48
48
2

Fund Safety & Stability for Rebecca

$8,235 of $80,000 goal

Raised by 47 people in 2 months
Immediate legal expenses needed to ensure the safety and stability of our daughter Rebecca, while we await the state's appeal.

The Story

If you are reading this, you are probably as interested in adoption and the best interests of children as we are.  We adopted our son through Catholic Social Services three years ago. That adoption was a direct placement adoption, and we have a great relationship with our son’s birth parents.

After that adoption, we became licensed foster parents and hoped to find our next child through fostering.  Our dream came true in Summer 2017 when Rebecca came into our lives. Rebecca was nearly 3 years old then, just 10 months older than our son.  Almost immediately our son, Knox, and Rebecca saw each other as brother and sister.

 Rebecca had been abused by her birth parents and removed when she was 5 months old. She was then placed with her aunt while the court was in the process of terminating her parents’ rights.  Once the parents’ rights are terminated, then the child is “available” for adoption although the superintendent of Michigan’s Children’s Institute (“MCI”) has to approve the adoption petition.  For some reason, the aunt did not file a petition to adopt Rebecca.

 One day, while the aunt was Rebecca’s foster parent, there was an incident.  The police found Rebecca at 2 years old wandering in the street in the winter in a soiled diaper and they called CPS.  Rebecca was then removed from the aunt, allegations were substantiated, and the aunt lost her foster care license. Soon after that, Rebecca came to us.

Within a few months, we petitioned to adopt Rebecca.  That’s when our problems began. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the aunt had asked MCI to let her adopt Rebecca, but MCI would not provide consent.  When we asked for consent, we got it (believing we were the only people interested in adopting her). After we were approved to adopt Rebecca, the court entered an order formally placing Rebecca in our care, and we expected to finalize our adoption six months after that.

But this is when all hell broke loose.  The aunt got an attorney and filed a motion with the court to contest MCI’s decision to withhold consent to her adoption.  We found out that there was going to be a hearing and actually went to the court that day. When we got there, we were told that we could not go into the courtroom or participate in the proceedings. In the end, the judge ruled that MCI’s decision to withhold consent from the aunt was arbitrary and capricious, and the judge ordered weekly unsupervised visitation with the aunt. As you can imagine, this has been difficult on Rebecca. At this point, somebody advised us to get an attorney, which we did.
 
The Now

From that point on, we learned many things about the “system.”  For starters, the court provides a free attorney to parents accused of abuse or neglect—but people trying to adopt children or foster them have to provide their own attorney and pay for it.  MCI took an appeal from the court’s decision, and we have paid our attorney now to talk to the Assistant Attorney General about the appeal and our situation.

Then we had our attorney go to court with us just recently (which cost another few thousand dollars).  At that hearing, the judge decided to schedule a best interest hearing because the aunt now wants the court to uproot Rebecca and send her back to her aunt’s house.

 We are devastated—not only for ourselves but for all children like Rebecca who are removed from their parents and then removed again and again.  Children are “born for more” than this. Their interests should be prominent. We have gotten the impression that the aunt believes Rebecca should grow up with “her family,” but Rebecca already has a family—and that family has a Mommy, a Daddy, and a brother. We can’t even imagine our home without Rebecca in it.

 Another thing we have learned is that direct adoptions like Knox’ adoption are completely different from agency adoptions like Rebecca’s. When you adopt through the foster care system, the child has been abused and neglected.   You need to assure the child that he or she is safe with you. Once the parents’ rights are terminated, you can begin assuring the child that you want to adopt him or her and create a forever family. Assuming there is a family for the child, the court needs to support the placement.  We all have biological relatives, but that should not be the deciding factor in an adoption. In Rebecca’s case, while the aunt is well-intended, she never filed to adopt Rebecca when she could have (i.e., after the parents’ rights were terminated and before the “incident”). She is not Rebecca’s mother, but she wants priority based on her biological relationship to the child.

Our Hope for the Future

It is not easy to be in our shoes right now.  We have staggering legal fees and an upcoming hearing.   We appreciate the support we are getting and will use any help wisely.  After our case is over, we intend to contact the Legislature about how to amend the statutes in Michigan to prevent what has happened to us.  For one thing, once a person has filed a petition to adopt, he or she should be included in all hearings related to that child. If there is an appeal or a competing adoption but the child has been in a stable home for six (6) months or more, then the statute should prevent any removal until the case and any appeals are over.  There should also be access to attorney fees in a case like this.

