CPS is commonly demonized in the media for snatching healthy kids away from loving families. While there are times when removal is warranted, far more prevalent are stories with awful outcomes. In some cases, many kids go on to live safe and healthier lives than they would have with their biological parents. In others, they turn into stories of CPS gone wrong and kids unwittingly sacrificed.
Often, parents’ rights are stepped on or eliminated altogether, and children who were previously well cared for end up malnourished or abused in foster homes. Even if kids are eventually adopted, the trauma that they’ve experienced through losing their biological families doesn’t just go away. Unfortunately, many foster and adoptive families appear to be perfect and happy on the outside, but the really scary parts aren’t visible on the surface.
Tragically, too many cases of CPS stepping in, whether an honest effort at helping children or not, result in far worse outcomes than anyone ever expected. Children suffer as a result of decisions made about their lives, as if they’re property to be handed off at will. If the agency itself is all about protecting kids, then how did these fifteen tragic scenarios happen?
15 Failed To Notice, Failed To Protect
Little Adrian Jones’ gruesome death made headlines across the country after he died at the hands of his father and stepmother. The couple tortured the little boy, all while seemingly taking perfect care of the remaining children in the household- all 7 of them.
The boy’s father received custody of him per CPS after he was removed from his mother’s care. DCF, as it’s known in that part of the country, cited neglect by Adrian’s mother, and then failed to check on Adrian’s wellbeing for three and a half years prior to his death. During that time, he was beaten and tortured, with the abuse documented by his hellish stepmother. The seven-year-old boy succumbed to his injuries before CPS was even aware of a problem, and the heinous crimes weren’t discovered until after Adrian’s father dismembered his body and attempted to feed the remains to the family’s pigs.
14 Victim Has Baby Taken Away
In Alabama, a 14-year-old girl who became pregnant after she was raped suffered even more when CPS got involved. As the teen prepared to leave the hospital with her newborn son, the baby was confiscated by officials who stated that his safety was at stake. However, prior to the baby’s birth, no concerns were brought up by anyone close to the girl, not even to prosecute the man who raped her.
Apparently after the baby was born, CPS was concerned that the teen and the baby were not safe in their home environment, where the rape apparently occurred. Their solution was to abduct the baby, then later give him back but threaten mom with further action unless she stayed in the shelter they designated. Eventually the teen mom was allowed to go back home- her baby with her- after months of unnecessary CPS involvement.
13 Family Loses Daughter Over A Joint
When confronted by CPS, Alexandria Hill’s parents admitted to occasionally using marijuana after putting the 2-year-old to bed. CPS decided that the parents’ occasional recreational habit deemed them unfit, and took Alex away. In the first foster home she was sent to, her parents noticed bruises during visitation with her. It took multiple complaints for CPS to take any action, and when they did, it was to move Alex to another foster home.
Later, the Texas parents received word that their daughter was near death in an area hospital. The cause? The foster mother in charge of caring for Alex slammed her head into the concrete floor of her home. The little girl later died due to her injuries, leaving her parents bereft and the foster mother in prison for the rest of her life.
12 Foster Parents Starve Children
This disgusting couple not only starved their two foster children, ages 4 and 5, they also inflicted intentional bruises all over the children’s bodies. The foster father held the little boy under water in the family’s pool to “teach him to swim,” an action that resulted in the 5-year-old experiencing seizures. None of these incidents were documented until the children became so malnourished, after eating only one meal a day, that they were treated for abuse.
Both the children were hospitalized as a result of the abuse they suffered, after nearly a year of living with the ironically named Savage family. The saddest part about this case is that foster parents are supposed to be adequately background checked and monitored while caring for foster children. There are huge flaws in a system that doesn’t notice two children being abused for almost an entire year.
