Foster parenting is a noble profession. There is something special about a person who is willing to take in a child to provide the love and care that s/he needs during their times of transition. There are times, though, when you can’t help but question if certain people are doing it for the right reasons; if they are qualified to foster parent at all.
That’s what came to mind when I recently read a story about Aurora Espinal-Cruz, a seven-month-old baby girl who died in 2002 while living under the foster care of Deanza Jones, a woman living in Tulsa, OK. Her death was not due to natural causes. According to the article:
“Barkett’s appeal to the 10th Circuit alleges that ‘while under the custody and care of foster parent Deanza Jones, Aurora suffered and died an agonizing death while left neglected and unattended for many days.’
‘Aurora was found to have been suffering from untreated viral respiratory illness for days. She died by suffocation on her own emesis [vomit] and coughed up blood while left abandoned by Jones in a filthy crib infested by cockroaches. Aurora’s skin in and around her diaper area had been eaten away by cockroaches,’ the appeal states.
In filings that were part of a state lawsuit against her, Jones denied allegations that she neglected the child.”
In 2003, Jones was then charged with abuse for beating an 8-year-old foster child in her home with an extension cord. She pled guilty and received a two-year deferred sentence. DHS then dropped Jones and her husband from the foster program. (It’s disturbing that it took DHS that long to do anything!)
Oh, but the story goes much deeper. Legally, DHS is required to take out liability insurance for to cover the foster parents within their program. The insurance part of the story is pretty extensive, but as it relates to Jones, the end result is this:
“Records show that Colony [Insurance Company] agreed to pay the estate $4 million to settle Jones’ claims in the federal suit, with about $1 million going to Jones and the rest to the estate, per her agreement. However, the estate continued to try to collect the rest of the judgment in state court.
On Feb. 16, 2010, Frizzell entered a judgment in favor of Colony and against the estate. Frizzell also denied Barkett’s request to bring the issue before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.”
That’s right. Jones was actually awarded $1 million from the very estate of the child who died while placed in her care!
This story is very important because sometimes we are so conditioned to abide by “systems” that we don’t think to look into the “fine print”. There are many children, right in our hometowns, that are placed into foster care and, unfortunately, many of them are not being properly nurtured. If you know of a child who has foster parents, make the time to get to know their guardians and if you sense any warning signs, be sure to alert the authorities as soon as possible.
No child should have to experience the neglect that Aurora did.
And definitely no foster parent should end up getting paid for it!
Until next time…