Buncombe Dept. of Social Services: Baby Brokers in Child Adoption Market

Buncombe Dept. of Social Services: Baby Brokers in Child Adoption Market
By Lisa Baldwin

Buncombe’s Department of Social Services (DSS) is riddled with heart-wrenching problems related to child placement.

After a federal review of Children’s Protective Services cases in Buncombe and ten other North Carolina counties, the state faces fines of $1.7 million. An “improvement plan” will be put into place but not before multiple families are torn apart.

Family preservation is supposed to be the goal of DSS but according to a DSS whistleblower the opposite is occurring. Instead of trying to restore families, children remain in foster care for years. In spite of parents, and even grandparent’s, extreme efforts, these children are often subjected to foster parent adoptions based on false information. Plus, court cases are intentionally prolonged, draining finances and mentally exhausting relatives trying to get their children back.

Why aren’t children returned to deserving parents or grandparents?

“Economic Development” is more important than family bonds. DSS is a Job Producer for multiple therapists, attorneys, social workers and other service providers. One child can create jobs for at least five people: Therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists for the child, therapeutic counselors for the foster parent to teach them to parent the child, taxpayer-funded attorneys for DSS and for the Guardian ad litem (a volunteer advocate for the child), and state-appointed attorneys for the natural parents. Economic development before family preservation?

Foster parent adoptions can payout $85,000 or more to DSS and the foster parents. Perverse federal and North Carolina state incentives encourage adoptions that amount to child stealing. A Buncombe DSS whistleblower recounted the story of foster parents who wanted to adopt the child in their care. The social worker told the foster parents that she would arrange meetings with the birth mother at inconvenient times. Because the social worker knew the birth mother didn’t have a car, she planned the meetings when the city bus did not run. The social worker told these foster parents that she would then write-up the parent as a “no-show.” Parents have also been intentionally left out of meetings that ultimately decide their child’s fate/placement.

A 6-year-old child recently died in DSS care. When a social worker tried to ask the Buncombe Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS) oversight board for an investigation into the case, she found that the Board had permanently removed its public comment period from their monthly agenda. Won’t pretending problems don’t exist put more children at risk of injury or death?

Lila Pickering was stabbed by her father in what might be called a tragic and unnecessary “mercy” killing. Her father, Seth Pickering, a disabled veteran, told police, “Ten minutes before [the Blue Ridge Parkway ranger] got there, my daughter made me promise that they (DSS) would never take her away from me again. I reacted the only way I knew she could go to sleep without having to cry, ‘Daddy I want to come home,” Pickering said, adding, “I knew as soon as they showed up, they would take her away from me and never let me see her again.’”

Lila’s mother had been fighting the courts and DSS to get her child. “I went to leave and a cop was supposed to send Lila with me, and he didn’t, and I’ve been fighting with the courts and DSS,” Ashley Pickering, Lila’s mother, said. DSS has not answered the questions as to why Lila’s DSS appointed-caregiver waited 45 minutes before calling the police when Lila’s father took her.

Cindy Dabil, Lila’s grandmother says DSS Child Protective Services in Florida and in North Carolina should have done more to protect Lila. She hopes Lila’s tragic death will serve as a call to action to better protect children from abuse, and to make changes to improve the safety of children living in state care.

This death was preventable. There were relatives who could have taken the child. DSS is supposed to go to the family first. That is why the Kinship Program exists. North Carolina DHHS Policy 1201 states, “County Departments of Social Services shall strive to strengthen and preserve the family. In keeping with Federal law, North Carolina law and policy require that, when a juvenile must be removed from his home, the County DSS Director shall give preference to an adult relative or other kin when determining placement, provided that (1) the placement is assessed by the agency to be in the best interests of the child in terms of both safety and nurture; and (2) the prospective caregiver and the living situation are assessed and determined to meet relevant standards.”

But if DSS is to receive adoption assistance funds (the money grab), the child must have been in DSS care first. This is true even if a relative wants to adopt the child. Some children have been in foster care for years without being adopted because DSS repeatedly delays custody hearing when parents and other relatives fight to get their children back. DSS employs various techniques to discourage them from getting these “valuable commodities.” Parents are demoralized and made to feel unfit. Social workers tell the guardian ad litem (supposed to advocate for the child’s best interest) lies about the parents and grandparents, e.g., accusing them of using drugs when this was in their past or never occurred. DSS “home visits” to assess the relative’s environment are not occurring or the “standards” are impossible to reach. At the same time, the foster parent can do no wrong.

