Kitsap Crime and Justice

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Amber’s Reach

May 8th, 2007 by josh farley

When the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office last week launched an Amber Alert to find a missing North Kitsap infant, the story hit newspaper web sites and aired on TV and radio stations almost immediately.

We hear often about Amber Alerts around the country, and every now and then, they hit close to home, as was the case in a separate story last August involving a 3-year-old Bremerton girl who’d been taken from a local home.

But how did this method come into practice?


According to CodeAmber.org:

The AMBER Plan was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, a bright little girl who was kidnapped and brutally murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas.

In April 2003, President Bush signed into law a national Amber Alert, the web site goes on to say.

FBI Agents in Seattle told me today that the Amber Alert issued for Rebecca Forrester to find her 2-month-old daughter Serenity Withrow didn’t directly lead to her capture last Saturday in Wyoming. But it did provide the tips that led the FBI to her tracks, they said.

How do you think the Amber Alert has been effective? Could it be improved?

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56 Responses to “Amber’s Reach”

  1. Jim C. Says:

    I think the Amber system works great and has been very effective.

    Specifically to this case: Why was this “woman” still allowed to pump out kids? 32 years old, 4 other kids, a history of drug and child abuse, hanging out with known criminals, etc. She obviously provides nothing positive to society, but still allowed to reproduce? Amazing!

  2. Cean Says:

    There is no practical way that we can prevent parents from producing more children, no matter how lousy they are as parents.
    I’ve heard that there is a group of rich women, in one of the large California cities, who find drug addicted women who’ve had to give up children because of their addictions. The rich women offer to pay for sterilization surgery and offer the drug addict additional money as an incentive. They are seldom turned down.

    However, those drug addicts are making the decision to be sterilized while they are high or while they are desperately “needing a fix.” Many would consider this to be unfair because of the addicts’ impaired ability to make a decision. Many would say that the decision to stay addicted is made every day and that the decision to reproduce while addicted is immoral.
    What should we do?

    I am glad that the Amber Alert system is used to try to protect children.

  3. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Not all drug addicts continue to use drugs forever. This woman did not even have Serenity (please note the name she gave her daughter) in a hospital most likely because if she had CPS would have picked her up before she left. People who have had their parental rights terminated before usually never are allowed to keep another child even when they have turned their lives around. People tend to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts. a positive drug test in the eyes of CPS and the courts could also be a missed drug test or one with low creatine. Low creatine is considered a suspicion of somebody drinking water to flush or cover drug use. We really do not know if the police when making their statement to the media had seen the failed drug test results, They are confidential! So for all of us that do not really know the facts. Maybe we should not stand up and applaud the recovery of a child. Amber Alerts are very good when they really save a child. Now this woman is in huge trouble and we really do not know the whole story. And even worse this baby will be lost to the system for her entire life. Knowing what I know now about CPS I would have fled the country. Oh and by the way they said this baby had never seen a doctor. They also said that Serenity had been removed by CPS and returned, So why did the foster parents not take her in for the usual check up??

  4. Cean Says:

    1. The way that I read the story, the baby was never taken from the mother, so no foster parents were involved. They will be now, though.
    2. I heard that the mother told some people that she was surprised that she failed the drug test, because she had provided someone else’s urine, knowing that her own would show usage. Her life is not turned around yet.

  5. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Cean, I recall news reports that, this baby had been previously taken and returned to this mother. What you heard about the UA is just about impossible since drug test are observed. Yes a person physically watches the sample collection. The sad part of all of this is the baby suffers. Wyoming reports the baby was in good health. Believe me not all children that have involvement with CPS are in danger. There is not one parent that is immune from false reports being made. Hopefully the bills that have passed our legislature this year will help families stay together and help deter false reporting. Yep a new law will first warn a false reporter and if they do it again they will be prosecuted. Also documented proof of allegations will be required to back up Social Worker reports That will be a huge change in our courts.

  6. NO sympathy! Says:

    This woman has a DOCUMENTED history of drug abuse, child abuse and forgery.

    She has a history of jumping state lines to avoid being caught by CPS.

    She also befriends violent criminals.

    The home that was searched to find a “paper trail” (where Serenity was born) was filthy according to the Sheriffs dept. Garbage and clothes everywhere, dishes in the sink that looked as though they had not been washed in a year(according to what one officer was saying to a reporter on television). Not exactly a place that a child should be born, let alone live. Good setup for a crack/meth house, though.

    I have no sympathy for this woman. There are a tiny percentage of parents that are wrongly accused by CPS.

    She is not among them.

    Maybe “three strikes, you’re out” should apply here. If you’ve already lost parental rights to 3 of your children, you don’t get to keep any more that you give birth to.

  7. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    I have sympathy for any child involved in the system. the tiny percentage of parents falsely accused!! There are more than you could imagine. If a report is called in on a person they may not even be aware of it. Unless they request records. I agree that there is documented proof in this case. I also know of another case that the documented proof in part of a trial was somebody else’s mental health records. Sometimes ones history does not predict their future. I believe people change some need a little more help than others. It is very difficult for a person to have children returned. Things are changing as new rules are made to reform a system that has been broken for a very long time. Empathy plays a much bigger role in cases involving families. That includes parents also.

  8. NO sympathy! Says:

    I also have sympathy for any child that has gone into the foster care system, whether it be from having to adjust to a new home (even if only temporarily), or because of the reason they were removed from their parents in the first place.

    BTW, I am a foster parent. So I do have some idea of how the “system” works. Yes, it is imperfect. Like any legal system it is subject to flaws. It is still better than doing nothing.

