Skip to comments.While DHS takes heat, Mexican grandmother eager about Gabriel
Posted on 11/10/2007 7:30:46 AM PST by Inspectorette
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - In the blue-collar town of Toledo near Oregon's coast, Steve and Angela Brandt are dreading a knock on the door that could mean they will never again see Gabriel Allred, 2, whom they raised from infancy.
He was American-born to a Mexican father and an American mother, one a now-deported sex offender, the other a meth addict, and both stripped of parental rights.
Now the boy may be returned to Mexico, to a grandmother who didn't know until last year that he existed. The Brandts are headed to court, but in adoption matters blood ties can trump a lot.
So far they have trumped the bonding the Brandts have developed with the foster son who came to them at age 4 months.
His mother, Lindsey Allred, who is in Utah, has said her son should stay with Brandts. The father, Roberto Valente Martinez, before he left prison, agreed.
"It is interesting that both biological parents have gone public saying they want Gabriel to stay with us and be our son," Steve Brandt, a Lincoln County sheriff's deputy, said Friday. "Both did it on their own accord. We appreciate that."
The question, he said, is whether that holds weight with the state.
Oregon's Department of Human Services found Gabriel's grandmother in a farm town in the largely rural Mexican state of Puebla. She says she is eager to take him in.
Two department panels ruled that the boy should be sent to Mexico.
"The decision was based on family and cultural ties, and they count for a lot in this situation," said department spokeswoman Ann Snyder.
"When a child is free for adoption to families from other states or countries we work with our equivalent agencies ... to conduct checks. In this case everything was very positive," she said.
She said the boy's father had not contacted the grandmother, Cecilia Martinez, in years and that she had not known of his whereabouts. "She is one delighted grandmother," she said.
"The hearings carefully weighed his family culture to his current attachments, and it came out pretty close," she said. "The primary goal of the agency is to reunite families."
She said in the past seven years Oregon has placed foster children in 19 countries to relatives who expressed interest, 11 of them in Mexico.
"What's unusual here," she said, "is that all the elements are combined and that the foster parents also seek adoption. That's what's at issue."
But the Brandts don't seem convinced of the good intentions.
"He's completely bonded to us. We're all he knows - we're his family," Angela Brandt told The Associated Press Friday. "(The state) is being spiteful. They aren't looking after the best interests of the child. If they find blood, they will always go with blood."
She said if the issue had arisen much earlier, things might have been different. "But the bond has become stronger," she said. "We're his family, his culture, we're pretty important to the little guy."
On Wednesday, an attorney for the Brandts, Marcia Buckley of Newport, filed papers in Lincoln County Circuit Court arguing that the couple may not be Gabriel's biological parents but they are the psychological equivalent. Buckley asked for an order to keep the boy with the couple until the case is resolved.
Angela Brandt said she has been told Gabriel could be taken in as little as three weeks, but Snyder said it more likely would be a matter of months.
Cecilia Martinez's four children are grown, and while one landed in prison on attempted rape charges, another is a doctor and one is studying nursing.
She told The Oregonian she farms a small plot and sells clothing from her home, earning the peso equivalent of about $600 a month, above average in rural Mexico. Since Gabriel is a special-needs child because his mother used meth during her pregnancy, Martinez will be entitled to $375 a month from the state until he is 18.
But Snyder said Martinez hasn't asked for the money.
Martinez said the father won't be allowed to visit and told the Oregonian she hopes to stay in touch with the Brandts.
"All my children are grown, and Gabrielito will be like my own that I can raise again," she told the paper. She said she has filled a bedroom with toys for him.
The Brandts have raised other foster children and live on five acres with farm animals and fruit trees. They say Martinez is welcome to visit and that they'll send pictures, but they aren't giving up the custody fight.
Steve Brandt said legal and other fees are mounting beyond their means, but residents have been donating to an account at Washington Mutual Bank.
"The public wants him to stay right where he is at," he said. "People have been very generous."
When are the good, common sense people of Oregon going to rise up and say "Enough"!
The sperm donor was interviewed by the media and stated that he wants little Gabriel to stay with the Brandts - maybe he has one small shred of decency in him.
I lived in Oregon 50& years. I couldn't get those people to stand up for much. They are way too trusting.
Well, I'm donning my flame retardent suit before I post. The child is half American and half Mexican. The grandmother is not poor by Mexican standards and she is his blood grandmother. I'm not really swayed by the wishes of his meth addicted mother. Passing a child from a loving environment in the foster home to another loving environment with the grandmother is not going to harm him. He will always retain his US citizenship and can return as an adult anytime he wishes.
The foster parents have had possession of the boy for a long time and they have a pony in the backyard, but that doesn't mean that they can give him any more love than his own grandmother and family in Mexico.
I guess I just don't see this in the black and white terms you seem to see it in. Would you feel differently if Grandma lived in Minnesota instead of Mexico?
This is one of those situations where the two families involved truly seem to want the best for the child. I think it would be best for the child to stay with the foster parents with the biological grandma being given very generous visitation rights.
If the State had found the grandmother earlier in the child’s life this whole mess would have been avoided. They screwed up as they so often do.
