Let Our Children Go – Part 2

By Laura Fawaz, Contributing Reporter

IMG_5494Pontiac, MI– After an eight month battle, Jessica Reed and Maged Mousa are still fighting to get back custody of their children after they were taken by Child Protective Services (CPS) last May.

Reed and Mousa of Farmington Hills are the parents of the four daughters that were illegally taken from CPS.  The Muslim Observer has been reporting on this ongoing battle since it first began last May.  According to Reed, a neighbor called the police after seeing the oldest daughter, Sophia, playing on the family’s back porch without an adult.  A few days later, CPS showed up demanding to see the children and the home, but failed to show any court documents validating any need to enter.  Under Michigan law, unless it is an emergency where a child is in severe danger, CPS workers are supposed to request a hearing in front of a judge where the parents accused of neglect or abuse, can tell their side of the story before a child is removed from the home.  Also under Michigan law, a judge must personally review a removal order, and not just have someone else “rubberstamp ” his or her signature. 

During this battle, Reed says their rights have been denied, citing the unsuitable housing for the children, all while Reed sister and aunt have each been begging to take the kids in themselves.  But instead, the children were placed in the foster care system, because “it’s all about the money,” says Reed’s attorney Allison Folmer, who also represented Maryanne Godboldo in a separate high-profile custody case with CPS and with the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Wayne County.  For every family that takes in foster children, CPS gets a percentage of the money that the families receive.  Though, according to Michigan law, family members must be looked to first for the children to be placed with before they are put into the foster care system.

After our last story at the hearing six weeks ago, Oakland County Circuit Judge Hon. Lisa Gorcycka, who was then recently reassigned the case, ordered CPS to schedule an interview with Reed’s sister to see if she can provide proper housing for the children.  But, not only did CPS never show up at the interview, they also never called to reschedule.  And when the sister called the foster care worker, according to Reed, they said under no circumstances can Reed’s sister have the two older children, nor would they reschedule the visit, without giving any reasoning as to why.

After a follow-up hearing held last month, the baby twins were reunited with their parents, Reed and Mousa.  Though the older two daughters, Sophia and Nadia, are still not allowed to have unsupervised visits with their parents whom they beg to take them home after each visit.  “With the infants home, half the battle is won, but not over.  We cannot ever get back the time lost, but InshAllah everything will work itself out … the babies are home to stay, six agonizing months and finally, commented Reed.

Reed’s comment after the recent hearing last Tuesday, “More delays … There is not one valid reason why the children are not home, they are just delaying the process as a way of punishment for speaking out against their lies and corruption!  I fear None but Allah SWT … they do not think it is important to return my children.  Ya Rabbil Alameen have mercy on us and return our children and punish those whom have lied on us and oppressed us.”

This delay that Reed is mentioning is about a signed document from a CPS official that shows that Reed and Mousa did in fact attend the mandatory therapy meeting.  They did attend this meeting, however, the court has said that they cannot verify this because the paperwork has been lost.  It was agreed upon three months ago that Sophia and Nadia would get to have unsupervised visits on the weekends with their parents, and then the family services would then begin in the family’s home.  Now, CPS is retracting that statement and requested that Reed and Mousa go through the family services first, before they can have unsupervised visits.  So as of now, no advances have been made in Sophia and Nadia’s future.

Ashleigh Johnson, who was present in court on behalf of CPS stated that these family services is mandatory, but according to the foster care’s program paper work the family “must be in need of services” and the family “must request the services.”

Here, CPS proved that they are court ordering something that is optional and only for those who are in need of it, which Judge Gorcycka even stated that this family is not in need of.  Regardless, CPS will not come into Reed and Mousa’s home twice a week for five hours a day.  And after the next hearing in March, if they feel they can allow the children to have unsupervised visits, then the first week that the children are returned, the family visits will be doubled.  “It is NOT mandatory, still yet people lining up to get paid.  How they are forcing us to do all of this?  Dangling our children using them as incentive.  Doesn’t it matter how many times they hold contempt of court by not following judges orders,” said Reed.

When talking to Folmer about the ways in which DHS and CPS handle these cases, Folmer stated that in this line of work, nothing could be last minute.  And thought that this is how a simple mishap like a lost piece of paper turns into two young girls being told they cannot go home with their parents, as they have been begging to do so since the beginning.  And added, “Why are we last minute when your holding children in custody.  But you see where this is about money.  The more services you go through, the more money they get.  I cannot think of anything dignified to say about CPS.  After this slew of services, they [CPS] said their going to do “whatever DHS tells us,” I’m confused and I’m a lawyer.  It all only ends up making money for them.  The twins have been given back and they are perfectly fine.  Jessica and Maged deserve the kids,” said Folmer.

Rehab Amer, who has been with the Reed and Mousa family every step of the way, also went through a similar case over 10 years ago.  “The system fails children everywhere.  The kids are quickly taken from their family to a stranger, but now need to be eased back into their own home,” said Amer.

Last Tuesday, Reed came out of Judge Gorcycka’s courtroom in tears saying “That’s my kids, that’s my life.”

The next court hearing is set for March 7th.  The Muslim Observer will continue to bring you updates on the family, and the situation.


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