baby was seized by DSS agents from her arms at the Mary
Lane Hospital last month.
Seized by State Police from Mothers Hospital Room
Fears For Childrens Safety While With DSS
The mother whose newborn baby was seized
by state police and DSS agents from her arms at the Mary Lane Hospital
last month, says she fears for the lives and safety of her newborn,
Aaron, and her four-year-old, Damien, who are in DSS custody.
Her 5-year-old son, Kyle, died after a
Rottweiler attacked him this June while in another DSS foster home.
Atty. Gregory Hession says the snatch
from the hospital could be retribution by DSS for the wrongful death
suit the mother has filed against the agency.
In an interview with MassNews, Diana Ross
from Ware said, “They murdered one child. I am not going to sit
back and let them hurt my other two boys.”
Compounding her worries, Ross said DSS
placed her infant son and Damien together with two homosexual men
who say they want to adopt them. “I told DSS I didn’t want that.
I said I think the boys should bond with their mother, not with
gay men. They told me I have no say in the matter.”
Ross told MassNews she would have the
boys checked out at a hospital for molestation immediately after
she gets them back from DSS, particularly after a gay, foster care
parent in Worcester County was arrested last month for raping two
boys in his custody.
Judge Is No Help
Circuit Judge Patricia M. Dunbar decided
on August 22 in Hampden County Juvenile Court that DSS could keep
custody of the newborn Ross infant.
Atty. Hession told MassNews that Dunbar
said that DSS did not meet the burden of proof with the baby and
did not make reasonable efforts to keep the child with the family.
However, the judge decided that custody of the infant would remain
with DSS based on Ross’ previous history with DSS.
“Essentially, Judge Dunbar is saying ‘we
don’t care what the law says. There is a problem here and we are
going to take the child,’” said Hession, who added, “The department
simply wants to take children rather than provide services so the
family can stay together.”
Hession said he would have to study the
opinion before deciding on any future course of action.
DSS spokesman Michael MacCormack released
a statement on the Ross case and told MassNews he did not want to
“The Department’s decision to file a petition
for custody of Infant A. Ross was the result of a careful review
of this family’s history, which was incorporated, together with
information provided by medical, child welfare and mental health
professionals, into a petition filed with the Northhampton Juvenile
Court, and led to the temporary transfer of custody of this infant
“Cognizant of Ms. Ross’ desire to care
for her infant, we are nonetheless mandated to insure that the infant’s
safety and best interests are protected in a safe environment. We
are grateful that the Court’s decision today affirms the Department’s
position on the safety of this child.”
While mindful of the privacy of the child,
DSS would not even reveal the identity of the “medical, child welfare
and mental health professionals” with whom it consulted. Observers
say it sounds like they are all social workers employed by DSS,
but the agency will always use a phrase like that to avoid being
accountable to the public.
Police Raid Hospital Room
After giving birth on Sunday, August 5,
Ross says she was celebrating with her family in her hospital room
on Monday. A nurse entered the room and took the baby, saying she
had to check his vital signs.
Within minutes a posse of police, state
police and DSS social workers swarmed the room and informed the
family that DSS had taken the baby due to a 51A report of “neglect,”
which had been filed by a nurse only hours after the baby was born.
The report alleges that Ross had not fed her baby “the right way”
when she was in recovery and had allowed her mother to hold and
feed the newborn.
The physician, Dr. Torbin Iverson, entered
the mother’s room to see what was occurring and expressed his shock
and confusion at the state’s action. He stated that the mother and
baby were doing well and he had not seen any problems. It was difficult
to understand how the charge of “not feeding right” could be made
while the mother was under the care, supervision, and scrutiny of
maternity ward staff.
Ross told MassNews, “A DSS social worker
told me they had a complaint of neglect and they were taking my
baby. They threw a paper on my bed and told me to fight it in court,”
said Ross. “I was hysterical.”
DSS Worker Runs Out of Hospital with Police
Ross’ mother Sandra told MassNews that
when she drove up to the hospital to visit her daughter, she saw
a DSS social worker running out of the hospital with the baby and
flanked by state and local police. She said a state policeman prevented
her from entering the hospital.
