by the law in effect on the
date the petition or motion was filed, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose.


The changes in law made by this Act apply only to a suit filed by the Department of Family and Protective Services on or after the effective date of this Act. A suit filed by the department before that date is governed by the law in effect on the date the suit was filed, and the former law is continued in effect
for that purpose.
SECTION 16. This Act takes effect September 1, 2021.

 ______________________________  ______________________________
    President of the Senate  Speaker of the House     

        I certify that H.B. No. 567 was passed by the House on April
 1, 2021, by the following vote:  Yeas 143, Nays 5, 1 present, not

 Chief Clerk of the House   

        I certify that H.B. No. 567 was passed by the Senate on April
 28, 2021, by the following vote:  Yeas 31, Nays 0.

 Secretary of the Senate    
 APPROVED:  _____________________


cps, foster care
Missing Children in Foster Care -Remembering the Forgotten

i can think of only one event more traffic than being falsely accused and having your child taken into foster care and a result- and that is being falsely accused and your child being taken into foster care, wrongly, and then finding out your child is missing!!

What a horrific thought. It happens. It shouldn’t happen but it does.. A child who goes missing and isn’t found if one of the worst tragedies. Lack of closure can haunt a parent of a missing child for the rest of their life.

Tens of thousands of children the foster system has lost –

Remembering the forgotten children.

More than 60,000 kids across the country are unaccounted for by the child welfare system that is supposed to protect them.

Original article by Rene Denfeld| The Washington Post

12:39 PM on Jun 19, 2018 CDT

The public has exploded in outrage at American immigration authorities’ treatment of children in recent months, but meanwhile there are tens of thousands of other children who are unaccounted for in this country: the more than 60,000 foster children who have gone missing.

A review of federal records by investigative reporters Eric Rasmussen and Erin Smith revealed in May that child welfare agencies throughout the country have closed the cases of at least 61,000 foster children listed as “missing” since 2000. An additional 53,000 were listed as “runaway.” Their investigation aligns with other reports of children missing from various states — 80 currently missing in Kansas, hundreds lost in Florida. Against the scandal of migrant children unaccounted for is another scandal: that our nation has lost track of so many of its own.

Just how did 60,000 of these children disappear? Blame a lack of federal oversight, underfunded agencies straining under almost half a million children, high caseworker turnover — in some jurisdictions, staff turnover is as high as 90 percent a year — and a chilling indifference to the plight of foster children.

In Arizona and other states, children who are missing for six months are dropped from the foster care rolls. A “missing” foster child is not necessarily on the streets; some are safe with a foster family or relative, and even though the state has lost track of them, they aren’t being harmed. But the point is that the state has no idea. In one case in Illinois, workers closed the case of a 9-year-old child who had disappeared. It took investigators a year to locate her, but she was alive. In Florida, a 4-year-old girl was missing for 15 months before anyone from the Department of Children and Families noticed. Her foster parent is in prison in her killing.

Lara B. Sharp, a successful writer who grew up in foster care, says that of the foster children she knew, “all went either missing or they died, mostly before age 18.” Sharp told me of three different times workers misplaced her. This happened when she was moved from one home to another, and no one updated her file. Had she been kidnapped or run away during these times, no one would have known. She would have fallen through cracks in the system so wide they are canyons.

The outcome for this negligence can be deadly. Sharp recalls a girl she lived with named Jennifer, who had lost her parent in a car accident. When she was 15, Jennifer went missing. She ended up sex trafficked and murdered. “She was a lovely, kind, clever, sheltered little girl,” Sharp says. “She loved the Bronte sisters and The Brady Bunch. I will never forget her.”

But our government has forgotten thousands of children like Jennifer. No one seems to know where these children are or how they vanished. In many cases, they are assumed to be runaways. In Texas last year, 1,700 foster children were declared runaways. Of these, 245 are currently missing. And they are at profound risk.

“Most of the children who are being bought and sold for sex in our nation are foster care children,” human rights attorney Malika Saada Saar writes. “Our very broken foster care system has become a supply chain to traffickers.” In one of many examples, a national FBI raid to recover child sex-trafficking victims found that 60 percent of the children came from foster care.

I asked human rights worker Quintan Wikswo why the recent case of missing immigrant children sparked outrage, but thousands of vanished foster children have not.

“It’s easier for partisan politics to use the immigrant children disappearances as fuel for whatever case they want to make,” Wikswo says. “But it is far more unpopular for folks to look into their own communities, to get involved in their own local judicial and law enforcement elections, and ask for documentation that their representatives are prioritizing the foster network.”





cps, domestic violence, parental alienation syndrome


If you are involved in a custody battle with your abuser, this article is a must-read.  I have included below only the topics and first paragraph of each, click on the topic to read the entire article.


by R. Lundy Bancroft c 1998

A sophisticated understanding of the mind of the abuser, his style as a parent, and of the tactics that he most commonly employs during separation and divorce, are essential to anyone making custody recommendations or working to design visitation plans that are safe for the children and their mother. Contrary to popular belief, children of batterers can be at just as much risk psychologically, sexually, and even physically after the couple splits up as they were when the family was still together. In fact, many children experience the most damaging victimization from the abuser at this point. A genuine batterer can be difficult to distinguish from one who is unfairly accused, and batterers who will be a grave risk to their children during unsupervised visitation can be hard to separate from those who can visit safely. The insights and expertise of those service providers who have extensive experience working directly with abusers needs to be drawn from, and the level of contribution from victims themselves to policy design also needs to be greatly increased. Custody and visitation battles amidst allegations of domestic violence require policies and interveners (judges, mediators, and Guardians Ad Litem) based in the most detailed knowledge, experience, sensitivity, and integrity. The stakes for children are very high.

