RATHDRUM, Idaho—After the State of Idaho suddenly took a young girl from her foster mom, KREM 2 On Your Side learned the girl’s birth mother had specifically tried to protect her daughter from her new family.
A KREM 2 On Your Side Investigation learned about the girl, referred to as “D.”, in May when her foster mom asked for help. Foster mom, Andrea Butler, said D. was being taken away after four and a half years with her. In 2012, the state decided to transfer D. into the care of her biological father’s relatives.
D’s biological mother watched the 2 On Your Side report and recognized the paternal family members as the same people she tried to protect her daughter from many years prior.
She said she signed a court affidavit, designating who she wanted to care for her child. State workers promised to follow those instructions, but did the opposite according to the mother.
“I just don’t understand the motives for this and why they would do this,” she said.
The woman-- an admitted meth addict-- voluntarily gave up her parental rights to Butler.
“For Andrea to have D. back,” she explained. “I didn’t want to be selfish anymore. I knew I had to think about my kids.”
Butler cared for D. since she was only 8-months-old.
“D. has always been aware of who she is and what her background is,” Butler said. “She’s always… well, for a long time, had contact with her biological parents. We’ve had phone calls, we shared pictures, we wrote them letters back and forth. So, she’s always known that there’s more out there.”
The birth mother signed a court affidavit stating that she, “voluntarily consented to the termination of her parental rights… based on the belief that D. would remain permanently with Andrea.”
She explained that it was in her daughter’s best interest to be adopted by Andrea and that, should she be removed from Butler’s care, it would cause a lifetime of psychological, social, emotional and mental drama.
D.’s biological mother spoke with KREM 2 News from her home in Oregon.
Biological Mother : They said they would do everything in their power to make sure (D.) stayed there.
W. Ward: So, what happened? I mean, that’s a complete 180. Did they ever tell you why?
Biological Mother: No, I tried to contact the DHS worker numerous times and she never once called me back.
Butler was specifically licensed as a foster-to-adopt parent and in the process of formalizing D’s adoption when the state decided to place her with her biological relatives.
The KREM 2 On Your Side investigation revealed those relatives had extensive criminal backgrounds in multiple states; from forgery and harassment by the adoptive father to theft, drug possession and lewd conduct by his adult sons, who shared the same home address. The state did not run a background check on either of those adult sons.
W. Ward: One of the things the state says is they didn't do a background check on (name redacted) because the family says he hasn't lived there for 10 years and isn't allowed in that house. Is that what you saw?
Biological Mother: That's a lie! That is a lie. (Name redacted) was living there, he goes there anytime he wants to. He was living there just a few months ago.
State officials argued D. would be better off with her blood relatives and a half-brother who the family previously adopted. D had never before met the half-brother.
“I have never been opposed to her knowing her family,” Butler said. “I think it’s extremely important to know who you are, where you come from. I just didn’t want it to be at the expense of her losing everything else around her.”
State officials put D. in a third foster parent’s care after taking her from Butler’s home.
“Supposedly they want to keep families together, but they’re just ripping this little girl’s heart out,” Butler said.
After nearly two months, in May, the transition into D.’s new home had not happened.
In light of D.’s situation, KREM 2 On Your Side evaluated Idaho’s guidelines for foster care and adoption. There were multiple examples of the agency failing to abide by its own rules in her case.