Woman files complaint against Hancock DHS
By Geoff Belcher
Jun 16, 2017, 18:30
A Louisiana woman has filed a complaint with the Mississippi Attorney General's Office and the Mississippi Department of Human Services against the Hancock County DHS, alleging her seven-year battle with the department and the court system was caused in part by bias against her for living out-of-state; and that it has nearly bankrupted her.
Dina B. – the parents' full names are being withheld in order to protect the identities of the minor children – said in the complaint that the troubles began in 2010 when her two sons were taken into DHS custody while staying with her ex-husband in Hancock County.
"Evidence was shown that there was abuse and drug issues going on in the household," she said in the complaint, "yet no drug test was (submitted) and the trial was actually … postponed by (her ex-husband's) attorney, who is also a judge in a different court.
"There was also additional testimony that my son suffered serious injuries at my ex-husband's attorney's home in Florida, in which I was denied medical records. I was continuously drawn into the conflicts."
Dina said she began keeping the boys for longer amounts of time so as to avoid some of the conflicts; however, she continued to share custody with her ex.
"About a year later," she said, during a time when the boys were staying in Hancock County with their father, "I was contacted by DHS Hancock County that the children were picked up," along with their step-sister, the daughter of the ex-husband's new wife. The boys "were then placed with me by DHS Hancock County. My ex-husband and his wife were found to be guilty of the allegations. Rather than immediately releasing the children into my custody, Hancock County continued to allow my ex-husband to try to get custody back while they maintained (official) custody while the children were placed with me at my expense and I additionally had to have an attorney."
In other words, she said, the state kept custody and made her – the children's natural mother – act as their foster parent.
"I spent two years in this limbo, forced to drive back and forth to Mississippi (for hearings) at my expense. This was not beneficial for the children and additionally caused me additional disruption (and) financial hardship. Finally, after the two years had passed, they then released the children in my custody. I was then questioned why I refused to sign an agreement allowing the children to seek visitation with their father.
"The agreement allowed for open visitation (with him) with no supervision and no repercussions. The children were than given to me by the youth court with the father paying a small amount in child support with no visitation rights. … I was then served by the Chancery Court for my ex-husband to get visitation again. I went to court without an attorney … (and) explained to the judge that i was not comfortable with the unsupervised visits. The judged allowed for the unsupervised visits, which only allowed for manipulation."
Eventually, one of the children went to live with Dina full-time, and the other stayed with his father full-time, until the boy called her one night and asked her to come get him from his father's home because the man and his wife "were both intoxicated and an argument had broken out ."
"I then contacted the police in Diamondhead to explain the situation and that I was on my way there. Upon my arrival, it was indicated to me that he had thrown (the boy) outside and told the police he wanted nothing more to do with him. They then called the DHS and the judge in Diamondhead. … The DHS case worker then arrived and said that I could not take my child … because they could not allow him to cross the state line."
The DHS case worker said that by the next day, "they would either have an interstate commerce compact done to return the child to me or the judge would straighten out the matter," she said. "The next day, I went to youth court. I was questioned if i would bring back him back and forth to school to Mississippi. I responded no, since I – already for two years at my own expense, kept making my trips back and forth from Louisiana to Mississippi; and I had the other son that was still living with me in his senior year of high school .
"I was then told by the judge that it would be easier just to cancel the already existing temporary (agreement)," but said he would "not consider a placement for me in the future if i could not protect my son.
"I responded by explaining that maybe he needed to speak with the chancery court judge, since there is a clear conflict between how they both see the case.
"The case then sat in limbo for a few months, in which time they placed my son with my ex-husbands step-mother , who in turn lives in a home owned by my ex-husband. I Indicated several times that this was not a good permanent placement, as this may be a conflict of interest."
She said she believes it's a conflict, since the child support payments go to her ex-husband's step-mother, who then pays the money back to the ex-husband in the form of rent.
In May of this year, Dina said, Hancock DHS invited her to a meeting to discuss permanent placement for her son, but "clearly, I was only to be considered a spectator and … my concerns were not addressed."
"It seems clear that my son is being manipulated and DHS is complicit in the situation," Dina wrote in the complaint. "I feel there is a bias against me because i live in another state and there is an interest in keeping my son within the confines of Mississippi at the violation of my own rights. This ordeal has caused me and my family great distress and DHS seems to be encouraging the situation."
Dina said this week she is still waiting to hear back from DHS on her complaint.