  9. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    No Sympathy, Have you actually seen the DOCUMENTED PROOF??? Have you ever met this woman? I doubt it. Considering she does not have a conviction record for any crime against a child that I could find in public records. Termination and Dependency records are confidential and sealed. CPS records are also confidential unless you have authorization from the client to view them. This was my point exactly if you were not at any of the hearings and you do not have permission to view records. It is impossible to really know what has been documented or by whom. Again I say just because a person has a history of drug use does not mean they will continue using. There are felons having babies every day and not abusing them. And in every AA and NA meeting that courts require convicted addicts to attend there are numerous violent criminals in attendance.

  10. NO sympathy! Says:

    Actually, I was less than 3 feet away from this woman for a brief time approximately 2 weeks before she fled the state.

  11. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    No Sympathy, I thank God you are not a Judge since it appears you can tell if a person is guilty simply by standing less than 3 feet away for a brief time. Since you stated you are a foster parent I also question the quality of a foster parent you are. Since you obviously have no sympathy, and apparently you lack empathy. The new way of effective fostering is to also foster birth parents. The success rate of reunification when foster parents work with, birth families has shown to work in the best interest of everyone. The only foster parents I run into these days that do not want to work with bio parents are mostly ones that are looking to adopt the child in their care. The others seem to not really care. The ones that sit in court, invite the entire extended family to birthday parties ect., attend staffings and family meetings. These are the kind of foster parents we can trust. They show they care about the child enough to not condemn their parents. They truly want to help. It is a sad place for any child to be with someone that alienates the people these children love more than anything.

  12. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    To the comment of amazement that women …

    “…Why was this “woman” still allowed to pump out kids? …allowed to reproduce? Amazing!…”

    Why are the men having a relationship with such women allowed to reproduce? Why aren’t these men sterilized that their poor judgment swimmers can’t fertilize and reproduce such poor judgment genes?

    The ‘Amber Alert’ seems to work well.
    Sharon O’Hara

  13. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Gotta love you Sharon, I guess in this case the dad did not grab his baby and run. I still have not found out what kind of warrant he has out for him. For all we know it could be for something like driving on a suspended drivers license. Which could happen to anyone that sent in a sellers report on a car and, DOL not having a record of receiving it. Then the next owner having it impounded before they changed the title over. That is really a law that can suspend a drivers license. Hopefully this mom and dad can straighten out their lives and this little girl can grow up with her parents. the best part of this case is going to be that in July all kinds of new laws are going to become effective where children are involved. A start Yes! Miracles No! Sometimes I really wonder what has happened to the good ole days when people looked out for their neighbor. If a family had problems, friends and neighbors just stepped in and helped. We never heard of all this crap when we were growing up. Amber Alerts do work even though in this case I don’t think it played a part. I never once saw an Amber Alert for either one of my missing sons from State care. HMMM Do you think it could have been because they may have been spotted by someone while they were sleeping in an alley!!

  14. NO sympathy! Says:

    Or perhaps it is because I am aware of circumstances regarding this woman that I do not wish to share on a community blog.

    Just because I do not have sympathy for this individual does not mean I don’t for others. There are birth parents and extended bio-families that I have great sympathy and empathy for. Some I even remain friends with. In fact, we are in daily contact with the bio family of a child that we provided a home for (Not because we are related, or because we knew them prior to working with their child) that has since returned home.

    I am at the staffings, at the hearings, in contact with the bio families, etc.

    How I feel about this one particular person is not a reflection on what kind of foster parent I am. I have been commended by judges, caseworkers, guardian ad litems and particularly bio families regarding my actions as a foster parent.

    It would seem that it’s also a good thing that you are not a judge since you have summed me up after never having seen my face, and reading only 3 posts on a very specific case.

  15. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    The foster parent that left a little girl that I know filthy with untreated lice and moldy food in her school back pack was also commended by a GAl and caseworker. So was the man that ultimately was arrested and convicted for her beating. Unless you have written consent to view this woman’s records I still say it is impossible for you to know the facts, unless of course there is a breach of confidentiality in our Bremerton office. I am also glad I am not a judge. Our jails would probably be overflowing with people that were less than honest in cases involving children.

  16. Tamara freeman Says:

    I must say that i am outraged that our cps office and our sheriffs office are allowed to spew whatever it takes to make their case. That they can abuse the Amber alert system is criminal. They have never charged Rebbecca with any type of abuse. they investigated her.. She was in prison for forgery not drugs when her children were being abused.. How is it possible that we the people have become so blind and have let our protectors become so powerful that all they have to do is say you are quilty and it is written in stone.. Lets drug test all the parents in Kitsap Co. and see just how many are quilty of taking drugs or better yet lets drug test the cps workers and yes the foster parents.Wonder how many of them are clean?

  17. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Tamara you hit the nail on the head. As I insinuated in my previous posts all these people are just spewing their supposed facts. More than likely the meth in the UA was traces of THC. So we all know it had to have been CPS that told the police these stories. I got a DUI in 2001 and CPS had my BAC before my blood got to the lab. CPS did not even have a release for the results. HMMM. Then to tell the courts a child is in imminent danger. Trigger a man or in this case baby hunt!!! For months CPS had Kitsap County Sheriffs on a man hunt for my then 13 year old twins. They weren’t even in danger. They just refused to stay in foster homes where God only knows the abuse they endured. If they drug tested every citizen that had kids or was in an employment capacity that oversees kids there would be lots of openings for state jobs and foster homes would be closed down at alarming rates. I found documentation that they were concerned about the drinking going on in my son’s foster home where they were placed after my DUI. They left the boys there for a long time. Oh but they were licensed. I have walked in Becky’s shoes and will continue to try to put an end to the abuses of people and most of all children involved in the system. This system would not be so broken if there were not so many money hungry dishonest people holding positions that allow them the to abuse the courts to take kids on the word of social workers with only a sworn affidavit and no documentation. That should change on July 22nd, 2007. Hopefully the courts will consider it change of placement when removing a child from a parent. And to not place a child with family when family is available is just another federal money scheme. I would not believe for one second that all of these thousands of foster kids have absolutely no suitable family to care for them. Statistically impossible.

