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Posted on Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Deported father's children may be listed on Michigan adoption website

By Amy Biolchini

Editor's note: The names of the family members have been omitted to protect their identities.

Though their father risked his freedom to regain custody of them, two of his three children are poised to be advertised on Michigan's website for adoption.

The man, an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, had returned to the U.S. after being deported from the country to fight for his family: a girl and two boys, all under the age of 10.

He's since lost them to the state of Michigan: His daughter is living with a foster family that intends to adopt her, and it is unknown when his sons will find a permanent home in the system.

The case garnered the attention of the public in April when advocates from Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights brought the issue to the press.

During a procedural review hearing Friday morning in front of Washtenaw County Trial Court Referee Molly Schikora, the children’s lawyer, Margo Edwards, gave the court an update on the condition of the three children, who have been wards of the state and in foster care.

A recent report has estimated that nearly 5,100 children are living in foster care in the U.S. as a result of their parents being detained or deported.


The Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights advocates on behalf of immigrant families in Washtenaw County. Since WICIR's inception in March 2008, it reports having received nearly 350 calls, 80 percent of which involve immigrants who have been detained.

Chris Asadian |

The man's daughter had been placed in a separate foster care home from her two brothers, and her foster parents are moving forward with adoption paperwork, Edwards said during the hearing.

“Overall, they’re doing pretty well,” Edwards said of the boys.

However, for the two boys, they won't be able to stay with their foster family much longer -- a fact Edwards said the boys don't currently know.

The foster family with whom the boys have been placed cannot adopt them - of which Edwards said the Department of Human Services already knew for some time.

A sister of the children's deceased mother who lives in the U.S. has been ruled out as an option to place the brothers.

“I was very distressed about some of the information (the father) had expressed to me (about the aunt),” Edwards said during the hearing, indicating it was an unsafe environment to place the brothers.

Officials deported their father to Guatemala several weeks ago.

The man had presented himself to the county's foster system last year to regain custody of his children. He soon came under government scrutiny - and was picked up by immigration.

He sat in detention for about a year before he relinquished his parental rights in March in front of a judge, according to Laura Sanders, co-founder of the WICIF.


Laura Sanders, one of the co-founders of the WICIR, said she's pressed the Michigan Department of Human Services and the courts on the issue and the argument she's heard back is it's "just common sense" that children shouldn't be placed in undocumented households.

Chris Asadian |

Returning to the country as an illegal immigrant after being deported is a felony offense.

The boys will soon be placed in the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange - a website that lists profiles of children whose case workers are actively seeking adoption.

The site lists first names, ages, photos and sometimes videos - as well as a brief description of personal information - to attract potential adoptive parents.

Currently, there are 294 children listed on the MARE site - 175 of which are boys. About 40 percent of them are age 14 and over.

MARE Program Manager Heidi Raubenolt said children’s photos are listed on the website until they find a family.

“There are more children available for adoption in the state, but not all need recruitment,” Raubenolt said.

Raubenolt said there are typically about 300 children listed on the website at any given time - and it’s subjective as to how long a child’s profile will sit on the site.

At the age of 14, when children have to consent to their adoptions, children can ask that their picture not be listed online.

The father's case has garnered international attention, as Spanish-language TV network UNIVISION has produced a segment after an article appeared in April. The TV segment will likely include the children’s names and photos, which Sanders said had been provided to the network by family friends distressed at the "discrimination" in the case.

The two-part piece will air May 21 and 22. UNIVISION has reportedly interviewed the father in Guatemala.

While it appears little can be done to reunite the children with their father, Sanders said it has opened policy discussions.

In the muddy waters at the convergence of child welfare and immigration, there are no rigid guidelines for DHS workers to follow.

Potential parents must have a verifiable, legal income.

According to the state's foster care placement policy, "When children must be removed from their home and placed in out-of-home care, preference must be given to placement with a fit and willing relative." Review the state's policy by clicking here.

DHS does not have an official policy in its Childrens Foster Care Manual on returning children to undocumented relatives.

Placement is prohibited if there is a felony conviction for child abuse/neglect, spousal abuse, crime against children, crime involving rape, sexual assault or homicide, and convictions for assault, battery or drug-related offenses within the last five years.

However, the policy does state that in "exceptional circumstances, a waiver may be requested for a relative caregiver to forgo licensure when it is determined to be in the child(ren)'s best interest to be placed or remain with an unlicensed relative caregiver."

Schikora scheduled a review hearing for 10 a.m. June 22 for another update on the children.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter @amywrites_.


May Flower

Fri, May 18, 2012 : 4:14 a.m. "Said another way, the state may not set out with the overt purpose of "virtually assur[ing] the creation of a ground for termination of parental rights." ? See In re Shane P., 58 Conn.App. 234, 241, 753 A.2d 409 (2000). ? We conclude that when the state deliberately takes action with the purpose of "virtually assur[ing] the creation of a ground for termination of parental rights," and then proceeds to seek termination on that very ground, the state violates the due process rights of the parent." ....


