Monthly Archives: November 2013

Foster child found handcuffed to porch with dead chicken around neck

Foster child found handcuffed to porch with dead chicken around neck photo
By Catherine Bilkey

UNION COUNTY, N.C. —

View the News Clip

A Child Protective Services supervisor is being investigated after deputies found an 11-year-old boy handcuffed to a porch with a dead chicken around his neck, according to a press release from the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

Wanda Larson is now behind bars and so is her husband, Dorian Harper.

The deputy was answering an animal service complaint at 4116 Austin Road when he came across the shivering child handcuffed by the ankle to the railing.

Moments later, a man appeared on the porch along with another child that released several dogs onto the officer.

The deputy retreated back to his patrol car and the man then removed the handcuffed child from the porch and put the dead chicken on a barrel.

When backup authorities arrived, the officers entered the dwelling and found five children between the ages of 8-14 and removed them from the home.

The couple adopted four of the children and were the foster parents of the 11-year-old child.

Harper and Larson were charged with intentional child abuse, inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment and cruelty to animals.

Larson was also charged with willful failure to discharge her duty as a public officer. Larson is currently employed as a supervisor with Union County Department of Social Services.

They are in jail. Harper is being held under a $500,000 secured bond.

Larson’s bond is set at $525,000.

Both will be in court Monday.

*Special thanks to a Foster Care Survivors Facebook friend for sharing this with us.

SIDS, PTSD, Abuse, and My Concrete Angel

My SIDS Angel

My SIDS Angel

This week has been a difficult one for me, and I find I am struggling even with the smallest of tasks. Yesterday, November 15, 2013, was my tiny angel’s 20th birthday. Instead of blowing out his candles, gorging himself on cake, and eagerly opening presents with his Mom, he celebrated with his heavenly Father. My son passed away almost 20 years ago, he was 9 weeks and 6 days old, from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (S.I.D.S.). I continue to feel the pain just as I did the day he died. A while after my sweet baby passed away, I was at a mall, and through a store window I saw a beautiful concrete angel. It was a figure of an angel holding a baby angel in it’s arms. The look on both of their faces appeared so peaceful that it brought me to tears. I decided right then I wanted to gift this same peace to my baby. The angel was encased in a clear resin container, and the container then attached to my sons headstone to watch over him. One day over 15 years ago the angel became dislodged, someone took it to repair it, and it has never returned to my son’s headstone or my hands again.

I am having so much difficulty with sadness and my PTSD during this time of my son’s birthday and the holidays. My level of anxiety is staggering, intrusive thoughts are many, and my self-doubt seems to be through the roof. Sleep seems to evade me, without nightmares that is. Maybe it’s because of his birthday, the impending holidays, a controlling boss, or maybe it’s just me. I often have days or weeks like this, but as always, this too shall pass. I find that some of the long-term effects of being abused as both a child and an adult can lay dormant for periods of time, only to resurface at varying times without warning. I figured I would take this opportunity, close to Thanksgiving, to thank all whom have given me these unpredictable recurrent gifts that will no-doubt last a lifetime. However, I am putting you all on notice that I will forever be working on trying to exchange them for peace as it will fit me better. Patience is a virtue, and persistence pays.

RN Writer 2013

Foster care system in crisis

Love Feet

USC study intersects teen births with foster care in LA County

Expecting

A first-of-its-kind study released on Nov. 12 links birth and child protective services records in Los Angeles County, revealing new insights regarding births to teens involved with the child welfare system. The new data documented that one in four teens in foster care gives birth before age 20 and as many as 40 percent of these young mothers have a second child during their teen years.

In the county overall, four in 10 teen mothers have been reported as alleged victims of abuse or neglect before pregnancy, and 20 percent have a history of substantiated maltreatment. Rates of abuse and neglect among children born to teens with a history of maltreatment victimization are two to more than three times the rates of children whose teen mothers had no involvement of child protective services. Read More

By Cynthia Monticue
Funded by the Hilton Foundation, the study was also led by Julie Cederbaum of USC and Barbara Needell and Bryn King of UC Berkeley.
USC

Together We Rise Supports Foster Care Kids When They Need It Most

togetherwerise
(Photo courtesy of Danny Mendoza)

In 2008, college student Danny Mendoza discovered that his 9-year-old cousin had been living in a car.

 

The boy was placed in foster care, and while trying to help him maintain some semblance of childhood, Mendoza quickly became frustrated—not only at the lack of resources available to foster kids but at a system that essentially tosses kids out at 18 without doing much to prepare them for life after.

 

Helping those children became Mendoza’s mission. Still a college student at the time, he founded Together We Rise, a California-based nonprofit that empowers foster children through initiatives such as mentoring, tutoring, athletic programs, and advocacy.

