WBEZ | adoption http://www.wbez.org/tags/adoption Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois mom who watched 3 kids drown fights for new family http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-mom-who-watched-3-kids-drown-fights-new-family-113669 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_061101043265.jpg" style="height: 330px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Amanda Hamm is escorted by deputies from the courtroom during her trial in Decatur, Ill., in a Nov. 1, 2006 file photo. Hamm, a mother convicted of allowing her three children to drown, was sentenced Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007, to 10 years in prison. Hamm, 30, was convicted in December in the deaths of Christopher Hamm, 6, Austin Brown, 3, and Kyleigh Hamm, 1, who were trapped inside a car that sank in Clinton Lake in 2003. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)" />In horrifying detail, prosecutors described how three children, trapped in the back seat of their mother&#39;s car, screamed for help before they drowned in 4 &frac12; feet of water in an Illinois lake while their mother and her boyfriend escaped unharmed.</p><p>Amanda Hamm was convicted of child endangerment and served five years in prison for watching her boyfriend carry out a plot to drown her 6-year-old, 3-year-old and 23-month-old children in 2003 because they interfered with the couple&#39;s relationship and his sex-and-drugs lifestyle. He was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence.</p><p>Now in a bizarre twist, Amanda Ware and her new husband are fighting to gain custody of three children &mdash; ages 5, 3 and 1 &frac12; &mdash; she had after leaving prison. They were taken away by child protection authorities last year after a doctor recognized Ware as the former Hamm.</p><p>A Cook County judge on Friday will decide whether the children of Amanda and Leo Ware were abused and neglected, even without evidence that they were physically harmed.</p><p>&quot;This is a scary problem for all the people involved ... but most of all for the judge who has to decide whether to send these children home,&quot; said Bruce Boyer, director of the Loyola University child law clinic in&nbsp;Chicago, who&#39;s not involved in the case. &quot;What&#39;s so difficult is that the likelihood of something going wrong may be low, but if does, the consequences are so high.&quot;</p><p>Under a legal concept called &quot;anticipatory neglect,&quot; the court is not required to wait until a child is harmed before intervening if someone has harmed or endangered a child in the past, Boyer said, adding that such findings aren&#39;t unusual in child welfare cases. On the other hand, parents cannot be disqualified for custody solely because of their past if they prove that they&#39;re a capable parent.</p><p>But prosecutors and child protection authorities told Judge Demetrius Kottaras last week that, although none of the three living children has been physically harmed, there is direct evidence of current abuse and neglect. That includes domestic violence by Leo Ware against his wife and others, substance abuse and Amanda Ware&#39;s failure to follow treatment for mental illness, which created an injurious environment for the children.</p><p>In 2012,&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;police responded to a domestic abuse call at the Ware&#39;s house after Leo Ware struck his wife. The next year, while she was pregnant, Amanda Ware sought an order of protection, saying she feared for herself and her children because Leo Ware was using crack cocaine and might become violent. Two weeks later, she had the order dropped.</p><p>Combined with the parents&#39; histories, &quot;this freight train of evidence is bearing down on three current children who must be protected,&quot; Assistant State&#39;s Attorney Joan Pernecke told the judge, according to transcripts of the hearing.</p><p>Attorneys for Amanda, 39, and Leo Ware, 49, said the children showed no signs of abuse and were healthy, even crying and taking off their shoes and socks to try to prevent child protection workers from taking them from their home last year. They also said no problems had ever been reported to the state Department of Children and Family Services until a doctor at a hospital where Ware gave birth recognized her.</p><p>Amanda Ware has a long history of depression and abusing drugs and alcohol, and 20 years ago told a mental health worker that she wanted to kill herself by driving into a lake, prosecutors said. During her 2006 trial, witnesses said she was abused and manipulated by boyfriend Maurice LaGrone Jr., who also terrorized her children &mdash; none of them his &mdash; including by putting one child&#39;s head in an oven and chasing a child with a knife. While he couldn&#39;t keep a job &mdash; and didn&#39;t want to watch the children while Ware worked &mdash; she bought him expensive clothes and jewelry, according to testimony.</p><p>Prosecutors at that time said she couldn&#39;t live without a man so was willing to sacrifice her children. When the couple wanted to move from Clinton, Illinois to St. Louis, Ware asked her mother to take custody of two of the children, but she said she could take only one.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_03121106120.jpg" style="float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 457px; width: 300px;" title="While looking over photographs of her three grandchildren at her home Thursday, Dec. 11, 2003, in Clinton, Ill., Ann Danison pauses as she describes her feelings about her daughter Amanda Hamm's arrest on first-degree murder charges. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)" /></p><p>Months later, the couple drove to nearby Clinton Lake, about 150 miles south of Chicago, where on Sept. 2, 2003, LaGrone drove the 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass down a boat ramp, at some point jumping out with Ware.</p><p>Both claimed the deaths were an accident and that they tried but could not get the kids out. Rescuers eventually called by Ware said it took just two minutes to remove the bodies.</p><p>Amanda Ware would not discuss the case before Friday&#39;s hearing, but last year told the <em>Pantagraph </em>newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois, that she would never get over the deaths, &quot;but I have to try to move forward and having a home, a husband and a family is the biggest part of that.&quot;</p><p>Leo Ware said in a telephone interview that the couple is being targeted unfairly.</p><p>&quot;They want to compare me to Maurice LaGrone, but I take that as an insult; these are MY kids,&quot; he said. &quot;We raised my kids for three years before they decided it was a problem.&quot;</p><p>Leo Ware admits to a criminal past as a gang member and drug dealer, but insists he&#39;s put that all behind him. He also said his wife deserves a chance to move on.</p><p>&quot;We all make bad decisions in life,&quot; he said. &quot;This is about moving on.&quot;</p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 09:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-mom-who-watched-3-kids-drown-fights-new-family-113669 StoryCorps: Adoptive mom encourages teenage boy http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-adoptive-mom-encourages-teenage-boy-111112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/scorpsadopt.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;My mom was the only one there, but she was a good mom,&rdquo; Matt Fitzsimmons says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;She loved us very much. But she didn&rsquo;t have much to work with, because she was a single mom. And she passed on from cancer when I was 14. My dad came back like two months before my mom passed, and he was going to take care of us. But my dad had enough troubles of his own, with alcohol. So my sister and I had to deal with a single alcoholic parent in the house and basically he was perpetually mad at us for no good reason.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitzsimmons came to StoryCorps with Shirley Paulson, a woman who&rsquo;d known him since before he was born. She had just moved back to Chicago around the time of Fitzsimmons&rsquo; mother&rsquo;s funeral.</p><p>&ldquo;I found you then after your younger sister had gone off to school and you were living alone then with your dad&hellip;That was bad. If I remember correctly you were living with your dad in the house with a dog and a couple cats and it seemed like they had more care than you did.&rdquo;</p><p>Paulson explains how Fitzsimmons worked one summer at a camp alongside their son, Tim.</p><p>&ldquo;When we went to the airport to pick up Tim from camp, Tim said, &lsquo;Matt needs a ride home. Can we bring him home?&rsquo; Sure. So we just jumped you in the car and when we dropped you off at your house, I was stunned to realize that here you&rsquo;d been away all summer, you got your luggage out of the car, went up to the house, and there was nobody there to even say hello.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh he was there,&rdquo; Fitzsimmons says. &ldquo;He was just asleep on the couch, with the five cars in the driveway and the lawn really long.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;Exactly,&rdquo; Paulson says. &ldquo;Well, the next day was Labor Day and I thought: Why don&rsquo;t we invite Matt over? We thought maybe you&rsquo;d like to come and join us. So I was a little bit nervous calling you &lsquo;cause I didn&rsquo;t know you that well. So we invited you and you said so quickly: &lsquo;Yes! Sure!&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And I noticed that you ate and ate and ate and ate. You were hungry. And so I said to my husband afterwards: &lsquo;Do you think Matt would like to come over for some more food tomorrow?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Then it became obvious that you were joining us more than the typical teenager coming over to have food with a family.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think I talked your head off,&rdquo; Fitzsimmons says. &ldquo;We talked a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, we did talk a lot,&rdquo; Paulson says, &ldquo;and I loved that. I felt honored that you would &ndash; as a teenager - take the time to talk to me. And share your life, and it meant so much to me. It really did. But I don&rsquo;t think you realized for a while what it meant to be in the family. It took you a while to register. And it was hard to do because you had to deal with the fact that you had a family. And yet you also were being part of us. And you had loyalty to your family, which was right to do.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It was frustrating to me to have to drive you home every day across Glenview and drop you off into that nothing of a house. And then come back and pick you up the next day and bring you home and have some nice time with you and drive you back home again. And I thought: &lsquo;Why won&rsquo;t he just move in?&rsquo; But there was some stuff you had to deal with.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitzsimmons says, &ldquo;So, you were the nice person helping me. Then you converted into parental person, which is a huge shift, because you went from nice to &lsquo;You have to do this to get to the next stage of your life.&rsquo;&hellip;When I think about all those twists and turns throughout life. And if I didn&rsquo;t do this turn or that turn where would I be&hellip;That was probably the biggest turn for you to say, &lsquo;We&rsquo;re going to save him from devastation.