Monday, March 23, 2009

More Harm Than Help?

Update 3/24/09: I just learned that the state of Virginia pulled off this kidnapping without our DHS knowing until after the fact.

Sometimes I wonder if the state causes disability. I'm talking about it's part in the following story from the KATU website...

BEAVERTON, Ore. - A Beaverton family calls it a "DHS horror story.”

A brother and sister, under order of the Department of Human Services, were taken by force away from their older sister's home and a school and sent back to the parents who had abused them for years. Now, there's a growing local effort to bring them back.

Web sites related to the case accuse DHS officials in Virginia of wrongfully taking the children away from Stephanie Johnston, 24, who was acting as the children’s sole parent in Oregon. Johnston isn't just the parent to 9-year-old Tavvi and 12-year-old Conner, she's also their big sister. Johnston has cared for the children after they moved from Virginia to Oregon to escape abuse at the hands of their parents, who reportedly had drug habits.

Letter after letter posted on one Web site, from parents and local teachers, pleads for the kids’ return to Beaverton.
"We're angry, we're angry, we're enraged,” Johnston said, “but we're also terrified, we’re scared, and we're also sick to our stomachs." She remembers Tavvi coming to live with her two years ago. She says she was terrified and traumatized. “When she came [to Oregon], she didn't communicate, she didn’t make eye contact, maybe two weeks without talking," Johnston recalls.

Parents KATU News talked to at Peninsula Park in North Portland say they saw Tavvi and Conner recover and thrive under Johnston's care. “She knew how to help them heal from all of their trauma,” one woman said. “She lived her life for her family for her brothers and sisters,” another added.

It all ended last week when DHS workers and armed police officers entered Tavvi's fourth grade classroom at the Cooper Mountain school and grabbed her without warning. “It will take her years to get over that abuse,” one woman said. “That was pure abuse, an adult abused her once again. Johnston described the scene at the school: “It was with extreme force and resistance with her kicking and screaming.” Tavvi had to leave everything behind, including what she treasured most, her pet rats.

DHS also took Conner, Johnston claims, without letting him take a single belonging, not even his shoes.

Johnston said she would have worked with DHS if they had wanted to make a gradual transition by helping the kids adjust to a new home in Virginia.

Now, she worries, especially about the little girl who was once too afraid to talk.
“I cannot imagine what my little girl is going through, trying to fall asleep at night, and trying to get up and have breakfast, just those simple things, without her family," Johnston said. Johnston tells us she has called and emailed DHS in Virginia and received no response.

Messages KATU News left with DHS offices in both Oregon and Virginia were not returned.

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