Foster Child Legal Fight

$12,615 of $20k goal

Raised by 140 people in 26 months
Stephen Buzz Foster   LOS LUNAS, NM
Dear friends, family members, and friends we have yet to make:

We are just over halfway to our goal.  We appreciate every penny that has been contributed, and we still have a ways to go.  While we still are in need of more funds, we have also been roadblocked by the department, who is refusing to provide the documentation our lawyer has requested, and which the judge ordered them to provide.  This is going to cost us additional funds.

My name is Stephen Foster.  I am pictured on the left with my husband, Jeremy Werderman.  We are a married couple in Los Lunas, NM, who are also foster parents for the Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD).  I am an air traffic controller and NATCA member of 25 years, and my husband is a jack-of-many-trades with a small company in Albuquerque. 

If you are familiar with "CYFD", it may be because they have made national headlines due to the deaths of, and other serious injury of, children who they were aware were in danger.  While the department has had a knee-jerk response of pulling children from homes more quickly, they also have cases in process that are winding down the path in directions that many consider unsafe.  Such is the case with one of our children.

The law forbids the sharing of confidential information on these cases.  What we do feel comfortable telling you, is that one of our children is on a reunification path, and we are in strong disagreement with the department on the viability of that plan.

We are not alone.

The child has had two guardian ad litems who also disagree with that plan.  Every therapist that has encountered this case, save for the most recently added, also disagrees with it.  The stay in the system has exceeded both state and federal guidelines for reunification.

While the guardian ad litem is opposed to reunification, she is also heavily burdened by caseload.  If you are familiar with social work in poor states, this probably does not surprise you.  We have the legal right to intervene, and chose to do so as the best chance this child has to be protected.  Our first hearing was on June 9th.  The judge in the case ordered an evidentiary hearing, which will involve witnesses, reports from therapists, and a lot of time. Such representation is not inexpensive.

Our initial retainer fee was $10k, which was paid by borrowing against Jeremy's retirement.  Because Jeremy was out of work for two years (2010-2012), we had already borrowed from mine, and cannot borrow again for another 18 months.  Because we live in a home that lost equity in the recession, we qualified for a HARP refinance, which we are doing, but the mortgage is in underwriting, making it impossible to borrow against any equity we might have.  We do not have sufficient credit card space to charge these fees to, but we are persuing additional financing options.

We are selling two vehicles to help.  We anticipate that this should bring in 50% to 75% of the amount of money that we need, however time is a critical component.

We need $10k to add to the retainer account by July 1st, and $10k more by the 15th.  Our evidentiary hearing is scheduled for July 29th.  More expenses lie beyond that date, but as of right now, our immediate need is this.

I wish I could put a picture of her up and tell you more of her story.  It would make this a lot easier.  To believe this need is real, you need to believe that CYFD has serious problems protecting children, and we have identified a specific case.  To that end, here is a picture of Omaree Varela:

He was nine years old.  He was kicked to death by his mother well after both the Albuquerque Police Department and CYFD were notified and aware of abuse in the home.  The picture is, in fact, a still image from APD lapel cam, after the child had called 911 for help.

Foster parents should not have to go to the lengths that we have to protect a child.  The system is severely broken.  Please help us protect her.

Thank-you from the bottom of our hearts,

Stephen Foster and Jeremy Werderman
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Update 3
25 months ago
Thanks for all your amazing support! We are 60% to goal. Legal strategy has changed, and we will be in court this Tuesday, but it will be a continuance. However, we should be in court in the next 30 days for a hearing that will likely determine the final outcome. Our deadline for money raising is now more or less indefinite, but the sooner we get there, the better.

CYFD is afraid. They know that this case has been mishandled by them, and they dread having their misdeeds spelled out before the judge. The best attorneys in the room are on our little girl's side, and you have made that happen! We thank you!

So many have given so generously. We don't want to ask for more if you have given, but if you do know of someone, or a group that might be interested in supporting our cause, please do share. This money goes right to the attorney to help fight this case.

Thank-you,
Buzz and Jeremy

And to close, here is a picture and some links. The picture is our oldest foster son, lending a hand and a bat at a fundraiser car smash to help save his sister.

A video of the car smash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VdTRkMMks8&list=UUwHJ6j15N6Zy6_YjUe2_vSA

My motorcycle for sale, to help fund the fight. (It's a great bike!):
http://albuquerque.craigslist.org/mcy/4590467713.html
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Update 2
26 months ago
Thanks again for all of your love, support, and generosity. We are now $5 away from $9,000, and nearing 50% of our goal. You folks are amazing. :-)
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Update 1
26 months ago
We are so blown away by the love and support of so many! I have been in joyous tears more times than I can count yesterday and today. As of just now, the total is $3,995. You guys are amazing and beautiful! I cannot thank you enough!
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$12,615 of $20k goal

Raised by 140 people in 26 months
Created June 24, 2014
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Kendell & Da Prince Milton
25 months ago
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$170
Anonymous
25 months ago (Offline Donation)
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$200
Jim Puliafico & Brad Harris
25 months ago
$50
Anonymous
25 months ago
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Corey Reid
25 months ago
TS
$245
Tony Johnson, Lawrence Rendon, David Paugh, and Freedom Auto Sales
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25 months ago
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Ben Martinez Tony Carson
25 months ago
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Michael Schaugaard
25 months ago
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