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Grandmother questions child welfare system after judge sides with foster family

After a DNA test confirmed they were kin, Cynthia Cooley asked to have her grandson placed with her.

DENVER — “I’m here for a cause, stop taking our children!” Cynthia Cooley stood in the rain at the steps of the Capitol on Saturday to draw attention to a system that she said kidnapped her grandson. 

“Legally kidnapping our children through the judicial system,” she called it.

Cooley was participating in the third annual protest organized by the MJCF Coalition to fight for the end of family separation through the child welfare system. 

Maleeka Jihad, MJCF founder, claims that families of color and those experiencing poverty are more negatively impacted by the foster care system, including higher rates of out-of-home placements for children and the termination of parental rights.

"There's a lot of negative impacts of adoptions, especially transracial adoptions, of the savior complex. ‘A white family had to save me because no one in my Black family or community wanted me’, that is not true, that is not correct," Jihad said.

When Cooley’s grandson was born in 2020, she stepped up to offer a home for the baby. The foster family who had been caring for him since his birth filed to "intervene" in the case, and a judge ultimately granted the foster family the right to adopt him.

"[He] is a wanted child — he's not a child that's not wanted," Cooley said. "Right now he doesn't know any better because he is only two."

The MJCF Coalition has set up a registry that will help children like him discover the truth when they get older.  

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis plans to sign HB23-1024 “Relative and Kin Placement of a Child” which would give relatives and kin greater support and opportunity to care for their children. The bill will require foster families to wait at least 12 months to intervene, rather than the current three months, which gives the child's own family more time to try to step in and help.


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