Unfairly, DSS has a habit of basing the removal of a child on the parent’s past. According to our DSS whistleblower, drug-free babies are being ripped from the arms of mothers at Mission Hospital, just because a previous sibling was born addicted to opioids. Nevermind that the mom is making a fresh start. Parents are not being offered the help they need – instead, the parenting classes are for the fosters. Therapeutic counselors are sent into foster homes 3 times a week to help the foster parent “bond” with the child when the maternal bond exists with the natural parent. I have seen judges like Susan Dotson-Smith, angrily refuse to give parents custody because they continue to bond with their children on supervised visits. Because The Tribune has reported on this judge’s unethical courtroom behavior, she now periodically closes the courtroom and doesn’t allow the public in to see her dress down mothers. (See “Buncombe Child Protective Services: Legal Kidnapping” story.)

Consider this true story (identities changed to protect confidentiality): A foster parent dropped off her niece and the foster child with the foster child’s parent for an entire day while the foster went to a casino for a day of gambling. If a parent is deemed “unfit” and only gets 90 minutes of supervised time with their child each week, why would the foster parent do this? Because the parent is fit and the parent deserves custody of her child.

If you are disturbed by the information in this article, please contact your county commissioners and ask for an investigation of Buncombe DSS Director Amanda Stone and her department’s practices.

This article originally appeared at The Tribune Papers.


Related Resources

North Carolina Statewide Child Protective Services Evaluation

Child and Family Services Reviews – North Carolina Final Report December 2015

Posted in Audits, Government, Guest Posts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Who is really suing the McCrory Administration over Public Records?

In the 24 hour news world we live in, you might have missed that a group called Real Facts NC has sued the McCrory administration over access to public records.  The records involve travel activity, including flights taken by the Governor.

WBTV has been covering this story and has become one of the plaintiffs. Here are there two articles to catch readers up to speed:

The More You KnowWho is Real Facts NC?

WBTV doesn’t give more than a 30,000 foot overview of who Real Facts NC is. WBTV has a one liner to describe them:

“The suit was filed on behalf of Real Facts NC, a liberal-leaning nonprofit.”

Gee, that’s as useful as a cutting a steak with a spoon.

The initial complaint is linked in the first WBTV story shows those filing it are Michael Weisel and Daniel Johnson of the Capitol Law group.

The mailing address used in the complaint is “P.O. Box 1093, Raleigh, NC 27602”.  This is fun, because that is the same address as “North Carolina Citizens for Protecting Our Schools” and it’s offshoot project, “LEAD NC“.

According to records at the NC Secretary of State, the actual mailing address of Real Facts NC is PO Box 806  Raleigh, NC 27602.  This is the same address that displays on the Real Facts NC website, which a WHOIS reveals was registered to Eli Kaplan, a Washington D.C. based Democrat political strategist.

The primary address listed is 1101 Haynes Street, Suite 205 Raleigh, NC 27604. That address belongs to Willis Johnson & Nelson LLPC  and to the Capital Law Group.

According to the NC Secretary of State, the original incorporation address for Real Facts NC was 434 Fayetteville St., Suite 2500, Raleigh NC. That’s the address for the Bailey and Dixon Law firm.

The North Carolina Secretary of State lists Michael Weisel as the contact for NC Citizens Protecting Our Schools.

Weisel is also the registered agent for both Progress NC and Progress NC Action. The NC Secretary of State showed the registration status for both Progress NC and Progress NC Action as “expired” when this article was written.

The Secretary of State lists Weisel as the registered agent for a total of sixteen groups.

Progress NC has also been linked to the teacher pay protest group, AIM Higher NowCommon Sense Matters and NC Futures Action Fund.

To recap, the McCrory Administration is being sued for these public records by yet another new group that traces back to the folks at Progress NC.


Real Facts NC Quick Stats:


Posted in Elections, LadyLiberty1885, Liberals Gone Wild, Pat McCrory, The Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Jester Effect and #iAWACS

A Liberty Speaks Exclusive: The Jester Effect and #iAWACS

The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.  -John Scully

Hypothetically these scenarios are occurring right now:

  • A protest has gone from peaceful assembly to a full riot.
  • A major storm is bearing down on an city.
  • A breaking news story is trending on Twitter.
  • A shooting has occurred and the suspect is at large but authorities do not have a description.
  • Credible Intel reports say a terrorist attack may be imminent, however, the target and means of the attack are not known.

Protests, riots, natural disasters, terror attacks, shootings and breaking news can occur with little or no warning. The response by law enforcement, emergency services deployment and news coverage is mostly reactive in nature. Information coming in and going out on social media can be unreliable, which adds to the chaos and can hinder reaction times.

However, people are using Twitter to document what they are hearing and seeing in real time as these events occur; images, video, and statements are being posted publicly for the world to see. In some cases, conversations are taking place and posted before an incident occurs.



