by Health Impact News/MedicalKidnap.com Staff
A young Alabama mother is fighting to maintain hope that she can get her children back. Haly Boothe was a minor in foster care herself when she gave birth to her first two children. When she aged out of the system, her foster mother and DHR refused to let her take her children with her. She got a job, got married, and had another baby. DHR took that baby from her at the hospital at 3 days old, simply because DHR already had her other two children.
See her story:
Haly and her husband Anthony love their children and desperately want to have their children home. Haly’s grandmother, Dee Prince, says that she never even had the chance to be a mother. They feel that the system has been doing everything that they can to keep the children away from their family, even though they have done nothing to deserve losing them. They believe that Haly is the victim of a cruel system, and no matter what she does, it doesn’t seem to be enough.
In October, Haly sent a letter out to DHR, legislators, media, and the governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, outlining many issues that she has seen with the handling of her case.
The full letter is included here:
As a result of the letter, Judge Corey Moore recused himself, and her court-appointed attorney withdrew from her case. The new judge is Daniel Crowson.
The family followed up the letter by filing a bar complaint in November against the children’s Guardian ad litem (GAL) Erin Bell Welborn, listing substantial allegations regarding her representation of their case.
These allegations include a conflict of interest because Welborn filed a lawsuit on behalf of Haly’s infant nephew against Haly and other family members and members of the media, including a reporter for Medical Kidnap, while at the same time representing Haly’s children as GAL.
See story about lawsuit:
As GAL for the children, she never visited them while they were in foster care with Haly, which is allegedly in violation of protocols. When Haly was 18 years old, her foster mother died suddenly, which was emotionally difficult for Haly, but Erin Welborn never used her role as GAL to advocate for any kind of counseling for Haly or her children, but instead recommended that her babies be taken from the grieving young mother.
Additionally, the bar complaint alleges that the court hearings since Haly’s sister’s baby was taken by DHR in June have not addressed the issues regarding her case, but have instead focused primarily upon the fact that the media has reported their story publicly.
Neither Haly, nor her family members who have spoken with Health Impact News, have believed that the GAL has shown any concern about the baby having the right to be raised by her own family. There appears to have been no effort allegedly made on the part of the GAL to reunite the family.
There is no word yet of any response to the bar complaint. Erin Welborn has been removed from the lawsuit, as she was found to have no standing to file the suit.
Since that time, a new GAL has been assigned to Haly’s children, but the family has not met them yet. According to Alabama Code 12-15-304(b), GALs are required by law to meet with the children prior to the court hearings, and to conduct their own “thorough and independent investigation” of the case. The family hopes that the new GAL will abide by the requirements of the statutes and investigate, and not simply rubber stamp the reports of the social workers that they believe simply do not like the family.
Mom Forced to Pay Child Support Even Though No Parental Rights
Suddenly, Haly is being required to pay child support, even for the children for whom her rights have been terminated. This began without notice. In December, she discovered that DHR started garnishing her wages. By the time taxes, deductions, and child support is taken out, her take-home pay is less than half of her earnings. She never received notice about the wage garnishment. There was, apparently, a notice sent out, but it went to a wrong address, even though DHR has always known her current address.
She doesn’t understand how she can be required to pay child support all of a sudden without any kind of hearing, especially on the two children where her rights were involuntarily terminated. Her family believes that this could be a retaliatory move designed to make life more difficult for her, so that social workers can report back to the court that she is not in compliance with the requirements they have deemed necessary for her to get her baby back.
Visitation Allowed by Alabama Law
No one in the family has seen the two older children since the TPR (termination of parental rights) in December of 2015. One of the children has reportedly been asking to see his mommy. Alabama state law states that children still have the right to visit their parents. This right applies even if parental rights have been terminated, according to Alabama Administrative Code 660-5-50.05b:
Children retain the right to visit with their parents and families even when the rights of the parents have been terminated. Visiting may be restricted when it places the child’s safety at risk; substantially inhibits attainment of the goals of the safety plan or the permanency goal of the ISP; or subjects the child to intimidation regarding investigative statements or court testimony.
