Representative Jason Overstreet, representing the 42nd district in Washington, and who has taken an interest in this case, just posted an update on his Facebook Page:
The Rengo Family placement hearing was moved up this morning to 10 a.m. from the scheduled 4 p.m. hearing. I will withhold comment on that move.
Security was heavy. The courtroom was packed.
The allotted timeframe was 1 hour with an expected decision on placement either with the parents or a semi-permanent out of family placement. If your a poker player, this will be your “tell.”
The State Attorney General’s Office stood in place of the County legal team in the prosecution of this hearing. A rare move indeed. Attorney General Ferguson, the same AG who is persecuting Christian business owners for refusing to participate in weddings that conflict with their closely held religious beliefs, sent his legal team to take over in an attempt to spare the State embarrassment.
The Attorney General’s Office took the entire hour, discussing police reports where no arrests were made, save one, prior to the birth of the children. No mention of the babies’ health and welfare was even attempted by the State.
The court commissioner was frustrated at the State’s extended attempt to muddy the water, even commenting on the rare nature of such extended testimony on a case that should be cut and dried after a forcible taking of children from their parents.
The hearing was extended to tomorrow at 2:30 on the 4th floor of the Whatcom County Courthouse, where he demanded that the State rap up and allow the family’s legal team to present it’s case.
Constitutional Attorney Steven Pidgeon petitioned the court for a writ of habeus corpus, asking that the charges be laid or the children be released to the parents. The writ of habeus corpus, a fundamental tool of liberty guaranteed by both our State and Federal Constitutions, was ignored by the court, the clerk stating that they hadn’t even seen one in 20 years, with one judge refusing to even look at the writ.
There is much talk of “more to the story.” There certainly is. There always is. If you are tempted to make that statement, ask yourself where your information is coming from and what the validity of that information actually is. This is not a comfortable conversation, it’s true. I shudder the horror of your family, or mine, under a microscope of the bureaucracy that is CPS.
Constitutional Attorney Stephen Pidgeon has agreed to represent the Rengo Family in an attempt to reunite babies Levi, Morna, and Daniel with their parents. He will accompany the family to the hearing tomorrow, and the public and the media are encouraged to show up at the:
Whatcom County Courthouse
311 Grand Avenue
Tuesday December 2nd – @ 9:00 A.M.
More details to follow. A Facebook Page has also been setup for the family.
by Terri LaPoint Health Impact News
All three of their babies have been taken away from them and placed in the care of strangers. Levi was 10 months old when his mother, local singer and songwriter Erica May Rengo, gave birth to his twin brother and sister, at their home in Bellingham, Washington.
“Our birth was glorious,” she said, and the twins were reportedly healthy, full-term babies, who had no problem quickly figuring out how to breastfeed. The little family was overjoyed until CPS stepped in to “help.”
It is another medical kidnapping according to the parents. The Rengos have chosen a wholesome, holistic lifestyle, based in their Christian faith. But CPS has stepped in to override the parents’ decisions. Now Erica and Cleave are living what they call a nightmare, separated from their children for reasons that don’t make any sense at all to them.
Decision to Home Birth
It was only natural for Erica to choose normal, family-centered birth. Erica herself was born at home, and says that her mother was a homebirth educator and La Leche League leader (a world-wide support and education group for breastfeeding mothers). She and Cleave chose a birth-center birth with their first baby, but decided to birth at home the second time. She knew that her body was perfectly designed to work for birth. She believed this was the direction God was showing them for the birth. Erica was very careful during her pregnancy to watch her diet and exercise, in preparation for the birth. She read, researched, and prepared.
She describes her homebirth as “exquisite” and “empowering.” Morna Kai Grace and Daniel Clemente were born into their parents’ loving arms.
The birth was perfect. There were no complications with the birth or afterwards. But Erica and her husband Cleave agreed to allow the local paramedics in when someone called them, in an effort to appease concerned family members who were fearful of their decision to birth at home. That is where their problems began.
The Medical System Gets Involved
Sometime after the babies arrived on October 2, paramedics arrived to find the twins nursing and everybody doing fine. The twins each weighed over 5 lbs, and the paramedics allegedly verified that everyone appeared healthy. The paramedics allegedly recommended that they go to the hospital for evaluation, which is standard procedure for EMTs.
