Amanda's children

“This is the last photo I have of all my children together. It was taken in 2006.” – Amanda (Image supplied by Amanda – Back row: April Nicole, Savannah, Stephen. Front row: Wendell and Madison.)

by Health Impact News/ Staff

Kentucky has a well-documented history of corruption within its Cabinet for Health & Family Services’ Department of Community Based Services (DCBS), which has been exposed by whistleblower social workers and attorneys, investigated at length, and publicized in local radio and news.

Yet Kentucky continues to carry on business as usual.

Here is another story which exemplifies the depth of corruption in Kentucky’s DCBS and Family Courts, a system that allegedly routinely destroys families based on lies, hearsay and allegations.

Amanda Orsetti Downs was initially afraid to take her story public, fearing retaliation from DCBS, even though it’s been 12 years since DCBS removed her children and they’ve all been adopted out. She now lives in another state.

Overcoming her fears, Amanda decided to share her powerful story, in hopes that her children will learn the truth one day, and that others will realize just how corrupt this system really is.

Amanda warns:

I really don’t think anyone fully understands just how powerful these people really are. They have the attitude that they are above the law and they will do whatever they want to, to you or your family, and they just don’t care because they have gotten away with it for so long. They will make your life a living hell if you even try to stop them.

They got doctors behind them. They destroyed records. These people are vindictive, they will haunt you, stalk you, do whatever it takes, even if that means retaliation on you or to hurt someone close to you. They do not care as long as they are getting a big paycheck from the state.

My attorney couldn’t even help me because of how vindictive they really are.

I pray that one day they will be held accountable for their wrong doings, but until then all I can do is give it to God and hope for the best.

See more stories about Kentucky corruption:

Whistleblowers Reveal CPS Child Kidnappings in Kentucky Adoption Business

Destroying Families in Kentucky via State-sponsored Child Trafficking: United We Stand, Divided We Fall 

Kentucky is Being Investigated for Corruption: Will the State’s Sordid History of Legal Kidnapping Finally be Punished? 

Is Kentucky The Most Corrupt State in the Country Trafficking Children Through Child “Protection” Services?

Child Trafficking Reported in Kentucky as “One of the Most Corrupt States in the Country”

Mother Abused as a Child and Labeled Bi-Polar

Amanda reports that when she was a child, she and her sister were sexually abused by their step-father. When she was 9 years-old, she went to live with her biological father, and explains,

My father placed me in River Valley Behavioral Health because of depression, anxiety and behavioral issues that stemmed from living with my mother and step-father. It was determined then that I had a mental issue called Bi-Polar.

Amanda and her sister testified against their step-father in court that he had sexually abused them, but he was found to be “not guilty.” Amanda never forgot the words from the caseworker in their case that would later haunt her as an adult:

When I was in the 6th grade, my sister and I turned our step father in for sexual abuse but I guess we said something wrong on the stand because they found him not guilty and the caseworker threatened [me] that when I have kids she would make sure that I had them taken from me never to see them again.

Great-grandmother Threatens to Gain Custody of Amanda’s Firstborn

When Amanda grew up, she married and gave birth to her first daughter, Savannah, on May 4, 1997. The marriage had been rough and Amanda ended it the day Savannah was born, but Amanda says that Savannah’s paternal great-grandmother, Geneavive, and her great-aunt, Connie, threatened to stop at nothing until they had custody of Savannah.

Savannah at birth

Savannah at birth. Great-grandmother wanted custody of Amanda’s first-born. Image provided by Amanda.

Amanda says they were behind many of the anonymous phone calls to DCBS throughout her case. Amanda recalls that once, at a park, Connie even grabbed Savannah right out of her arms, in an attempt to take her away.

Third Child Born with Medical Problems

Amanda remarried and gave birth to four more children. On June 16, 1999, Amanda’s second child, a healthy baby girl, April Nicole, was born. Although later court documents would falsely claim that April had asthma, supposedly exasperated by Amanda’s smoking, Amanda reports that she only smoked outside, and no medical records ever stated that April had asthma.