  18. CC Tillett Says:

    Elaine, Great post.

    By the way..just in case you did not know this little bit of information:

    Did you know that a person could be under investigation for child abuse and never even know it? Yep! That is..until you..the accused party receives a letter from “THE DEPARTMENT” some 6 to 8 months later letting you know that you have been under investigation for some purported abuse against a child and that either a.) The prosecuter is not going to prosecute or B.)The “DEPARTMENT” finds these allegations against you is either : founded or unfounded or inconclusive.

    They and they alone decide whether you are guilty and if you have anything to say,you have 30 days to respond to these allegations.

    In my opinion, something is seriously wrong and broken and “WE the PEOPLE” need to stand up and say enough already.

  19. Jim C. Says:

    I think the common theme expressed by a lot of people on this blog, is that DSHS is out of control and not looking out for the best welfare of children. I think this stems from the fact that government involvement is never the best way to cure social problems.

    So, what is the best way to stop government abuse? The obvious answer is for citizens to fix the problem first. So, how do we do that?

    Answer: Get back to basics.

    For this particular problem, getting back to basics means personal responsibility. We all know what it takes to produce a child, so responsibility should start there. Children should be born into this world from mothers AND fathers who, together, have the means, maturity and dedication to raise them right, to the best of their abilities.

    Personal responsibility DOES NOT include illegal drugs, alcohol abuse, physical and mental abuse, divorce, multiple children out of wedlock, abortions, etc.

    Someone mentioned placing children who must be taken away from parents with other family members. That is absolutely correct. With both parents come two sets of extended families that are willing to help. These extended families have also set a good example by being married mothers AND fathers.

    Testing parents for drugs was also mentioned. That is great. I have been in a random drug screening program for all 25 years of my adult life and it has never bothered me. Drugs are illegal so I don’t use them. Additionally, I think the BAC for a DUI should be .01. Drinking and driving is too easy to avoid. Only lazy, ignorant people get DUI’s. However, who is going to administer this? The same government agency that you despise? No need, personal responsibility will solve this problem also.

    Divorce should be so rare that comes as a surprise instead of today’s standard “oh well, there goes another one” or “I knew they never had a chance”. Again, personal responsibility will solve this problem.

    Unfortunately, we are humans and mistakes will happen. Stupid people will use drugs, ignorant people abuse alcohol, mean people will abuse others and the list goes on. But if we want to improve our social structure and eliminate government involvement, then we have to start somewhere and that somewhere is accepting personal responsibility.

    Let’s stop blaming everyone else and start accepting personal responsibility. That is the only way we are ever going to stop DSHS and make Amber Alerts a thing of the past.

  20. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Even worse screened out calls to CPS are kept on file. There is never ever a letter sent out on those. They are saved. If there are more reports made, even if they are not true saved longer. If continuing reports are filed they are saved even longer. A person may never know if that neighbor that can’t stand them is calling saying who knows what. Then if they do come and grab your child you do not even have real 6th amendment rights.

  21. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Jim you are absolutely right, The problem is a lot more complicated than that. Some of the people that are involved with DSHS are actually victims. And believe it or not all the personal responsibility in the world would not put an end to this enormous industry. The DUI was 2 Margaritas(not grandes) with a late lunch, a wait of about 4 hours and then drive. below .01 should have been the reading. The point was how could CPS have results before the blood got to the lab. And without a release how could they have access to begin with. Sometime marriages just do not work out and it is safer to end it. Basics would be great except it will never happen so we need to deal with the world problems as they exist in society now, not in a dream world. In every job I have ever had there has been drug testing no worries there. With CPS and the courts there could be a worry. Low creatine, missed UA are considered positive for drugs. Social work was dreamed up to help people find help for there problems. In hospitals social workers still help find resources. In DSHS social workers have become a terrorizing threat, even to someone that has done nothing wrong. As for the marriage part. My husband was made to leave our home. Several years later in court it was stated all allegations against him were unfounded. So why did they tell the courts he was an abuser if they knew it was not true? Money for the state! Do not believe for one second that at the Monday morning meetings at your local CPS office, workers are not told they need more heads. This is big business. Example title IV social security, child support, federal foster care funding, ect. The foster parent depending on who they work for gets paid no where near what is collected and banked per child. Our taxes pay for the Government employees. The extras for these kids are 100.00 a year for clothes. Sleep Country is one place that tries to fill the gaps. Meanwhile interest builds and children suffer.

  22. Jim C. Says:

    Elaine you are correct, DSHS is a huge industry in this state. Unfortunately, we keep electing people who think they know the best way to raise a family. You seemed to have experienced DSHS abuse up close and that is too bad. Fortunately, most people never come in contact with DSHS and maybe that is why they still exist.

    As for your DUI, I admit that I am biased. As a Military Policeman for three years, I saw too many dead bodies caused from DUI’s. Your case as you described is a classic tale, 2 drinks, food and 4 hours. With that thought process, you were destined to fail. Hopefully you learned a lesson without hurting anyone else.

