DFW Editors Blind To Needs Of Child

By now, the story of Baby Gabriel Brandt is well known around Oregon.  Gabriel was put into foster care by the state when he was 4 months old.  His mother pled guilty to felony drug charges but then fled before sentencing, and is nowhere to be found.  His father, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was released from Oregon prison last month after serving time on drug charges. He had also been twice convicted of attempted first-degree rape involving a child.  So the parental rights of both parents had been officially severed by the state, and Gabe had been given to Steve and Angela Brandt as a foster child.  The Brandts were told that they had a good chance to adopt Gabe.

Then, for some reason apparently only DHS can understand, the state decided that Gabe must go live with his paternal grandmother in Mexico.  This in spite of the following facts:

  • Gabe is an American citizen (his mother is American)
  • The Brandts are the only family he has known
  • His father, who has been convicted of child molestation, will be living with his mother

Even the biological father thinks Gabe should stay where he is

NEAR NEWPORT, Ore. - There is a stunning new revelation in an Oregon family's fight to keep their foster son from being sent to Mexico - the boy's biological father says it may be best for his son to stay with the only parents he has ever known.

Roberto Valiente-Martinez, who is locked up in prison for the rape of two girls, has had a long time to think about the fate of his 2-year-old boy, Garbriel Allred.

In an interview from behind prison walls with a Univision reporter, he said his son should stay with the foster family who has raised him.

"It's the only family he knows," Valiente-Martinez said. "He has everything and if it means we take Gabriel and he's going to suffer, my son is better off there."

With Gabriel Allred's father in prison and his mother on the run from the law, the Brandt family has had the boy since he was 4 months old.

"I am his dad and I mean a lot to him," said Steve Brandt. "It's not just that - he means a lot to me."

The Oregon Department of Human Services has twice ruled that the boy, who was born in Oregon, should be sent to Mexico to live with his grandmother, who is a blood relative.

But Gabriel's biological father said the Brandts have taken great care of his son.

"They're giving him everything and they're giving him everything that I couldn't give him because I couldn't be there for him as his father," he said.

The reasoning DHS provides is simply that the grandmother is a blood relative, and that outweighs all other factors (and common sense, too).  Apparently it doesn't matter that Gabe has never met the grandmother, she has shown no interest in him up until now, she doesn't speak English, and he doesn't speak (or understand) Spanish.

The outrage that has been expressed has been palpable, especially once the Fish Wrapper decided to cover the story (they couldn't be bothered until it had been making news for a couple weeks).  Last Friday, DHS made the final decision that Gabe would be deported, and so the Brandts filed court papers on Monday to keep the state from taking Gabe right away.  And today, the Fish Wrapper editors proved that no matter how deep a hole you dig, you can always keep digging.  In their lead editorial, they unbelievably say that DHS made the correct decision.

Oregon's Department of Human Services did not make this decision on a whim. It made it on a policy that clearly states the primacy of family and cultural ties. Placing rescued children with relatives -- reuniting families -- is a priority for a very simple reason. In the long run, and in the majority of cases, it makes the most sense.

Riiiiiight.  Ask people who are familiar with DHS cases how many time children will be sent back to back situations simply because they are going back to their family.

Once child welfare officials found Gabriel's paternal grandmother in Mexico, once she learned she had a grandson and readied a room in which to raise him, the right call was clear. Came then the outrage, surely -- shamefully -- inflamed because the border being crossed in this debate is with Mexico rather than, say, Canada.

I was picking my jaw up off the floor when I read that.  What the heck does racism have to do with it?!?  I can guarantee you that the reaction would have been the same no matter which country they were deporting Gabe to, especially if the grandmother doesn't speak English and Gabe has never heard her language.  The only people who are acting shamefully are the Fish Wrapper editors by throwing the charges of racism around.  They're just like the whiny Latino activists who want to accuse everybody of racism just because they can't come in and decide which streets they want to rename for someone who has no ties to Oregon.