The Rengos say they declined, telling them they didn’t want to expose their newborns to the dirty environment of the hospital. They were planning to follow recommendations they had found, which stated that newborn twins should stay home for the first six weeks of life, to give their immune systems the opportunity to build up.
CPS Shows Up
The parents’ believe that because they chose not to go to the hospital at that time, somebody called CPS. A couple of social workers showed up the next day, and wanted to see all of the children. CPS told Erica that they were “here to help.” But Erica says that is not at all what happened.
When the social worker found some eczema on Levi’s skin Erica told her that she was treating it with some herbal remedies, including comfrey and calendula, as well as applying coconut oil and giving probiotics. She was also doing an elimination diet to try to locate what could be causing the skin condition. Even though it was in the healing process, the social worker became critical that Erica wasn’t treating his eczema with steroids, a treatment option that Erica wanted to save as a last resort because of the side effects. The CPS agent would later testify to the judge that Erica had neglected to treat him completely.
Even so, the eczema was the only thing wrong. Erica says, “right away they found out that the children were not in danger.” The twins were completely healthy; the house was clean; and there are no drugs or alcohol involved.
The Rengos agreed to take the children to a pediatrician, who said the babies were doing fine. The only concern was that the twins were slow to gain weight. At the time, Erica was trying to maintain a supply for three breastfeeding babies. She says she followed the pediatrician’s advice to supplement with formula, and the babies promptly got back on track with weight gain.
This was allegedly verified by a nurse sent out by CPS to check on them.
Erica May and Cleave are holistic in their approach to life and health, preferring natural alternatives, like herbs and diet changes, to medicinal treatments. Those things appear to be options only if CPS is not involved.
CPS Takes Custody of Children
On November 6, CPS showed up at the front door while Erica was softly singing and playing her guitar to her resting babies. When she checked the door, they told her that they were there to take her children, citing neglect for not giving Levi steroids for his eczema, and the home-birth without medical prenatal care with the twins, as well as the allegations of abuse, accusations which Erica had already assured them were completely unfounded. She also had prenatal care, just not with a doctor.
With one baby on her back, the frightened mother fled out the back door with her children to a neighbor’s house, but police and CPS “hunted her down,” and took these breastfed babies from their mothers’ arms. The twins were 5 weeks old.
Erica broke down into sobs as I spoke with her. “My children were safe and healthy with me.” Since they have been taken by CPS, Levi has reportedly had pneumonia, and has reportedly been diagnosed with “behavioral problems” because he screams and cries all the time.
He is screaming, Erica says, because he wants his mom and dad.
Why Are Children with No History of Abuse Being Taken Away from Loving Parents for Medical Reasons?
Children who have allegedly not been abused in any way have been taken by CPS from loving parents for reasons so flimsy that it has left the Rengos and their friends stunned. Several of their friends write that Erica is “a great mama.”
“This is not the right thing to do to mothers and children,” Erica emphasizes. “If they thought we needed help, they should have brought help in, not taken the children out. They have suffered and I have suffered since our separation.”
Erica feels that she and her children are being abused by the system. When they separate babies from their loving mothers, she says “they are dehumanizing people. The outcome of that is so much worse than any kind of dispute for medical reasons.”
Cleave and Erica were supposed to have their visitation with their children on Monday, but there wasn’t a social worker available to supervise the visit. Levi’s first birthday is on Black Friday. The day will be black for Erica and Cleave, but for very different reasons than the holiday retailers. They will miss their first child’s first birthday because CPS won’t have any workers available to supervise a visit that day either.
The Stressful Separation of Infants from Parents
Erica is a brokenhearted postpartum mother who wants nothing more than to be at home with all of her children by her side. Research shows that infants do not comprehend separation from their mother; they feel abandoned when they aren’t with her. Has it really come to the point where CPS can justify the emotional trauma to the children simply because parents don’t choose to follow every recommendation of the medical associations?
In President Obama’s immigration speech last week, he asked, “Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?”
