by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
Last week (February 2017) we published the story of Shanley Devlin of Walker County, Alabama, and how her family was torn apart by the Department of Human Resources (DHR). Shanley was removed from the custody of her parents at the age of 14 after she became pregnant during the April 27, 2011, tornadoes. Her parents were housing many people from the neighborhood during the storms.
In spite of the fact that the family wanted to raise the baby in their home, Alabama DHR allegedly charged the parents with “inadequate supervision,” and both their daughter and grandson were placed in foster care. Their daughter Shanley is now 20 years old holding a steady job and has place to live, but because she grew up in foster care, DHR will not allow her son to live with her.
Read the full story here:
Alabama DHR Destroys Another Family: Baby Taken Away Because Young Mom was a Foster Child Kidnapped from Loving Parents
Alabama DHR Board Member Tries to Discredit MedicalKidnap.com on Facebook
When we posted Shanley’s story on our Facebook Page, the story quickly went viral with many people in Alabama sharing their own horror stories with DHR in Alabama on our Facebook Page.
Someone posting as Margaret Morgan Silbernagel and claiming be “a member of the Esc. Co. DHR Board,” apparently decided (or was appointed) to stand up for DHR and asserted:
This story cannot be accurate.
When pressed as to whether Ms. Silbernagel had first hand knowledge of the story we reported on, which was in a county several hours away from the county she was claiming where she served on a DHR board, she admitted she did not, and simply posted her belief that DHR would never do such actions as we were reporting in our story:
Our regulations and goals do not allow us to remove a child from a home without proper cause. That cause must meet criteria. There is more to this story than is being shared with you.
The DHR’s goal is to always place children within their own biological family, if possible.
Since Ms. Silbernagel may not have actually read the story at MedicalKidnap.com, she was asked why Shanley and her baby could not have been placed with her parents since they wanted to raise them? We asked Ms. Silbernagel:
Does DHR look at the national statistics regarding outcomes for children in foster care, as opposed to children left in homes with their biological parents, even if those are “troubled” homes?
But she did not reply to this question, but instead gave a reply similar to what we hear all across the country when misconduct, corruption, or failure to do one’s job is mentioned with social workers employed to “protect” children:
There is such a large need for foster homes, it is overwhelming. It is not the desire for DHR to remove any child from their biological home unless the child is at risk of physical harm. I can assure you, our regulations require we work with families to get them to the point where they are able to get their children back. In the cases where the parents are in jail/prison, active drug addicts, have records of abusive behavior, the judge does not release a child back into that home, until it has been deemed those parents are no longer a threat.
However, we take issue with such a response, after covering social service agencies removing children from loving parents all across the country, where no abuse exists. In a recent report in Connecticut, for example, it was revealed that social services targets poor families, and that 90% of the children taken out of their homes are NOT for reasons of abuse, but instead “neglect.”
So we addressed this question to Ms. Silbernagel, asking why Shanley was taken out of her home, when no danger of “physical harm” was present, and neither her nor her parents requested it?
If the child is not in danger, as clearly was the case in this situation, why take the child to begin with? If the parents are truly abusive, that is a law enforcement issue. The abusive parent in that case should be the one removed, not the victim. DHR has it backwards. The goal should be to not take the children to begin with. But too often the child is taken right away, which initiates state and federal funding, and then reunification is worked out (sometimes). But as we have reported, in many of these families neither the parents nor the child wanted to be removed, as is the case in this story. DHR has too much power, and they abuse it.
Ms. Silbernagel then gave what we consider is the prevailing view among government officials employed to “protect” children: basically some people are “decent” and some are not, and it is the government’s job to decide who is a good parent and who is not, even if no abuse exists, and the parents are never convicted of a crime:
We are swimming up stream in a river of human misery. The State, DHR, not even Donald Trump is responsible for the fact that some parents are not providing a safe environment for their children or their parents. The blame belongs to those who have lost sight of human decency.
Our reply to Ms. Silbernagel, and to all social workers who believe that it is their job to decide who are good parents and who are not, is the same:
Your agency is out of control. You have no oversight or accountability, and everything you do is cloaked in secrecy. Who gave you the right to end “human misery” as you define it? If neither the parents nor the child want your intervention, then you are clearly violating their human rights. No family is perfect.
Many other parents who believe they are victims of the state who wrongfully removed their children also spoke up and addressed Ms. Silbernagel, and at one point Ms. Silbernagel admitted:
This conversation has certainly been an eye opener. I do not do what I do for recognition or for any of your approvals. I do this for the children and elderly people in our communities who have no one to protect them or speak up for them.
Ms. Silbernagel clearly states that she does her job the way she sees fit whether the public approves of it or not. She claimed she receives no pay for her services.
I am one of many who are not paid, but work diligently for the good of the families in our county.
Former DHR County Worker Disagrees with Alabama Board Member’s Accusations
One person posting on our Facebook Page regarding this story Carol Waldrop Stewart apparently was not in agreement with Ms. Silbernagel and identified herself as a former DHR county worker:
This is so sad!! I worked for Dekalb County DHR and I will tell you they do A LOT OF THINGS THAT ARE NOT RIGHT. It’s about time something is being done about it too. And I will tell you it has to a lot with money under the table. You got the money you will get a baby. Crooked court system and Judges too.
Former Alleged Mother-in-law of Social Worker’s Daughter in Shanley’s Story Speaks Out on Alleged Drug Abuse in Social Worker’s Home
One of the residents of Alabama who responded to Ms. Silbernagel’s defense of DHR identified herself as “the former mother-in-law” of the DHR social worker Judy Kitchens’ daughter. Judy Kitchens is mentioned in our story as the social worker that removed Shanley and her baby from her parents home. Linda Motes Pullins stated that she did not think Judy Kitchens should be a social worker given the problems she alleges exist in Judy’s own family:
I am the former mother-in-law of this social worker’s daughter. I know the social worker that started all this. I took care of Judy Kitchens’ daughter when Judy just basically abandoned her daughter Katrina, who eventually married my son. Judy Kitchens raised her kids in a drug environment. Her daughter lead my son into drugs. He finally came to me, and I helped him with medical care for rehab, and he finally divorced because he didn’t want to live that kind of life. My point is, Judy had and still has drug problems with her husband, kids, and grandchildren. She doesn’t address the problems in her own family and facilitates those problems. What the heck is she doing being a social worker!? I have said before to people that she should never be able to be a social worker.
Alabama: Destroying Families in Secrecy and with Intimidation
Here at Health Impact News and MedicalKidnap.com, we have reported quite a few stories about parents making similar claims of Alabama DHR kidnapping their children. Last year we reported on a 14 year old rape victim who chose to give birth to her baby, and how Alabama DHR took the baby away from her while still in the hospital even though the girl’s grandparents, who had custody of the 14 year old mother at the time, wanted to raise the baby. The story gained national attention and quickly went viral, with more than 1 million readers in the first 48 hours:
Alabama Child Protective Services Steals New-born Breast-feeding Baby from Rape Victim While Still at the Hospital
The attorney appointed for the baby named Health Impact News and other alternative media sources in a lawsuit, upset that we were bringing this story to the public.
One of our reporters accompanied the family to the first court hearing, and while waiting outside the courtroom to report on the story, the judge called her into the courtroom, even though she was not a party to the case, and gave her strict warnings about publishing the story while sitting on his bench, even though our reporter had no legal counsel to represent herself.
Here are some other stories we have published about families suffering in Alabama:
Alabama Girl Medically Kidnapped and Forced on Drugs: Parents Facing Jail for Failure to Pay State Child Support
Alabama DHR Woman Indicted: Faking Credentials and Collecting $864K in Medicaid funds for Kidnapping Children
If you don’t like what the State of Alabama is doing to families, you might want to contact the governor and let him know.
Senator Connie Rowe chairs the DHR Task Force. She may be reached at (334) 242-7600, or contacted here.
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