    I don’t consider personal responsibility a “dream world” as you put it. A majority of people in society exercise it everyday. Then again maybe I am just an optimist and hope for the best.

    Good luck to you and keep fighting.

  23. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Jim, My story may be classic. It is the truth. My children received cruel and unusual punishment for my crime. CPS is a huge industry everywhere not only in our state. I will be making my way to DC soon in hopes of changing funding to reflect keeping families together being worth more money than adopting to strangers. I believe this would make an immediate flip in the trend of terminating parental rights. More people have contact with DSHS than I think you are aware. In researching I have come across numbers that were quite shocking. 3 out of 5 children will have some kind of contact with CPS in their lives. That adds up to more than half of our American families. I also am an optimist that is why I spend endless hours working on change. Unfortunately as it is now, all the personal responsibility in the world will never be worth more than the money our Government pays to keep the heads coming in. This is the sad but a real part of society now. Money has become more important than children. Yes we do keep electing people that believe they know the best way to raise a family. The good part of having those elected officials is they work for us and we have the right to have them bring changes into law. Changes that just any ordinary person believes are good. Being optimistic has paid well this year for many changes that happened this year in the legislature.

  24. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    I’d just like to say that until you have been attacked and abused by CPS yourself you have no idea the hell and torture these people inflict on those of us they do choose to impact

  25. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Well said Becky. I am glad that you have someone that has enough faith and trust in you to get you out of there. Hold your head high and do not ever let anyone that does not know the real truth ever beat you down. My prayers are with you and Serenity.

  26. tamara freeman Says:

    Well I guess there are more victims of the criminal cps than many first thought. Ultimately Serenity has lost her mother that loves her enough to step out in front of a speeding train which is basically that is what Rebecca did. She would do it again in a heartbeat even knowing that it would only give her another few days with her daughter. I was lucky I guess, because I have an ‘extensive’ cps record. I never knew that they had ever been called.. my boys went through two divorces,my drinking days, my drugging days and alot of broke, down and out times we made it through it all. They are fine young men that don’t drug or drink and are very capable of dealing with the world we live in today. Lets not judge Rebecca by the garbage that has been printed in the papers and broadcasted on the news. It really seems that the news media should want to hear her side of this disaster in their life? Why is it that they don’t contact her? she has contacted them willing to talk to them. Shame on our news media for not doing your job fairly.

  27. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    I do appreciate the wonderful person who posted the 100,000 bail.The person by the way is my neighbor who to be honest barely knows me now I owe this woman my freedom which has also afforded me the chance to be able to fight back and Tami is absolutely correct I would do it again in a heart beat just for a few more days with Serenity.By the way Elaine I appreciate the prayers but my greatest wish is for everyone to pray for my baby girl because i do every single night and they aren’t keeping her without a hell of a fight last time they bullied me in to giving my parental rights to my other children away well not this time that is my baby girl and i’ve done nothing wrong for them to take her I believe my (now previous)worker somehow managed to falsify my ua results and I’m working to prove it and I will and I will bring Serenity home where she belongs with her mommy thanks to all those who have shown me even a little support on this but the only way to beat these people is for ALL of us to stand up and make noise so please make your voices heard about this injustice because you never know the next one could be you

  28. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Rebecca you are so right about people just not knowing they could be next. all it takes is any contact with this agency to trigger the removal of children. I recently worked with a man to get his child back. Thank God he did but it took two years. He had asked CPS for help with setting up supervised visits. Instead his child was taken and they were going to terminate his parental rights. Luckily there are really believe it or not some people in the high up positions in DSHS that are actually honest. I was shocked and relieved to find these people. They literally saved this child from a life of being parent-less. Our State Representatives and Senator are also willing to listen and step up to the plate for us. I believe Senator Rockefeller is yours and Sherry Appleton is the Representative for your district. Call them.. They are all very well aware of the failing system. They are all willing to help. They will listen even show up in court with you. My advice is to have your attorney subpoena the actual lab results directly from the lab, that did the testing. Believe me it might just show, I will word it as some discrepancies. Not an uncommon finding these days. I know first hand the devastation of losing children. Even worse my children know the devastation. Luckily two of my children would not stand for the lies and have gotten it on court record. My daughter still suffers being with a couple she is not comfortable with. she wants to come home. She will soon. No matter what happens in life with our children they are always our children and there is never as the state puts it a bond stronger than the DNA bond that can never be discredited through any study in the entire world. Do not ever give up and remember your other children will always be yours no matter what. they know the real truth and that is what really matters. Blessings

  29. geena Says:

    If a child is missing,lost,kidnapped or the victim of custodial interference,the primary goal is to find them and bring them home. Hopefully, safe and unharmed.
    If the Amber Alert system assists authorities even in one case, it is worth it.

    In this particular case the media reports seemed so inflated. It made Rebecca,Serenity’s mother, out like some sort of crazed meth addict that harvests kids for the sole purpose of beating them.

    That wasn’t the Rebecca I remembered.
    I met Becky after my actual prison term and we were both housed in a pre-release facility,
    I can’t recall a time where she wasn’t sharing a story about her kids or talking on the phone with them or relatives. Worrying about them or waiting for a visit or mail.

    They also reported that she had her children removed from her care. Here, I read she was manipulated by CPS to terminate her parental rights. Unfortunately, that does happen.

    Does the media purposely hype and contort half-facts to help locate the child? Or is this the kind of coverage that helps their ratings?

