Thursday, February 17, 2011

Guardian ad Litem Warned Court Prior to Adoption that Led to Child's Death

Concerns preceded adopted twin's death
Kim Segal and John Zarrella, CNN
"(CNN) -- There were blood relatives in Houston that wanted to adopt. There was a guardian ad litem volunteer who had concerns about the adoptive parents. Child investigators were called on more than one occasion to the home.

Yet early Monday morning along a Florida interstate, a road ranger pulled up behind a parked truck only to find a man and his 10-year-old son unconscious and the boy's twin sister dead.

This story appears to magnify everything that could go wrong with a child protective system.

In 2004, the siblings were placed with a foster family, according to Sonia Ferrer, circuit director of the guardian ad litem program. That family was Jorge and Carmen Barahona, she says.

As often is the case when children are in the Florida foster system, a volunteer from the guardian ad litem program was assigned to look out for their best interests.

"The guardian was with the children for four years," Ferrer said. "He had concerns about the placement."

Those concerns were brought to the court's attention and investigated before the children were officially adopted by the Barahonas in 2009, Ferrer said. "We did everything we could at the time. A full evidentiary hearing."

The judge on the case sided with the experts who found no problem with the children living with the Barahonas."

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