I came across another father fighting for his right to parent. Here is the Link.
Here is the story.
Adoption changes, proposal leave dad in limbo
By Valarie Honeycutt Spears
Dae'Kuavion Perry, at his first birthday party, with his father Tim Mabson. Mabson hasn't been able to get custody after a two-year fight.
FRANKFORT --A state lawmaker has introduced a bill that calls for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to contact biological fathers if their children are about to be placed for state adoption or are under a social worker's scrutiny.
And Cabinet Deputy Secretary Tom Emberton Jr. told a task force seeking state adoption reform last week that the cabinet is putting more emphasis on placing children with appropriate extended family members, especially biological fathers.
But the policy change and the legislation introduced by state Sen. Dick Roeding, R-Lakeside Park, are not helping the family of 3-year-old Dae'Kuavion Perry of Lexington.
The cabinet allowed Julia Johnson, the boy's paternal aunt, to adopt two foster children who aren't related to her, and the cabinet has since sent her a letter asking her to take more foster children. But so far, she has been denied custody of Dae'Kuavion.
Tim Mabson, Dae'Kuavion's father, who has never been accused of abusing or neglecting him, hasn't been able to get custody after a two-year fight. Other family members, many of whom have been foster parents, are offering Mabson support.
Johnson wants to adopt Dae'Kuavion if Fayette Family Court Judge Jo Ann Wise decides the boy should not be with his father.
But cabinet officials favor adoption by the foster mother Dae'Kuavion lives with, a non-family member who is a mental health counselor. If Wise terminates Mabson's parental rights, Mabson said, he will take the case to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Johnson said Friday that she talked to Gov. Steve Beshear's office about the case.
"This child is going to grow up thinking we didn't want him," said Johnson, who used to work as an administrative assistant at the University of Kentucky and has now returned to college to study to be a social worker. Her husband is a minister and a Fayette County schoolteacher.
Johnson and Mabson, 28, say they are concerned that the adoptive mother is getting preferential treatment because she is a counselor who used to work for an agency that did business with the state. Cabinet spokeswoman Vikki Franklin has said there is no validity to that concern.
From a broader perspective, the issue of whether cabinet social workers improperly remove children from their parents has been under review by Kentucky's Blue Ribbon Panel on Adoption, a cabinet inspector general and a Hardin County grand jury. All three have determined that there is validity to the allegations.
Dae'Kuavion Perry was born in March 2004. His mother, Angela Perry, never married or lived with his father, and Dae'Kuavion was removed from his mother's custody in late 2004. Johnson said the changes contained in Roeding's bill would have helped her and Mabson because they contacted the cabinet and were given no information because he had not yet established paternity.
The court had decided to give Dae'Kuavion back to his mother, but before she regained custody, she died of sickle cell anemia on Dec. 31, 2005. Almost immediately, Mabson again contacted the cabinet to try to get custody of his son, case records show. After the Herald-Leader published an article that included Mabson's story in May 2006, Johnson said cabinet officials at times told the family that they would work toward Mabson or Johnson getting custody.
In April 2007, Wise changed the case's goal from terminating Mabson's rights to reuniting him with Dae'Kuavion, and she ordered that Mabson undergo a custody evaluation.
That evaluation found that the foster mother would be the better parent. Mabson says the report from that evaluation makes unfair and conflicting observations and incorrectly says that he is struggling too much financially to adequately care for Dae'Kuavion.
The report says Mabson "has increasingly invested himself into doing what has been asked of him and "appears to be trying hard and doing the best he can. He is to be commended for the positive changes he has made."
The report also says that Mabson's wife, Katrina, cares about Dae'Kuavion and that she and other family members support his effort to be with his son.
Man called immature
But the same report says Mabson is immature and unable to provide a stable home. It criticizes him for introducing Dae'Kuavion to multiple family members and for letting family members and his wife, who is willing to help raise Dae'Kuavion, become so involved in his efforts to gain custody.
The report says there is reason for concern because Mabson let Dae'Kuavion primarily eat chicken nuggets and watch television during visits. He is criticized for pouring coffee with Dae'Kuavion "underfoot" and for letting the boy play with a rubber band. When Dae'Kuavion asks during a visit if it is "time to go bye-bye," the evaluators list that as a negative.
Mabson has three other children, and his parenting of them is not at issue: Mabson and his wife have a 6-month-old daughter. Mabson has joint custody of his 7-year-old daughter, and the other visits his home regularly.
Mabson told social workers and custody evaluators that as a teen and a younger man he was immature and made poor choices. Mabson was charged with misdemeanors, including possession of marijuana and a minor assault that Mabson said included domestic violence accusations more than four years ago. Mabson has had no similar problems in the past few years, but the incidents are cast as negatives in the custody evaluation.
The report praises Mabson for keeping the same job for two years but says he is not making enough money. The report questions whether Mabson's home is large enough when all four children are there. Mabson said he recently rented a three-bedroom home so that Dae'Kuavion would have his own room.
But the report, which included interviews with state social workers and was prepared by court-appointed custodial evaluators, says the foster mother was better suited to deal with Dae'Kuavion's allergies, his delays in speech and the fact that he often does not want to eat. The report said Dae'Kuavion was at risk of "substantial psychological damage" if he was taken away from his foster mother, with whom he has lived since 2004.
Once she adopts Dae'Kuavion, the report recommended to the judge, his new adoptive mother should be allowed to limit Mabson's contact with Dae'Kuavion to "cards, letters and telephone calls" until he is older.
Letter called a mistake
Since she has been trying to get custody of Dae'Kuavion, Johnson has received a letter from the cabinet asking her to become a foster parent to other children.
That was a mistake by the state, former cabinet Secretary Mark Birdwhistell said in 2006. "Ms. Johnson should not have been contacted for placement. We apologize for the error and have taken administrative steps to ensure this does not happen again."
On Jan. 7, Emberton said he would talk to Johnson about the most recent decisions involving Dae'Kuavion.
State officials evaluated Johnson last month for a program called kinship care, which would allow Dae'Kuavion to immediately be placed in her home. Johnson said an evaluator told her she would get a positive recommendation, but social workers have told her since that no decision has been made.
Mabson and the state disagree over the specifics of his and Johnson's attempts to get custody when Dae'Kuavion was initially placed into foster care.
The legislation by Roeding could prevent children from going into foster care with non-relatives and could prevent adoption without a father's knowledge.
If passed, the new law would create the Kentucky Fatherhood Information System. At least 26 other states have such a registry.
Men could voluntarily register that they want to claim paternity of a child and want to be notified in the event of an adoption or if the Cabinet for Health and Family Services becomes involved with the child.
Under the proposed legislation, the cabinet would be required to try to notify a man on the registry whether his child was about to be placed for adoption.
The legislation would also allow the cabinet to contact a man on the registry whose child was at the center of a cabinet investigation, if officials thought that it was in the child's best interest.
Mabson, meanwhile, says he hasn't been treated fairly.
"How can they say that I am unfit to take care of my son, before I've been given a chance?"