NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — Claudia Gilbert and Alice Miller have been fighting for custody of their seven and eight year old cousins.
“They have family. They have family that’s fighting for them. We want them with their family,” says Claudia.
Claudia says the boys’ birth mother has drug problems and left them with a neighbor through power of attorney.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) doesn’t investigate every power of attorney, but according to public records, the woman taking care of the boys has an extensive criminal background dating back to the 90s.
Documents show she has been charged with DUI, disorderly conduct, drugs, and assault, just to name a few.
Screenshots FOX 17 News received show this woman sending the family threatening messages.
“We told the attorney, we told the judge, we’ve even told the mother several times. I mean, we don’t want the money. We want the children. We want the stability for the children,” says Claudia.
The family’s also been frustrated with the court-appointed lawyer helping the boys.
“I just feel like he doesn’t care. He’s not doing anything, especially with all the information he has, I felt like he should’ve done more. Of course, we’re gonna keep going to court and fighting, but it’s just frustrating to keep going through it,” says Claudia.
FOX 17 News called the lawyer to ask him about the family's concerns, but we are waiting on a response.
Claudia even fostered children before and ended up adopting.
Plus, they have a big family.
Claudia’s grandmother has twelve children and more than seventy grandchildren, so they don’t understand why it’s taking so long for the boys to get back in the care of the family.
“We just want to get them stable to where they don’t have to keep moving,” says Claudia.
“This probably keeps you both up at night?” asks FOX17 News’ Amanda Chin.
“For me it does,” says Alice.
Claudia says she reached out to The TN Department of Children's Services in March to report the woman who's watching the boys and asked if they could be moved at least until the next court date.
A spokesperson for DCS says in a statement to FOX 17 News:
“Families often use the legal authorization of a Power of Attorney for a variety of reasons which can include child placement, when needed. Every POA is not required to be vetted by DCS. We investigate cases as they are referred to us and follow policy to assess for safety. If there are circumstances for DCS to intervene, then the department follows an established procedure to file pleadings with the courts. We can confirm an investigation has commenced in this case.”
Claudia’s court hearing for custody of the boys is scheduled for May 15.
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