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Of course we didn&rsquo;t think of saving you. We thought of we needed you. You&rsquo;ll get that through your head one of these days.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll say it officially: I love you.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh, Matt! Can I say &lsquo;I love you&rsquo; too?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You do all the time!&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-adoptive-mom-encourages-teenage-boy-111112 Morning Shift: Are healthy school lunches making it past the lunch line? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-13/morning-shift-are-healthy-school-lunches-making-it <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Lunch - Flickr - healthy lunch ideas.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look a the dark corners of underground adoption. What is making people pursue this option? And Congress has mandated that school lunches should get healthier, but there have been some complaints. What&#39;s really happening on the lunch line?</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-64/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-64.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-64" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Are healthy school lunches making it past the lunch line? " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 13 Sep 2013 08:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-13/morning-shift-are-healthy-school-lunches-making-it Catholic Charities of Peoria withdraws from lawsuit against Illinois http://www.wbez.org/story/catholic-charities-peoria-withdraws-lawsuit-against-illinois-92934 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-07/AP110712151064.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Three Catholic dioceses in Illinois are continuing a court fight over Illinois' new civil unions law, while another is withdrawing from the litigation.</p><p>The Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced Thursday it plans to stop providing state-funded services and withdraw from the court battle.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.pjstar.com/news/x2075437708/Catholic-Charities-of-Peoria-withdrawing-from-state-foster-care-contracts">According to the Peoria Star-Journal</a>, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) plans to transfer more than 1,000 from Catholic Charities of Peoria to a new organization, The Center for Youth and Family Services, by January 31st.&nbsp; However, that organization currently has no director and no state license to handle foster care cases.</p><p>Catholic Charities of Peoria isn't the first local arm of the organization to end its contract with DCFS.&nbsp; In May, Catholic Charities of the Dicocese of Rockford terminated its foster care and adoption services contracts due to the threat of potential litigation.</p><p>The litigation stems from the passage of the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which provides many of the same marital rights and protections to those couples who seek to enter into civil unions, including same sex couples.</p><p>Catholic Charities affiliated with the Joliet, Springfield and Belleville dioceses were among the organizations who filed suit asking a judge to determine whether they could refuse to serve same sex couples and unmarried parents seeking adoptions if the agencies continued to receive state funding.</p><p>The state claims that's discriminatory and amounts to a violation of the civil unions law.&nbsp; But the charities argue that religious organizations are except from the provisions of the Illinois Religious Freedom Proteciton and Civil Union Act.</p><p>In August, a Sangamon Circuit County Court Judge ruled in favor of the state, but lawyers for the plaintiffs filed an appeal earlier this week.</p><p>Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Diocese says the decision to withdraw from the litigation and from providing state-funded social services was not made lightly.</p><p>Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Diocese said in a statement that the decision to withdraw from the litigation and from providing state-funded social services was not made lightly.</p><p>"Public policy and state law, however, have increasingly clashed with church teachings in such a way that we no longer can maintain this partnership as a viable option," Jenky said.</p><p>Peoria Catholic Charities' foster care contracts with the state total $15 million to $17 million annually, more than half the budget of the charity, said Patricia Gibson, general counsel for the Peoria Diocese and its charity.</p><p>"That's a big hit," Gibson said, and finances didn't play into the decision, Gibson said. Leaders in the diocese saw the opportunity to move all its foster care cases to one new nonprofit group would "minimize disruption in lives, particularly of the children that we serve," Gibson said.</p><p>Illinois ended contracts with Catholic Charities in the four dioceses in July because of the organizations' practice of referring unmarried couples to other agencies.</p><p>Diocese of Joliet spokesman Doug Delaney issued a statement about the Peoria decision.</p><p>"We understand the Diocese of Peoria's frustration with the state of Illinois' stance on foster-care contracts," the statement said. "Each diocese is making its decisions regarding this lawsuit that it finds appropriate to its operations and needs. Due to its own particular circumstances, the Diocese of Peoria has determined not to continue as a party to this appeal. We continue to believe in the merits of our case and remain hopeful that we will prevail on appeal."