Washington Mother Represents Herself in Court and Beats CPS – Judge Orders Baby Returned Home
by Health Impact News / MedicalKidnap.com Staff
A Washington couple, 22-year-old Sophia Rosas and her fiancé, 23-year-old Sean Kilkenny, of Bremerton, have been fighting tooth and nail for the last month to bring home their two young children.
The month of September ended quite differently than it began for the young couple, with relief and tears of joy instead of grief and sorrow, as Sophia and Sean’s youngest son Riley was returned home for the second time, despite CPS objection.
See our previous stories about this family:
Washington Couple Harassed Over Medical Marijuana Use – Children Kidnapped and Allegedly Scheduled for Adoption
Judge Orders Terrorized Toddler Medically Kidnapped from Parents over Medical Marijuana Use Returned to Family’s Custody
Washington Mom Fights to Get Son Back Who Was Wrongfully Taken Away Due to Her Medical Cannabis Treatment
On September 30th, 2020, Sophia and Sean attended a Status Hearing in Kitsap County, Washington, regarding the out-of-home placement of their son, Riley. Sophia’s oldest son, Zurius, whose biological father is no longer involved in the case, was also discussed at this hearing. Commissioner Matthew Clucas presided.
The hearing began at 2:30pm PST. As with the previous hearing on Sept 23rd, numerous members of the public called in to witness the hearing but were immediately denied access.
However, almost half an hour into the hearing, the awaiting audience was suddenly allowed into the Zoom video and telephone conference. Apparently the beginning of the hearing had started with Sophia’s motion to reopen the court to the public, and her motion was granted.
As Commissioner Clucas added all of the audience that was waiting in the virtual “lobby” he mentioned there were 28 people in attendance online via Zoom.
Also in attendance through Zoom was AAG Rachel Strayhorn, SW Desiree Hovland, SW Supervisor Lillian, GAL Jennifer Martin, Attorney (for Z’s biodad) Nathan Collins, and many more, identified as court support and observers, including Health Impact News staff, that called in to witness the hearing.
In attendance in the courtroom with Commissioner Clucas and his clerk Mea, were Sophia and Sean, as well Leyna Harris (Sean’s attorney), Jennifer Kilkenny (Sean’s mother), Aysha Mitchell (Sophia’s mother), and Monica Holm (Sean’s Aunt and placement for Riley).
Most importantly, Baby Riley was also in the courtroom, allegedly at the request of the Commissioner, and could be seen babbling and fussing in the background.
There was much discussion about a family team decision meeting that had occured the Friday before, where Sophia had refused to agree to any continued services without court discussion if her son was not going to be immediately returned.
The Department continued their relentless requests for unnecessary chemical dependency treatment and questioned the legitimacy of Sophia and Sean’s medical marijuana use.
After hearing from all parties, and to the joy of the family and onlookers, Commissioner Clucas ordered that Riley be returned home immediately to his parents – that day!
He also put forth his order with the specific instruction that Riley could not be removed again without another hearing or imminent danger and extingent circumstance that would allow any child to be removed without a hearing according to Washington law.
As part of Riley’s return, the Commissioner ordered that both Sean and Sophia participate in chemical dependency assessments (with their medical recommendations provided as collateral information) and continued UA’s by request of the Department. He also mentioned that he understood Sophia was challenging the need for the chemical dependency service in her motions that still had yet to be heard, and that this requirement could change pending the outcome of those motions.
Commissioner Clucas ordered that Sean and Sophia allow the Department access to their home and to Riley upon request, but also stated that “the parents have the right to record the visits. It is their home.”
However, Commissioner Clucas also denied Sophia’s motion to discharge the public defender’s office as her legal representation. He stated that he could not allow Sophia to represent herself, on the basis that there was a pending termination of parental rights for Zurius.
The Commissioner told her that if he allowed her to proceed without an attorney, and she lost her son, that it would be hard for him to look her in the eye if he ever ran into her at the grocery store – when he was the one who let her go forward without an attorney.
Assistant Attorney General, Rachel Strayhorn, interjected that Sophia had a right to object to the denial of her motion to represent herself if she still wanted to continue pro se. Commissioner Clucas told the AAG that “obviously Sophia knows how to revise his order” and “could do so if she wanted to, or even bring it up again at a later date.”
Sophia could be seen smiling and nodding in agreement.
Commissioner Clucas assigned attorney Andrew J. Makar as Sophia’s new public defender.
Then he took up the issue of the remainder of Sophia’s motions, including her motion to dismiss the termination of parental rights petition previously filed by Washington State.
The Commissioner suggested that the motions be determined through a settlement conference, with Judge Jeffrey Bassett mediating the discussions. He spoke about what he felt were the benefits of this kind of conference, including coming to a compromise on the motions without a hearing.
Sophia and the other parties all said they would try to come to an agreement, so a conference was scheduled for October 16th, 2020, and will include all parties in the cases for both Riley and Zurius. Commissioner Clucas also scheduled a review hearing for October 21st, which will of course be open to the public, to review the status of the cases and determine the next steps.