So, how can Twitter be utilized in a cohesive and specific manner to track these events, coordinate emergency responses, and get information out to the public? Can we sort through the reactive chaos, oceans of hashtags, or perhaps even prevent an incident from occurring at all?

That dichotomy entered the mind of an individual you many have heard of.  After years of using a very reactive approach of hacking jihadist websites to disrupt their activities, one of Time Magazine’s Top 30 Most Influential individuals on the Internet has a new mission that has nothing to do with hacking.

Cyber Warrior JΞSTΞR ✪ ΔCTUAL has created a very proactive web application called internet-AWACS or #iAWACS. The title uses a play on words using the acronym for Airborne Warning and Control System. It’s specifically tailored to Twitter and eventually can be tailored for individual needs and scenarios. According to Jester, it’s ‘Signal Intelligence for Social Media’.

Jester agreed to answer some questions about the project. When asked what the catalyst and motivation was behind the development of #iAWACS he explained:

“Original concept came after the Boston Bombing. I remember how authorities called upon anyone on social media to help them with images, videos, and more. I thought to myself there’s gotta be an easier way to focus the internet directly onto specific, areas, events, or demographics in near real-time.”

What he came up with is an “out of the box” solution to that very scenario, as well as the ones listed at the top of this article.

Now, because I’m not technically inclined, my understanding of the workings behind the project is limited. However, I personally have used #iAWACS and from a blogger perspective it has been extremely useful.

#iAWACS currently consists of 5 nodes or data points that capture public tweets according to parameters set for each individual node. They are listed in his article about the project “What US Social Media Is Doing and What US Social Media Should be Doing” on his website Jesters Court .



  • FIREHOSE Mesmerizing and totally unfiltered node that allows you to watch the world go by as it captures & returns all Geo-tagged tweets and images, and builds a heat map in real time – THIS IS BIG DATA.
  • DRONEBAIT – This node listens out just for Jihadi chatter and propaganda imagery on social media. Where possible it will plot course location on the map
  • ACTIVESHOOTER – This node has its ears on for early warning signs of an active shooter situation anywhere in the world, if the unthinkable occurs you’ll hear it here first.
  • TRENDINGUSA – This node monitors current trending topics, phrases, hashtags across the United States.
  • MAJOR INCIDENTThis node activates in the event of a National Security incident, Natural disaster and other events. Also contains relevant local LIVE emergency responder audio feed.
  • DEMO NODE Demonstration Node showing some real time capabilities, visualizations, and live local audio feed that can be delivered during a real world event. (Current DEMO NODE is listening for tweets mentioning NYPD, LIVE NYPD AUDIO & NYC Airspace Monitoring.)

Each node captures public tweets/images and current sentiment on a positive/negative scale.

DRONEBAIT, ACTIVESHOOTER, MAJOR INCIDENT, and TRENDINGUSA also allow the user to access a 3D flyby of tweets, tag cloud and airspace of area in question.

Radio Transmissions of EMS, Police, and other local authorities are showcased in the ACTIVESHOOTER and MAJOR INCIDENT nodes.

The #iAWACS application can also run a Deep Dive Profiling of any public Twitter account. The results are derived from the IBM Watson Personality Insight Service and the “Big Five Factor Model of Personality” which uses linguistic analytics to infer the personality traits by analyzing a users public tweets.

Along with traits, the Deep Dive tracks times of activity and Geo-location when available. I took a test drive using my Twitter handle. The results are quite accurate.


Though #iAWACS is a still a work in progress, it’s already proven a useful tool. It’s captured several Active Shooter incidents, tracked the last two hurricanes to hit the US, has monitored and tracked multiple protests and riots across the country, and several terrorist attacks around the globe.

However, it is the DRONEBAIT node that has truly produced some interesting results. Two weeks before the September 17 bombings in New York and New Jersey, an uptick in Jihadi chatter was caught on the DRONEBAIT node.

Looking at the graphic you can see New York was the 2nd highest in mentions next to Syria. Notice what method of attack was the highest? If you guessed bomb, you’re right.

This isn’t the first time increased Jihadi chatter had been captured on #iAWACS prior to a terrorist attack. Days before the attacks in Brussels another uptick was noted.

Long has the concern been that Jihadists are radicalizing and coordinating on Twitter before a terrorist attack occurs.

Intel agencies like CIA, DNI as well as University research groups and local Law Enforcement have been exploring ways Social Media can be utilized to predict, track and monitor civil unrest, terrorist activity, hate crimes, and the prevention of these events. They’re searching for a “Pre-Crime” solution similar to the one in Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report that uses 3 individuals gifted with precognition called “Pre-Cogs”.

