My name is Bobbie Brooks and I never really planned to be a mother. I was on a career path in tv news, but when I took over as producer of Eyewitness News at Noon on Channel 13, everything changed. The show had a feature called, “Thursday’s Child”. Each week, we would tell the story of a little boy or girl who needed a home. Seeing the faces of these children each week touched my heart and changed my life.
July 6, 2009
I became a licensed foster parent, and on Valentine’s Day 2005, I brought home the love of my life. Lonna was 2 days old when I brought her home from the hospital. She had been born addicted to crack. I read everything I could on drug exposed babies and found out children can overcome this difficult start in life with a lot of love and attention. She became my world.
We had weekly visits with Lonna’s biological family at the home of the paternal grandparents. Though we became close, I also was able to see how Lonna had ended up in the system. Her grandparents had raised 4 children; none of the children completed school and none were working. However, they all had children of their own. The grandparents had other grandchildren in the foster care system as well. The grandparents themselves had a history with the Department of Child Services when raising their children.
You often hear horror stories about DCS; I lived one. We moved into the phase of terminating parental rights. After having Lonna in my home for 18 months, we went to court for a routine hearing where suddenly it was decided that Lonna should be taken from my home and placed with the paternal grandparents. There was no warning. Lonna had not ever spent one minute alone with the grandparents. I had made it clear that I wanted to adopt and that I wanted to maintain contact with the biological family; this was the response of DCS. Within an hour of the court hearing, she was gone. I had a lawyer with me who was simply as stunned as I was. I started making calls to others in DCS, I contacted my state representative, my state senator, the Children’s Bureau, anybody that I thought could help. They all basically told me I didn’t have a chance and to move on, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want Lonna to end up like her aunt and uncles. I decided to fight for her future.
I hired a new incredible lawyer who was both a foster and adoptive parent himself. We filed for adoption. From the start, my attorney gave me a 20% chance of winning. We went to trial and waited for the judge’s decision. I had not seen Lonna in a year. The grandparents took her into their home and shut me out. However, a year after I lost her in family court, an incredible probate judge, named Charles Dieter, gave her back. It was the happiest day of my life. However, the battle wasn’t over; the grandparents filed an appeal. The appellate court came back with a ruling emphatically in my favor. They even published it, so you can read it online.
Lonna is now 4. She loves the outdoors–especially bugs. She loves preschool. She wants to be a princess. She also lives with a constant fear that she’ll be taken from me. I’ve tried to keep contact with Lonna’s family, but only her grandmother visits occasionally. We’re working through many issues, but I know in my heart, Lonna will be just fine. I also now have legal custody of a 2 year girl, named Aleah. I havehad her since she was 6 weeks old. I recently filed for adoption and face another big court battle from her biological mother. However, I know from experience, each child is worth the fight.