This article is drawn largely from the author’s ten years of experience working as a counselor and supervisor in programs for abusive men, involving contact with some 1500 abusers, and hundreds of their victims, over that period. During the first few years of this period I worked almost exclusively with voluntary clients, and during the latter period worked primarily with court-mandated ones. The characteristics of the clients changed remarkably little during that shift. In the late 1980’s, professionals in batterer programs began paying particular attention to the behavior of clients with respect to probate processes, and we began asking victims more questions about the man’s conduct with respect to visitation and custody. Since leaving direct work with batterers, I have served with increasing frequency as a custody evaluator (both as Guardian ad Litem and as Care and Protection Investigator), and have worked closely with child protective services. I also have drawn from numerous published studies, several of which are listed in the back of this article. [I have chosen for reasons of ease to refer to the abuser as “he” and the victim as “she,” but I am aware that there is a small percentage of cases of domestic violence to which this language does not apply.]


Generalizations about batterers have to be made with caution. Batterers come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of education. They have the full range of personality types, from mild and mousy to loud and aggressive. They are difficult to profile psychologically; they frequently fare well in psychological testing, often better than their victims do. People outside of a batterer’s immediate family do not generally perceive him as an abusive person, or even as an especially angry one. They are as likely to be very popular as they are to be “losers,” and they may be visible in their communities for their  rofessional success and for their civic involvement. Most friends, family, and associates in a batterer’s life find it jarring when they hear what he has done, and may deny that he is capable of those acts.The partner and children of a batterer will, however, experience generalizable characteristics, though he may conceal these aspects of his attitude and behavior when other people are present:


Batterers naturally strive to turn mediation and GAL processes to their advantage, through the use of various tactics. Perhaps the most common is to adopt the role of a hurt, sensitive man who doesn’t understand how things got so bad and just wants to work it all out “for the good of the children.” He may cry in front of the mediator or GAL and use language that demonstrates considerable insight into his own feelings. He is likely to be skilled at explaining how other people have turned the victim against him, and how she is denying him access to the children as a form of revenge, “even though she knows full well that I would never do anything to hurt them.” He commonly accuses her of having mental health problems, and may state that her family and friends agree with him. The two most common negative characterizations he will use are that she is hysterical and that she is promiscuous. The abuser tends to be comfortable lying, having years of practice, and so can sound believable when making baseless statements. The abuser benefits to the detriment of his children if the court representative fails to look closely at the evidence – or ignores it – because of his charm. He also benefits when professionals believe that they can “just tell” who is lying and who is telling the truth, and so fail to adequately investigate. Because of the effects of trauma, the victim of battering will often seem hostile, disjointed, and agitated, while the abuser appears friendly, articulate, and calm. Evaluators are thus tempted to conclude that the victim is the source of the problems in the relationship.


Allegations of child abuse that arise during custody and visitation conflicts are treated with similar skepticism by court personnel and service providers. A large-scale national study found that the rate of false child sexual abuse allegations does not increase at this time, contrary to popular belief (Thoennes and Tjaden). As with domestic violence allegations, there is no substitute for careful and unbiased examination of the evidence. Batterers who do abuse their children can be convincing at portraying themselves as victims of a deliberate strategy on the part of the victim in order to derail proper investigating. There are two salient reasons why child abuse reports may first arise at separation or divorce. First, children may disclose abuse at this time that is longstanding. The awareness of the custody battle can make the children afraid of being placed in the abuser’s custody, or of being forced to spend increased time with him without the protective presence of the other parent. This fear can lead children to make the frightening leap involved in discussing the abuse. After separation, children may begin spending extended unsupervised time with the abuser for the first time ever, so that the abuse escalates or they fear that it will. Increased visitation may cause panic in a victim of child abuse; a case of mine illustrated this point, with a child disclosing a detailed history of sexual abuse immediately after her visitation with her father was increased from one night every other weekend to two. Finally, children are known to be more likely to disclose abuse in the midst of any disruption or major change in their lives. (See MacFarlane et. al. on the above points.)


Batterers are several times as likely as non-batterers to abuse children, and this risk appears to increase rather than decrease when the couple separates. Multiple studies have shown that 50% to 70% of men who use violence against their intimate partners are physically abusive to their children as well. A batterer is seven times more likely than a non-batterer to frequently beat his children (Straus). A batterer is at least four times more likely than a non-batterer to be an incest perpetrator. (Herman 1991, McCLoskey et. al.) Psychological abuse to the children is almost always present where there is domestic violence; in fact, the abuse towards their primary caretaker is itself a form of emotional abuse of the children, as numerous studies now document. It is true that battered women are also more likely to abuse children than non-battered women are, but unlike with batterers, those levels decline rapidly once the relationship separates(Edleson and Schecter).


Efforts are underway nationally to ease the complexity of assessing risk to children from visitation with batterers by placing batterers into distinct types, based largely on the work of Janet Johnston. For example, a risk assessment distributed nationally by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) draws heavily from Johnston’s work. The types Johnston posits are as follows:

Type A: “Ongoing or Episodic Male Battering”

Type B: “Female-Initiated Violence”

Type C: “Male Controlled Interactive Violence”

Type D: “Separation and Postdivorce Violence”

Type E: “Psychotic and Paranoid Reactions”


Assessing the safety of children with batterers during unsupervised visitation requires careful examination of all available evidence, with as few preconceptions as possible about the credibility of either party. Even a highly skilled service provider cannot “just tell” that an alleged abuser is telling the truth or is not dangerous, even after several hours of interviews and even with the assistance of psychological testing. These can be important sources of information, but careful assessment of the alleged victim’s version of events, comparison with outside sources (to assess credibility), examination of court records, and confrontation of the alleged abuser to assess his reactions are all essential to an evaluation.