 

“Kids in foster care in America are never really talked about; it’s like an unheard cause,” Mendoza says. “Our goal is to share the statistics and share the issue, so people will help out, and it definitely makes a huge difference.”

 

Current statistics on foster care children don’t provide much in the way of optimism for their future: According to the nonprofit’s website, two of three foster kids will die, go to jail, or become homeless within one year of aging out of the system. Even before that happens, the average foster child will endure life-altering upheaval; removed from their families because of abuse or neglect, they may change foster homes frequently, often without warning. Many age out of the system even before they’ve completed their high school education.

 

“Eighty percent of the prison population was once in foster care,” Mendoza says. “Their future is set out for them, and without the right help, that’s where they’re going to end up.” Read More…

 

November 14, 2013

If you’d like to help Together We Rise support our nation’s foster care kids, visit its website.
To find out more about Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program, which is running through November 19, visit the campaign’s Facebook page, and discover other nonprofits that need your vote.
This post is sponsored by Toyota’s philanthropy program 100 Cars for Good. Starting October 1 and ending November 19, do your own good deed by voting for your favorite organizations and causes on the 100 Cars for Good Facebook App.

 

 

 

Out of Foster Care, Into College

 Out of Foster Care, Into College

BY definition, foster children have been delinquent, abandoned, neglected, physically, sexually and/or emotionally abused, and that does not take into account non-statutory abuses like heartache. About two-thirds never go to college and very few graduate, so it’s a safe bet that those who do have an uncommon resilience. Read More…

3 Children in Texas Sex Ring Allege Abuse in Foster Care

Three children who were victims of a swinger’s club in a small East Texas town have been removed from the custody of their foster parents after accusing their caretakers of physical and emotional abuse, a child welfare official said Wednesday.

A judge in Wood County on Tuesday ordered that the three siblings — a 13-year-old girl, 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl — plus a 17-year-old boy be placed in the temporary custody of Child Protective Services, said Shari Pulliam, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

The siblings had been living with John and Margaret Cantrell, who is the person who had first alerted authorities about the swinger’s club in Mineola, located about 80 miles east of Dallas. The couple had been taking care of the children since 2005. The 17-year-old boy was adopted by the Cantrells.

Sarah King, an attorney for the Cantrells, declined to comment Wednesday. No charges have been filed against the couple.

Officials said the three siblings had been some of the victims of a “kindergarten” where young children learned to dance provocatively at the so-called Mineola Swinger’s Club in 2004. To help them perform, prosecutors said the children were given Vicodin-like drugs the adults passed off as “silly pills.” Seven people were convicted in the case.

Pulliam said CPS was alerted on Oct. 31 when the 16-year-old girl ran away from the Cantrells home in Mineola after a “physical altercation between her and Mrs. Cantrell.”

“We were called by the Cantrells to pick up that 16 year old,” Pulliam said. “They were refusing to parent that child any longer.”

CPS workers interviewed the girl as well as the other three children, all of whom made allegations of abuse, Pulliam said.

According to court documents, the 16-year-old girl alleged she had been “slapped across the face” and “popped in the mouth” by Margaret Cantrell. Another child was allegedly beaten with a wooden back scratcher until it broke.

CPS had previously investigated similar allegations made against the Cantrells but they were not substantiated, Pulliam said.

The agency had also known that John Cantrell had faced charges in 2008 of a lewd act with a child related to a case from California. But nothing from that case could be used because the charges were later dropped, she said.

A judge had ordered that the three siblings be placed with the Cantrells, though CPS was not in favor of it, Pulliam said. The agency also didn’t approve of the Cantrells’ adoptions of the 17-year-old boy or another child who is now an adult.

“We felt there were problems with the home and we did not want the children to stay there,” she said.

Pulliam said CPS is still investigating the abuse allegations and will work with the Cantrells, offering them counseling and other services.

A status update on the case is scheduled for Dec. 6.

By Juan A. Lozano
|  Thursday, Nov 14, 2013  |  Updated 9:15 AM CST

 

Gardendale family that fostered 34 kids raises awareness for foster care with 5K walk | AL.com

Hackers.jpg

Tracy and Greg Hacker have parented 34 kids and counting. Six and half years ago the couple chose to open their home to foster children, and since that time, they have changed the lives of several kids as well as their own lives. This month, the Hackers are trying to raise awareness about foster care and adoption with “Walk Me Home…to the place I belong,” a 5K walk set for Nov. 23 in Gardendale.

