Prayer vigil to support Maryanne and Ariana Godboldo, held at Hawthorn Center
By Diane Bukowski
NORTHVILLE – “I want my daughter back NOW, release her TODAY,” Maryann Godboldo cried out during a prayer vigil outside the Hawthorn Center where her daughter Ariana is incarcerated because her mother would not medicate her with a dangerous drug, Risperdal.
The Hawthorn Center in Northville is a state-operated psychiatric facility.
“She was taken illegally,” Godboldo said of the seizure of her child Mar. 24 by an army of police accompanying Child Protective Services (CPS) workers. “They did not have a warrant. My daughter belongs to ME, not the state.”
The hour-long vigil was attended by over one hundred supporters, some of whom came in a church bus. Godboldo’s pastor, the Rev. Charles Adams of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Social Justice ministry head the Rev. Edie Worthy, and numerous members of that church, along with other families who have lost their children to the state foster care system, swelled the ranks.
They chanted, “What do we want? Ariana! When do we want her? NOW! Free Ariana!”
“CPS has lost their way,” Adams told the crowd. “Many children are caught in their web. They are institutionalized unfairly, medicated, mistreated and abused. The entire system needs to be investigated and those responsible for abuses should be charged.”
Godboldo faces eight felony counts for resisting the seizure of her daughter from their home on Blaine near Linwood. Criminal proceedings against her have been stayed until the State Supreme Court rules on a similar case. She and her family say Ariana was seeing a doctor of Godboldo’s choice and receiving holistic treatment, which allowed her to recover from the side effects of Risperdal, including weight gain, facial grimaces, and behavioral changes.
“They are not giving her the medications her doctor prescribed in there,” Godboldo said. “The only reason I came out of the house was because I thought she would go to my family and receive the proper care. But she was kidnapped and taken to Children’s Hospital and Hawthorn. This has happened many times before. I promised I was coming for her, and I cannot enter that building now unless I can take my daughter home with me.”
At one point, she walked over to the facility with the intent of taking her child back, and collapsed in tears in the arms of a friend, crying, “She told me I want to come home, Mommy. I want my baby now!”
A parent told the protesters, “Follow the money. Get investigators to find out how much the system is getting in administrative fees and rewards for adopting out children away from their families.”
Adams said that Mia Wenk, the CPS worker who initiated the seizure of Ariana and went to the home to get her, had only been on the job for a few weeks, with a degree not in social work, but in criminal justice. According to the state’s website, they are currently hiring “Social Services Specialists” for CPS and other positions, who are required only to have bachelor’s degrees in one of several fields, including criminal justice.
VOD contacted Carla Coleman, Hawthorn’s Recipient Rights Advisor, to ask for a list of complaints against the institution over the last five years. Hawthorn informed Godboldo the previous week that Ariana was being transported to Children’s Hospital because she had contracted a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). Since she received a physical at Children’s before being incarcerated at Hawthorn, the family believes she contracted the disease at Hawthorn.
Coleman was to get back to VOD with the list, but two days later, had not called back. Private inpatient care facilities in the state are required to maintain lists of all complaints for public inspection on site. However, state facilities are not even required to be licensed, according to an official with the Department of Community Health (MDCH).
Deborah Garcia-Luna, an MDCH communications office, deflected a Freedom of Information Act request about the matter to an FOIA email inbox. Questions directed to the Department of Human Services regarding Wenk’s qualifications went unanswered as well.
The Godboldo family and their supporters were expected to be in Juvenile Court Wed. Apr. 13 at 1:30 p.m. for another custody hearing. During the last hearing, dozens of people turned out in support, including students from the Nsoroma Institute, who protested in front of the court, located on E. Forest at the 1-75 service drive.
The Justice4Maryanne Committee is also conducting a calling campaign to State Representatives to demand an investigation of CPS practices, as follows:
“Please call the following elected officers EVERY DAY and tell them that you want them to investigate the Department of Human Services, Ms. Mia Wenk, and the procedures of Child Protective Services. Tell them that you want these policies and procedures to change. Let these elected officials know that it is in their best interests to satisfy the demands of the people of the community. Let them know that Child Protective Services cannot get away with treating our law-abiding citizens in this cruel and unconstitutional way.”
STATE REPS FOR DETROIT: Fred Durhal 517.373 0844; Shanelle Jackson 517.373 1705; David Nathan 517.373.3815; Jimmy Womack 517.373.0589; Lisa Howze 317.373.0106
The family also needs legal and medical professionals to assist Godboldo’s attorneys, Allison Folmar and Wanda Evans.