    My heart went out to her and the baby as soon as I heard of the CPS involvement. Knowing that kind of hell first hand. It sounded more like a desperate attempt of a mother trying to protect her child.

    The system is definitely out of control and in desperate need of fixing in this state. It has been this way forever.

    It seems in a lot of cases, there is a rush to judgment before facts. Yet some cases we hear about on the news with devastating endings ,were mis-managed by CPS or simply fell through the
    cracks. And in every one of those cases we hear how there just isn’t enough money to employ more CPS workers. How about allocating some state funding towards these families from lottery
    ticket sales or cut the WASL funding? Start healing families instead of tearing them apart.

    Putting focus on the family and improvement and most of all the health and welfare of the children. Not traumatizing the situation further with termination of rights or threats.
    I am in no way trying to minimize the fact that there are many children in abusive or neglected situations,but
    there needs to be a balance on the justice scales for children(families) in crisis.
    How many millions are paid out in lawsuits every year in this state do to the neglect of some sort of social worker using the I have a heavy caseload excuse? What are their personal penalties? Surely nothing in comparison to losing a child or a child losing his or her childhood due to the neglect of some heartless lazy social worker.

    I would also like to comment on the post regarding the dirty house/dishes and set up for a meth house. What the heck does a dirty house etc have to do with a meth house?
    Talk about ignorance! Maybe just maybe she had some priorities -like caring for a newborn. I’m sure if those officers came across anything pertaining to drugs or drug activity,there would have been some documentation and charges made in the case.

    What’s next? Placing undercover CPS workers at AA/NA meetings so they can remove children from their alcoholic parents? What about all the functioning-addicted housewives strung out on
    prescriptions?
    Or do you just assume meth addicts cannot be in recovery because their idea of upkeep on a house is different from yours?

    To the guy that posted “Why was this “woman” still allowed to pump out kids?” Are you volunteering for the GOD job? You making the decisions on who is allowed to bear children? Your “complex” is not attractive.

    This is my CPS story:

    I started dating a man that had recently divorced. His ex-wife voluntarily terminated her custodial rights. She had limited visitation with their 2 sons on alternative weekends.
    She had an extensive history with drugs and alcohol, no stability or responsibilities. I got engaged to this man and we moved in together. Before his ex gave up the boys,she had the one boy
    placed on ridalin for ADD. On 3 occasions he returned from his visit minus the medication. He claimed he lost or forgot it. His father had them re-filled. I had children as well. I did not impose physical punishment on my children, however when he punished his boys he did. The older boy was often out of control in his behavior with lying, stealing, not following rules, fighting etc.
    His father would spank him and some times he would use his belt. He did not beat them. He would swat them.The mother over the next few months became remorseful of her decision when the kids got more settled and wedding plans were coming along. She had contacted my ex husband and asked if he wanted to get custody of his kids and she would help him.She resolved some issues with her estranged family. They were very upset at her decision to give up custody.The boys started referring to me
    as their new mom and that angered her. We had gotten and read a book on ADD and began to rethink the drug therapy. Took him to the Dr. with our concerns and the Dr. agreed to take him off the medication. On the next visit to their mothers she called us enraged that we forgot his medication only to become even more upset when she learned he was no longer taking it.

    They came back home that Sunday sad and with a confession. They had told their mom of a spanking the older one had gotten for taking cigarettes to school.
    The mother had the 12y.o. put on roller blades and kick the 13 y.o. in the butt. Then she called the police and filed a report on their dad claiming he had bruised the child by spanking him. We requested the report and the officer stated there were no marks found and also had noted that the mother claimed to be the custodial parent and the father had beat the boy on a parental visit.
    The report was closed- unfounded allegations. We at that time called CPS and requested an in home meeting with a worker to protect and further document the situation. The boy did have
    bruises when he returned from his mothers. After explaining the situation we were told we were doing the right thing. To continue disciplining our own children. I asked if my fiance should take photos of the bruises he said NO! That would be considered child pornography! That night the police came to the house saying they were doing a welfare check and needed to speak with
    the 13 y.o. He did and left. We received that report. The grandmother had called the police and said the boy was dead and I killed him! Once again, case closed,unfounded allegations.
    Over the next several months there were family court hearings. Her parents got her a lawyer to try and regain custody as they wanted them to live with them. Promises of new games,bicycles etc. It was a struggle trying to keep a somewhat normal household. There was structure and sit down-family meals,homework,chores etc. When they were with their mother, they would eat top ramen they would fix themselves while she was at the bar. On 2 occasions she removed the boys from school without permission..claiming she was protecting them. One Sunday we picked them up from their moms. They both sat quietly with their heads down. Then the older one confesses.
    The mother had him bite his arm and then she took him to the Dr. and had him say that I hit him
    with a wooden spoon and had him tell the Dr. I had a gun and threatened to kill him with it.The younger one was in the same clothes he had left in 2 days prior with the exception-that his mom had instructed him to mess his pants and put it in the washer! His father got mad. He spanked them with his belt. A few hours later the police showed up
    again. The kids were asleep upstairs and they went and checked on them- same result..unfounded allegations. Two days later they did not come home from school. The mother took them from
    school to her mothers.Several hours later she took them to the police station.My fiance was arrested for 2nd degree assault of a child – 2 counts.The following Thursday with the same CPS
    worker that I had come to the house to talk to us with her, the ex-wife produced photos of the boys to the police department with severe bruising on their butts and upper legs. Pictures she had taken at her mothers house dated 4 days after the incident and of course not labeled as porn.The boys now reported that I had spanked them with the belt 10 times.
    I was arrested, same charge. I didn’t have a record. Didn’t use drugs.I didn’t drunk alcohol. I Had a job, a house,car and kids.
    My fiance’, with advice from his attorney, pled guilty.He was sentenced to a year.
    I took it to trial.
    All of a sudden little things that had happened during our relationship were now twisted into sick and disturbing events. On one occasion the 13y.o. had said he wanted his hair a different color. Dad gave permission, I dyed his hair..he loved it. Another time he had worn my daughters pants to school. I couldnt believe he didn’t realize it. We were all sitting in the dining room. I grabbed this loose sun dress of my daughters out of the laundry room and threw it over his head and said something like oh you can wear this tomorrow. We all laughed. He laughed.In court CPS and the prosecutor made it look to the jury as I was some sicko child abuser who dyed his hair and was trying to make him look like a girl in some sort of kidnapping attempt.
    One time I had suggested to my fiance as an alternative to physical punishment some type of work in the yard moving some rocks from the back yard to around some plants. In court CPS took that situation and compared it to a punishment used in nazi concentration camps! I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Everything was taken out of context and blown out of proportion.
    And it worked for them. It was pointed out at trial that the mother was on rydalin and had been in treatment for meth and alcohol addiction.
    I was found guilty and sentenced to two 4 years sentences. Please note,that the only time I ever had any contact with anyone from CPS was with the worker I asked to come to the house. Yet they had stacks of files and paperwork pertaining to the case. I was a mother of 5 and had never had any involvement with CPS prior to me contacting them for help in this situation.
    Custody of the boys was given to the grandparents.
    I lost my children,my house,car and freedom. During my probation I could not be around children unless the parent knew I was a convicted child abuser. I cannot vote. I am very limited to what types of jobs I can obtain because I am a covicted violent offender/felon.
    My sentences ran concurrently and I did almost 3 years. My kids grew up without me.
    When the ex learned of my release she immediately started with threats to my probation officer -then a false report.
    A threatening letter- stating how she did it once she could send me away again.
    The oldest was now 17 and she had him contact my youngest daughter who was 10 at a kids after school function. He tormented her relentlessly then the mom called the police and said I was in town and harassing her son.This time her false report didn’t work. The son admitted he lied to get me sent to prison.
    The mom lost her credibility/victim status. Her true colors finally showed through. But it was too late, the damage was done.
    Sadly,a few months later the oldest one died while spending the night at his mothers. The paper only stated cause of death, unknown.