Dr. Iverson told MassNews, “It was unusual
for DSS to come in this manner and remove a baby. The times I saw
the mother with the baby she seemed okay. She certainly seems to
be very concerned and caring and loves her children.”
Dr. Iverson, who is an obstetrician-gynecologist,
told MassNews that although he can’t prove that Ross is a fit mother,
because it is outside of his field, Ross always kept her appointments
and took good pre-natal care of her baby.
A copy of the “Nursing Progress Continuation
Notes” from the hospital reveals that DSS told social workers at
the hospital to tip them off when Ross delivered her baby.
The records note that after the birth,
Ross was encouraged multiple times to hold the infant and the bottle
upright, as well as stimulate the infant to stay awake during feeds.
“Mother not following instruction,” it says. It also states that
the mother did properly clean and change the infant and that bonding
was occurring between mother and child.
The nursing notes were relayed by phone
to DSS social worker Ann Kochis, according to the notes.
Hospital Was Told What to Do
According to the notes, DSS told the hospital
to issue a “51A Neglect Report” against Ross. The hospital informed
DSS that they were unable to establish neglect in such a short time,
yet, they filed the 51A anyway with DSS social worker Kay Durepo.
“51A form sent to DSS per their request.
DSS aware that we are unable to establish neglect in such a short
period of time. Form sent regardless,” the nursing records state.
DSS Social Worker Ann Kochis and Area
Director Ellen Patashnic at the DSS East Springfield Office refused
to comment for MassNews, directing all questions to public affairs
Attorney Greg Hession, who is helping
to get Ross’ baby back, told MassNews that in order for DSS to take
the baby, the law requires either “serious abuse and neglect,” such
as broken bones, wounds and starvation, or “the likelihood of future
serious abuse and neglect.” He added that DSS “would have had to
make reasonable efforts to keep the child with the mother.”
Attorney Alan Goodman told MassNews, “The
only abuse that has taken place in this whole situation has been
the abuse of Diana Ross, the mother, by this bureaucracy called
DSS that is out of control. DSS appears to be an agency bent on
breaking up families under the guise of child protection.”
Many observers point to the adoption bonuses
that DSS receives from the federal government when it takes a child
from its parents and adopts it out to foster parents.
Seized in 1999
Ross’ two boys, Kyle and Damien, were
seized in December 1999, after Kyle wandered outside the house.
Ross, a single mother, had previously clashed with DSS over similar
Kyle was born in September 1995 and Damien
in September 1997.
DSS placed Damien with a gay couple and
Kyle was placed with Linda McNeil and her boyfriend, Eddie Finklea
Jr., who kept a Rottweiler in the backyard.
“Kyle told me he loved me and wanted to
come home,” said Ross. “DSS told him he was never going home. I
promised Kyle I would get him home.
“He told me he got hurt in the foster
home. He had bruises on his bottom and legs and burns he said were
from a flatiron. DSS told me the burns were from a heater. Kyle
told me the people at the foster home locked him crying in the bedroom,
while they partied with drugs and alcohol.”
In a shocking story that made headlines,
Kyle was attacked and killed by the Rottweiler in June of this year
after he wandered into the dog’s unlocked pen.
Ross’ mother, Sandra Daneault, told MassNews
that she remembers after they got the news, Diana was distraught
and tearfully apologized to a photo of Kyle that she could not get
him home like she had promised him.
With the help of Attorney Alan Goodman,
Ross, who was pregnant, filed suit against the dog’s owner and has
taken preliminary steps to sue the Department of Social Services
for wrongful death and emotional distress on behalf of her son.
In an apparent retaliation, Ross’ infant
son Aaron was seized from her by DSS at the hospital the day after
he was born and just two months after the tragic death of Kyle.
Letters and cards of support may be sent to:
Diana Ross, 34 Vigeant Street, Apt. # 2,
Ware, MA 01082.
Donations of any size may be sent to: The
Ross Legal Defense Fund, c/o Justice for Families, P.O. Box 1560,
Cotuit, MA 02635.
Letters and calls of protest should be sent
to: Governor Jane Swift, State House, Boston, MA 02133,
as well as your local state representative, Congressman (DSS takes
federal funding for snatching babies), as well as major media outlets.