11 Child Wasting Away In Foster Care
When 3-year-old Malakai lived with his mom and grandmother, he was seemingly perfect- healthy and active, chatting up a storm. After CPS investigated his mom for alleged abuse of his younger brother, a charge that the entire family vehemently disagrees with, Malakai was sent to a foster home away from all his siblings and his mother and grandmother.
During supervised visits with Malakai, his mother and grandmother were shocked to see how thin he had gotten, and how little he appeared to be speaking. Social workers told them that he had trouble eating, and that he would gorge himself any time he was around food. Despite numerous complaints to CPS regarding Malakai’s care in the foster home, neither his mom or his grandma have been able to get him help. Now Malakai wears leg braces and the foster family collects monthly disability checks on his behalf.
10 Baby’s Death Sparks Anger Toward CPS
When baby Macey was a newborn, her grandmother took over caring for her while her biological parents worked toward finding permanent and safe housing. However, CPS officials seized the infant after one week in her grandmother’s care, placing her with a foster family. The family was caring for four other foster children under the age of 3.
Baby Macey was found dead in her car seat at six weeks old. The foster parents admitted to not checking on the infant for over eight hours, and her grandmother is outraged that her granddaughter’s death could have been prevented. The only reason CPS took the infant from the grandmother was because of a violation of a restraining order 15 years prior, since apparently a woman leaving a violent marriage makes her less capable of caring for an infant than a foster family who leaves newborns alone for eight hours.
9 Abused Girl Contracts STIs
A 7-year-old girl in the UK was removed from her home due to allegations of sexual abuse and because of concerns about domestic violence and substance abuse in the home. Shortly thereafter, the child was sent to live with her grandmother, who soon stated she couldn’t cope with caring for the little girl. Then CPS placed her with a married couple.
Her first day back to school after the new foster placement, the little girl complained of pain in her private area to staff at school. Horrified, school staff repeatedly called child protective services to report suspected abuse. Social workers refused to take action regarding the alleged abuse until a doctor’s report stated that the child had contracted two STIs as a result of being raped. The foster father tested positive for chlamydia, while the foster mother tested positive for gonorrhea. The little girl tested positive for both.
8 Toddler Dies Just Weeks Away From Adoption
An overly stressed mom and dad were visited by CPS and willingly let their toddler son be placed in foster care. The parents admitted they were not up to the challenges of parenting, and hoped that being placed would help 17-month-old Aedyn adapt to eating solid food and learn to keep his diaper on.
After five months in foster care, baby Aedyn was rushed to the emergency room with extensive head injuries. After suffering cardiac arrest, signs of brain bleeding, and respiratory failure, Aedyn was removed from life support. His death crushed his adoptive parents, who were hoping to expedite the process and have him home in time for the upcoming holiday. CPS needlessly dragged their feet, and the foster mother of Aedyn is now standing trial for first degree murder.
7 Former Caseworker Guilty Of Manslaughter
This dated but historically relevant case involving a caseworker whose foster child wound up dead in her basement called attention to concerns about CPS coverups early on. In 2001, 5-year-old Logan was found unresponsive in the basement of her foster mother’s house. The then-caseworker, against CPS protocol, was fostering Logan and her little sister while the state worked on reuniting the girls with their mother.
The foster mother, Sally Schofield, quit her job with DHS in pursuit of adopting the girls, despite concerns with Logan’s behavior. The little girl had frequent temper tantrums and was vocal about missing her mom. Ultimately, DHS’ attempts to quickly siphon the girls away from their mother and onto Sally resulted in Sally’s duct taping Logan into a highchair. The little girl asphyxiated due to tape over her mouth and nose, dying in the one place that was supposed to keep her safe.
6 These Kids Are Getting On My Nerves
The justification that Milwaukee foster mom Dominique Lindsey gave for handling her three-month-old charge was that the kids were getting on her nerves. Surveillance video showed the woman manhandling the infant, throwing his infant car seat around, and shoving a pacifier roughly into his mouth. The baby sustained multiple fractures to his arms and legs, and his frenulum was torn, possibly a result of the pacifier being shoved in his mouth.