    See how many lives were ruined?

    so yeah, if you are still reading this, to quote Rebecca “you never know the next one could be you.”

    good luck with justice Rebecca.
    TPR 210

  30. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    geena,
    I am so sorry for all of your and your children’s heartaches. I recently spoke to a former DSHS Regional administrator. He spoke of the huge problems with CPS being used in custody battles. Your story is horrible. It happens a lot. I would like to speak directly with you. I can be emailed at ewe@washingtonfamiliesunited.org If no one ever does anything to change things nothing will ever change. I recently was in a court hearing and the Judge told me the system is broken. as if I did not know. this was his way of letting me know he knows the wrongs being done. Because of people speaking up things are beginning to change There will need to be documented proof to back up Social worker reports in court now. baby steps. The sad part is the system would not be broken if people were simply honest.

  31. Concerned Citizen Says:

    Elaine, The reason that 3 of 5 children have contact with CPS is very likely that this is the amount of children living in LOW income homes. If you go to the courthouse and sit in the hallway, you will notice that 99% of the families involved with CPS are using court-appointed lawyers. These lawyers are paid by the same people that pay the caseworkers and the judges and the (paid) guardian-ad-litems. Not exactly a fair system – in my opinion. Some of the lawyers actually care if your kids are returned and some obviously don’t.

    I wish there was a way that children who have been removed from their parents and adopted (even if it was to a biological relative) could sue the state for damages. Some of these children are being diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder because of being yanked from their homes and suffer the rest of their lives because of it.

    >>

  32. Michele Says:

    Geena-

    I am astounded by all that you went through and should not have gone through all because of a person being so vindictive. So many people these days are just that, vindictive. They can’t think beyond their own hatred and anger. All they think about are themselves and not the whole.

    Is there any possible justice in your situation? Now that they know this woman’s true colors, can they correct the wrong? I would pursue this, if possible. I realize it can’t change what you went through, but to reinstate your voting rights, any compensation for the wrong dealt you, etc.

    I am so sorry for what you went through and are still going through. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  33. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Concerned citizen. You are very right about low income families being most involved. There are people that are not low income but they are very few. The office of Puplic Defense took over the court appointed attorney’s in Kitsap last year. This put some rules in place for these attorney’s a very good rule concerns caseloads. Before some of these attorney’s had close to two hundred clients. Now I believe 80 is the max. Social workers are paid by the State and the paid GAL’s by the county. The thing that I was most impressed with at a recent family meeting I was in attendence was a CASA tell the Social Worker she was not there to chat she was there to make reports to the courts with out Bias. Sitting in the court house I see so many GAL’s and Social workers socializing. And rarley have I heard any GAL have a different opinion from the Social Workers. I do not believe this is good practice for someone that is suposed to be non biased and speaking up for kids. My own children hated their GAL. And she was very aware of that. She did absolutly nothing honest or in their best interest. Their outcome has proven this. Children in foster care also suffer seperation anxiety disorder. PTSD and many other disorders. Children can sue for damages. DSHS is sued on a regular basis. 6.2 million was just awarded to a family of former foster kids. Then there are the sisters sueing for 45 million. I believe as of Febuary this year close to 100 lawsuits had already been filed against DSHS for children that had been abused at the states hands.