On September 17, 2000, Amanda’s third child, Stephen, was born. She had a placental abruption during labor, necessitating an emergency c-section.

After a couple of weeks, Amanda noticed that Stephen was not eating right and was losing weight. Amanda pleaded with her doctor, Dr. Neel, for 2 weeks until he finally conceded that Stephen had more than just a cold, and admitted him into Owensboro Mercy Health System. While Amanda stayed with Stephen in the hospital, she allowed Savannah and April Nicole to stay with Savannah’s great-grandmother, Geneavive.

Stephen wasn’t getting better and Amanda was frustrated that Dr. Neel was not helping him. Geneavive recommended that Amanda call Dr. Luellen (who later married, becoming Dr. Russell), who promptly visited Stephen at Owensboro and recommended that Stephen be flown to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville. Amanda would later regret this decision, as she learned too late that Dr. Russell was a family friend of Geneavive, and would be instrumental in eventually having Amanda’s children removed from her custody.

At Kosair, they diagnosed Stephen with Congenital Lobar Emphysema and had to remove a portion of his right lung. During the next year, Amanda had to take Stephen to the hospital on a daily basis for medical treatments, while Savannah and April stayed with Amanda’s husband or with Geneavive.

Savannah, April Nicole, and baby Stephen.

April Nicole, and Savannah holding baby Stephen. Image provided by Amanda.

Amanda’s next two children were born healthy, with no medical problems – a son Wendell born on November 20th, 2001, and a daughter Madison born on December 20th, 2002.

Amanda recalled that in March of 2001, Dr. Russell referred Stephen to First Steps, an “early intervention program to help him thrive and get better.” But what Amanda did not realize was this was a “service” provided by Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health & Family Services, and opened the door for DCBS to be in her family’s life with their in-home therapists – occupational, developmental, and speech.

Retaliation for Trying to Change Doctors?

In January of 2003, Amanda and her husband moved to another county in Kentucky with their five children, due to her husband’s work. Due to the distance, and Stephen needing constant medical attention, Amanda tried to switch his doctor to someone local, but claims that Dr. Russell would not allow it.

A month later, Stephen got a small burn on his foot when he got too close to the floor heater. Amanda informed Sheila, the First Steps speech therapist, that Stephen was in a little pain that day from the burn, but that she was taking him to see Dr. Russell later that day for some burn cream.

Amanda’s husband was giving Wendell a bath, and stepped into the hall for a moment to grab a towel from the closet. Amanda recalls,

The therapist angrily approached my husband yelling, ‘you never leave a 2-year-old unattended for 20 seconds,’ yet she left my disabled and sick son Stephen unattended in the living room to check on my perfectly healthy son Wendell.

Shortly after the therapist left, Amanda says social workers were at their home:

Social workers came to my door that morning after Sheila left and said that we had left our son in the bathtub for 15 minutes alone, that he had a burn on his foot and that I had thrown a cookie at him. This is just so WRONG! I would never throw food at my child or any child at that matter! When they showed up they told me what Shelia had called in and said. I told them it wasn’t true, and that my son had a doctor’s appointment for the small burn that afternoon. They said okay and basically left at that point.

Later that day when Amanda took Stephen to see Dr. Russell for the burn cream, she recalled how Dr. Russell was extremely combative with her.

All Five Children Removed from Home by Social Workers

The next day, the social workers were back and removed the children, saying the burn was “unexplained,” that the baby was in the tub for “15 minutes unattended,” and added that Stephen had “severe diaper rash with blisters” – although diaper rash was never even mentioned by Dr. Russell during the visit the day before. In court, they would even say that Wendell had an “unexplained burn on his inner thigh and a severe diaper rash with blisters.”

Amanda claims that all of these were completely fabricated allegations: the burn was on Stephen’s foot and was explained, Wendell was not left unattended for 15 minutes in the tub, and although the children had diaper rashes, they were not severe with blisters. 

Dr. Clore, Stephen’s allergy/asthma doctor, together with Dr. Russell, claimed in court documents that Amanda “fired” them because Dr. Clore wanted Dr. Russell to have Stephen removed from Amanda’s custody for medical neglect for missing appointments. Amanda maintains that she never fired any doctor, and had only tried to change doctors because she had moved. Amanda now believes that Dr. Russell, Dr. Clore, and Shelia retaliated by calling DCBS to remove her children, simply because she was trying to find another doctor to treat Stephen.

Stephen in hospital bed

“Stephen at about 4 years-old. This picture was taken at Owensboro Health System while he was in state care for his breathing problems.” – Amanda (Image provided by Amanda.)

“A Ghost from My Past” – Social Worker from Childhood Shows Up to Fulfill Threat

Amanda recalled the unnerving words spoken by one of the social workers, whom she later came to realize was the same caseworker from her childhood, as she left with the children that day:

As they were leaving, a lady stopped me and said, ‘See, I told you one day I would be back in your life.’

I just stood there crying and numb and didn’t understand why she made that comment to me. It wasn’t till later after I calmed down and ran the events back in my head that I remembered when I was a small child that a (social worker) had threatened when I was older she would rip my life apart if I had kids because of a court hearing I went through with my step- father. It was like a ghost from my past.

Children Returned but Warning from Caseworker: “Move out of state if you want to keep your kids because they will stop at nothing to get them”

Amanda and her husband immediately moved back to Daviess County to be near their “stolen” children, although it would be 3 months before DCBS would allow any visits. They were finally assigned a caseworker, and they started having regular visits. They worked their case plans and got their children back in November of 2003.

Shortly before Christmas, social workers would come and remove Stephen from the home, allegedly due to a claim that they “heard Amanda smoking over the phone while she was around Stephen,” even though Amanda claims she was outside smoking.

Amanda quotes her caseworker, who was later removed from her case:

They want your kids and they are going to take them from you and you need to try to move out of state if you want to keep your kids because they will stop at nothing to get them.

Amanda says that DCBS could not prove that she was smoking around her son, and Whitaker testified that he saw no reason for Stephen to not be returned home, so Judge Payne ordered Stephen to be returned, adding that “he had better not see us back in his court again.”

Bi-Polar Diagnosis Made at 9 Years Old Used to Determine Mother Deemed Unsafe Around Children

Amanda says another social worker “discovered” her bi-polar diagnosis and claimed she was unsafe to be alone around her children. DCBS made her sign paperwork that she would not be alone with her own children. They claimed that Amanda was negligent by not taking medication for her bi-polar.

Amanda says she had only seen a therapist for about 6 months and was prescribed lithium when she was 9 years-old, but then was taken off of it, and never received any further counseling or drugs throughout her childhood or adult life for bi-polar disorder. She was basically unaware she had “bi-polar,” except for the diagnosis made at 9-years-old.

Sexual Abuse Charges a Form of Retaliation?

Savannah, Amanda’s oldest child, was spending Easter weekend with her great-grandmother in April 2004. But when Amanda insisted that Savannah spend half of Easter Sunday with her at home with the rest of the family, Geneavive refused, and Amanda and she argued. Amanda conceded and allowed Savannah to stay the entire weekend with her great-grandmother.

Amanda says that when Savannah came home from school on Monday, she said told her mom that “some people came to her school and questioned her about sexual abuse,” and they claimed that Amanda already knew about it. Amanda was completely blind-sided by the sexual abuse allegations against her husband, Savannah’s step-father, and believes this was a coached “confession” by Savannah’s great-grandmother as retaliation for wanting Savannah home for Easter.

When Amanda called her case worker, the one who helped return her children and warned her she needed to move out of state, it was explained to her that this caseworker had been removed from the case, and that she had been assigned a new social worker, Carol Sanders. Amanda asserts that the first caseworker was taken off her case because the caseworker had defended her during the previous hearing.

Children Seized and Separated into Multiple Homes

The new caseworker, Carol Sanders, had all of Amanda’s children removed from her home based on the sexual abuse allegation.

Savannah was “given” to her great-grandmother by DCBS. Amanda was able to maintain contact and visits with Savannah. Amanda was told that Geneavive had been given custody, however, only recently did Amanda learn that her rights to Savannah were never terminated, but Geneavive allegedly achieved what she had always threatened to do.

"Savannah & Mommy." Image provided by Amanda.

Recent picture of Savannah & Mommy. Image provided by Amanda.

April Nicole was placed in Home of the Innocents in Louisville and diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, which they tried to blame on parental abuse, rather than all of the trauma caused by state intervention and foster care. April Nicole was later placed in a foster/adopt home and her name was changed to Nicole.

Stephen was placed in a foster home, and later adopted. Recently, Amanda learned that his name was changed to Alex.

Wendell and Madison were returned to their original foster parents, the Parham’s, whom Amanda says had wanted to adopt them from the beginning, and had “trained” the children to think of them as their parents, from the first day they fostered them in 2003.

Parental Rights Terminated Based on Perjured Statements, No Good-Byes Allowed

The only visit and last visit I had with my daughter April aka Nici. They said she was terrified and didn't want to bring her and then when showed these photos the next week it was changed to they couldn't bring her into Owensboro in time for a visit due to school. They mention all my kids were terrified. That's simply not true from the photos I am providing you with.

“The only visit and last visit I had with my daughter April aka Nici. They said she was terrified and didn’t want to bring her, and then when I showed these photos the next week, they changed to saying they couldn’t bring her into Owensboro in time for a visit due to school. Does she look terrified to you?” -Amanda (Image provided by Amanda.)

The case dragged on for another 2 years, and went to trial on October 22, 2007.  The guardian ad litem was not in favor of terminating parental rights, but the court proceeded to terminate rights to all 4 of Amanda’s younger children anyway, stating that the children had “bonded” to their new foster families and it was in their “best interest” to terminate rights to their parents.

Painfully, Amanda remembers:

The last week I was supposed to see my kids the state terminated my rights and Edward Nevitt [the social worker supervisor] met me out in the hallway and told me I wouldn’t get to see my kids this week and to call my attorney. He also stated that I wouldn’t get a goodbye visit because it would be too much on the children.

Eddie Nevitt, the social worker supervisor whom Amanda claims is friends with the Parham's, the family who adopted her youngest 2 children. Image from Facebook.

Eddie Nevitt, the social worker supervisor whom Amanda claims is friends with the Parham’s, the family who adopted her youngest 2 children. He would not even allow a good-bye visit. Image from Facebook.

Amanda emphasizes that her new caseworker, Carol Sanders, perjured herself on every account regarding the case:

Sanders claimed that I didn’t attend sexual abuse victimization program, and failed to work my case plan, but I had proof that I completed the sexual abuse program at New Beginnings, I went through all parenting classes at the Daniel Pitino Shelter, and I went to all therapy and doctor sessions.  Sanders lied to the courts and told them the opposite, despite she had proof right in front of her own eyes that I was doing everything I was supposed to do.

Carol Sanders, the social worker who allegedly lied and perjured herself to remove Amanda's children 12 years ago. Still hard at work tearing apart families. Image from Google+.

Carol Sanders, the social worker who allegedly lied and perjured herself to remove Amanda’s children 12 years ago. Image from Google+.

I had full-time employment, and was paying child support.

I was now in a stable relationship with my 3rd husband, Chester Downs, and his 2 daughters. We attended Church, we worked hard as a family unit to prove stability, but they didn’t care. At no time while the case was still pending did Carol Sanders or the CASA worker, Carolyn Johnston, do any home visits, yet claimed I did not have a stable home. They couldn’t tell you that it was a nice 3-bedroom home or that I fixed home cooked meals every night.

Sanders did everything she could to destroy my bonds with my children, and told the judge that my children were afraid of me at visits, that I didn’t enjoy seeing them, yet I have hundreds of photos that my attorney tried to submit to the courts and they didn’t care.

visits with the children

“They said all my kids were terrified. That’s simply not true as seen in the photos. My children were happy during visits at the social workers office on Owensboro Ky.” – Amanda (Image collage provided by Amanda.)

Amanda continues:

They nicknamed me the “bulldog” and said I didn’t know how to let anything go! Why should I let this go? These are my children I am fighting for, not a piece of food or something – they are my children!

I made several calls to the Ombudsman but never heard back anything.

Friendships and Racketeering Make it Difficult to Fight Corruption

Amanda appealed the termination of her parental rights, called legislators, rallied at the capitol with other families during the time period of local TV reporter John Boel’s investigations, all to no avail. In the face of enormous corruption, Amanda asks:

But what can I do when I am fighting social workers and doctors who are all in this together? In a nutshell these individuals conspired together to execute a plan to take my children. This case is based on friendship, level of education, and money.

I have missed out on my children’s milestones, missed out on raising them and being there for them, all based on one social worker who had it out for our family. All I can do now is just pray one day my children will see all the proof I have right in front of me and see for themselves that they were stolen.

After much of my own research I have found out that Edward Nevitt is very much tied in and great friends with Vicki and Jim Parham. The Parham’s lied and said they “watched” the kids multiple times after the children were returned to us in 2003, suggesting that I didn’t really want my children. I only know of one incident when my (then) husband called them to keep the kids for a weekend WITHOUT my knowledge or permission while I was out of town on a business trip: I would have never consented to this had I known.

Dr. Russell was prescribing Omnicef, an antibiotic, that was causing the children to have diaper rashes off and on, yet the social workers and courts omitted this, since they wanted used the diaper rashes against me. She stopped administering Omnicef on Madison’s first Birthday on Dec 20,2003, after they were in foster care, and that’s why their diaper rashes cleared up.

 Depressed Daughter Reaches out to Mom for Help

April Nicole. Image provided by Amanda.

Recent picture of [April] Nicole. (Image provided by Amanda, given to her by Nicole.)

[April] Nicole began contacting her mother on social media, about 3-4 years ago. Nicole is allegedly often depressed and expresses her desire to live with her mom, asking how her mother could raise “other children” but not her own? Recently, Nicole contacted Amanda saying she wanted to come home; she was so depressed that she tried to take her life. After this, the adoptive parents stopped communication between Amanda and Nicole, but Amanda wonders why something like this didn’t trigger a DCBS investigation into the adoptive home?

Mom Can Raise Other Children, But Not Her Own

Brokenhearted, Amanda concludes:

I was a “victim” of a bi-polar label, and lost the most 5 precious babies in my life. All I can do is play the waiting game till they are 18 and tell my story to them with all legal documents I have and pray that they will see I wasn’t perfect, but didn’t do anything to deserve them being ripped from me. This has caused me years of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

The State of Kentucky allowed me to raise my 2 step kids from ages 5 and 7. I helped raise them till my youngest step-daughter went off to college last year. My two step kids lived with us and also attended visits with my children, before my rights were terminated. Not one social worker call was made in all those years that I raised my step-children. Both of my step-children are in great colleges and are both Honor students who graduated at the top of their class.

I help run a baseball league, I coach T-ball to 3-5 year olds, and my husband is a middle school baseball cub coach.

The bottom line is this: if my bi-polar prevented my kids from coming home, why didn’t DCBS care that my two step-daughters were being raised by a bi-polar parent?


Amanda at her step-daughter Stephanie’s high-school graduation in 2015. Also pictured is Amanda’s other step-daughter Susan and Amanda’s husband Chester Downs – (Stephanie and Susan’s father). Image supplied by Amanda.