Update: Henderson Trial Expected to Conclude on Friday pb

IS THIS THE END OR A NEW BEGINNING?

by Sharon Rondeau

Erica Henderson and her youngest child, who was taken from her at the age of five weeks because she refused to sign a Voluntary Care Plan, which she said would have been an admission that she had harmed him

(Mar. 7, 2013) — A trial over whether or not the parents of seven children currently in foster care will lose their parental rights is expected to conclude on Friday at the Edmund C. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park, CA.  The trial, termed a “contested hearing,” began on February 21 but was adjourned because some of the witnesses did not make their appearances.

Jeffrey and Erica Henderson have been attempting to reunify with their children, who range in age from 12 years to eight months, for nearly three years after they were falsely arrested and jailed by the Los Angeles Police Department in May 2011.  The eight-month-old was born last July and was seized while nursing from Mrs. Henderson’s arms on August 31, 2012 by police and a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) social worker.  The parents later discovered that the documentation relied upon to take the infant was never “verified” by a third party as required by law.

On Tuesday, the Henderson parents met with a social worker to discuss the care plan, an encounter which Mrs. Henderson described as “positive.”  Both parents claim they have followed the court’s recommendations precisely by attending counseling, parenting classes and all scheduled visits with the children, which up until Wednesday were monitored.

Sunday visits were going well until four weeks ago, when the Hendersons’ monitor experienced a death in the family.  However, the family was together for a visit this past Sunday.  Two Wednesday visits were also missed because the monitors had taken vacations, of which the Hendersons were not advised.

Because of conflicting visitation orders for the two parents, they have not been able to reside together since the children were taken.  Mr. Henderson has taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and is hoping for a scholarship and stipend to a law school in the fall.

Mrs. Henderson has told The Post & Email that her counselor contacted the social worker two weeks ago to inquire about the missed visits with the children and whether or not a new monitor could be found on an expedited basis.

Erica Henderson sent the following message earlier on Thursday:

Tomorrow morning is the continuation of the trial at Edelman Children’s Court. We will be there from 8:30am on. Anyone who can make it is invited! Please come and show your support.

Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court, Third Floor
201 Centre Plaza Dr.
Monterey Park, CA 91754

After having been ejected from the courtroom on several occasions, the Hendersons began to experience better treatment from Judge Marguerite Downing after supporters took the initiative to attend hearings since last November.  DCFS Public Affairs Director Armand Montiel told The Post & Email in an interview last September that reunification is the “number one goal” of the agency, and a report viewed only recently by the Hendersons stated that reunification of the family was expected to occur on or before March 3, 2013.

Two women have been seeking to adopt the Hendersons’ second-youngest child and have accused Erica of failing to supervise him properly during visits, while monitors appear to have refuted that claim.  The same couple is taking care of the infant.

Mrs. Henderson has said that she believes in God and that He will help their family to reunify and heal.

Erica and Jeffrey Henderson on their way to court on Friday morning

Update, March 8, 2013, 11:12 a.m. EST:  Erica Henderson posted the following message at 10:26 a.m. EST on the Facebook page established to keep the public informed of the case:

“XXXXXX just arrived. We are on our way. We’ll keep everyone posted.”

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