The following is a letter shared with our staff by a friend and foster parent, who was a victim of stalking by the child’s birth mother:
Dear Members of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee:
It was the first really warm day of spring, April 17, 2015. My foster son, son, and new puppy left our home in Fremont for a day trip to Fort Wayne, when I got the first text. “I want my baby back you bitch! Leave him in a cart in Home Depot or I will shoot you!” We had just pulled into the Home Depot parking lot. There were a lot of cars, but no one I recognized. An hour from home, there was no place to run for cover.
The stalking continued for the rest of the day threatening to kidnap my foster son and kill me. The stalkers grew bolder with every hour. It didn’t matter that we went to the police station, or that the police were called twice more as we tried to make it out of town—finally giving us an escort back to the county border for protection. Department of Children’s Services couldn’t help because foster parents are contract workers, not employees.
It might seem like nothing in the telling, but being followed with the threat of being shot at any moment by an unknown assailant is life changing. Afterward, you constantly look over your shoulder wondering if anyone is watching you. If that person in the store parking lot is might pull a gun at any moment. Why wouldn’t they if the stalkers were willing to continue with the police in plain sight?
By the way, according to Indiana Law, stalking is “knowing or an intentional course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another person that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened.” It can take place over the course of a few minutes or go on for years.
When I shared my story with my online Indiana foster parents support groups, I was shocked to learn just how often this happens. Most of the time the perpetrators are foster children’s family members. While we willing sign up to help children, they are often removed because their parents have committed criminal acts. There’s no doubt that these families are in crisis, but people in crisis often have reached a breaking point that causes them to do things they otherwise would not, including committing additional criminal acts. Please help protect us against further threats of violence.
Please read House Bill 1069 (no contact orders and battery) in your committee during the last week of January. The state already extends extra protection to such groups as police officers, judges, jurors, fire fighters, and teachers who are threatened or injured “in the line of duty”. We’re asking that foster parents “in the line of duty” be added to that list.
We desperately need your help to stay safe and keep the children we care for safe. You may be aware that Indiana is already in a foster parent crisis because fewer and fewer people are signing up to help out. Danger is one of the reasons so many families quit.
I will be more than happy to share my story with your committee and answer any questions. I can also bring many other foster parents who’ve experienced similar situations with me to testify. We understand that you have a full agenda and are very busy, but this can very easily become a life and death matter for many Hoosiers. Please help us continue to keep our families and the children of Indiana safe.
(Withheld to ensure privacy)
Please contact your appropriate Indiana representative to voice your support for House Bill 1069!
Courts and Criminal Code Committee HR
Chair: Thomas Washburne R dist 64 Evansville firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Chair: Wendy McNamara R dist 76 Mt. Vernon email@example.com
Casey Cox R dist 85 Ft. Wayne firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Kirchofer R dist 89 Beech Grove email@example.com
Matthew Lehman R dist 79 Berne firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Lyness R dist 68 West Harrison email@example.com
Rhonda Rhoads R dist 70 Corydon firstname.lastname@example.org
Gregory Steuerwald R dist 40 Avon email@example.com
Cindy Ziemke R dist 55 Batesville firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Pierce D dist 61 Bloomington email@example.com
Edward DeLaney D dist 86 Indianapolis firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Dvorak D dist 8 South Bend email@example.com
Linda Lawson D dist 1 Hammond firstname.lastname@example.org
Postal letters may be addressed to the individual legislator with c/o Indiana House of Representatives or the Indiana Senate.
Indiana State House
200 W. Washington St
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786