(view article)

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Parental Alienation, the Courts, and Emotional Distress

What is Parental Alienation?

The intentional alienation of a child’s affections with his or her parent without cause.

The tactics used after methodical and calculated acts of child abuse which can result in severe consequences. The alienated child an targeted patterns can suffer irrepairable harm. 

Even if the child and the targeted parent once had a close, loving relationship before the alienation began, in severe cases, they can lose any existence of a relationship as the direct result of the alienation.

The “alienator” is not always a parent, it can be anyone in the child’s life that has the control and opportunity to influence the child. 

The alienation also oftentimes extends to the child’s friends and extended family members.

While family courts recognize that parental alienation happens, (especially in high conflict divorces with child custody disputes), allegations of domestic violence can create an atmosphere of improper justification for the tactics used in alienation.

Daniel G. Saunders, Ph.D.,  Kathleen C. Faller, Ph.D. and Richard M. Tolman, Ph.D. or the University of Michigan, School of Social Work, submitted a research report to the U.S. Department of Justice which analyzed parental alienation in the family court system.

In their findings, it was concluded that the Judges, private attorneys, and custody evaluators were more likely than domestic violence workers and legal aid attorneys to believe that mothers make false allegations of abuse. This position creates a difficulty for a battered spouse to protect themselves and the child from abuse as they are labeled as an alienator.

This can have catastrophic consequences when “parental alienation syndrome” is brought up by the abuser to counter an allegations of domestic violence. The. battered spouse can even lose custody to their abuser and be erased from the childs life.. 

In a 2002 case in Nassau County,  a trial court found that in cases where parental alienation is alleged, “the court has the duty to become aware of and seek out every bit of relevant evidence and advice on the custody issues before it”, which included a forensic evaluation. (Zafran v. Zafran, 740 NYS2d 596).

This can be achieved by a forensic custody evaluation, home study, or in cases where conflicting testimony is present, the court has the authority to use is an “in camera” interview (also called a Lincoln hearing) with the child.

The judge will interview the child in the absence of the parents and their attorneys, having only the child’s attorney present. The judge has the discretion to do an “in camera”, usually making this determination by assessing several factors. These factors include the facts of the case, the age and maturity of the child and the need to protect the child from the adversarial proceeding. The judge will conduct an “in camera” if they hear conflicting testimony or if one of the attorneys make the request. A lot of judges are partial to getting children directly involved in child custody or visitation cases and will therefore only conduct an “in camera” when it is absolutely necessary.

Parental Alienation as Form of Emotional Distress Tort Claim

Divorce lawyers see quite a bit of parental alienation in its various forms.

Some cases are severe, like the Tsimhoni case from Waterford & Clarkston, while other cases are mild.

An interesting case, Fukimaki v Ichikawa, decided in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court makes the Tsimhoni case look like a pro confesso divorce proceeding.

One particularly unusual aspect of the case is that the ex-husband filed a brand new case against his ex-wife in the court of general jurisdiction more than a decade after his divorce was completed in the family court.

The basis of the new case: tort claims for “alienation of parental affection” and “intentional infliction of emotional distress”.

The trial court judge dismissed the action on the grounds Michigan does not recognize the parental alienation tort claim and that the emotional distress claim was time-barred.

Not so fast, says the Michigan Court of Appeals. While the appellate court agreed that there is no cause of action for parental alienation, it held that the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim did not accrue until the mother began preventing parenting time with the father.

The trial court selected a much earlier date to begin running the “statute of limitations” clock: the date mother was awarded sole physical and legal custody of the child.

To establish the intentional infliction of emotional distress, the appellate court held that plaintiff must demonstrate that a defendant’s conduct was, “so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.

In sum, the courts have held that to be actionable, the defendant’s conduct must be so severe and shocking that a community member is compelled to shout, “Outrageous!”

In his complaint, father sets forth the following allegations:

  • Mother was twice held in contempt of the family court for disallowing father’s parenting time with the child;
  • Mother arranged for the child’s teacher to keep the child while she served a stint in the county jail following her second contempt of court ruling;
  • Mother sent father letters promising that she was committed and determined to completely destroy father’s relationship with the child;
  • Mother denied father parenting time for 22 consecutive weeks, and
  • Mother conspired with the child’s school to exclude father from all school-related events.

Based on these facts, if proven by a preponderance of the evidence,  would constitute “Outrageous!” acts of conduct.

The case now goes back to the Washtenaw County Circuit Court where this father gets the opportunity to establish the elements of an intentional infliction of emotion distress claim; not an easy thing to do.

Father will have to prove extreme and outrageous conduct that is intentionally designed to cause severe emotional distress.

Although rare, torts can be filed against one’s spouse or former spouse, just like any other named defendant.

Recognizing Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation can be difficult to detect, largely because it may not be intentional. Yet whether the alienating parent intends to disrupt the relationship between the targeted parent and the child, the damage is the same.

In extreme situations, the alienating parent may relocate the child without the targeted parent’s knowledge or permission. Generally,  alienating parents feel they are doing the right thing.Fortunately, courts have jurisdiction over most cases; the relocating parent must obtain leave from the court to move out-of-state or more than 100-miles from the child’s established custodial environment.


