Just three hours after a Native American mother got home from the hospital after a suspected heart attack, Child Protective Services (known in Alabama as DHR, Department of Human Resources) showed up on her doorstep and took away her two autistic sons. Now, her two sons are living in a foster home in Mobile, almost 250 miles away from their Sylacauga home, and their mother says that they are being abused in foster care and that their culture is being trampled by the social workers and foster parents. Dawn "Adaleha" ("my sunshine" in Cherokee) Cullins was appointed as the Alabama Ambassador for the Sokoki tribe, and in 2003, was recognized for "acts of compassion and kindness" and awarded the Civic Recognition Award in her community. She holds a degree in Paralegal studies and is very active in tribal activities. Her record is squeaky clean, without so much as a traffic ticket. DHR got involved with her family after one of her autistic sons wandered away from home and was reported to DHR by neighbors. The charges against her were "a messy house and dirty children." Today, Dawn claims her children are beaten in foster care, and are given multiple drugs to keep them compliant without her approval. She calls it "genocidal kidnapping," and reports that when she told DHR that her children were Native American, the social workers told her that she would never get her kids back.
An Alabama couple is afraid that they may never get their children back. All 7 of their children were taken by DHR (the state's child protective services) after their not-yet diagnosed child with autism began wandering off. It is called "elopement" in the autism community, and is very common in children diagnosed with autism, happening in 49% of these kids, even in the best of homes and the most carefully guarded of situations. It is scary, but experts say that it does not at all reflect poor parenting. It has now been over a year since Sabrina and Tony Cartee's children were taken, and the state plans to file to terminate their parental rights for all of their kids, including the baby who was born in September, after the other children were taken by DHR. The breastfeeding newborn was seized at only a day and a half old and placed in a foster home.