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“THAT IS THE SYSTEM”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Oct. 15, 2013) — Jeffrey Henderson, whose eight children are in foster care in Los Angeles County, CA, told The Post & Email on Tuesday evening that his wife Erica has received a summons to appear at a hearing on Wednesday dealing with the discontinuation of reunification services.
The stated goal of the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is to reunify families when it is deemed safe for the child or children.
Jeffrey said that the cessation of reunification services means that “they are going to start the adoption process.” He cannot attend the hearing because he is scheduled to see some of his children at the same time.
Erica cannot receive the letter because she is no longer living at the address to which it was addressed. Jeffrey stated that DCFS is aware of his wife’s change of address. He said that a phone message from Erica’s attorney left where he is living indicated that the attorney is anxious to hear from Erica. Jeffrey said that the attorney should have Erica’s new phone number. “He knows that she’s not here; I don’t know why he’s leaving a message like that,” Henderson said.
The Post & Email asked if services might be terminated because of a lack of funds, to which Jeffrey responded, “What happens is the federal government gives them a blank check, so they never really run out of money. They’re trying to adopt the kids out, so they’re going to say, ‘Because we haven’t reunified with the kids, the kids have a right to a family,” so they want to adopt to a family that wants the kids, even though they’re the ones who say whether we complete the reunification program or not. No matter how much we’ve done – and in some cases two times is what they’ve asked – they still can say, ‘You’re not reunified,’ and they have the say-so on that.”
The Post & Email then responded, “So they dictate whether or not you can reunify, but if they put roadblocks in your way and you don’t reunify, then you’re blamed for not reunifying?” to which Henderson replied, “Right. Then there’s a third level when they put roadblocks in your way, you still complete the roadblocks, but they still say – in our case they said, ‘Even though you completed everything, you still haven’t learned anything.'”
Henderson also informed The Post & Email that he and Erica are planning on divorcing and he is going to Alabama, where he has family. “I am saying goodbye to California, and I will try to keep in contact with my kids through the phone,” he said. When we asked him how he feels about the divorce, he said, “I can’t be mad or glad about it. Obviously, I’m not glad about it, but I don’t see any other possibility of her getting the kids back…the only option right now that is open to us, because DCFS has blatantly kidnapped our kids and they will not give them back no matter what we do, is just to do whatever they say, whatever the kidnappers say; just do it all…so that’s what my wife is going to do, and I support her.”
“Do you feel that they’ve wanted you out of the picture for a while?”
“My wife told me that the first thing that her attorney said to her was that she needs to divorce me. That was three years and three months ago, and wow…did they really mean that. They surely did. I thought, ‘There’s no way that these people can legally require that we divorce,’ but that is the system: to break up families, to break up children from their allegiance to their parents and raise them in homes that are not their parents.”
Henderson expects to visit with three of his children on Wednesday. He believes that his wife saw some of the children last week but that she has not seen “the middle two in weeks.”