Clarkston Legal

Parental Alienation Awareness

cps, parental alienation syndrome
(Audio) Imagine THIS Conversation being one of the last times you spoke to your child

It was 4 days before Christmas, 2004, when I arrived at my scheduled visit with my 8 year old son. The visitation center was getting ready to be closed until after the new year. I waited, and waited. I had driven over two hours in sleet and snow with an arm full of presents to give him for the holiday.

After about a half hour or so, the Director of Collin County CPS, Claudia King, came in to inform me that there would be no visit that day. When I asked why, she told me he “forgot” it was visitation day. I knew that could not be true.

When she proceeded to tell me it would be after the New Year before I could reschedule, I threw a fit and threatened to file emergency court papers if I did not get to see my son that week, before Christmas. She finally agreed to reschedule for the following day. Her reluctance was a red flag to me so I came the next day with a tape recorder and camera.

When my son arrived the following day, he was scantily clothed in a pair of shorts and a cut off red t shirt that had no sleeves. He wore no socks, and no jacket, and it was snowing that day. He had a pair of mittens on, pink girl mittens. His shirt had blood all over it. He had dried up blood in his nose. His eye was freshly cut, near his brow, and blood filed the whites of his eyeball.

The following are notes from that visit and the audio can be downloaded here.

I had only one more visit with him after that – a few months later.

It would be more than ten years before I was able to see him, or talk to him again. Once he was an adult.  It was more than a decade after this and one other visit before I was allowed to see so much as a photograph of my son.

It was this visit that uncovered the abuse he suffered in that home. It was this visit that haunted me and became the story, “It’s Almost Tuesday”

I tell every family involved in the system that my advice, most of all, is to record as much as you can. Record everything!

If I hadn’t recorded this visit, I wouldn’t have been able to go back and listen to what he was telling me. I wouldn’t have had the proof of the abuse which my lawyer had to leverage good release from foster care.

Unfortunately my was released into the custody of our abuser and the parental alienation and brainwashing was set in motion.  Our sacred mother/child bond was severed and our lives destroyed. my relationship with my son – as it stands today- (almost 2 decades later) is, I am almost certain, beyond repair.  Barring a miracle.

Regardless, my child in these audio recordings was taken from me and forever gone. Nothing can give back that time. No amount of money, apologies, sanctions, not God, not Satan, not a judge, social worker- not a single person or thing can give back my little boy.

The best I got back was an adult version of my son, who is as broken as I am. Or more broken as I am. I don’t know hope broken he really is, and I may never know.

That haunts me every single day of my existence.

As for me, I was murdered in cold blood, just because I haven’t taken my final breath yet does not mean I was not murdered.

He was 8 years old in the following three audio recordings.

: Part 1

: Part 2

: Part 3

Below are notes from the transcript of these audio recordings.

The time stamps are the markers for each note.

Thank you for your support over the years.

4:25 my child tells me that he was not there the day before this visit.
he was told that i never showed up the day before which was not
true. I was there the day before to visit him and had been lied to
by the director, Claudia King when she told me the day before that my son “forgot” that he had a visit.

5:30 my son describes the 3 of the other foster kids ganging up on him
and the incident that occurred when they threw rocks at him in
front of the foster mother

6:20 my son says “i’ve learned how to control my anger” he says – who has told him he needs to learn how to control his anger? That means to me that he’s getting angry and someone’s saying “You need to learn to control your anger!”

7:10 He asks “what sister?” . henn i ask about his visit and he tells
me he sprained his ankle playing dodge ball at PE – Was he taken
to the doctor?

7:56 I’m really ja…. piped up right now” he says … sounded like he
was gonna say “jacked up” but he said “piped up” where did he
learn those words?

8:39 – describes how they gave him pills he’s not supposed to take because they “forgot” and how it triggers his muscles and he can’t control his hands, and how it keeps him “going and going and going” and how its a “good thing” – is he being told in there that making my son a drug addict is a good thing?

14:28 I tell him to wear more clothes than sleeveless top and wet pants in the snow – he says that’s all the clothes he has, the rest are in the wash.

15:10 he shows me the camera he bought with a $50 gift card from a party (a party??)

The caseworker takes photos with the camera – I would
like to have a copy of all pictures taken with that camera.

16:50 talks about being afraid to plug things in since being at his
cousins… and cuts off into totally separate topics, obvious
effect from the drugs of “speeding”

22:20 Argues with me about playing with fake guns and talks about the target his foster father set up and how his foster brother can shoot it “in the heart” over and over again. He says “everybody plays with fake guns”

24:30 mentions how foster parents don’t have much money. He said he got his foster sister to take pictures of his eye when he got beat up
… who is the foster sister? where are the pictures?

he says the foster mother doesn’t look at the pictures they take.

25:15 He says he’s got a cold (did he go to the doctor?)

25:52 he says “I just want to hug you” and says “I only have a few more
months until I’m out of foster care” he tells me that he won’t
have to stay more than a year to a year and 1/2. Who is telling
him this?? He says he worries that it’ll be too long before he
gets out that they’re tearing apart his life.

26.55 his Daddy (stepfather) calls, and they won’t allow him to say
Merry Christmas, even supervised. Ryan gets upset and starts crying. I tell Ryan his daddy misses him and he says “I miss him too”.

28:08 hear people crying in the background.

28:27 I tell him to be strong and tell him that alot of people love him.

28:29 Everything time I go home from a visit i just scream at my foster mom
Cuz each time she walks in, it’s not you.

20:55 You okay?
What are you thinking I’ll give you a penny for your thought?

He said I don’t know what I’m thinking – – well, i’ve been having visions. he talks about “visions” he’s been having, like the kind of visions Jesus Christ has.

Why was my child dressed in army clothes for a visit? I will never know.