“For us, to be real honest it has been a God story from day one,” Tracy Hacker said. “We were going to adopt and weren’t really sure how that was going to happen or how that was going to work. God just really opened the door for foster care, an idea that we never really thought about. We knew that was where we needed to be. And the rest has been blessing on top of blessing.”

In addition to the 34 foster kids they have cared for, the Hackers have two biological daughters. They learned about foster care through a teacher at Snow Rodgers Elementary School when the girls were attending. By the time they brought their first foster child into their home their daughters were 11 and 13 years old. Their oldest daughter is now off at college, with the other one not too far behind. But now, the family also includes two adopted sons, Kenny and Evan. The boys were 3 and 4 years old when they are adopted, and they are now 5 and 6 years old.

Adopting Kenny and Evan is just one of the many blessings of being a foster parent, Hacker said.

“It’s a hard process,” she said at a recent Gardendale City Council meeting when promoting the 5K walk. “It’s a hard thing for your heart when they go home, but it’s an incredible blessing for your family and to a community that will open their homes and hearts to do that. We’re honored to be a part of it.”

Right now the family has six children in the home, including one of their daughters, their two adopted sons, and three foster girls. They have had as many as eight kids in the home at one time. Hacker said she will continue to welcome foster kids until, “God says that’s enough.”

“There are a lot of kids in the world that really need families,” she said.

At the council meeting, Hacker said she was surprised to learn a lot of those kids live right in her community. “Of the 34 kids that we’ve had in our home, all 34 have lived within 30 minutes of my house here in Gardendale,” Hacker said. “That has hit me over the years. This is something that people need to be aware of. They need somebody to open their heart and their home and just to love them.”

Buddy Hooper with Alabama Foster and Adoptive Parent Association also spoke at the council meeting and said the “Walk Me Home…to the place I belong” 5K walk serves two purposes. “One is to bring awareness for the need for foster parents to help the children in the area, and the other is to raise funds for a scholarship fund that our association has been doing since 1999,” he said. “This is our way of giving back to foster children. Our goal this year is $20,000 for our walk. I think that’s going to be easily accomplished for all the support we’re getting statewide. I want this to be an event that Gardendale is proud of.”

The walk will be held Saturday, Nov. 23, which is National Adoption Day, starting at Buffalo Wild Wings in Gardendale. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk will begin at 10 a.m. Adults are asked to pay a $10 registration fee, and children under the age of 18 years old are encouraged to attend free of charge. There will be tents, vendors, inflatables, hot chocolate and other activities at the event. Strollers will be allowed during the walk. To register for the walk and for more information visit www.walkmehome.org.

“We’re just looking for people to come out and support us and be there that day,” Hacker said. “Hopefully it will touch someone who will open their home and be a foster parent.”

By Sarah A. McCarty

Gardendale family that fostered 34 kids raises awareness for foster care with 5K walk | AL.com.

Va. ranks first in kids aging out of foster care | WTVR.com

RICHMOND,  Va. (WTVR) — Virginia has the highest rate of children who enter the foster care system only to never find a permanent home, according to state rankings.  It’s called “aging out,” when a child turns 18 and goes out on their own.

That’s about to happen to Mark, who lives at a group home in Richmond.  Since he is in the custody of the state, we can only give his first name.

Mark turns 18 in December and will be on his own, with no permanent family to turn to, if he is not adopted by then. Read More

10 Common Characteristics of Child Abuse Survivors

Broken Heart

Broken Heart

10  Common Characteristics of Child Abuse Survivors

I am sitting here this morning thinking about some of the long term effects of child abuse. Often adults that were abused tend to be extreme “people pleasers” and are fearful of authority. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with wanting to see others happy, but I’m not talking about typical niceness, generosity, or basic humanity. The focus here is the uncontrollable need to please others so that they don’t get mad, you don’t get in trouble (yes, adults abused as children continue to fear “getting in trouble”), or that loved ones will not leave. Here are 10  common characteristics of child abuse survivors.

  1. Incapable of Completely Trusting Others
  2. Depreciated Sense of Self-worth
  3. Elevated “Flight or Fight Response”
  4. Extreme Anxiety
  5. Inability to Express One’s Self
  6. Excessive Self-Doubt
  7. Difficulty Forming Bonds
  8. Chronic Over-achievers
  9. Highly Likely to Engage in Risky Behaviors
  10. Restlessness Within Themselves

This is just a mere few characteristics that plague child abuse survivors, and not all will exhibit all of these. The above list is what I see as a survivor myself, and what I see most often in my child/adolescent patients at the in-patient mental health hospital in which I work as a Psychiatric Nurse. The damage done leaves scars that can last a lifetime, and the challenges are fought daily.