   We’ll keep you updated on how our case progresses.





+ Read More
The courtroom today was about 80+ degrees. Chelse finished 4+ hours of testimony. Thanks for your continued support. We’ll be heading back tomorrow.
+ Read More
We were in court from 9 AM to about 6PM yesterday. It was a long day for everyone. The best interest hearing started and the next dates will be 6/28, 7/2, 7/3, 7/5, and 7/6. Our legal fees are continuing to climb during the hearing. Thank you all so much for all of your donations. Without you, this would be nearly impossible.

With all our love, The Schults Family
+ Read More
We’re in court today. Please keep us in your thoughts
+ Read More
We just received a "Cease and Desist" letter from the attorney representing the aunt who wants to adopt Rebecca, the same child we want to adopt. When we filed to adopt Rebecca, we had no idea that her aunt had also petitioned to adopt her. We later discovered that MCI (the Michigan Children's Institute) had refused to consent to the aunt's adoption of Rebecca, so the aunt filed a motion for a hearing and also filed a petition to adopt (without MCI's consent). The aunt should have given us notice of that proceeding in our opinion, or the court should have, but we were never given notice. Now, the aunt's attorney is complaining that we claimed on our GoFundMe post that the aunt had not filed a petition to adopt. Only recently did we discover that she had done that, so we are attempting to correct the record here.

The aunt's attorney is also complaining about another issue. On our GoFundMe page, we said that Rebecca was removed from her aunt after she was found wandering in the street in the middle of winter in a soiled diaper. That is true. The aunt's attorney, however, complains that we did not say more about this incident. The incident happened before Rebecca was even placed with us, so all we know is what we have read in the Service Plan reports that were written during the juvenile court proceedings. According to that source, the aunt needed someone to watch Rebecca while she ran some errands one day. Rebecca's birth father is the aunt's brother, but his parental rights were terminated based on allegations of abuse or neglect.

On the day in question, the aunt dropped Rebecca off at the home of her own father (who is also the birth father's father). This paternal grandfather is disabled and needs his own care-giver, so he obviously could not care for Rebecca that day. Further, the caregiver was already caring for the grandfather, so it was unlikely that she could also care for a 3-year old. In the home that day was the birthfather's girlfriend also and her young child. The girlfriend had to leave the house to take a court-ordered drug screen, and then Rebecca and this woman's young child apparently slipped out of the house as the girlfriend left the house. Later when the aunt challenged MCI's refusal to consent to her adoption of Rebecca, MCI apparently expressed concern about the arrangements the aunt had made that day for child care in the first place. When you are a foster parent (as the aunt was then), it's our understanding that if you need child care, you must use a provider who has been approved in advance.

The aunt's attorney apparently wants this information out there, so please SHARE this post. As an aside, one of the reasons we did not go into this detail in our original posting was because we did not want to unnecessarily embarrass the aunt. We just wanted to explain the fact that we are now embroiled in significant and expensive litigation, and we believe that a child who has been removed from her birth parents, and then removed from a relative-foster-parent, should not be removed again if removal can be avoided. The court entered an order in November 2017 that officially placed Rebecca in our home, but the aunt has filed a motion to have Rebecca removed from our home and placed with the aunt again. On 6/14/18, we expect to have a court hearing where the judge will decide the matter based on Rebecca's best interest. After our case is over, we hope to join with other adoptive families in seeking a change to the Adoption Code that would prevent a change in placement until a case is finally decided. Because MCI took an appeal of the judge's decision that MCI's refusal to consent to the aunt's adoption petition was arbitrary and capricious, and because no adoption can be finalized while that sort of appeal is pending, Rebecca's fate may be in limbo for another year. During that time, we think she should be remain where she has been during this past year because she has thrived in our care.
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update

$8,235 of $80,000 goal

Raised by 47 people in 2 months
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
   Connect
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
$50
Anonymous
29 days ago
JE
$50
Jessica Efta
1 month ago
SR
$75
Steve Radomski
1 month ago
JG
$25
Jocelyn Gomes
1 month ago
$100
Anonymous
1 month ago (Offline Donation)
$500
Anonymous
1 month ago (Offline Donation)
$30
Anonymous
1 month ago
DD
$100
Danne Dzenawagis
2 months ago
$100
Anonymous
2 months ago (Offline Donation)
$100
Anonymous
2 months ago (Offline Donation)
or
Or, use your email…
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.