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 10:41 a.m.

The missing piece in this series is why the father was deported the first time. It was missing in the first story and it is missing here. I suspect if the father was deported for drug dealing that some people would change their position. If he was deported purely for being in the country, others might change their position. I asked last time and I will ask you give us the reason the father was deported the first time? Supposedly the Obama administration is primarily deporting people who have committed crimes in the US. So is this one of those cases or is it one of the non-criminal cases? (yes, I know, if he was here illegally, he committed a crime just being here - for those of you who are anti-illegal alien). If AnnArbor.Com is going to make this a series, and spend a lot of time on it, it is only fair to give us the rest of the story.


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

Amy Biolchini - I challenge you to add all the big details of this situation that you neglected to add to your report. Its all there in court records which are public. Tell about what kind of a man the father really is and how the mother died.


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

Oh my God. What is going on in this country? This is criminal.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Whoever adopts these children will be their caregiver until they are old enough to look for their father. Because the children are not orphans, they will not accept their new situation as their family, but will continually mourn the loss of their factual family. There is no amount of explanation that you can give a child (you are a citizen and your father isn't) that will justify to them that their family was ripped apart.


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

Let alone the father's life of anguish over not being able to have his own children.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

I thought if you married a " natural citizen" you were legal?.. I don't know that is just what i remember reading somewhere.. anyone know?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

thank you gramma


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

No, whether you enter the counry legally or illegally, you do not automatically become a US citizen. Those who enter legally, if they marry a citizen, must maintain the marriage for 2 years after filing for a 10 year visa. After that, they may apply for citizenship after 3-5 years, if the marriage is still valid and "real." Those who enter illegally will be deported if picked up by Immigration regardless of their marital status.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

The line." the kids will be " advertised".. got to me. When will our nation stop thinking they have the right to dismantle a family?. I don't care whether he is illegal or not.. If he wants to take his children back with him,, let him.. he is the dad. God this makes me sick.. then " in the best interest of the kids" we are gonna split them all up. How sad.. They stick the dad in jail so he can't do anything, and then take away his rights. I just wonder how much he was told,, you sign off.. and we'll make sure ur kids are together.. blah blah blah. This whole thing stinks..How do you fix things when ur stuck in jail?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Folks - read the first article in this series before commenting. The children are US citizens born to a US citizen mother. The bio father entered illegally merely to try to get his kids, but DHS has no authority to deport US citizen minors to a non-custodial parent. This whole situation is really, really sad.


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

They are his children, not DHS's children. No matter what political citizenship they have.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

The first article said the mother was a US citizen. If a non-citizen parent, even one who came here legally, leaves this country, the US government holds the rights of the US parent to be above those of the non-citizen parent in retaining custody of the children. The child's best interest or the right of the non-citizen parent to custody are not held as relevent. There have been many well publicized cases along this line.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

The mother's dead. How is the father the non-custodial parent? Again, this is insane.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

Where does it say U..S. citizen mother?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

We had a 5 year old foster son. Shortly after he arrived he said he had a 3 year old sister. We asked where and he said "she's in another house". We asked the case worker about this and she said that was true. We were shocked and said "bring her here, we have plenty of room. They need to be together." They did that. When she came she said "who's that boy?" Angelo put his arm around her and said "I'm you brother!, don't you remember me?" Our hearts were breaking for them. They had been removed because their young mother had kicked Angelo and broken his leg. He told us he had to go to stores and beg for food. Later, his sites was sent back to live with mom but not Angelo. He felt this was yet another rejection. We never dealt with DHS again after this. They do not act in the best interests of children often. These three children should be with their natural parent whether they like it or not. They don't need a fancy home..they need natural parental love.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

Send the kids back with the father--all of them!


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

I totally agree 100%.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

When did it become legal for the state to take children from a parent and give them to somebody to adopt when they have a father capable of taking care of them? Send them all to the father in Guatemalan. I would be happy also to donate money for this family to be reunited. No one should be allowed to separate & adopt these children. What a horrible thing to do.

Sammie Jones

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Wow. If this isn't evil, I don't know what is. As for the Department of Human Services turning him in to authorities to deport him, that is typical but very very wrong. Who wants to make some money by taking in foster kids? I DO! I DO! These poor kids belong with their family. Shame on DHS and immigration. You should be ashamed of yourselves.


