A Kansas grandmother’s plea for custody

Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 4:22 PM CST
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MUSCOTAH, Kan. (KCTV) - Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family, but one Kansas grandmother has had hers torn apart.

This is the latest case in a series of foster care failure stories KCTV5 has been following.

Melissa Razo wants to adopt her three grandsons, only to be denied.

“They just snatched them completely out of our lives,” cried Melissa. “They moved them all the way to North Dakota with somebody they’d never even met before.”

Melissa’s grandsons are 8, 6 and 4. Cornerstones of Care took the boys away from Melissa’s daughter in July. Kelsey struggles with a drug addiction and, come December, she stands to lose her parental rights. Melissa wants more than anything to give her grandsons a loving home.

“I have been excluded so much. I’ve tried to be their foster placement twice and I’ve just been totally ignored about it,” said Melissa. “I’m not perfect, but I know I love them with all my heart.”

Melissa said now she can hardly show her grandsons any love.

“Since September, when I was court ordered weekly visits, I’ve only gotten one other one,” said Melissa.

She’s also sent dozens of letters, cards and gifts.

“I’ve been mailing them stuff since January. So, they have Valentine’s, they have Thanksgiving, they have Halloween, they have their birthdays. All their stuff sitting in an office somewhere,” said Melissa.

KCTV5 reached out to Cornerstones of Care. Their policy is that specific cases cannot be discussed, but we were sent their general statement on adoption:

“In child welfare, the framework for adoption is set by federal legislation and states pass laws and policies for child welfare agencies to follow in compliance with federal requirements. Each case operates within the defined framework but is unique in its treatment team, dynamics, and circumstances. A child welfare agency cannot finalize an adoption from foster care without judicial approval and state approval. In each case, it should be clear to formal prospective adoptive families from court documentation and/or the staffing process why their request was denied.”

“Never, never once have I been given anything,” said Melissa. “I was supposed to be given a paper saying, ‘These are your rights. These are your options.’ Never got a thing. Not one thing.”

It’s why Melissa now documents as much as she can.

“I’ve been writing this stuff down for a year now. I’ve got two of these calendars,” said Melissa.

She’s also still shopping for gifts.

“And then I start crying, because I know I can’t get it to them,” Melissa said, crying.

Her tears and thoughts now turning to fear.

“They’ve been let down. They’ve been abandoned almost, you know? They’ve been bounced around, and I’ve been trying to be a constant for them,” said Melissa. “They love their Nana, you know? Their eyes will just light up when they see me.”

Melissa said they already seem to be fading.“When I tell him, ‘I’ll see you again,’ the middle one... the middle one just kind of looks at me like you don’t believe me now, and it breaks my heart,” said Melissa.

Her worst fear is that it will break her daughter.

“If they take her rights away, I’m seriously worried about her safety because I think it will push her over the edge,” said Melissa.

Even as recently as the day Melissa met with KCTV5 (Nov.14), she was scheduled for a Zoom meeting with her grandsons. Melissa said she waited 45 minutes and the meeting never happened.

She has even taken steps to contact Cornerstones of Care, DCF and Governor Kelly’s Office of the Child Advocate and received no response.

KCTV5 requested an interview with Secretary Laura Howard of DCF and we did not hear back.

Kelsey Razo contacted KCTV5 and said she has serious concerns for her three boys. She said this is the fourth family her sons have been with since they’ve been in the Kansas foster care system.

She also said is continuing to fight for her boys. Kelsey told KCTV5 she has paid for rehab and continues to attend outpatient treatment.

She has also paid for and completed all classes required by the state. She has also completed additional classes, all of which pays for.

“It doesn’t matter how much it cost me or what it takes,” said Kelsey. “I’m still fighting. I’m never giving up my boys.”

Kelsey also said that, like her mother, she is not getting regular visits with her son.

She has contacted Governor Laura Kelly’s Office of the Child Advocate but did not hear back.

“I feel like I’ve done everything. I’ve gone above and beyond, but I’m getting nowhere,” said Kelsey.

Also, KCTV5 has learned a sad update to a story we’ve been following.

The three siblings in the foster care of Jackie Schooler have been taken away to be relocated with a new family.

We spoke with Jackie in November; she’s been raising the two girls and their brother for the last 3 years.

Jackie had been fighting to place the children with their daycare provider, who the kids know and love.

Instead, they’ve been sent to live with a family in Manhattan, two hours away from other siblings in the Kansas City area.