The baby was taken from his biological parents over drug concerns, but placed in a nearly fatal situation with a foster mom who was clearly in over her head. If CPS had checked on the mom, or offered the baby’s biological mother the help she needed to keep him, this senseless violence could have been avoided. No baby deserves to be thrown around and beaten, but luckily this poor baby avoided death.
5 Demented Foster Mother Murders Teen
Grace Packer was the 14-year-old foster child of psycho foster mother Sara Packer. The woman was a former county adoptions supervisor, so CPS had no reason to suspect she had demented fantasies about raping and killing young girls. But that’s exactly what she and her boyfriend did to Grace, killing her in the attic of the home that they shared with other foster children over the years.
The most awful part of this scenario is that Sara Packer’s former husband was arrested and went to prison for sexually assaulting both Grace and another foster daughter, but CPS never moved to end the placement of Grace or any other children in the household- they only prevented the foster mother from taking in more kids. Had Grace been removed from the home, she may still be alive today.
4 Flawed System Sees Teen Suicide
Sadly, teen suicide is on the rise across the country, but it’s more often spoken about in context with foster care situations. Take 14-year-old Naika Venant, who live-streamed her suicide on Facebook. The teen killed herself in her bedroom while her foster parents were asleep. Her biological mother caught heat from social media commenters over viewing the live feed and doing nothing to stop her daughter from killing herself.
The mother, Gina Alexis, claims that she thought the video was a ploy for attention, and that she didn’t think Naika would really kill herself. She blames past foster home abuse for Naika’s mental state, and claims that Naika was repeatedly assaulted and raped through a succession of foster homes. She was placed in foster care for the first time at age 7, and moved ten times in the months before her suicide.
3 CPS Lets Criminal Live With Foster Child
11-month-old Orion Hamilton died as a result of head injuries after a man who wasn’t supposed to be in the home crushed her on the floor. Little Orion was removed from her biological family’s care because she had methamphetamines in her system when she was born. CPS monitored Orion’s first ten months in the foster home, and never investigated the background of the man who would later kill her. The man, Jacob Salas, wasn’t even supposed to be around his own children- the foster mother’s three kids- or around Orion, who was a foster child and the niece of the foster mother.
The biological father was the one to alert CPS to the fact that Salas was living in the home, the month before his daughter was tragically murdered. Had CPS monitored the child’s wellbeing as it was supposed to, Orion may have survived her foster care placement.
2 Death By Fire Over Foster Placement
James T. Hodgkinson made headlines for shooting up a Republican congressional baseball practice, but his troubles started way before the gun rampage. The man and his wife had a foster daughter who killed herself by dousing herself with gasoline and lighting herself on fire. Hodgkinson didn’t make many public comments about the situation at the time, and as it was the 90’s, social media commentary didn’t exist at the time.
Years later, another girl was fostered by the Hodgkinsons, and that girl was heinously abused by her foster father. Regardless of the reasons CPS had for placing the girl, they might have considered that another child committed suicide in the home of this particular foster family. The next placement was beaten and abused both verbally and physically before the family finally lost custody of her- and hopefully she was given a safer place to live.
1 Appendicitis Kills Girl While CPS Stands By
Eight-year-old Sarah Brasse died of appendicitis at her home, two days after a school counselor, school nurse, and police officer all attempted to get CPS to intervene. There was an open case already with the family, and documentation showing that Sarah’s father didn’t pursue even necessary medical care for his kids. CPS had been watching the family for almost two years, but even with three separate reports of neglect, no one from the agency checked on Sarah.
Sarah’s father and his fiancée were both acquitted of manslaughter charges when the court ruled that the evidence in the case was insufficient. Yet, when emergency personnel were called to the home after Sarah’s death, they found vomit all over the house and all over Sarah. Not only that, but the entire house was covered in filth, leaving us to wonder how no one is being held responsible for this child’s death.