Learn more about parental alienation and obsessed alienation and how it effects the child and the targeted parent.

cps, parental alienation syndrome
P.A.S.: What Grief Does to the Body & What it did to mine (warning: graphic picture)
Parent Alienation Is An Unresolved Loss

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome or P.A.S. ?

Parental alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a controversial term introduced by child psychiatrist Richard Gardner in 1985 to describe a distinctive suite of behaviors in children that includes – showing extreme, but unwarranted, fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent.

Parental alienation is the intentional targeting of a parent by the other parent to interfere in the parent/child relationship. This can also be perpetrated by another non-parent adult or caregiver who is present in the child’s life. 

In its severest form it is referred to as”obsessed alienation”.

Parental Alienation Syndrome has been described as the brainwashing of the child’s mind, much like a cult leader would brainwash the cult members.

It is an intentional act with the goal being the interference with the relationship and affections between a child and the targeted parent.

This is a progressive unhinging of the affections, and an ongoing abuse that is difficult to detect. The longer the alienation is allowed to continue, the more damaging the long term effects will be.

If the alienation is allowed to continue uninterrupted for too long, the relationship can become so damaged it is irreparable

Without strict intervention the parent/child bond will be unfixable. The bond will be forever severed.

In my case, the alienation began when my son turned 8 and we had been forced to move back to the same state my family lived in after my husband and I separated in 2003.

I became the targeted parent in 2004 in an unnatural campaign of hate by my own mother.  She was, and still is, bitterly angry at me for reasons that had nothing to do with my son.

She also has unresolved issues from her own childhood.

Additionally, my older brothers, (two of which are successful attorneys in Texas) enabled her.

They continue to enable her to this very day.

She teamed up with my ex-husband and abuser, despite full knowledge that he was under investigation for multiple sex crimes against children. She partnered up with him, knowing I had a domestic violence permanent protective order against him to protect me and my son from being abused by him again.

The two of them – my own birth mother and my abuser ( let that sink in) worked together, and conspired and planned for several years, to ABDUCT my son, which they did on May 2, 2004.

They took him from church on mother’s day.

Again, think about that and let that sink in.

Imagine as a mother, having your 8 year old child, whom you’ve protected for those 8 years from an abusive man, taken from CHURCH ON MOTHER’S DAY, never to return home again...

The trauma is unbelievable.

The anger at God for failing to protect my child in His house of worship, and at my own blood family who stood idly by and allowed it to happen, is unquenchable.

Particularly because, as attorneys, I know they were able to stop it, but they didn’t.

In fact, since the day he was taken my three brothers and sister have not spoken one word to me . I became, effectively, erased.

I’ve spent years wondering why they didn’t stop her. Why I am so disposable to them..?

Big brothers are supposed to protect their baby sisters.

Right? So where were my brothers when I needed them?

When court ordered by the judge to return my son to me, they voluntarily placed my son in foster care to keep him from coming home.

  He was abused in foster care.

As a defense, my mother and ex made false allegations of horrific acts of child abuse against me. The claims of abuse were brutal. Those allegations of abuse against me were never substantiated. 

Had they been true, I would have been a monster to ever do anything to my child. I didn’t even believe in spanking my children. If anything, I was overprotective.  

In retrospect, my  (fatal) mistake was a belief that if i was truly innocent (which I was), then the system would not wrongly convict me. 

I believed that without concrete proof of abuse, they would not take away my parental rights. I was a good, loving, attentive parent.

In other words, I believed in the system.

I believed in the United States Constitution and the rights of families to raise our children free of government interference.

I believed the government protected those rights.

I believed in the law.

I believed that cases were judged by their merit and on the weight of the evidence presented.

I had been foolishly NAIVE.

I learned the hard way that merit had nothing to do with it. 

Until I saw for myself, first hand, I would have never known how crooked and corrupt the system can be.

I had no idea how flawed the family court system really is.

By the time I figured all of that out, it was too late.

Nevertheless the entire process of losing my son, and the campaign of alienation was so strong and severe (see obsessed alienation) it extended into my entire family.

My two brothers who are attorneys, my other brother and my sister, and all of their spouses, ALL failed to intervene . None of them attempted to stop the tactics my mother and ex had employed. 

All of the members of my family knew the allegations against me were false and that my ex was under investigation for sex crimes.

It was over ten years before I saw or talked to my son again. I still have no contact whatever with any of my family. They are all in my son’s life though and I am not.

By the time I saw my son again- it was at my father’s wake. My father passed away in May of 2010- 5 years later – my son was not my little boy anymore but the shell of a damaged young man.

He has been on a self destructive path ever since.

What Is An Ambiguous Loss?

The grief associated with the loss of a child to P.A.S. is an experience so painful and deep. The loss is called ambiguous or an unresolved loss.

This type of loss is often described as an “ambiguous loss,” which is a term used to describe the nature of trauma, grief or mourning people endure when they have experienced a loss that is open-ended. (Boss, 1990).

Targeted Parents encountering alienation from their children are experiencing an open-ended loss.  This type of loss is often times more difficult to come to terms with than the grief of morning a death. 

When someone we love passes, the absence of the person is final  and the mourner recognizes this finality.

In dealing with my grief, I have said many times that if my son had died, I could have layed him to rest, and grieved. I could have moved on, with a place to visit him, at his grave.

Of course I have heard the argument that as long as he is still alive, he is somewhere out there in the world. There is hope of a future in that. But is there?

At first, i believed that one day it would happen.

I visualized it.

We would embrace.

We would talk through the night, tell each other our stories and life experiences while we had been apart.

We would compare notes and both understand what happened to us.