Lancaster University did a research paper titled ‘Mining pro-ISIS radicalization signals from social media users‘ that tackles the very subject regarding the identification of individuals on Twitter who may be sympathetic to ISIS.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

The research provides evidence that shows when users begin either sharing tweets from known pro-ISIS accounts, or using extremist language – such as anti-western or pro-ISIS statements – they quickly display a large change in the language they use, tweeting new words and terms, and indicating a clear shift in online behavior.

Millions of dollars in federal funding and grants have gone into these projects, specifically the ones dealing with terror activity and radicalization. A few things that set Jester’s #iAWACS apart from these other projects:

  • Jester has so far funded the entire project himself. A private citizen did this, not some multi-million dollar federally funded program.
  • It has the ability to capture keywords and conversations from public Twitter accounts that are leaning towards radicalization and exhibiting a sympathetic nature towards ISIS, Al Qaeda and others terror groups in real-time.
  • It’s functional right now and reporters, Law Enforcement, Intel groups and the general public all can access it.

Imagine if #iAWACS was around prior to the Boston Marathon bombing?

After the attack, Jester did his own research and found tweets that suggested coordination, planning, and discussion prior to the attack in Boston on the Twitter timelines of the individuals involved. All the tweets were public, out there for the world to see.

This begs the questions – What if the technology to capture those tweets would have been implemented back then? And would we might have been better equipped to possibly prevent the attack in the first place?

These questions were also posed by the Washington Post after the killing of 5 police officers in Dallas, Texas during a July 7th protest.

In that Washington Post article,  the notion arises of whether “rumblings” of unrest on Twitter at these protests could be seen and tracked as possible precursors of future shootings.

Jester had the following to say about another set of protests that included the Black Panther Party in Baton Rouge on July 15th following the police shooting of Alton Sterling:

“I’m looking for any indication they are coordinating skirmishes. … I guess I’m expecting trouble in that location, so [I] have it trained on Baton Rouge preemptively,”

That statement by Jester became tragically prophetic when Gavin Long shot and killed 3 Baton Rouge police officers on July 17th and #iAWACS tracked it all as it unfolded in real time.

The Washington Post isn’t the only one to take notice of #iAWACS.

Darren Desmond, a former Operations Director in Cyber Threat Intelligence, Stilgherrian, a freelance journalist who covers the politics of the Internet, Cyber crime and security, and Chief Information Security Officer for the United States Navy John Lamme Sr. have all weighed in on the application and the reviews are very positive.

Now that #iAWACS is granting Jester serious recognition, I asked if the evolution and shedding of the “Hacker” side of Jester’s persona was “part and parcel” to the creation of the project and what’s next in its development?

He replied, “I guess I’m known by most for ‘Tango Down’ – those days served their purpose at the time but have now passed. I’m more about creating instead of destroying these days.”

“The idea there was to make it difficult for the recruiters of homegrown radical Islam to operate on their own servers and to funnel them into a smaller space.” continued Jester, ” Smaller spaces are easier to watch.”

, in particular the DRONEBAIT node is an extension of that strategy. We have them where we want them, now we need a way to monitor them. is one solution to that problem.” said Jester.

To get a great feel for what #iAWACS is capable of, check out the DEMO NODE. It captures all public tweets & images mentioning NYPD & NYC, has live audio of NYPD dispatch, Airspace Monitoring, 3D Flyover visualization, Tag cloud and Deep Dive Profiling access.

You can also view a video of #iAWACS in action when Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on the east coast of Florida.

Regarding the next step for the application, Jester replied that, “I want to develop the profiling side some more, it currently looks at a users pattern of life, psychological traits, and locations where possible. I want to expand on that with force-directed connections charts based on who a user interacts with the most.”

Personally, I look forward to that next phase of the project.

In closing, Twitter can be a useful tool combined with #iAWACS in dealing with all the scenarios I first listed.

Intel agencies, law enforcement, journalists and the public can all use it to cut through the internet chaos, see what’s stirring in the timelines, and make sense of the millions of 140 character posts thrown out into the wild of Twitter every day.

“We monitor many frequencies. We listen always. Came a voice, out of the babel of tongues, speaking to us. It played us a mighty dub.” ― William Gibson


*J, thanks again for the pause button!


Thank you to Doug Ross Journal for Linking

Thank you to Grumpy Opinions for Linking

Posted in Crime, Cyber Warriors, Events, EXCLUSIVE, Hell Yes, Issues, jihad, Law Enforcement, Liberty Speaks, Patriotism, Protests, Reactions, Social Media, Technology, Terrorism, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments