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. 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." But Ms. Silbernagel was apparently not prepared for the firestorm of comments that was about to come her way, as she later admitted: "This conversation has certainly been an eye opener. I do not do what I do for recognition or for any of your approvals." One of comments came from someone identifying 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, which she alleges includes a history of drug abuse.
Alabama DHR Destroys Another Family: Baby Taken Away Because Young Mom was a Foster Child Kidnapped from Loving Parents
All that Shanley wanted for her 20th birthday on February 22 was to get her son back from DHR, and to no longer be considered a foster child herself. Ashton was born while Shanley was in foster care, and when she was kicked out of her foster home last summer at the age of 19, she was not permitted to take her son with her. Alabama social workers tell her that she cannot get him back at this time because they still consider her a foster child, even though she is legally an adult, living on her own with both a job and an apartment. Shanley is not accused of any kind of neglect or abuse, so it doesn't make sense to her that Walker County Department of Human Resources (DHR) refuses to allow her to have her son with her. Shanley was taken out of the home of her parents at the age of 14 because she got pregnant on the night of April 27, 2011, a date that most in the south will never forget, as 252 people lost their lives in the 62 tornadoes across the state of Alabama. Her parents were accused of parental neglect because they had a house full of neighbors that night and did not prevent their daughter from getting pregnant. Her parents and other family members wanted to raise the baby in a loving home, but Alabama DHR did not allow them to raise the baby, and they lost their 14 year old daughter as well.
Alabama Grandparents of 14 Year Old Rape Victim and Baby Still Not Allowed Contact with Own Grandchildren Raised in Their Home
The story of the 14 year old Alabama mother whose newborn baby was taken away from her by Child Protective Services last summer quickly went viral, and inspired outrage all over the world. That outrage translated into action, with many phone calls, emails, and letters calling upon state legislators to "do something" about the situation. Local courts and social workers tried to silence the media, and squelch the negative attention that the actions of the Department of Human Resources (DHR) was receiving. But the public refused to back down in their fight for this family, and because of the calls for action, things changed for this family. There is also new legislation pending in the state of Alabama which arose from their case. Fortunately, the baby was eventually returned to his mother, but he and his mother were taken to Childhaven, a group home in Cullman, Alabama. Her twin brother was placed in a foster home originally, and then into a group home 2 hours away from his sister. After much public attention, all three children were placed with a relative, but not returned to the grandparents' home where they grew up. Since that time, the relative has declined to speak with media. However, Health Impact News has been able to confirm that the children appear to be safe and baby Braelon appears to be thriving, now that they are out of the group home setting. DHR forbids any contact with Dee and Rodney Prince to the twins whom they have raised since infancy. The week before baby Braelon was taken, a Shelby County DHR social worker had approved the Prince's home as a safe place for infants. What changed?
Should Foster Children who Become Parents as Adults Automatically Have Their Children Seized? Alabama Mother Fights to Get Children Back
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. 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.
Missionaries Christian and Danielle Holm were devastated Tuesday when it became clear that their baby was not coming home with them that day. It has been more than 2 months since Alabama social workers and sheriffs ripped their newborn baby from his mother's arms and placed him into foster care, even though the parents have broken no laws and have not harmed their child. Judge Melody Brooks Walker was due to render a judgement in their case on Tuesday, December 20, after hearing the case on Wednesday and Thursday of the previous week. That didn't happen. The Holms and several supporters came to the courthouse before the scheduled 4 pm hearing, hoping for answers. They received word Tuesday afternoon that Judge Walker had recused herself from their case that morning. This was reportedly done "to avoid the appearance of impropriety." They were told that there will not be another hearing or a decision on the case until a new judge is appointed. They don't know when that will be. Tears flowed freely in the parking lot as Danielle learned that the judge would not be issuing any judgement, and that she would not be getting her baby back that day: "I can't keep going home without my baby." Christian Holm sought to understand what was happening: "This is inhumane to torture our little baby and us like this."
It has been almost 2 months since itinerant missionaries Christian and Danielle Holm's newborn baby was ripped from his mother's breast in an Alabama hospital by the Department of Human Resources (DHR). Social workers called in hospital security, police, and a sheriff's detective after the couple declined a social security card and birth certificate for their baby. There was a case of mistaken identity, but that was easily and quickly demonstrated to be false. There was no abuse and no neglect, but that didn't stop DHR from seizing the 1 day old infant from his parents, allegedly without a warrant, court order, or emergency circumstances. Their baby is reportedly still in foster care. Now, the FBI is allegedly stepping in.
Theirs was a spiritual journey of getting back to nature and rejecting the materialism that they felt held them in bondage. Christian and Danielle Holm began their journey together in early 2016 as itinerant missionaries, traveling across the country and speaking to churches as they sought to live simply and biblically. The last thing that they expected was for Child Protective Services to seize their 1 day old baby literally off of his mother's breast in an Alabama hospital. What started out as an apparent case of mistaken identity has turned into a nightmare that the family cannot wake up from. They don't understand why their baby was taken from them, or why he still remains in state custody in foster care while social workers continue to challenge their religious beliefs. Hospital officials allegedly became originally concerned when the couple refused to file a birth certificate or take out a social security card for their newborn child, prompting social services and local law enforcement to get involved. According to a close family friend who contacted Health Impact News, the couple are grieving. "The most sacred thing to Danielle and Christian is the bond of male and female coming together and giving life with God. This bonding process in the beginning of a baby's life has been stolen from them. There was never any reason for their baby to be taken from them." Instead of beginning life on his mother's breast milk, the newborn baby is now being force-fed commercial formula.
Haly Boothe, a young Shelby County, Alabama mother whose 3 day old baby was seized by DHR without a court order, warrant, or evidence of wrongdoing, is still fighting to get her children back. Many who are close to the family have expressed that they are appalled at what they say is injustice in the family court system. Haly recently sent a lengthy letter to Alabama legislators and others describing what she calls "a lifetime of attacks" by DHR. She posed numerous questions challenging many of the actions of DHR personnel, including those of her children's Guardan ad litem, Erin Welborn, which she has described as "unfair." As of the writing of this article, none of her concerns have been addressed. Her parental rights to her other two children were terminated, even though her family maintains that the state has never produced any evidence of wrongdoing by Haly. They believe that she lost her children because she was in the foster care system herself when she had her first two children at age 15 and 16. Her children were kept by DHR when Haly aged out of the system at age 19. She was not permitted to take her children with her. Before her newest baby, Avyonna, was born in May, Haly was told by social workers and attorneys alike that they were not going to take her baby when she was born. However, Baby Avyonna was seized by Shelby County DHR at only 3 days old in May from a Jefferson County hospital. The social worker reportedly told her that it was because DHR already had the other children in their custody. Since the writing of Haly's letter to state legislators and the Alabama Governor, her court-appointed attorney wrote that he felt that he had no choice but to withdraw from her case. Haly is now without legal representation. Her family is concerned that there are no attorneys left in Shelby County with the ethics and courage to stand up for her. They hope to find an attorney in Alabama who is not a part of the network of Shelby County attorneys.
Baby Braelon and his young mother have been released to the custody of a family member, according to a source close to the Prince family. The mother's twin brother remains in a group home, but the source, who asked not to be named, reports that the judge in the case, Judge Corey Moore, appears to finally be listening to the evidence in the case. No more will the young mother be under the watchful guard of the 24 hour sitters. No more will she be isolated from her support system and everyone she cares about. When she attends church, she will be able to sit with family and friends instead of social workers. She won't be followed into the bathroom. She will be living in a much cleaner environment. Her phone conversations with family members will not be monitored. She will be able to breastfeed her baby on demand and meet his needs, without being coerced to follow poor decisions for his care made by sitters, social workers, and group home mothers. If he needs to go to the doctor, she will be able to get him seen without having to beg for days. In short, the young mother will no longer be treated like a prisoner.
The assumption of the public is that when a child is removed from his or her parents, the government has a compelling reason to be involved, based on allegations of abuse or neglect. Sometimes, however, that is not the case, and children are literally separated from their families because a social worker thinks a parent MIGHT cause harm in the future, even if there is no current abuse or harm being committed. This appears to be the case with an Alabama mother whose 3 day old breastfeeding baby was taken from her at the hospital in May. The mom, 20 year old Haly Booth, is an older sister of the 14 year old rape victim whose story of her baby's kidnapping has been heard around the world. Shelby County DHR has seized Haly's newborn baby with no court order, no trial, and no evidence. The reasons they have given in a written letter to the mother are basically that they do not think she is a good mother, and that she might harm her baby in the future. The mother is a former foster child herself, and that is used against her. Is this what we have come to in the United States of America, where children can be kidnapped by the State so easily? Is any family safe?