The Brandts, meanwhile, having exhausted their appeals through the Department of Human Services, filed in court Monday to have Gabriel removed from state custody and remanded to them.

Our nation too long has struggled to find enough good foster homes for children in need of nurturing. As a result, far too many kids have far too often been shunted through multiple placements. The resulting massive social dysfunction spawned a growing trend toward so-called "kinship care." That's the child-welfare system's term for children being raised by relatives. It's a population now of some 6 million American children. Oregon last year was home to 51,617 of them.

This is the backdrop, we should recall, against which the case of young Gabriel is unfolding. It's a backdrop of other Oregon foster kids -- thousands of them -- in need this week of a loving, a caring, a family home. We should recall, too, that at the center of this storm stands a child, not a cargo. Our decision here, we stress, is not about the Brandts. It's about Gabriel. In the short term, the decision to send him to Mexico surely will tear a hole in many hearts, including his (obviously it won't bother the editors). In the long term, across time, we can only pray that his heart will heal, will be strong, and will feel itself at home. With family. Where it belongs.

So in other words, we know it will cause severe damage in the short run, and we can only hope that it works out for the better in the long run?  When it comes to a childs life, shouldn't we have a little more certainty than that?  The sheer stupidity and blindness here is just staggering.  Any child psychologist will tell you that the first three years of a childs life are where he bonds and forms relationships.  Being yanked out of the only stability he's ever known and thrown into a culture where he knows nobody and has absolutely no familiarity with the language could cause him to have sever difficulties forming relationships for the rest of his life.  Is that a risk worth taking for the sake of political correctness?  Apparently it is for the Fish Wrapper editors.


Baby Gabriel

The child is a US citizen.  It should end there.  Unless the grandmother is moving to the United States - LEGALLY!  He did nothing to deserve to be deported.  He'll just end up having to "jump the fence" to get back later.  Also, if that grandmother raised such a dispicable son, she shouldn't have a crack at the child when he is already in a stable and loving family in his own country, the U.S.

It's a real slap in the face that the citizens of Oregon had to pay for an illegal (the father) to be in prison here instead of being deported.  Especially, when a child is being punished with deportation for simply being related to someone he's never met.  Plus, although both parents rights are terminated, the mother is a US citizen. 

Additionally, if the child is deported to Mexico, the state will be sending that grandmother a check every month and she isn't even a US CITIZEN.  Just another drain on the taxpayer whereas at least if the child remained here the taxpayers money goes back into the US economy - NOT MEXICO's!! 

This reeks in more ways than one.  Sadly, the child will pay the ultimate price.

These people have no heart

I have a 17 month old child. I couldnt imgaine someone coming to take him. A 2 yr old has rights too. Hell an 8 wk old fetus has rights. This isnt Ellens Dog we are talking about here. And yet she recieved more media attention. What is wrong with people. Lets exploit Britany's No Underwear but Lets not acknowledge that a poor human life is being drug through hell. I bet the Oregon Governor knows more of whats going on in Britany's custody case than this one. He does not respond to the families Plea's. What a horrible horrible person. I can only imgaine that one day he may experience the pain and hurt he is putting this family through. Karma does come back ten fold. I fully plan to ruin his name across the web and all over every aspect of my life. I am a strong supporter of the DHS they do amazing things THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

No, it violates common sense and state law

Maybe with the DHS policy, but not with state law.  Section (d) of ORS 417.715 says that

"A view that strengthening families is of paramount concern, but that child safety must come first if a conflict between the well-being of a child and the well-being of a family arises" should guide the implementation of the system. 

So you tell me, how does tearing a 2 year old away from the only family he's know, and putting him in a house to possibly live with a convicted drug dealer and sex offender accomplish that goal?

This decision to put every child possible with relatives regardless of the surrounding circumstances is an overreaction to the days when they didn';t always consider the relatives in placing foster kids.  A happy medium that uses common sense needs to be reached, and this is one of those places that common sense isn't being used.

DHS's ruling has been in

DHS's ruling has been in accordance with policy and state law, and so Gabriel should be sent back to mexico.

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