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CAN THIS TRAVESTY BE STOPPED?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 18, 2012) — A hearing will be held at the Edmund C. Edeman Children’s Court on Monday which is expected to result in an order to “adopt out” six children of a Los Angeles couple which has been fighting for nearly two years to reunite with them. The public is invited to attend.
The children were placed into foster homes by the child protection agency, DCFS, when the parents were falsely imprisoned in May 2010. In an interview with Public Affairs Director Armand Montiel, The Post & Email was told that reunification is the agency’s top priority.
According to Jeffrey and Erica Henderson, reunification has never occurred despite their having complied with all court orders and requirements. Neither of the court-appointed attorneys, which Montiel has stated are quite competent, has been able or willing to stop the intended adoption order expected to be issued tomorrow by Judge Marguerite Downing.
Jeffrey Henderson has been a guest on the Wiley Drake radio show speaking about the case. An infant born in July of this year was taken from its mother’s arms on August 31 and placed in a foster home where two women wish to adopt his elder brother, who is about two and one-half years of age. Jeffrey told The Post & Email that he saw burn marks on that child’s face and “stab” marks on the child’s back this past Wednesday when he went for his scheduled visit. Several of the children have been injured while in foster care.
The Post & Email reported that information to Montiel, who advised us to call the child abuse hotline at (213) 639-4500 from out of state and (800) 540-4000 for residents of California. We did so on Thursday, identifying ourselves, the child’s and parents’ names, and the fact that the child is in foster care now. We were told by the hotline worker that a social worker not connected with DCFS or the case would visit the child that day. We were also asked a long list of questions which we were not able to answer and asked to call back when we had the information. We then contacted the family and obtained answers to some of the questions later that day. Thursday happened to be the day that the Henderson parents went to court only to find that a hearing had been held the day before about the baby and Judge Downing had taken testimony from an unknown witness as having said that the Hendersons “emotionally abused” him.
When we recontacted the hotline, we were told by a different responder that we had to have the birth dates of the child and parents in order for her to proceed. “‘Henderson’ is a pretty common name,” she said. However, the first name of the child involved is not common, and he is already in the foster care system.
A public Facebook support page has been established for the Hendersons.
A previous press release received from Jeffrey Henderson reads:
Seven children under age ten, including a one-month old baby, are currently trapped in the COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES foster care system because of a law enforcement blunder over two years ago. On May 25, 2010, relying to an anonymous and erroneous tip of child abuse from a disgruntled neighbor, Pasadena Police Department, in lieu of a warrant, used a battering ram to enter the Henderson home on Mar Vista. Even though police found no evidence to support allegations of abuse, police did arrest the parents Jeffrey and Erica Henderson for misdemeanor “resisting an officer” due to their refusal to open the door for police. Even though it took the Hendersons a year to appeal to to the California Supreme Court, their babies where ruled subjects of the state without as much as hearing. All Henderson children were placed in the foster care system where they have remained for over a year with no sign of returning home.
“People don’t realize how easy it is to have their children kidnapped by state government agents,” states the father, Jeffrey Henderson. “The STATE OF CALIFORNIA relies on parental ignorance to make their case and the problem is compounded by lack of evidence needed to terminate parental rights. Before fathers know it, their progeny are adopted to strangers, never to be heard from again.”
On June 21, 2011, after months in jail, the Hendersons were acquitted and all criminal charges were dismissed after Pasadena prosecution failed to get the Hendersons to agree to a plea deal. Even though the Hendersons were vindicated in the criminal court, they still have not been able to recover their children. Though they have completed all the judge’s orders, their family is still not deemed ready for reunification. In a juvenile court case, the best interests of the children are of paramount importance.
“Good families should not be broken apart like this,” cries Erica Henderson. “My children are suffering and I cannot nurture them. I weep daily for my babies, but it doesn’t help to bring them home. The system is broken, and something must be done.”
The arrest of the Henderson parents created “exigent circumstances” that resulted in the children entering needing to enter foster care. Department of Child and Family Services was created to assist a children and family in times like these. Sometimes children are made the victims of their parents bad decisions and children need a stable home environment. When parents go to jail, DCFS is called to assist in their safe placement.
The claim that the foster agencies are unwilling to honor court-ordered kosher food, housing requirements, and family visits. The children’s social worker has been fined $200 for not following court orders in this case. The judge ordered that the Henderson children be place in two homes, but DCFS argues that the best they can do is to put the seven kids in four homes. The parents fear that their children are not only forgetting who their parents are, but the parents believe that the children are forgetting who their siblings are. The Jewish/Anglophone children are in unilingual Hispanic/Catholic homes. Parent and sibling visits have been impossible to ensure. Last week, Erica Henderson, the mother alleges she was told, “Stop asking so many questions, or your visits will be terminated.”
The Henderson Children Belong At Home
The Henderson family welcomes media attention and interviews with the goal of alerting parents to the need for oversight in the juvenile courts. There is a need to recognize the potential unlawful basis of the detainment of children.