  34. CC Tillett Says:

    Elaine,

    The 8 most terrifying words a parent can hear..

    I’m from CPS AND I’m here to help.

    CC Tillett
    Washington Families United/VP

  35. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    Geena,
    It’s been a while. Thank you for your post and your story and a horrific story it is. I am truely sorry for what they have done to you as well. Also thank you for what you had to say and remembered about me and my children.But most of all thank you for having the guts to speak up on my behalf and yours. If more people would just decide to stop being bulied and scared by these people and speak out maybe WE as a whole could manage to get something done about all the injustices “our” goverment has goten away with. I’d love to speak to you some more please e-mail me at psychoprincessbecky@yahoo.com and again I’m so sorry for the terror they have reigned on you as well as countless other’s myself included. Keep your chin up and your voice loud my friend.My prayers are certainly with you.

  36. rebecca forrester Says:

    Just a little update on my CPS They signed me up for a parenting class this last tuesday no big deal ya know EXCEPT they failed to inform me it was a infant interacctive class! Needless 2 say I promptly got up and walked out giving them the one finger salute so to speak but how heartless and cruel can u get just another example of the severity of their cruelness

  37. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Rebecca I am so sorry. I know that they are aware that in an interactive class you are required to have your baby present. keep your cool and go to the area administrator and let her know her employee sent you to a service that she is aware can not be completed until you have Serenity. My advice is send an email. I will get the email address to you. this happens a lot another example of an honest mistake!!!

  38. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    I’m awaiting this email address from you and again thank you Elaine for your help and support just another of their “honest” mistakes yeah right more like a well aimed end direct hit but im slowly coming out of the “funk” I let them throw me into with that one i’m not giving up and they are most definitly in for one hell of a fight and again Thank You,
    Becky

  39. Sherry Alexander Says:

    I have read and reread these posts since this issue began – first thank you to all that are supportive and to the others – Shame on you – you people clearly have been brain-washed into believing a crock of crap.

  40. jnehenry Says:

    ive been trying to wrap my head around this since the story first broke and im glad youre here rebecca to answer a couple questions. it was reported that you had no prenatal care, delivered the baby at home, and no post natal care. then youre sent to an infant interactive class. you give them the finger and walk out. isnt your daughter an infant? how is that putting up a good fight? more importantly, just how is that supposed to get your daughter back?

  41. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    I am well aware of what was reported.Very little of which was truth or factual.The only truth here that I see is yes I delivered Serenity at home.I did have prenatal and post natal care Serenity had been to the doctor.CPS didn’t take her to her first one so when I got to pick her up I had to reschedule it and yes she did go.Yes my daughter is an infant but the “interactive”class is for women and their babies to attend together.I don’t have my daughter hence the salute!You can well believe lady that I am and will continue to put up a “fight” for Serenity.That is my little kid and the foundations and basis for taking her are lies.Just once I’d like to see these people held accountable for what they say and do.Show me the facts and proof to back up all they say and have said about me!They can’t but I can,which is why I am fighting for my daughter.I know that legally what I did was wrong but based on lies isn’t the way to put up a “good fight” either now is it.My only hope was to get someone anyone to listen and pay attention to what was going on.My mission is accomplished.No matter the outcome for me maybe just maybe my actions can help stop them from doing it to the next poor young mother they decide to pick on,that doesn’t have the “guts” to stand up for herself and her baby.

  42. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    Way to “edit” Sherry’s last post Josh.Must be nice to pick and choose what you allow to be said and posted here.Just another perfect example of how people use their authority to manipulate,change,or edit things said to suit themselves

  43. Tamara Freeman Says:

    As we celebrate Independence Day we should all take a moment to revisit the documents written so long ago by our fore fathers – the very documents our country was then and is now founded on.

    The Declaration of Independence ensures our right to be Free and Independent, most of all from tyrannical governments, to have the full Power to levy war and conclude peace, contract alliances, and establish commerce.

    President Abraham Lincoln explained the central importance of the Declaration to American history in his Gettysburg Address of 1863:

    “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

    The Amendments to the Constitution (The Bill of Rights) go on to further ensure and define these freedoms.
    The first amendment concerns its self with “Freedom of the Press”. This amendment goes on to deny censorship (JOSH!). It continues on to establish our right to address our government with our grievances.
    The fourth amendment provides the right to be secure in our homes and from “unreasonable searches and seizures” it goes on to say “this shall not be violated”.
    The sixth amendment promises speedy trials, and the right to face your accuser.
    The seventh gives us the right to a trial by jury, and the eighth concerns its self with bail and fines, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”.

    Now, I ask all of you, which one of these amendments if any does CPS pay attention to?
    I think I know how organizations like CPS continue to operate – it appears to me, they are tyrannical which causes fear and creates absolute control. They operate outside of our government and laws because they write their own or interpret the existing laws to their twisted gains. I find it very sad indeed when an organization like CPS (which was originally founded for the good of all involved) has the power to simply ignore the very words our country is based on… God help any of us who try to stand up to them (1st Amendment); if we actually try they take our children and secret them from us.

    Historically there have been others who have also taken children from their parents and in doing so they reigned terror on the people. They also chose to ignore the words of The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution – because of the world wide insurances of these documents we (the Americans) successfully put an end to their terror; The American Revolution -
    WW 2 in Germany -
    Viet Nam – Iraq – and so on and so on.

    To this end I must ask “Why do we tolerate CPS’s behavior? Certainly if CPS was another country; one run by corruption and fear we would put an end to its reign of terror”.