We would hug and cry and get to know each other again. Then, one day, it happened.

I did reunite with my son. It was, to me, glorious, but not at all as I imagined.

He refused to talk about what happened, so I never have been able to tell him my side of things.

Instead he spoke of tall tales. Experiences that he has had that I can’t imagine could have been real.

He didn’t engage me, but talked over me and through me. He told me things almost to see if he could shock me.

He was a stranger.

It was only after that first reunification, that I saw how the years of brainwashing he endured (and STILL endures) have damaged him. Our bond that was once so close, was gone.

 In fact, the harm done was so incredibly deep that I am struggling to accept that my years of hope had been nothing more than an illusion.

Is this really what my mother wanted to do to us? Did my family really think we deserve this pain?

Finding my son again only led to me losing him again.

It has been almost 17 years since our loss and I am grieving today, as deep, if not deeper than the day he went to church and never came home.

I lost him. 

To learn more about ambiguous loss and ambiguous reunification, click here.

The physical effects of Grief

range of studies reveal the powerful effects grief can have on the body.

Grief increases inflammation, which can worsen health problems you may already have- and cause new problems. It also batters the immune system, leaving you depleted and vulnerable to infection.

The following two pictures are of me before I lost my son, and during the initial months after he had been taken. In the moment of the most stressful times. (Warning, that picture is graphic, but an honest representation of the whole body response to stress and grief).

Photo taken before my son was abducted

I was so affected by the loss of my son, my friends described me as “disconnected” when they talked to meI spent the first few months writing over 1500 letters to anyone I could think of desperately begging for help. I would not allow myself even a moment to rest. I felt like I didn’t deserve to rest while my son was locked away in foster care.

The stress from the grief quickly landed me in a hospital having emergency surgery. The doctors had to drain an antibiotic-resistant infection from my eye socket and nasal cavities. The doctors said if it had reached my brain, it would have killed me. They said I was hours away from deaths door by the time I got to the emergency room. 

It took almost a year before the scars on my face faded and I could bear to look in the mirror again.

Photo taken of me in the hospital while my son was in foster care

I never was the same again. You can see it in the after picture below, I was dead inside.

I became someone new.

I became a mother, murdered.
I became “she”.

A photo after I lost all hope of a reunification with my son

Broken heart syndrome

The heartbreak of grief can increase blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. Intense grief can alter the heart muscle so much that it causes “broken heart syndrome,” a form of heart disease with the same symptoms as a heart attack.

Stress: What is it, exactly?

Stress links the emotional and physical aspects of grief.

The systems in the body that process physical and emotional stress overlap, and emotional stress can activate the nervous system as easily as physical threats can.

When stress becomes chronic, increased adrenaline and blood pressure can contribute to chronic medical conditions.

Research shows that emotional pain activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain. This may be why painkilling drugs ranging from opioids to  Tylenol have been shown to ease emotional pain.

Depression is a mood disorder, not a normal part of grief

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive  disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

Depression is not a normal part of grief, but a complication of grief.

Depression also raises the risk of health complications and often, requires treatment to resolve. Therefore, it is important to know how to recognize its symptoms.

Sidney Zisook, MD, a grief researcher and professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, says people can distinguish normal grief from depression by looking for specific emotional patterns.

“In normal grief, the sad thoughts and feelings typically occur in waves or bursts followed by periods of respite, as opposed to the more persistent low mood and agony of major depressive disorder,” Zisook says.

He says people usually retain “self-esteem, a sense of humor, and the capacity to be consoled or distracted from the pain” in normal grief, while people who are depressed struggle with feelings of guilt and feeling worthless.

They also feel a limited ability “to experience or anticipate any pleasure or joy.”

Complicated grief differs from  both depression and normal grief. M. Katherine Shear, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and director of its Center for Complicated Grief, defines complicated grief as
a form of persistent, pervasive grief” that does not get better naturally.

It happens when “some of the natural thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that occur during acute grief gain a foothold and interfere with the ability to accept the reality of the loss.”

What are the Symptoms of Complicated Grief?

Symptoms of complicated grief include persistent efforts to ignore the grief and deny or “rewrite” what happened.

Complicated grief increases the risk of physical and mental health problems like depression, anxietysleep issues, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and physical illness.


Margaret Stroebe, PhD, a bereavement researcher and professor of clinical psychology at Utrecht University, says that recent research has shed light on many of “the cognitive and emotional processes underlying complications in grieving, particularly rumination.”

Research shows that rumination, or a repetitive, negative, self-focused thought, is actually a way to avoid problems.

People who ruminate shift attention away from painful truths by focusing on negative material that is less threatening than the truths they want to avoid.

This pattern of thinking is strongly associated with depression.

Rumination and other forms of avoidance demand energy and block the natural abilities of the body and mind to integrate new realities and heal. 

Enduring the experience of parental alienation is also a profound psychological trauma experienced by the targeted parents. It is both acute and chronic, and externally inflicted. It is thus a type of domestic violence directed at the target parent. The fact that children witness such abuse of a parent also makes alienation a form of child abuse. The events that plunge a parent into the role of an alienated, targeted parent is especially damaging to those who are closely attached to their children and were actively involved in their lives.

Research by Stroebe, and others  show that avoidance behavior makes depression, complicated grief, and the physical health problems that go with them more likely. Efforts to avoid the reality of loss can cause fatigue, weaken your immune system, increase inflammation, and prolong other ailments.

