Arizona parent claims CPS moved child 17 times - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Arizona parent claims CPS moved child 17 times

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April Snow; Aurora April Snow; Aurora
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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

A harsh spotlight has been shining on Child Protective Services the last few weeks. Now a parent steps forward to talk about her experience with the agency -- sadly, it's not a good one.   She worries about the thousands of children trapped in the system, though there might be better options out there.

It was an emergency when 5-week-old Aurora came to David and April Snow in their Phoenix home nearly five years ago.

"The biological mother had some substance abuse issues and so we had our work cut out for us at the get go," said April.

CPS placed the baby with the Snows because Aurora is April's cousin.

From the time she was a baby to when she was taken four years later, Aurora was moved by CPS 17 times, according to April.

"She had 17 transitions in and out of our home, in and out of shelters, in and out of emergency placement, in and out of other foster homes," said April.

Aurora was placed with the Snows in February of 2009, but 13 months later, April says CPS deemed that the biological mother was able to care for her daughter again. The mother had since given birth to a baby boy and had moved to Tucson.

The Snows had to let Aurora go, but disagreed with CPS' decision.

"They returned Aurora to her biological mother, who now had a younger child and they were all homeless," said April, who adds that she could tell Aurora was losing her sparkle.

"My husband used to drive down every week to see them and would pick up Aurora and take her to eat, go to the store, buy food, clothes, whatever he could do because you hands are tied."

April says on one visit in July of 2010, they saw Aurora had cigarette burns on her.  They called CPS.

"They would reassure us everything was fine and no, the mother didn't burn the child on purpose.. the wind blew the cigarette, you know, things to us that weren't right."

The very next month, April says something finally happened in Tucson with Aurora's biological mother that could not be explained away or ignored.

"Her biological mother stabbed the boyfriend multiple times in the hotel room and when Tucson Police responded, they found both children in there.. blood everywhere and they removed the children."

Aurora went back to the Snows, but she was not the same child who had left them.

"Aurora who had left our home developmentally on task no longer spoke, she only grunted and screamed.. she had completely shut down," said April.

CPS would remove Aurora one more time from the Snows in September of 2011 when the couple said they couldn't take both Aurora and her baby brother -- just her.

Then a fourth CPS worker got the case, who April says was their guardian angel.

"She wasn't burned out, she was one of the good ones that still had a fight in her."

April says the CPS worker listened to their whole story, connected the dots, severed parental rights of the mother to Aurora and her baby brother.

The brother went to another family member and in March of 2012, the Snows officially adopted Aurora.

A happy ending on the surface, but the Snows will tell you the pictures of their adorable little girl with a pink feather boa doesn't reveal the whole truth.

"She wakes up every night crying.  Two nights ago, we found her in a closet hiding and these are things that are long lasting.  She used to scream every time the doorbell would ring and hide because she would be afraid," said April.

Aurora is in counseling, but the Snows know the damage runs deep.

They worry about the thousands of children in Arizona that are either trapped in a nightmare of abuse or bouncing around the system within a community that can't find a way to save them.

We asked CPS about the Snow's case.  The couple feels the agency can't or won't look at the big picture and do what's best for children in crisis.

CPS responded that it cannot comment on cases like this one.

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