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Dickson Foster Parents Denied Custody in Controversial Case - Eric Alvarez

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CHARLOTTE, Tenn. - Sonya McCaul is staying in Nebraska with her father, an ex-con, after a controversial decision by a juvenile court judge in Dickson County, Friday.

Sonya has been caught between her foster parents in Kim and David Hodgin with whom she lived most of her life, and her biological father Nebraska who regained physical custody after getting out of prison

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Judge Andy Jackson denied a request to return Sonya to the Hodgins, the only parents Sonya knew until she was 9.

"What's happened in this court today is devastating for Sonya," David Hodgin said after the court decision.  "Sonya doesn't deserve the pain that this court and DCS is giving her."

The Hodgins began fostering Sonya before she was two and eventually adopted her, but courts overturned that adoption after Sonya's biological father John McCaul saw his prison sentence for transporting firearms reduced.

In January DCS took Sonya to Nebraska to live with her father

"He has been, as far as we can tell a good father," said Rob Johnson, DCS spokesperson.  "He's fought for his daughter.  Doesn't have a perfect record, not a boy scout but he's done everything the state of Tennessee has asked."

Inside the courtroom a lawyer advocating for Sonya to stay with her father in Nebraska told the judge the only thing endangering Sonya's safety with the attention she was getting in the media and online.

"I do not know how she could be endangered by people that love her and support her," said Wendy Hodgin, foster grandmother.  "She's in danger in Omaha Nebraska."

DCS disagrees.

"We heard in the court that she's doing very well," Johnson said.  "We heard in the court that the state of Nebraska is checking on her.  We heard in the court that she's got therapists and she's doing well in school and the judge essentially said let that continue."

For now, Sonya will stay in Nebraska, but the Hodgins say they're not done fighting to get her back.

"We'll never stop, ever, ever until we get our daughter safe back home in Dickson Tennessee," David Hodgin said.

The Hodgins' attorney said she filed an appeal immediately following Friday's ruling.

A DCS spokesperson says the Dickson county juvenile court will re-visit this case again in June.

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