A Vicious Cycle of Passing on Childhood Traumas

Parental alienation is also a form of complex trauma. It is no coincidence that the pathology of the parent who engages in alienation is often born in complex trauma from the childhood of that parent, and that the current processes of attachment-based parental alienation are transferring onto the targeted parent a form of complex trauma. From a psychodynamic perspective, the processes of parental alienation represent a reenactment of the childhood attachment trauma of the alienating parent into the current family relationships.

When my mother was, herself, a child, she endured the loss of both parents. As an infant, her father passed away from a plane crash which decapitated him at the young age of 30.

My grandfather was the pilot of the plane that went down, killing him and leaving three young children without a father. The time period was the early 1930’s. It was a difficult time with WWI ending and with third Reich and Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Regime rising power in Germany.

The youngest of three children, my mother didn’t remember losing her father, but was only told about his death by her paternal grandmother. She had taken the three children following her son’s death, and kept them hidden away from their widowed mother who eventually died of cancer at age 39. In effect, my mother never knew either one of her parents, and developed psychiatric malformaties from the attachment traumas resulting from the loss of both parents in her own childhood.  

Understanding that, I can understand where her own twisted justifications came from for taking my child. My mother is an extremely damaged woman as the direct result of being orphaned as a child.  Still, knowing doesn’t make it less painful, heal it or make it any easier to come to terms with.

In fact, it’s the opposite. It is exactly her sad history of own traumatic childhood experiences that make it obvious to anyone looking in who knows her (such as my three older brothers and my older adopted sister) . They all know that what she’s done to me is wrong and she should have been forced to get help for her own issues rather than to be allowed to transfer them onto me via alienating my son from me. They know her family history. There is no excuse that any of them did nothing to stop her.

in my opinion, they are even more guilty of the P.A.S. abuse, as she is obviously sick and so sick, as a matter of fact, that she doesn’t even see it. A true indication it’s mental illness.  My siblings, though, can all see it. They all know all too well how broken and mentally disturbed she is.

My father took care of her until his death, even though they were divorced, because, as he’d say, “I take care of her because I can remember her before she was so crazy”.

If any of them had stopped her, I might still have a relationship with my son. If any one of them had stopped her my son might have been able to grow up without being abused and traumatized by her. 

I have heard from people who knew our family say that ‘if it weren’t for your mother, you might have actually had a good life.” and “She ruined your life, and you had such potential.” and “How sad it is what she did to you and your children”

I can’t count the times I’ve heard people say things like that.


Truth is, she murdered me with the full assistance of my brothers and sister.

Particularly me oldest brother, who actively funded and facilitated her murdering me. I may still be breathing but what she did, with my brother’s help, absolutely killed me.

If I could, I wouldd have them charged with the crime of murder.

It is vital for targeted parents to find ways of coping with the attachment-based complex trauma of parental alienation

They must strive to achieve the triumph of light over the darkness of trauma, and find their way out of the trauma experience being inflicted upon them. They must free themselves from the imposed trauma experience, restoring their psychological health within the immense emotional trauma of their grief and loss.

As much as targeted parents desperately want to save their children, they cannot rescue their children from the quicksand by jumping into the quicksand with them. If they do, they will both perish. 

Before I lost my son
After I lost my son

Who Am I now?

When i first lost my son, I was obsessively dedicated to fighting the system that allowed for him to be taken.

I spent thousands of dollars and worked tirelessly to file pleadings, write letters, join causes and support groups. You name it, I tried it.

In my obsession, I would say, “my son, [his name], repeatedly emphasising that he was MY SON, MY son. MY SON.

After some time, when the realizations began that said he wouldn’t be coming home .. he became my son (less his name), to my boy, the boy, the child.

I began to de-sensitive myself from being a mother of a child would never be coming home.

When [you lose] someone close to you – or someone close to you dies, your social role changes, too. This can affect your sense of meaning and sense of self.

Caregivers face especially complicated role adjustments. The physical and emotional demands of caregiving can leave them feeling depleted even before a loved one dies, and losing the person they took care of can leave them with a lost sense of purpose.

“Research shows that during intense caregiving periods, caregivers not only experience high levels of stress, they also cannot find the time and energy to look after their own health,” says Kathrin Boerner, PhD, a bereavement researcher and professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

This can result in the emergence of new or the reemergence of existing ‘dormant’ health problems after the death of the care recipient. These health issues may or may not be directly related to the caregiver’s grief experience, but they are likely related to the life situation that was created through the demands of caregiving,” Boerner says.

It can be hard to make life work again after a close family member dies. Losing a partner can mean having to move out of a shared home or having to reach out to other loved ones for help, which can further increase emotional stress and worry.

Strobe says the stress of adjusting to changes in life and health during and after a loss can “increase vulnerability and reduce adaptive reserves for coping with bereavement.”

Emotional and physical self-care are essential ways to ease complications of grief and boost recovery. 

Exercisingspending time in nature, getting enough sleep, and talking to loved ones can help with physical and mental health.

“Most often, normal grief does not require professional intervention,” says Zisook.

“Grief is a natural, instinctive response to loss, adaptation occurs naturally, and healing is the natural outcome,” especially with “time and the support of loved ones and friends.”

Grief researchers emphasize that social support, self-acceptance, and good self-care usually help people get through normal grief. Shear encourages people to “plan small rewarding activities and try to enjoy them as much as possible.”

But the researchers say people need professional help to heal from complicated grief and depression.

“The thing about grief and depression and sorrow and being suicidal is that you can’t reach out.

For many people going through a hard time, reaching out is impossible. If your friend is in grief, reach out to them. Do the legwork. They’re too exhausted!”

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Parental Alienation Taints Relationships and is Abuse

When Ties to a Parent Are Cut by the Other

Amy J. L. Baker, left, at the Englewood Public Library. She chronicled the stories of 40 adults who as children were turned against a parent.