I think you are being way too harsh on the grandmother. None of this is her doing- the State screwed up by not finding her in a timely manner. Did you miss this part of the story “ But Snyder said Martinez hasn’t asked for the money.” By the way the foster parents are also entitled to that money and may very well have accepted it to help meet the higher costs of caring for a special needs child. Does this mean they only foster for the money? I would say not.
Oregon DHS has never interviewed the grandmother. Oregon DHS has never visted the grandmothers home.
Wow that changes my take on things considerably. The grandmother may be a wonderful, loving and caring grandma who would provide a stable home for her grandson. But the DHS can not say this with confidence or offer proof of this to any family court. Sorry grandma not only do I still think the Brandts should have custody. I now think that any visitation must wait until a full investigation by a State or Federal agency besides DHS. I also think the boy should have a GAL, if one has not already been appointed for him.
The State’s mistake should not result in this child’s misery.
Why can’t the biological parents sign over adoption rights? I understand they lost their parental rights but it would seem a way would be possible for them to allow the adoption legally in the US.
These state child protective services and their ilk are more dangerous to kids than most people can imagine.
P>I feel in this case the boy should be adopted by the foster parents that have bonded with him. The grandmother has never met him...has she or is she coming up to start a relationship with him to bond?
Parental rights are terminated after (usually ) a year in Oregon. I know this because I have 4 grandchildren in state custody due to parental &#%$&#@ up.
I have a beautiful 8 month old grandson in another foster home who will go up in the adoption program in early next year.
There was family willing to take him home from the hospital. DHS still took him into state custody leaving us all standing there in tears.The foster parents that have had him since birth want to adopt him.
His foster parents are currently adopting a toddler they have had since a few months old...after they had to watch every distant relative get a chance to adopt her first.
My niece wants to adopt the 8 month old if my daughter and her whatever fail to get him back. I will do all I can to help my niece adopt him so he can stay in the family if he goes up for adoption.
I had to become a licensed foster mother to get my 3 oldest (3,6,8) Grandchildren into my home. When/if the time comes I will fight to adopt them.
Daily I do not know if they will be moved due to some minor (unknown to me) or a dumb rule my daughter broke ie: she might be seen driving past my home (They are not allowed by DHS to be near my home at all)
Per DHS as a single person I have a full house with no room in my home for the 4th child. And that my hands are full due to working full time with the 3 kids I have. So he stays in another home while his life is decided by others.
Dealing with DHS here in OR is a tangled mess of bad information/handling/management by DHS for all parties involved...causing more troubles.
No. Gabriel is two years old, not 3-4 MONTHS old. This is the only family he's known. He loves them and they love him and want to adopt him. Can you imagine what it's going to do to him psychologically to be ripped away from them?
Grandma in Mexico has known about Gabriel since his birth. Why didn't she petition to take him then?
You are pretty harsh with the Grandmother. She didn’t cause this mess, and she is trying to step in and provide a home for him. She has stated that she wants nothing to do with his father, and that he will not be allowed to see him. The Brandts receive the same income for him as she will, yet you don’t judge their motives. I won’t either, but there are plenty of foster parents out there who are only looking for a meal ticket. I lived with some, and it wasn’t fun. (I know there are plenty of good ones too.)
I would imagine that grandma didn’t do anything about him, because he is in America and she lives in rural Mexico. I doubt she has access to lawyers or professionals who would be able to help her file the legal papers required to adopt him. I don’t think she has any blame in the situation.
Unfortunately for foster parents, until they are allowed to adopt a child, they know they may have to give them up. It happens all the time, and is a reflection of the pathetic condition of social services, not this grandmother.
I feel bad for the foster parents, and for the little boy, but the grandma is doing what they have asked of her. The situation is infuriating, but the blame falls on social services.
The article says that she didn't know until a year ago that the baby existed. At that time she might have thought that this was the best temporary solution until the child's mother rehabilitated herself and took back the child, but now she finds that the foster parents plan to adopt and keep the child.
It takes a special person to be a foster parent. You have to remember ALWAYS that you are only the temporary caregiver for the child and that you can and will be expected to hand the child over to his blood family at any time. It is your job to facilate that hand over and make it easier for the child, not block it out of selfish reasons.
It will be initially hard for the child if they don't prepare him by reinforcing the idea that they are not abandoning him, but sending him to his own grandma that loves him as much as they do. They need to get across in their actions and words that his grandmother loves him as much as they do and that she is not a person that is ripping him away from the only people that love him. The grandmother seems to be thinking of the best interest of the child because she doesn't wish to cut the foster's parents totally out of the child's life.
“It will be initially hard for the child if they don’t prepare him by reinforcing the idea that they are not abandoning him, but sending him to his own grandma that loves him as much as they do.”
As someone who was a foster child for years, I am very impressed with your insight into the process. What is best for the child may not be living with one family or another, but in taking the given situation, and making the best out of it. Your comments represent exactly what is best for the child. I hope you are a mother or a foster mother. You certainly have the understanding for it.
Another article says that the birth father is the one that told the state where to find the biological grandmother.
The “father” has been deported and testified in court that he “planned to find his son and raise him” when he was released from prison. Correction officials also had a recorded conversation between the biological parents in which they were discussing plans to meet in Mexico and find the little boy..
This article is at Newsweek online.