The code makes it clear that legislators recognize “the need for family attachments,” and as such, visits are not to be used as either rewards or punishments. According to 660-5-50.02(4):
Visits are to be viewed as valuable in and of themselves and as strategies in meeting the child’s developmental and permanency needs.
Thus, the law addresses the concern that many have expressed that children have a right to and a need for family connection and to know who they are and where they come from. The practice, however, of DHR in this case, and in many others, does not appear to reflect this priority.
Reunification or TPR?
At the time that the newborn baby was taken from the hospital, social worker Star Pope reportedly told Haly and her husband Anthony that they would talk about reunification if they would move out of Haly’s grandparents’ home and get their own place, and have a job and a car.
At the time of that conversation, Haly had been working for several months, and, in fact, got a promotion shortly after.
All this was reportedly to prove to the state that the 20 year olds were capable of providing for their child all by themselves. Even though parents all around the world are allowed to have help from grandparents and other family members, Pope made it clear that this is not acceptable to DHR. At the time the baby was taken, Haly and Anthony lived in a mother-in-law apartment at Haly’s grandparents’ home, which was very separate from the rest of the home. However, they moved into their own apartment, per DHR request.
Pope also wanted Haly to get her GED. She did not need to get her GED, because she already had a high school diploma. She had graduated high school – on time, while in foster care, with 2 small children, a fact that the social worker seemed unaware of.
Both Haly and Anthony are working, and they have a vehicle. They have met all the requirements originally set forth by the social worker. They have taken parenting classes as well. But the baby is still not home.
Their fear is that DHR is trying to drag out the case to keep the baby in foster care for a year, so that they can then have reason to terminate parental rights and adopt her out. She will be a year old on May 9.
Parents Simply Want the Opportunity to Be Parents
The baby is now crawling and beginning to talk. Haly and Anthony, and the rest of the family, have missed many of their daughter’s milestones. She is now 8 months old and has never spent a day in her own home, since she went straight from the hospital to foster care.
Even though they have missed much, there is nothing in the world that Haly and Anthony want more than to have their baby girl, and her two older siblings, home with them. They struggle to understand how a system that says that it is about protecting children can rip a family apart for no other reason than the fact that their mother was in foster care herself. Isn’t that an indictment on the system if social workers believe that the foster care system doesn’t prepare children adequately to parent their own children when they grow up?
If they had abused or neglected their children, if they had ever done anything to bring harm to any of their children, then they could understand the involvement of DHR. But that didn’t happen. They maintain that the state had no legitimate reason to take their children.
Rally on February 3 at the Shelby County Courthouse
Haly and Anthony have a hearing on the baby’s case on Friday, February 3, at 9am with the new judge. They are hoping that the new judge will look at what has happened in their case, and will rule fairly and return their children.
Supporters are planning a peaceful rally at 8:30am on February 3 in front of the Shelby County Courthouse at 112 North Main Street, Columbiana, Alabama. The public is invited to attend.
Funds Needed for Legal Help
The family is in need of funds to hire an attorney to fight for them. They have been disappointed in the court-appointed attorneys that they have had in the past, and would like to hire an attorney. Medical Kidnap has set up a fundraiser to help them with the initial retainer fee.
To donate, go here.
They still maintain hope that somehow, things will turn around for them and that they will get the children back. They are never giving up.
Who to Call:
Senator Cam Ward is the Senator for their district. He may be reached at 334-242-7873, or contacted here.
Representative April Weaver represents their district. She may be reached at 334-242-7731, or contacted here.
According to the Alabama Family Rights Association, ALFRA:
Alabama has a nine-member task force created to examine the work of the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR). If you have issues or concerns about DHR services, your best plan of action is to contact the following legislators/lawmakers and committee members:
Connie Rowe, State Representative, has replaced Mac McCutcheon as the Task Force Chair / 334-242-7600/ email here.
Chris England, State Representative / 334-242-7703 / 205-535-4859 / email here.
Greg Reed, State Senator / 334-242-7894 / he is on Facebook.
The complete list of committee Members can be found here: Executive Order Number 11
More on Haly’s story:
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