Credit…Sylwia Kapuscinski for The New York Times
By Michael Winerip
Sept. 23, 2007

THIS is a nice moment in Joe Rabiega’s life. At 31, he has a good job as a research coordinator for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is happily married and feels blessed that his wife of five years, Tiffany, is pregnant with their first child.

His hope is to give that child a happier upbringing than the one he had. Mr. Rabiega’s parents divorced when he was 8, and though they were supposed to share custody, he said, his father, a truck driver with a drinking problem, did everything possible to turn him against his mother and eventually kept him from seeing her.

“He bullied my mother into giving up custody,” Mr. Rabiega said. When he was still allowed to visit his mother, he’d have to stay by the phone to take a call from his father at 4 every afternoon and 8 each evening. He said his father trained him to spy on his mother’s socializing and spending habits.

“His ability to manipulate her was so lopsided, it never got to the point where a court heard it,” he said in a phone interview. “His threats of violence made it clear she’d never get me.”

Continue reading the main story
For several years, he said, until his late teens, he didn’t see his mother and believed everything his father said about her.

“He took me to the police station and told them my mother abandoned me, even though it was completely not true,”

Mr. Rabiega said. “He had the entire neighborhood convinced that my mother no longer wanted me.

“He had me convinced without him, I had nobody,” Mr. Rabiega said. “When he’d been drinking, he’d get out his gun and threaten to kill himself if I left him.”

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It wasn’t until Mr. Rabiega was an adult that he began to see his mother in a different light, he said. “She was a seamstress in a garment factory who didn’t graduate from high school. She was weak, no one to guide her, no money, no education, no resources to fight for me.” At one point, he said, she attempted suicide.

Mr. Rabiega is one of 40 research subjects in a new book by Amy J. L. Baker, about parents who turn a child against the other parent, “Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome.” Dr. Baker, the research director of the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection at the New York Foundling, does not identify the subjects by their real names, but Mr. Rabiega (called Jonah in the book) agreed to let his name be used for this column. “If this can help people, it’s worth it,” he said. “I really compare what I went through to people who are kidnapped and brainwashed.”

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Most people would agree that one parent has the power to turn a child against the other parent; however, classifying the behavior as a mental health syndrome, as Dr. Baker does, has met with considerable criticism in the past.

“It’s been a very controversial area,” said Dr. Baker, 48, who lives in Teaneck, N.J., and has a doctorate in psychology from Teachers College at Columbia.

Dr. Baker’s book is written in an academic style and sticks closely to the stories of the 40 adult subjects, ages 19 to 67, who describe being wrongfully manipulated by a parent.

It is an attempt to take the sensationalism out of the subject. Accusations of such manipulation have been an issue during high-profile celebrity custody battles, like the ones involving Woody Allen and Mia Farrow and Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.

There is none of that in Dr. Baker’s book, which includes a seven-page bibliography of scholarly research. Instead, she tells the stories of ordinary people like Mr. Rabiega, struggling into their adult years with the damage they describe from having been manipulated into hating a parent.

While most research has focused on children, Dr. Baker looks at these children once they’ve become adults. A key question she set out to answer: Do any of these kids grow up and figure it out? “That I can answer yes,” she said. “I can’t say how prevalent it is, but I have found lots of people.”

Some of what she found undercut earlier research. When therapists first described the behavior in the 1980s, they talked about it as manipulation by mothers to punish fathers. This drew criticism from some women’s groups, who dismissed the syndrome as something concocted by lawyers for abusive fathers trying to improve their custody chances.

Continue reading the main story
Dr. Baker said her research — both for the book and with several hundred subjects over the last five years — indicates a mother or father is equally likely to do the manipulating. It is “truly 50-50,” she said.

Other patterns emerged from her 40 subjects: 75 percent were the products of divorce, and 58 percent were divorced themselves;

70 percent suffered depression; 35 percent developed problems with drugs or alcohol.

And perhaps the saddest: Half of the 28 who had children said they were estranged from their own children.

Dr. Baker believes the behavior is prevalent enough to qualify as a syndrome in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of the American Psychiatric Association. While that’s not going to happen soon — the manual won’t be revised again until 2012 — she hopes her research might cause social workers and therapists who investigate custody cases to be more aware.

“If you believe it’s possible for a child to be brainwashed by one parent, the job of a custody evaluator is a lot harder,” she said.

The challenges in such cases can be daunting. How do you know if the scorned parent is being unfairly victimized or if that parent is abusive and deserves to be scorned? “It’s a lot of investigating, and there’s no one definitive tool,” Dr. Baker said.

Some of that investigative muscle is missing from her own research. Dr. Baker did not interview parents for their version of events, nor did she cite independent sources like court records that could corroborate the stories.

“I did what I could,” she said. “This is just one study. It’s a very new field and there’s little research. The point is to give voice to these people who have not been heard.”

It is also hard to get people to talk publicly about family dysfunction. Mr. Rabiega was willing to speak partly because both his parents are dead.

He said that when he was in his 20s, he again developed a relationship with his mother, but that his father’s “brainwashing” had been so strong, he couldn’t entirely overcome it.

“It was hard for me to fully love my mom,” he said. “If she needed me to do something or needed money, I didn’t want to and I’d get angry. My father implanted a disgust and disdain in me for my mother that wouldn’t go away and tainted our relationship.”

Ten years of therapy helped, he said, as did his wife and finding religion. “It helped when I reconnected with my mom, she held nothing against me,” he said. “She reiterated it was my father’s fault, and I had no choice.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “I realized a lot after my mother died.”