The Tutt children are all doing well academically in spite of the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) (person appointed by the court to represent the “best interests of the child”), who some months back assured the court that they were all at least two years behind academically. The 10-year-old daughter who the GAL said “could not spell her last name and did not know what 2+2 was,” made A’s and B’s and passed the STAAR test above grade level. Two of the other children were diagnosed with having special needs, once the Tutts finally overcame resistance by the school to have them tested. There has still been no visitation with Christina’s (the mother) older son, JP, in spite of multiple attempts by the Tutts to make arrangements to do so. JP was placed with his biological father when CPS removed him from the Tutt’s home in November, over seven months ago.
Following the stress of the CPS worker’s monthly visit recently ordered by the judge, the ten-year-old daughter was diagnosed by her pediatrician with situational depression caused by emotional trauma. During the visit, the caseworker said she would need to speak with the children alone at least for a few seconds. The ten-year-old refused and Christina did not allow it. The caseworker kept assuring the children she was not there to take them but the youngest daughter yelled “I don’t trust you!,” an understandable expression considering the children were lied to in the original taking. The monthly visit brought the ten-year-old to a state of severe anxiety and reopened the wounds caused by her removal and her desperate time in foster care. While in foster care, she said she felt isolated and abandoned. These feelings were exacerbated by the fact that her parents were not allowed regular visits with her, only having two visits between her removal and her return six weeks later. She has now started trauma therapy at the same counseling center as three of the other children.
The five-year-old daughter is in pre-K and has been thriving in her home schooling, allowed by the judge because she is below the compulsory attendance age. She is very upset, however, by the fact that her older biological sister, K, is still in foster care and they can only see her once a week during supervised visits. Some may excuse CPS’ actions by saying, “these are foster kids who were adopted and they must be used to being passed around to different homes.” The reality is that K, who is six and remains in foster care, was in the Tutt’s home since the age of three. She is understandably very upset and asks at each visit when she can come home. The other children have been with the family since infancy or for the majority of their lives, and know the Tutt’s home to be their own.
The Tutts have recently dismissed their local attorney and are now being represented by an attorney referred by THSC. Their new attorney represented them in a hearing on June 17 regarding the daughter who is still in foster care awaiting final adoption proceedings, which have been delayed by this entire trauma. The family was very pleased with their new attorney who was much more aggressive in representing their needs and concerns.
In spite of a court order issued in March to allow THSC a redacted copy of the transcript of the January hearing, that transcript has still not been delivered. The Tutt’s attorney, seeking to file a writ of mandamus, has been denied a transcript until the judge rules on that motion in another hearing, although she represents the Tutts and is legally entitled to have it. The court has thus far said a hearing date is not available until July.
THSC is working through various channels to bring this injustice to light and continues to cover all legal costs of the case. We sent another letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), among other officials, regarding this case and the caseworkers involved but have not received a response. We did speak recently with the Texas Commissioner of Health and Human Services who has become aware of the case and has initiated an investigation. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) oversees the DFPS.
We are well aware that the battles against state agency violations of parental rights are often long and rigorous and for that reason many times families lose. But that will not be the case here. As we have seen in the recent case of Justina Pelletier in Massachusetts, legal action coupled with prayer and public opposition can result in the restoration of families who have been illegally and wrongly torn apart by rogue officials. After almost a year and a half, this daughter has been reunited with her family and we are confident that will be the case with the Tutts as well.
Please continue to pray for the Tutts and their children during this difficult time. Pray for the attorneys involved who are preparing for a June 27 hearing, as well as other legal remedies being pursued. Please consider making a contribution to the defense of the Tutt family.