  44. jnehenry Says:

    thanks for posting rebecca. i’m not standing in judgment. i have never met you and all i know is what was reported. since i dont know what is fact and what is not, im glad for this blog page. and FYI… my blog was edited too

  45. Sherry Alexander Says:

    Thank you Josh for not editing or cutting any of Tami’s blog! S

  46. Scott Says:

    While I value each blog entry for it’s author’s point of view or opinion, I do not necessarily take what is written in a blog as fact simply because the author typed it up & it got posted on a website. People that have done something wrong or made mistakes generally tend to minimize, spin or shed a different light on the issue.

    That being said, I believe that the entire DSHS system in our state is broken and should be rebuilt from the ground up. I am tired of the repeated hand-wringing and blaming of caseloads each time a child ends up dead, crippled or abused due to incompetence of DSHS. Nothing changes with them and it seems they have no shame. The recent case where the foster child was blinded by the foster mom sticking a hypo syringe in the child’s eye is yet another horrific example. CPS had fifteen referrals in that case, yet did nothing.

  47. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Scott, these are the Children they say slip through the cracks. There are no excuses for the complete neglect and disregard for these kids. There are more than anyone of us could imagine. The minimization is not just on the part of parents that have children in the system. Many cases are inflated by DSHS and the money rolls in. Not to the foster parent but to the state. Title IV social security, federal block grants ect. Then the discrepancies are referred to by the department as honest mistakes.

  48. Scott Says:

    Thanks Elaine, while we may not agree on everything I do appreciate your input & point of view!

  49. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    My court case ended today – Basically, I have to pay Kitsap County for what was put out last May, continue to jump thru CPS’s hoops & be on home monitoring for a little more than a month. BEST of all, I get to see my daughter next week!!! Soooo, Josh, when do I get my interview? RF

  50. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Rebecca I am happy that they did not toss you away. Even more happy that you finally get to see your baby. There has been a lot in the media about CPS latley. The part that has really bothered me is it seems that the stories about Bio parents harming their kids seem to get bigger longer lasting headlines than the kids the state has taken and placed in danger. Or as in your case the headlines seemed to disapear, Why? I have to agree on this one Josh. Had Serenity been in real iminate danger Rebecca would be headed to Purdy. I look forward to seeing a follow up and Rebecca’s side with just as much front page space as the Amber Alert got. Have a great visit with Serenity. Now maybe the time to ask that Serenity be placed with family or a close friend. A new law is in effect that you have the right to have a say in, with whom your child is placed. Family was expanded to include a close friend. Keep us posted. My best to you and if you need any help give me a call

  51. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    Elaine thats wonderful news about the new placement laws.Definitely put a brighter light on my day today.Hoping I get to see Serenity this week!The article Josh did for me was awesome and most definitely the most honest reporting done about me yet.So I must add before I go ,thank you Josh.I appreciate your interest in the truth on this one and for allowing me to tell my side.

  52. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Great story. Becky there is more good news coming. I met with Ronald Arnold Williams last week. She is top of DSHS and in agreement that individual accountability for these DSHS employees is needed. OOPs no more changing the truth!! She was on the news and spoke of cleaning up both the Bremerton and Tacoma CPS offices. The worst two offices of all in my opinion. Anyway if there are problems with any worker involved with you just let me know. We will take it to the top. Another thing the Office of Public Defense has been hiring social workers for the defense side of things to even up the score in the court. This is a much needed thing, Now there can be a real non bias professional person. Their job stability relies on getting families back together. My best to you and enjoy your time with Serenity. Thanks Josh for letting us hear the other side

  53. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    Elaine,
    Absolutely awesome news!I’m so very glad that there are FINALLY going to be some changes somewhere.Still haven’t gotten to see Serenity yet but I’m hoping soon.It’s been almost 4 months,yet seems like forever.As for me I have an appointment at the OC in Poulsbo this Monday.I’ve made the decision to go to school to become one of the people I hate most.A social worker.Imagine that!I figure the best place to start trying to get changes is in their front door . Hopefully I can make a difference for someone like me out there.Thanks again Elaine for all your help and encouragement.I hope to be in touch with u soon. I’d love nothing more than to donate what little extra time I have to you and helping your cause.

  54. Sherry Alexander Says:

    GREAT ARTICLE JOSH! I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have someone in the media who reports the truth!
    And Elaine: How wonderful – maybe now Becky and others in her position can get fair treatment! THANKS TO YOU BOTH AGAIN! Sher

  55. Elaine Wolcott-Ehrhardt Says:

    Did they lift the restraining order? Because if they have you should have been able to see your baby by now. You need to find out what the hold up is. Sherry everyone needs to be involved in change for it to really happen. Our lawmakers may not know what needs to change if things are not brought to their attention. Your and everyone else’s opinion and suggestions are valuable. For example Serenity not seeing her mother for four months. That is inexcusable and down right cruel.

  56. Rebecca Forrester Says:

    Elaine,
    Yes the restraining order was lifted and still I haven’t seen Serenity.I spoke to my social worker Kirsten Erceg on Friday she said the hold up was we were waiting for a court date to go before commissioner Lowans to get the approval for the visit and until then I can’t see Serenity. She said she had no idea when the court date would be other than maybe Monday, but she didn’t know for sure she’d let me know. At that point I just hung up the phone because if I opened my mouth it wasn’t going to be good. I’m so frustrated I just want to hold my Serenity again. At this rate by the time I do get to see her again she’s gonna have forgotten who I am. That scares me and rips my guts out all at once.

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