“This is more of a case of three people coming together for a child despite DHS,” said Shawn Self of his 9-year-old son, David.
David, his custodial parents and his birth mother are caught in a legal limbo created by the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
Shawn and Rachel Self of Diamondhead explained that they became David’s foster parents after DHS took custody of him at the hospital, because the child was born with drugs in his system.
This story is part of ‘Fostering Secrets,’ a six-part investigative series into Mississippi’s child protection system. > Read the full series here
But the DHS caseworker didn’t fill out the paperwork properly, preventing the Selfs from adopting David and giving his birth mother, Darlene Favre, an opportunity to claim custody.
“If (the DHS case worker) had the paperwork, Darlene would not have been a part of his life at all,” said Rachael Self.
The case has been in and out of Youth Court and Chancery Court, but in the end the two families have come up with a visitation schedule for the birth mother, not unlike a divorce settlement.
“We figured DHS was on the up and up, they knew what they were doing,” said a frustrated Shawn Self in a May interview.
“It’s a mess, and on the other hand it ’s a miracle it has worked out as well as it has.”
About the Sun Herald’s investigation
Over the past 18 months, the Sun Herald has conducted exclusive interviews and filed public-records requests with several law enforcement agencies. The paper uncovered audio recordings, court filings and thousands of pages of documents related to how the state appears to have mishandled several child-protection cases.