Trust is a basic developmental milestone that is usually learned during infancy and reinforced throughout ones lifetime. For us, it is an elusive concept. Not having the ability to trust affects all relationships (intimate, casual, and professional), and often it affects what we are able to to achieve i.e., not trying to do new things for fear that something will happen to prevent completion of the achievement or endeavor. For example, many hesitate going to college or applying for a promotion because they may feel that their loved ones will need to be accepting of the time it takes to study, or that maybe a loved one will balk about the extra hours at a new job.

A healthy sense of self-worth is imperative to happiness. In general, people will try to do things they think they are capable of; therefore, if told often enough that they can’t do something they will begin to believe what is said and may never try for fear of failure. This further erodes their sense of self-worth. On the other hand, when accomplishments are achieved, it is tremendously difficult for child abuse survivors to receive compliments, often second guessing intentions or motives. Self-doubt also feeds into another characteristic of being an over-achiever, stemming from a sub-conscious need to prove ones self to be worthy.

Flight or fight response is a defense mechanism that causes anxiety, and is built into all of us for the purpose of self protection. I have been told, more often than not, that I remind people of a scared rabbit. Obviously I don’t actually look like a rabbit, but I have learned that I can appear very anxious or nervous even at times that others would not. It is akin to the saying “waiting for the other shoe to fall”, meaning I have become so accustomed to bad things happening, that I am always anxiously waiting for the inevitable. It is exhausting to say the least, and I can’t count the number of times people say to me “just don’t worry about it”. Do they not understand I am not equipped properly to “just not worry about it”?

Infants and toddlers learn to express themselves to get what they need and what they want. Child abuse survivors often struggle with the basic tool of communication. We can talk, of course, but being able to articulate what we want to say without anxiety or exposing our emotions is quite the challenge. This characteristic links back to some of the others we have already talked a bit about like trust, self worth, anxiety, self-doubt etc. It is often a balancing act to tell others how we feel without worrying about our wording, the judgement of others, or exposing our emotions. Often self-doubt wins and self expression is lost. The fear of these things and of exposing ourselves to potential harm, real or perceived, is too risky.

Difficulty forming bonds is another common characteristic that is seen as a result of child abuse. Okay, please note, I am not at all saying that we can not have relationships or form bonds with our children, family members, for friends at all, I am just stating that it can be challenging for many of us. My difficulty with this centers around my inability to trust, and I find that it is hard for me to express emotions to others verbally in a way that conveys the true depth of my feelings for them. A lot of times when expressing ourselves the words can sound shallow or lacking emotion. This is likely also the result of not wanting to expose ourselves to harm and lack of trust in others with our emotions and innermost thoughts.

The need to achieve at work, school, parenting, sports, and other activities to the point of working excessively long hours, pushing yourself to exhaustion to complete projects early, relentless researching, and many other behaviors engaged in for the purpose of noticeably excelling at a task or activity are behaviors associated with overachievers. Over-achieving for the survivor of child abuse is a simple concept….be good…really good and you will be loved, accepted, kept worthy.

Drugs, promiscuity, self-injurious behavior, and fighting are just a few of the numerous risky behaviors that plague child abuse victims. It is not uncommon for others to label these children/adults as “bad” or “trouble”, when the truth is much different. Often these behaviors result from trying to cope with pain, shame, anger, and disappointment. Surely these are not appropriate ways to cope, but remember, some of us didn’t ever learn to cope in healthy ways with our feelings. Coping skills are tools learned to deal, in positive ways, with negative emotions or situations in life. Our toolbox is empty until someone realizes this, and cares enough to help us fill it up. Sadly, without tools to cope, many child abuse victims engage in risky behaviors for many years, and some have so much difficulty coping and are so hopeless that they may tragically take their own lives.

The last characteristic is the hardest one to explain, as I struggle with this one myself and have a tough time understanding it fully. Restlessness with my life, not the type of restlessness that causes you to get up and do something, or move your legs because you are uncomfortable. It might be best described as the inability to find peace and happiness with ones current lifestyle, job, location, accomplishments, contributions, and self. I always feel that there is something else I should be doing, or find myself searching relentlessly for something without really ever knowing what I am looking for. Could it be safety? Peace? Happiness? Love? Trust? Would I even fully recognize it?

I am writing this article to share with you some of the long-term effects of child abuse for two reasons. First, I believe awareness is the key to helping others, and secondly I want to share some insight from the prospective of a child abuse survivor. Not all children will suffer all of the characteristics I have shared with you here. Just as each child is unique, the spectrum of injuries to body, mind, and spirit that result from child abuse are also unique. There is one thing we all have in common; we all deserve to be loved. Make a difference, even if it’s only in one child’s life because “it will make a difference to that one”. – Starfish Storyadapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

RN Writer 2013

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