Commissioner Clucas stated that if the public wants to join, it is best to call or log in before the 2:30pm PST start time so that they can be added in advance.
Sophia did an amazing job representing herself at the hearing, despite not being allowed to continue pro se. During the hearing, Commissioner Clucas mentioned seeing Sophia at the courthouse filing documents and commended Sophia for her efforts in her case, saying she had “done an excellent job so far.”
He also said, “I wish that you could move on with your education, go to law school and sit here and represent parents” and then even told her “when this case is all over with, come talk to me about other ways you can work in this system.”
Riley returned home the night of September 30th to a very happy Sophia and Sean. The family documented the joyous reunion through her facebook account, with many additional photos and videos following over the next few days.
Sophia says “having Riley home is a huge relief and gives us all a lot of faith that Zurius will be returning home soon as well.”
Another blessing that resulted from the court order was Sophia’s mother, Aysha, has been officially declared an “approved caregiver” – something the family had been working on since the beginning of the cases.
The Department did their required “return home walkthrough” on October 5th, 2020, which was broadcast live through the family support page. Although, one thing is very noticeable about the recording… the camera never shows the social workers.
Prior to the walkthrough, Sophia had a visit with Zurius. She says,
“Zurius and I had such a great time. He ran up to me and said, ‘I love you so much Mommy and you make me happy. I pray for you everyday.’ We had so much fun painting and playing legos.”
Sophia says that while at that visit, she had a good conversation with Desiree Hovland, the new social worker. She was allegedly told that they don’t mind being recorded, they just don’t want to be physically recorded. Sophia said she agreed and expressed how she needs them to work with her if they expect her to work with them.
“I told her from a mother’s point of view why I am having such a hard time. I explained to them that even though there was a founded abuse allegation, IT DID NOT HAPPEN. I love my kids more than life itself and Desiree kept referring to how important it is for children to be with their biological parents.”
Sophia says that Desiree has definitely been different since court and much more open to understanding Sophia’s situation than her previous social workers. She reports that even when she was unable to attend a visitation with Zurius recently, Desiree allowed her to send a video to her son, so that he did not have to miss her that day – something that never happened before.
After connecting with her new public defender, Andrew Makar, Sophia says she feels good about the upcoming settlement conference. Her only goal is to get Zurius home too, so that they can all move on with their lives, and is definitely willing to compromise to make that happen.
With the department still pursuing the chemical dependency angle and forcing the parents to complete unnecessary services paid for by the Washington tax payers, Sophia says she is willing to comply despite the continued invasion of medical privacy and unnecessary urinary analysis.
Already, both Sean and Sophia have been asked by DCYF to complete 2 UA’s each, on 4 separate days, in the last week and a half, with the first occurring immediately the day after court – October 1st.
Sophia says of course they will all be positive for THC because of their use of Medical Marijuana for their chronic health conditions.
Despite that it takes quite a bit of time and money from the parents, and attention away from Riley, to comply with these unending requests, Sophia hopes by compromising with the social workers it will allow for them to all work together to return Z home as well.
“I’m still going to be hesitant but I made it clear that as long as they work with me, I am willing to work with them. It’s all about meeting halfway, just like coming to the agreement about no visual recordings of them.”
She is nervous about the upcoming Settlement Conference, but excited to find out where a few compromises might lead in reunifying her family.
In the meantime, a new campaign has been created to demand Washington DCYF Send Zurius Home.
Family advocate, Serra Frank, says,
“What began as a broken arm, allegedly caused by an accident and never truly investigated, has turned into 2 years of unnecessary services and ever-changing demands from the Washington Department of Family, Youth and Children; with the main concern still being his mother’s continued medical marijuana use in legal Washington State.
But the court has made it clear that Medical Marijuana use is not enough to keep the children out of the home because Riley was returned home last month despite their medical use.
If the home is safe for one child, it is safe for both children. It is time for Washington DCYF to send Zurius home, too!”
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
New petition to send Zurius home – https://www.change.org/p/washington-dcyf-send-zurius-home
Additional petition – www.change.org/fight4zandriley
Next Court Hearing – Court Support Facebook Event Page – https://www.facebook.com/events/2440921349546500
Family Support Page – www.facebook.com/fight4zandriley
Family Donation Account – www.fundrazr.com/fight4zandriley
Washington Governor Jay Inslee: https://www.governor.wa.gov
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler
345 6th Street Suite 600
Bremerton, WA 98337
Representative Dan Griffey: https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/memberEmail/35/1
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504
(360) 786 – 7966
Senator Tim Sheldon: https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/memberEmail/35/0
PO Box 40435
Olympia, WA 98504
(360) 786 – 7668
Fax: (360) 786 – 1999
Senator Patty Murray: https://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/mobile/contactme
Senator Maria Cantwell: https://www.cantwell.senate.gov/contact
Representative Derek Kilmer: https://kilmer.house.gov/contact/email-me
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