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

DHS and EVERY govt. worker should turn in illegals to have them deported if they come in contact with illegals. We pay DHS to work for us, this is another example of how illegals are costing taxpayers money that could be better spent elsewhere if we didn't have illegals in our country. Maybe then DHS could do a better job if they were not dealing with so many illegals.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Nothing in this piece tells us what happened to the mother. Did she die?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

"A sister of the children's deceased mother who lives in the U.S. has been ruled out as an option to place the brothers." its in the story


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

I believe, in a previous article, it was stated that she was using drugs and CPS took the children from her. It was after that that the father returned here to try to regain rights to his children. He lost in a game that makes him and his children pawns.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

The father could have taken the children back to Guatemala if he chose to. He made the decision to relenquish his parental rights and let them stay in the United States. That probably speaks to the desparate situation the children would live in in Guatemala, that a parent would choose that. I bet choices like that aren't uncommon in developing nations.


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

I re-checked what I posted. At no point did I say I knew the circumstances of the father.


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 6:47 a.m.

@julie - you said "You have no way of knowing the personal circumstances of this father." but according to your comments after that you do know. Unbelievable.


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

You have no way of knowing the personal circumstances of this father. You are not judge and jury. He simply wants his children back.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

If the father came back illegally to fight for his children, I doubt he easily or willingly relinquished his children. He could have just stayed in Guatemala and let the same thing happen. I believe in this case, CPS already had custody/possession of the children and recommended for termination of rights despite all the father's efforts. There was also the complication that the mother of the children was a "native born" US citizen, which have guaranteed her retaining custody the first time the father was deported. She was the one who did not provide an adequate home for the children.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

I guess the kids were born in the US so that they are citizens but why didn't the father become or try to become a US citizen? Didn't he care about his kids?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

People from Central America are seldom granted visas to come to the United States, even as tourists or to visit family. The restrictions are much greater than are those for Western Europeans. The fees for a visa are the same world wide, which makes them relatively much higher for people from poorer countries.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

Back in the 1960's, CPS was designed as a program to help keep children in their own homes. Children were removed only in the most extreme cases. It has changed greatly over time, partly due to declining funding. During the time I worked in the system, I have seen a petition of medical neglect, because a baby boy was not circumcised and a CPS worker testify that a toddler should be removed from the mother because the mother kept her up til midnight with her and they both slept in the morning. The worker's statement was that, "No toddler should be up past 9pm." I have also seen workers who make their deciisions based on their racial biases and lack of knowledge of other cultures and subcultures. Most children removed from their parents are from low-income families. Well-to-do families refuse (legally) to let CPS workers into their homes and/or hire expensive lawyers. I have also seen many excellent, truly caring workers who see that appropriate supports and services are provided to the referred families . Many times a referred family's fate depends on who they draw as a worker.


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

I read about the un-circumcised child being removed by The System from his mother in the New York Times. You make it sound as if you were a party in this case. If you truly were, you are violating confidentiality laws. The System is broken. Background checks are very loosely done, and there are many children who live in abusive situations because the foster parent wants that check.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

Yes, jns, before the 1960's, parents had a legal right to abuse their children. Laws to protect animals came about before laws to protect children. There was no CPS, because children were placed in orphanages. There have also been many uncovered scandals about judges terminiating rights of parents who were ill, then giving them to wealthy families who in turn paid the judge a healthy thank you check. This was a huge issue in Memphis. I do agree that the standards required for poor families referred to CPS are often much higher than those of other parents. If those standards were applied equally, few families would be allowed in keep their children.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

We can blame LBJ for this mess. He changed the whole system and now it is going to take a whole new legal system to reverse it.

Dog Guy

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

DHS views children as hope for the future, as a promise of prosperity, as job security.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

So, does this County have the legal right to repossess children or does it consider children to be unrecovered security deposits?


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

jns, I think you're talking about the 14th amendment to the constitution. Prior to its passage all enslaved peoples in this country, including some Irish and other indentured servants, had been denied citizenship despite the fact their families had been here for centuries. Native Americans and women were still not granted full rights of citizenship at that time. Women gained the right to vote in the mid 1920's, except fow women who had lost their citizenship because they married non-citizens. They had to be naturalized to become citizens of the country in which they were born. The right to vote was not guaranteed to poor citizens until Amendment 24. If we repealed the 14th Amendment, would you have the right to vote? Check your ancestry carefully.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

There is something in our constitution that came about when the slaves became free. This law needs to be repealed so these children can go home with the deported parent. Wow, what a mess this guy has created.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

CPS has become MONSTROUS!


Mon, May 14, 2012 : 3:59 a.m.