</p></p> Fri, 07 Oct 2011 15:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/catholic-charities-peoria-withdraws-lawsuit-against-illinois-92934 A new openness for donor kids about their biology http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-16/new-openness-donor-kids-about-their-biology-92118 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-17/waverly.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>First in a two-part report.</em></p><p>Women inseminated with a donor's sperm used to be advised to <em>tell no one.</em> Go home, doctors said, make love to your husband and pretend that worked. But in a trend that mirrors that of adoption — from secrecy to openness — more parents now <em>do </em>plan to tell such children how they were conceived and are seeking advice on how best to do that.</p><p>Tina Gulbrandson understands the temptation of secrecy. She felt stigma and pain when she needed to use another woman's eggs to get pregnant.</p><p>"You feel incompetent," she says. "You feel like you failed, as a woman."</p><p>Gulbrandson and her husband, Patrick, knew no one in their Maryland suburb who'd used donor eggs. Still, they decided to be open about it. "It's sort of a grieving process and talking about it makes it easier," she says. "And it lets other people know that there are other couples going through this, and that it is OK."</p><p>As she speaks, her 7-month-old daughter plays happily on a blanket full of toys. Waverly is a blue-eyed beauty and proof, says Gulbrandson, that the difficulties of her fertility treatment were worth it.</p><p>Gay and lesbian couples have pioneered openness about using donors, many even forming relationships with their child's biological parent. After all, same-sex parenthood, as well as single parenthood, raises the obvious question. But today, when one in every 100 babies in the U.S. is created through some form of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, even many heterosexual couples like the Gulbrandsons plan to tell their children this modern-day version of the facts of life.</p><p>"Honestly, 10 years from now it's not going to matter," Patrick Gulbrandson says. "More than likely some of her classmates are going to be IVF babies."</p><p>Tina Gulbrandson notes that by talking about their situation, they've befriended other couples with babies conceived by sperm donation.</p><p>"They're going to grow up together," she says, "so they're going to have that in common."</p><p>Exactly <em>when</em> they'll sit their daughter down and explain that half her genes are from a stranger? They say they'll play that by ear. But a growing body of research suggests earlier is better.</p><p>"You never want to sit a pre-adolescent down and say, 'We have something to tell you,'" says psychologist Elaine Gordon. "That's probably about the worst time to tell a child."</p><p>Gordon, who counsels donor-recipient couples in California, says keeping this secret from a child can be toxic.</p><p>"They don't understand why they were not told, why the information was kept from them," Gordon says. "So it's the secret that they're upset about, not the information necessarily."</p><p>And if you don't tell them? Don't be so sure they won't find out anyway.</p><p>"It happens all the time," says Wendy Kramer, who runs the <a href="https://www.donorsiblingregistry.com/" target="_blank">Donor Sibling Registry</a>, a Web site set up to help the children of anonymous sperm donors find each other. Kramer frequently hears from children who found out about their conception accidentally.</p><p>"They found a file in a drawer," she says. "They had a blood test. Drunk Aunt Sally told them."</p><p>Gordon says this happens because parents struggle with disclosure, afraid it will erode the bond with their child or afraid they'll be rejected. She says research doesn't prove that and advises telling even toddlers about the many ways families are created today. There's a growing market of books on different animals living together. Gordon has her own, <em>Mommy, Did I Grow In Your Tummy?</em></p><p>"And by the time they're old enough to understand biology, egg and sperm, which is around 7 years old, they'll say, 'Oh, Mommy got an egg.' So what you want to do is not make it a big deal," she says.</p><p>But Kramer cautions people on her donor Web site not to downplay a donor's connection either.</p><p>"I've heard parents say, and this is what they tell their children, 'Oh it was just a piece of genetic material. It was just a donated cell.'"</p><p>The message is well-intentioned, she says: We love you, that's all that matters. But Kramer has surveyed hundreds of donor families and says that approach can make children feel they're betraying parents if they later want to explore their biological heritage.</p><p>So what will happen if baby Waverly grows up to be curious about her anonymous donor mother? The Gulbrandsons say they'll be prepared.</p><p>"She will have access to the Internet, and she will be able to do whatever research she wants," Patrick Gulbrandson says.</p><p>Tina Gulbrandson adds they would probably also explain that "our donor did this to help other people. She didn't do it to be found or to know later on down the road that she has children out there."</p><p>That will no doubt be explanation enough for many children conceived this way. But not all of them.</p><p><em>In Sunday's report, we'll hear from some who believe they have the right to know who their donor is. </em></p><p><em>This story was produced for broadcast by Marisa Penaloza.</em></p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Sat, 17 Sep 2011 02:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-16/new-openness-donor-kids-about-their-biology-92118