Colorlines, which is published by Race Forward, printed an article back in 2011 about a Georgia couple who claimed they did everything they were asked, but still had to fight for over four years to get their children back from state custody. The initial claim made by the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services was that the children were malnourished. However, advocates in Georgia asserted that the Mendez family were the victims of a child welfare system that is biased and denies non-English speaking undocumented parents their parental rights.
When the Department of Family and Children Services Sees Malnourished Children
Malnourished children could be a sign of neglect, but it could also be a sign that there is something else going on with the child. People with certain medical conditions and illnesses could also appear to be malnourished, so it is important to get to the bottom of why the child is extremely thin or seems to not have been eating enough food. However, when the Department of Family and Children Services sees malnourished children, they might quickly decide that the children are being neglected without doing any further research. That is what happened in Ovidio and Dominita Mendez’s case.
In fact, several of the Mendez children suffer from medical issues, and rather than look at those issues as possibly the reason for the malnourishment problem, the Department of Family and Children Services immediately turned to accusing the Mendez’s of being unable and unequipped to provide the necessary care for them. Rather than helping them find the assistance they needed for their children, they took the children away and made them wards of the state.
The Times Free Press reported that court documents in the Mendez’s termination-of-rights hearing demonstrated that questions about English were introduced early in the hearing. Next, the Mendez family was asked about their immigration status. Special assistant attorney general for the Whitfield County Department of Family and Children’s Services asked Dominita Mendez, “Describe for the court why, even three years after [her children were taken into state custody], you cannot speak English without an interpreter?”
Now, we all know that whether or not someone can speak English has no bearing on his or her parenting ability. But, this exact same thing seems to be happening across the country. More and more, child welfare departments are failing to reunify families when parents are undocumented. Often, the children are initially removed from the parents, typically because of poverty and allegations of malnourishment, and then the children remain in foster homes. This is unacceptable!
If you are fighting to get your children back from the Department of Family and Children Services of Georgia, you are going to need the help of an attorney who knows the laws that protect you as a parent. More importantly, you are going to need a Georgia family law attorney who will fight against the state to get your children back for you. Contact the office of Vayman and Teitelbaum, Attorneys at Law, today for a free consultation.