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Michele Shriver grew up in Texas and now lives in the Midwest, where she has a general law practice. In her free time, she enjoys bicycling, Zumba fitness and watching sports on TV. She is working on her second novel, a spin-off of After Ten.
on Feb. 27, 2014 :
I received this book free from the author through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This was a well-written book about the workings of the child welfare system, social workers, lawyers, and the courts when a child is removed from the home of a drug addicted mother. We see the long process of deciding whether to place the child back into the home or terminating rights and placing the child for adoption. This book brings forward the use of methadone in the rehab of a drug addict and how social workers, lawyers, and the courts feel about its use. I would have preferred less intimate details about the judge and her partner’s relationship. All in all this was an interesting and well-written book.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on May 30, 2013 :
Child welfare services are responsible to making sure that children live in a safe, healthy environment. When that isn't the case, they may remove a child from home and place the child in a safer location. In many cases, a family member is able to step in to care for the child. Others go into foster care. If the parent is able to show the ability to regain custody, the child is usually returned to the parent. If not, the child may be placed for adoption or will remain in the foster care system. Sometimes, though, a child is returned to his or her parent and may suffer further damage.
When AGGRAVATED CIRCUMSTANCES begins, 22 year-old Devin Lenox is at home with her two-year-old daughter, Hannah. Responding to a complaint from a neighbor about drug use and a child in the home, police arrive with a search warrant. They find Devin high on drugs, syringes and other drug paraphernalia littering a table, and Hannah in the corner, crying and in soiled clothes.
Taylor Ross, a social worker with the state Division for Children, Youth, and Families, is called in to take Hannah while Devin is taken into custody. Devin is very upset when she realizes what's happening; Taylor was also involved in taking her first child from her five years previously. Taylor phoned Judge Sarah Howton-Canfield to get a court order to take Hannah. There is no other family member available. The father is in jail for felonious sexual assault; Hannah was conceived through his raping Devin. Devin later explains she decided to go through with the pregnancy because she wanted to prove she could be a good mother.
When Devin gets to jail, she calls attorney Elisa Cahill to help her regain custody. Elisa and Taylor have a negative history between them which the author brings up at least half a dozen times before saying what started it. When Taylor learns that Elisa is the lawyer, she calls her to advise her that the person who adopted Devin's first child is the judge. It turned out that Elisa handled the adoption after Devin had lost her parental rights.
Taylor is very concerned about what happens to children who are bounced among foster homes; she was one of them. But she also is very concerned about returning a child to what may become a dangerous environment.
In order to regain custody, Devin finally realizes she must make major changes in her own life including getting off drugs, getting job and education, and assume responsibility for her own actions. She also must learn to trust other people as well as herself. She enters a recovery program and is put on Methadone. Unfortunately, the Methadone program takes a year to complete. The decision about permanent termination of parental rights is in six months. Some representing the state firmly believe her previous history condemns her permanently.
Sarah and her wife, Kelsey, also have a nine-year-old adopted son. While their lesbian marriage is discussed the same way it would have been for a straight marriage (while I really appreciated), one day he mentions another boy talking about him not having a dad. I would think that point would have been discussed when he was much younger.
AGGRAVATED CIRCUMSTANCES presents a window into the way the DCYF treats people and cases. It also shows how one incident can affect so many people in so many ways. It went beyond the basic story and told about the personal lives of the main characters as well in a style that added to the story. I think it was well written (except for all the comments about Taylor and Elisa's history).
I received this Early Reviewers book via LibraryThing and Smashwords.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)