Or if the reporter what tell the truth about the dad and how the mother died you would think differently.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

Those that come to the U.S.illegally have to realize that there are consequences for illegal acts. Unfortunately what we see here is a very traumatic situation that the father brought on himself though it tugs on emotional heartstrings. The children should have left with the father at deportation, retaining their U.S. citizenship, as many U.S. children survive living in foreign lands (to them) maturing healthy as their parents are employed in the military, government workers, educators, ... Illegal status is a criminal act in the U.S. as is prostitution, drug dealing, ... where even those individuals are seeking a better life. Economic, security, risks, ... are more than adequate rationales to vigilantly deporting those who have entered the U.S. illegally; it's not the 1800s, 1930, ... as over 6.5 mil are in the U.S. on expired VISAs and another est 11 mil have entered the U.S. illegally in the U.S. in the last ten years, all of which are taking U.S. CITIZENS jobs, healthcare, education, ... benefits that should be earmarked for U.S. citizens. DHS should have butted out and sent the children home with the father; they are just attempting to justify more needs for manpower by getting embroiled in such dilemmas. Just another illustration of GOVERNMENT intrusion that could have been easily avoided form their controls to one of assisting the children's' move with the father. In this or other identical situations what does DHS (or the government) expect, the deported parent(s) is/are coming back to retrieve their children, irregardless if the potentials of arrest. DHS is as much to blame for this catastrophe.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Lute, I don't consider you a second class citizen, Check out the conditions on the reservations. Many are no better than the conditions in Guatemala. I agree completely that laws are made for a reason, but that reason may not have anything to do with the welfare of the majority of citizens of the US. Before saying you'd like to see the United States return to the laws of the 1700's, read up on how Native Americans, Asians, and slaves were treated, legally, at that time. Women were also chattel, with few legal rights, as were children. The genocide question was not even considered a "problem" at that time. Even into the early and mid 1900's, poor women raised in orphanages could be sterilized without their consent. Orphanages continued into the 1970's when the agencies running them evolved into organizations to provide foster and group care for children who were abandoned or taken from their parents by the government. Check out the history of many of the religious organizations currently providing children's services.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Lute, I would imagine your mother's indigenous nation wasn't pleased with the immigration of western europeans into the Americas back in the 1500's and on. Most indigenous people fought against these immigrant invaders who took their jobs, lands, children, lives. Native Americans still are not seen as first class citizens in the land that was orignally theirs. The Latin American immigrants coming into our country today are the descendents of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, relatives of your mother's people.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

All of us citizens of the USA, if we are not native american, are children on immigrants. Many of our ancestors came in illegally. Some more recent folks came in through the back door, becoming a citizen of Canada first then coming here to the US. Until the mid 1920's, a woman who was a "native born" US citizen lost her citizenship if she married a non-citizen. Our immigration laws have been consistantly crazy since the inception of our country, always favoring those of western european descent. The laws have always sought to bring cheap labor into the country to do jobs that few citizens are willing to do. A semiliterate person who speaks no English is not taking your job at GM or becoming the x-ray tech at your hospital.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

If the father wants to get his children, let him do so and send them all to Guatemala. Keeping the children in this country and in separate foster homes is not ideal and tends to be more costly for the government ; since the foster parents will be getting subsidy from the government to care of these children...Let them go to where they really belong and to be taken cared of properly. THis is the for the best interest of the children.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

This is insane. The kids have a living father who wants to raise them. If we aren't going to let him live here, why not let them all go back to Guatemala and live there, like millions of other Guatemalan families? The people who did this, in 50 years, will be viewed the same way as the people who stole Native American or Aboriginal kids away from their families. For shame.

Jim H

Sat, May 12, 2012 : 10:53 a.m.

Send the kids home. Write a new policy. I'll donate part of the plane fare.


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 4:11 a.m.

Guayabita ..........Does that group help ONLY IMMIGRANTS or does it also help ILLEGAL Aliens that have BROKEN INTO the US ILLEGALLY ? If you do help illegals would you help post bond for an illegal that broke into your home and stole from you? I have no problem with Immigrants but Illegals should be all sent home or to a prison, break the laws of OUR country and pay for it, if I get caught speeding I have to pay for breaking the law, why shouldn't they pay for breaking the law?


Sun, May 13, 2012 : 3:56 a.m.

arborani........I was replying to Jim, NOT YOU, if Jim wants to help send the kids back to be with their father a donation to The Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights would NOT help get the kids back with their father, the kids SHOULD be with their father not with a foster family here in the US. We should not be breaking up a family, if the parent gets deported the children should go with the parent.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

Jim? I am so there with you. We need to rewrite a new policy and if the parents get deported? So shall the children.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

I'll send my money where ever I damn please.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

DO NOT send the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights a donation, they want to keep the illegals in our country, they think it's ok for illegals to break into our country so long as our tax money pays for it, but that tax money could be being spent on keeping OUR children safe and having more police protection from illegals and other criminals. DEPORT EVERY ILLEGAL, if they come back then lock them up in Alaska for 10 to 20 years, make them wish they were back where they came from.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

Thank you, Guayabita. Sending a check this weekend. Hope others will, too.


Sat, May 12, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

Yes, Jim please do that. The Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights takes donations ( ). You seem like a smart and powerful guy, please write a policy that does not take children away from dedicated and loving parents, to let their future flap in the wind.