Yet it is this very nation whose Child Protection Service agencies have ripped tiny babies from their parents’ arms simply for the crime of disagreeing with a medical decision. If this could happen to a family who has only sought the most natural of care, then whose children are safe from CPS? Should this type of apparent medical tyranny be tolerated?
Erica May and Cleave Rengo face a court date on December 2. They don’t know what they will face then. Supporters are hoping that their story will be shared far and wide, and their children can be returned home quickly.
The Governor of Washington is Jay Inslee. His office number is 360-902-4111. You can email him from here.
The parents next court date is December 2, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. at the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham Washington.
The lawyers for CPS say that federal law prevents them from releasing this information. That's right, a federal law originally designed to protect kids is actually being used to protect the wrongdoing of bureaucrats instead.
Prop 122 can change that. Prop 122 forces Child Protective Services to be more transparent when children are harmed. Bureaucrats would be forced to give up documents that could shed light on where they made mistakes and more importantly give us insight into how we can prevent children from dying in the future.
Click here for more information on why we need Prop 122 to reform CPS.
The Prime Ministerial Apology to the Stolen Generations was delivered on February 13, 2008 but this photo was taken in October 2008 at Old Tent Embassy - Photo by Gerry Georgatos
Former Government worker for the NSW Department of Families and Communities, Debra Swan on National Sorry Day joined one of the 15 protests happening across the continent to not only remember the Stolen Generations but to point out that they are continuing. In NSW, one in 9 Aboriginal children is ripped from their families into “out of home care”.
Ms Swan said, “I have seen the injustice, and how unfair this system is, with my own eyes.”
According to Ms Swan, “Too often, removals happen without any consultation. Parents come into the office frustrated and angry, as anyone would be after having their children ripped away from them.”
“They are then written off even further, branded ‘non-compliant’ or ‘aggressive’.”
“The Children’s Court system is stacked against Aboriginal people. I have seen too many solicitors who have no idea what they are doing, or just push our people to go along with the demands of the Department.”
“Parents are told that unless they agree to orders, they will be denied any access to their children.”
“Justice Woods did his Royal Commission into Child Protection and he said that Aboriginal are removed from their families for much less than what are non-Aboriginal children.”
“I have seen the biases, the discrimination, the prejudices, the drive to assimilate Aboriginal people. Towards the end of my time there, my eyes opened up to them and especially after I left I realised how they assimilate us, the Aboriginal workers.”
“The Department may say it has cultural education of its staff but that is not true. What they really have is an ulterior white picket fence vision for everyone. They disregard the fact that Aboriginal cultures are not about white picket fences. They disregard our definitions of family. We are not into nuclear families with mum and dad alone at the top. In Aboriginal families there is the whole village, there are the mum and dad but also the aunties and uncles, the grannies and granddads.”
A Department ofChild Protection worker in Perth, who is Aboriginal confided, “They do not even consult us as Aboriginal workers about Aboriginal families. They dismiss us, if we speak up we are shuffled out.”
“The Department is about their line, and their line is a about the White workers making all the calls. We, as Black workers are only in there to make up the numbers on the book, to cover their backs that there is equality, but there is not. Child Protection is racist, because it is all assimilation and doing as they say; you speak up as a worker and you’re out of line.”
“We have no choice but to tell our people to bow down, to keep quiet, to not piss off the White workers or they’ll be tarnished as ‘aggressive’. That they will lose all hope of being with their children. And the Childrens Court doesn’t listen to families, only to the White workers and the DCP legal team who treat kids and families like they’re a dime a dozen.”
“Why are kids being removed at record rates? It’s not because of neglect, it’s not because of a lack of love, it’s because they are seen as not assimilating.”
But many First Peoples live culturally different lives to the rest of the Australian population. There are effectively two cultural systems on this continent – Western-based cultures and First Peoples-based cultures and they clash, that is where the majority Western-based cultures attempt to dominate them and demand assimilation.
Indigenous Social Justice Association President, Ray Jackson was himself a removed child during the Second World War. “My White father was killed on the Kokoda Trail and instead of my Aboriginal mother being supported with a war pension, her reward was to have me takenaway from her.”
“The pain of being removed never leaves you, not for the child or the parent.”
Mr Jackson, like Ms Swan, argues that there are two different cultural systems on this continent that can coexist but that the Western-based cultural majority does not let this happen and instead pushes its assimilation.