False Allegations of Child Abuse – There was no evidence of abuse. No exigent circumstances existed to secure a warrant on suspicions of child abuse on May 25, 2010. The neighbor that reported against the Hendersons recanted her testimony under oath at the hearing on June 21, 2011. The criminal court upheld the Henderson Family’s right to privacy, but due to the best interests of the children, this right has been repeatedly denied by Judge Downing’s Children’s Court Department 407.
Brief Background: On May 25, 2010, a disgruntled neighbor of the Henderson’s called 9-1-1 to report child abuse. Pasadena police arrived at the Henderson home demanding entry in order to examine the children. A Pasadena judge refused to grant a warrant as there were no exigent circumstances present. At that time, Sargent Jorge, of the Pasadena Police Department made the difficult decision to enter the home with a battering ram without warrant. The Henderson home was searched and their children were strip searched and interviewed. No evidence of abuse was discovered. Over the course of thirteen months Jeffrey repeatedly appeared in court to argue the California Penal Code 148(a)(1) (obstructing an officer) ticket from the May 25, 2010 incident. On April 25, 2011, the father, who was on writ of certiorari before the California Supreme Court, was re-arrested along with the mother when the appeal failed. To the father’s credit, the same argument won in the superior court in front of the Honorable Judge Villalobos in the Alhambra Courthouse. The same day the judge dismissed the Henderson criminal case, and they were free for release. Their children remain in foster care and their fight continues to get their children back.
Parental Absence – As a result of the unlawful arrest, Henderson parents were denied their right to make arrangements for the children’s care, thereby creating the “exigent circumstances” of abandonment that resulted in the children entering foster care.
Court orders that have not been upheld –
The Henderson children are to be fed kosher food
Be housed in not more than 2 homes . (Social Worker has been fined $200 for this)
Three times (3x) WEEKLY visits with the parents and siblings.
The youngest babies should receive their mother`s breastmilk.
Family Lifestyle – The Henderson children enjoyed a Natural Parenting lifestyle known as Continuum Concept or (AP) Attachment Parenting. This means the children are birthed at home, rarely left alone without either parent, breastfed and held as much as possible, and home-schooled. This parenting style encourages deep nurturing connections, and develops in the child a strong sense of security, love and trust. Their lifestyle choices are well-informed and include: baby-wearing, wholesome foods, vaccination exemptions, etc. With the children taken out of their loving, nurturing home-almost completely disconnected from their parents – the Hendersons are fearful of the damaging effects the separation has had, and will continue to have, on their children.
Fourth Amendment – The Constitution of California Article I Section I and the Fourth Amendment to the federal constitution protects people against unlawful search and seizure. These constitutional protections require that peace officers obtain permission to enter, obtain warrant, or observe emergency circumstances to enter a private home.
A statement released by Jeffrey Henderson on November 18 in his and his wife’s defense reads:
1. Parents regularly attend synagogue services here at the Chabad of Downtown Los Angeles.
2. Father regularly volunteers in his community and attends prayer throughout the week.
3. Mother is loving and attentive with her children and was breastfeeding her newborn, Baby Boy Henderson when he was taken on Friday August 31st.
4. I am concerned about what the children are being offered in the form of spiritual and physical food since they are placed in non Orthodox Jewish homes.
5. It is my understanding that the parents have followed all the court orders and are stuck in the bureaucratizes of family reunification limbo.
6. It does not seem logical that there was enough emergency for The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to remove the nursing infant from his mothers breast but leave the rest of the children unsupervised with the Mother.
7. Mother had an unsupervised visit on Sunday with the infant, so the conclusion by the DCFS worker that protective custody is needed due to immediate danger does not seem logical.
8. Where is the evidence of the infant suffering any abuse or neglect that warranted immediate protective custody?
9. The social worker in this case has neglected to explain why he waited over a month before removing this breastfeeding child, but instead waited to remove him on the Friday of a three day weekend obstructing Parents access to immediate release of the infant from the courts until Tuesday morning. Parents were already scheduled to appear before the judge that Tuesday morning.
10. As an Orthodox Rabbi, here in the United States, it concerns me that our children can be legally harassed and removed from a seemingly good home, for what appears to me to be their spiritual beliefs.
If you get time tomorrow, please take a few moments to call the following numbers and inquire into the details of the removal of Baby Boy Henderson from his mother:
Office of the Attorney General
300 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013-1230
Telephone: (213) 897-2000
District Attorney’s Office
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210
Telephone: (213) 974-3512
MARGUERITE D. DOWNING (a state superior court judge)
201 Centre Plaza Dr., Dept. 407
Monterey Park, CA 91754-2142
Telephone: (323) 526-6407
STARR COLEMAN (COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES Attorney)
201 Centre Plaza Dr, Suite 1,
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Telephone: (323) 526-6100
DAVID H CHEUNG (CHILDRENS LAW CENTER OF LOS ANGELES Attorney),
201 Centre Plaza Dr, Suite 7
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Telephone: (323) 980-8773
DEPT. OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SVCS. (a legal fiction)
425 Shatto Place
Los Angeles, CA 90020-1712
Telephone: (213) 351-5602
ERIC LORBER (COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES welfare worker)
28490 Avenue Stanford, Suite 100
Santa Clarita, CA 91355
Telephone: (661) 702-6369