It’s every parent’s nightmare.
Army Major John Jackson and his wife Carolyn, devout Christian homeschoolers with a history of serving as adoptive and foster parents, had their five children taken away in April 2010 by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services – and despite the collapse of the evidence against the Jacksons, DYFS hasn’t returned the children to their parents.
During the course of a nine-month legal battle to regain custody of their children, the Jacksons say they have encountered prejudice against their religion and homeschooling as they fight a state agency determined to see the children adopted by strangers no matter what the evidence says.
According to the Jacksons, DYFS employees, contractors and foster parents alike have demonstrated anti-religious bias, including one case supervisor who refused to allow the Jacksons to pray with their children as they wished, for the reunification of the family.
“You can pray about other things, you can pray that they’ll be happy in their placements,” said a DYFS worker identified by Jackson as Denise Hollerbach.
Jackson accuses DYFS of fraudulently misrepresenting statements by himself and his children to build a case against him, “brainwashing” the children by telling them they have been abused and “isolating” them by not allowing them to be assessed independently by U.S. Army investigators.
The father of five claims DYFS suppressed a medical report concluding that injuries suffered by daughter Chaya Jackson could not be proven with “medical certainty” to have resulted from child abuse. Dr. Mark S. Finkelstein of the Alfred I. Dupont Hospital for Children wrote, “It is equally possible that this injury may have occurred in or around the time of birth or in the later post-neonatal period” – before Chaya was adopted by the Jacksons.
“DYFS kept this out of the court. We had to get it and provide it as evidence,” said Jackson.