“They push on us the white picket fence, well our culture does not care about a white picket fence. Child Protectionworkers do not look at whether there’s love in the family or respect for one another, or how to help a family that needs a helping hand.”
“Child Protectionworkers come into homes and judge hygiene by how polished a home is, well it’s not our way to be slaves to how shiny a home should be.”
“They look at whether the children are wearing shoes, and if they’re not then they jot on their report sheets that they are not takencare of; well we may like to be barefoot as often as we can. But if they’ve got a problem with shoes, and we don’t have shoes, well don’t take away the children, just bloody well give them a pair of shoes,” said Mr Jackson.
University of Sydney Technology Jumbunna House senior researcher, Paddy Gibson, now living in the Northern Territory, is angry that more Aboriginal children have been removed from their families today than at any time in Australia’s history.
The Northern Territory Children Commissioner’s annual report showed that in the year to June 30, 2013, more than five times more Aboriginal children than non-Aboriginal children were removed from their families. Mr Gibson said that the predominant reason given for this was ‘neglect’, not physical or sexual abuse. But as a researcher myself, I have long argued that the ‘neglect’ has to be articulated. What do they mean by ‘neglect’?
Mr Gibson said that “too often we are seeing Aboriginal cultural practices themselves being classified as neglect.” In other words their Aboriginality is being held against them, their historical and cultural identities are liabilities.
Mr Gibson said that it costs up to $300 per night to keep a single child in care but that this is misspending when funds could have been diverted to families to relieve impoverishment.
Northern Territorian Elder Barbara Shaw said, “There are strong Aboriginal people in all communities who badly need resources and support to help deal with the issues facing our families and to keep our kids safe in their culture.”
“We are all part of extended kinship networks. There is always somewhere they can turn without removing children, but resources and support need to be on the table.”
In the Northern Territory, 70 per cent of the children removed from their families are placed with non-Aboriginal families, usually hundreds of kilometres away, making it near impossible for reunification. And there are those who have said that many of these children are being taken by families who they themselves do it for the quid on offer, and for the effective indenture of the children as domestics. These claims need to be investigated.
“People need to come forward and tell their stories, so australia at large can feel the effect of what is happening to the families that are being destroyed, the families that are disempowered. I urge everyone to come forward despite that they may feel they will be threatened further by the Department,” said Gunnedah Grandmother, Auntie Hazel Collins.
Some believe that a class action by thousands of families will be the only way forward, to shift our not so bright parliamentarians into action, to put in place legislation that restricts the Child Protection agencies from ripping children from their families other than for reasons of obvious physical violence and life-threatening neglect, not because of hearsay, or because parents were angry when confronted by Child Protection – not because of non-compliance, and not because they do not wear shoes. Poverty must never be used to condemn families as criminals nor should the rejection of a Western-based culture be judged as a crime.
The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuses by Churches and Orphanages is dealing with less victims than would a Royal Commission into Child Protection – which would be dealing with nearly 100,000 victims since 1930 to today, children ruthlessly stolen from their parents, many from the delivery table of hospital birth rooms. More children have been removed in the last year than there are victims before the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuses. The trauma of the Sexual Abuses victims is heart-wrenching and for far too many irreparable. Imagine then the numbers of victims, the children removed from families, today, the trauma, the multiple trauma, the irreparable damage. Who is responsible? The Australian Government is – and they should be indicted. But if the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuses is anything to go by, an effectively impotent exercise, then there is no light in sight at the end of the tunnel for the victims of this generation of stealing.
On Sorry Day, many gathered around the nation to protest and call for an end to the stealing of children. In Brisbane, the Department ofChild Protection closed its offices for the day because of the protest on its steps. In Sydney, the Department of Families and Communities kept its workers inside, not a whimper as the rally lasted more than two hours on its steps. In the capital of Australia’s backwater of racism, Perth, a protest took place outside the Department ofChild Protection. A delegation from the rally met with the Department ofChild Protection. Police were called in when the protesters ceremonially danced out the front – unbelievably police arrested three of the protesters, who included organisers of the rally, Vanessa Culbong and Len Culbong. How sickening to arrest people calling for an end to child removals. The police did not have to do this, but they did. It does not wash that “I was only doing my job.”
The racism that is Australian born and bred cannot be allowed to continue – a racism that now sees one in every two Aboriginal children in Queensland known to the Department ofChild Protection. More Queensland Aboriginal children are in the custody of the State today than were removed between 1908 to 1971.
One protester said, “My grandmother and her sisters were taken in the 1930s, her daughter, my mother was taken, then they took me from my mum, now they have taken my children. I never did anything wrong. I love my children. They screamed when they took them.”
Video of the rally and the arrests of Len and Vanessa Culbong
Disabled 10 YO Boy Starved 10YO Disabled Boy to Death by CPS After Mother Asked for Help; Financial Incentives Encourage States to Kidnap and Withhold Children, Johnny's Story Pt 1/2 April 2010, ABC7 Detroit Investigation into Michigans tragically-flawed foster care system. The heartbreaking story of a 10-year-old boy who starved to death while a facility banked cash to care for him. The state is quick to take kids from parents and put them in foster care, especially poor parents. The state makes it very hard to get them back. Experts say the state has a financial incentive to keep kids away from their families.
Johnnys mother, Elena Andron, dedicated her life to caring for her wheelchair-bound son. All she wanted was a little help. The states answer was to put him in a foster care facility. One year later, Johnny starved to death. Johnny, who was nine at the time, could not walk, talk or feed himself. He had cerebral palsy and epilepsy. When she lost her factory job she turned to the Michigan Department of Human Services, a decision she will regret for the rest of her life. The foster care facility where the state sent Johnny failed to feed him enough food. Andron says she watched her son waste away as she begged for help.
Why? Some say its because the state gets a lot of cash for foster kids. Termination of parent rights is very high in Michigan. But its also very high nationwide and it happened because of some laws that were passed by the federal government and encouraged states to terminate parental rights more often than they used to and promise to send them money if they would terminate rights and have the children adopted.
According to the states own figures, the federal government gave Michigan about $110 million last year for foster care. Thats compared to the $26 million in programs that help parents keep their kids. Foster facilities also have an incentive to keep kids away from their parents. In Androns case, the foster home got about $12,000 a month from the state for Johnny. "Youre getting paid, youre getting a lot of money," says attorney Arnold Reed, who represents Andron in a lawsuit against the foster care facility and several other state-contracted groups. Reed says the foster facility profited big time off of Johnny. "There is no shortage of money, plus youre getting a stipend, youre getting a clothes stipend and youre getting a stipend for food," says Reed. But not enough of that food made it to Johnny. "He started deteriorating so quick I could not believe my eyes," says Andron. "He had gotten so weak to where he was just shaking constantly."
She agreed to make her son a temporary ward of the state. She was supposed to bring him home after a year - once she got back on track financially.
When she complained about Johnny losing weight, she says the state turned on her. "They didnt care. None of my complaints mattered," says Andron. The Department of Human Services did not like Androns complaints or her efforts to get her son back. They took her to court and asked that she not be allowed to see Johnny.
Andron says the first time she met her court-appointed lawyer was that day in court. She says the lawyer didnt put up much of a fight. The judge sided with the state.
The next time Andron heard about Johnny he was dead. Johnny weighed 120 pounds when he went into foster care, she says. An autopsy report shows he was only 48 pounds when he died of malnutrition.
Were spending a ton of money for putting these kids in foster care," says Vivek Sankaran, an assistant professor at the Child Advocacy Law Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School. "But for these children we are irreparably scaring them by damaging the bonds that they form with their families."
Sankaran says only about nine percent of the 16,000 kids in foster care were sexually or physically abused. The majority were taken from their parents because of poverty-related neglect. "Removal is too often thought of as the first option for protecting children and child welfare rather than working with families, engaging with them, providing them services in the home," says Sankaran. His organization, Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, helps parents on the front end. "We need to create a culture where parents are willing to say, 'I need help'" says Sankaran. That is exactly what Andron tried to do, but with heartbreaking results. "I gave them my healthy child and to get him back in a casket. Hed still be a live today if he was home with me," says Andron. http://www.wxyz.com/news/story/Invest...