By Anne Dachel
On May 20, 2013, I watched a disturbing video from Canadian TV News
about a single mother of four adopted special needs children (2 have autism). The Dept. Youth Protection in Quebec suddenly seized her nonverbal 8 year old son who is still in diapers and 12 year old daughter while they were at school last Sept. Both children have multiple health issues related to their disabilities.
Her 8 year old son was taken into custody by 3 DYP workers on Sept 13, 2012 and placed in foster care but returned to her one month later. A Quebec judge had ruled that they had no justification for taking him in the first place. After that, the mother took the three children and moved an hour away in Ontario to protect them and get better services. (She's about one mile from the Quebec border now.) Then in March 2013, the Quebec DYP workers came to her home in Ontario at 6:30 in the evening and took her 8 year old back into custody and removed him to Quebec. She was never shown any authorization.
I wrote this story last week.
I've been in almost daily contact with the mother who's still living in Ontario with her two older children and she's told me about even more about the egregious action being taken against her two younger children.
I asked her for an update:
Have you been allowed any contact with your children?
I was allowed to go to Quebec to accompany the children to their doctor visits. I was also allowed 2 ten minute supervised phone calls per week to my 12 year old daughter. During one phone call, I allowed my 17 year old daughter to talk to her sister briefly. This was not permitted and the phone call was immediately ended. As a result, I lost the right to call her and I was told that I could no longer attend doctor visits. However, my daughter's doctor sent me a letter telling me it was imperative that someone who knew her health history be at the next appointment. When I got to the hospital, I was allowed to see my daughter, but then I was told I had to leave.
I had been allowed see my 8 year old son at his doctor's visits. It is considered a "medical right" that I be involved in my children's health care because I am their legal mother. This is especially important because my son is autistic and non-verbal so he can't tell me how he's doing. Both his doctor and I became very concerned about changes in his behavior since being placed in foster care. He began suddenly hitting himself repeatedly on his hands as if he's punishing himself for something. He's done this in front of the doctor and myself and others. His doctor, Chantel Giguere, wrote a letter to the DYP about this and nothing happened. Barbara Webster, a nurse who is involved with my son, wrote a 24 page report about the care both of my children have received. (Both the doctor and the nurse have come forward to speak about what's happening to these children.) Webster contacted various officials and suddenly I learned my son had been moved to a different foster home and I was told it was because of "administrative purposes."
I'm equally concerned about what's happening to my 12 year old daughter in foster care. She is a "Little Person" and is only 3 feet tall. She's living in a foster home with 9 other children, and several of them are boys between 12 and 16. My daughter is left home in the care of these boys. Several times she's said, "Mommy, they babysit me."
I'm also worried about my daughter's weight. She gained almost 3 pounds in just a little o ver two weeks after school ended. This is really important because she is a "Little Person." All her life we watched her weight closely. Yearly, she has never gained more than 1 pound because she grows only 1 centimeter. Now that she is 12 her height will not change since her spinal fusion.
This mother's case sadly is not an isolated one in Canada.
In Feb, 2012, CBC News aired the report, Canadian foster care in crisis, experts say--Some children placed in homes before safety checks made
Also in Feb, 2012, CBC had this stunning report on abuse in foster care.
CBC News has learned a Quebec Human Rights Commission investigation is raising serious concerns about foster children across the province.
The commission's investigation was sparked by "Robert", a former foster child whose real identity is protected under the Youth Protection Act.
Robert alleges experiencing years of sexual abuse in his former foster home.
Robert, now 17, currently lives with his biological mother, and wants to return to school. But he's decided to share his story in the hopes it may help protect someone else....
Robert alleges his foster father sexually abused him, soon after he was placed in that home, north of Montreal, in the Laurentians.
This area is where this mother's two child now live in foster care.
I also found a report from March, 2013, shown on Alberta Prime Time TV: It's about Samantha's Law, legislation that resulted from a special needs child dying in foster care in Canada. It protects parental custody rights for special needs children in foster care.
July 8, 2013, Sun News Video: Mother in Anguish
We're told the Children's Aid Society in Canada "wields immune power with very little accountability."
CAS has control of the 2 children of the mother in the story.
News anchor: "There's a Dark Side to the CAS"
The mother I spoke to is now in contact with groups in Canada that support this law and she hopes it will help bring her children home. Since my first story came out, the mother has heard from more people throughout Canada who are supportive of her cause.
I was on Skype with the mother in the basement of her parents' home in Ontario on July 16. Listen to her talk about what's happening to her children in the custody of youth authorities in Quebec. (Her 17 year old daughter also speaks at the end of the 3 minute video.)
Because of Quebec law, we couldn't show her face or use the names of her children.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.