Foster Parents; "Advocates for you or themselves"?

Allow me to explain our title. Although more attention to this scenario is long overdue, awareness of what we have been saying all along, the fact that CPS is victimizing American families, is being realized by more and more biological, foster, and adoptive parents. We do need our government officials and others who have the power to investigate the workings of CPS to advocate for foster parents, but, our concern is that the interest in CPS’s reoccurring nightmares is drawing a new and dangerous element, which is very disturbing to this advocate.

Advocacy on behalf of foster/adoptive and biological parents, in general, has now attracted a new influx of individuals who see dollar signs/profits they will potentially make from one of the greatest tragedies of our society. Profits in taking advantage of vulnerable people still reeling from the loss of their children.

You see, Foster Parents have a sum what effective "Grapevine" form of communication. That is, if you harm one you have in essence alarmed all. It does not take long for word to spread in this close-knit community. However, it seems biological parents may not function as effectively with the grapevine style of communication. Unfortunately it is because of this biological parents who are the most vulnerable, and targeted by those of whom we are speaking.

Allow me to use a phrase here. Have you ever heard of "shirt tail credibility”?

Shirttail credibility is; everybody realizes lines inevitably cross in assisting parents in general; by that meaning that successful advocates often offer help to all three groups; foster/adoptive/ biological parents.

When someone attaches themselves to the shirttail of another advocate it may because they have no credibility of their own. Much like an ID thief must have an ID that allows them the necessary good credit, yours, to purchase. They either have no identity/credit of their own or don't have one that can be utilized for purchasing items they want to resell or use free.

Therefore, it behooves the impostor's to invite to or join in a meeting with those that have earned the reputations that they themselves lack. The longevity of and earned trust as advocates, of those individuals who have worked successfully as advocates in the foster parent's community, the imposters, invite to or join in with these supporters and advocates to meetings and join their organization to give themselves credibility. This is what your Examiner calls "shirt tail credibility."

Plagiarism is a form of "shirt tale credibility".

There have been occasions when other advocates, arrive at their invited destination, and after meeting the person in charge, withdraw support for this individual; by now we recognize "shirt tale credibility" when we see this characteristic. I understand this identity theft because it has happened to me personally on many occasions. I had one person who served for many years as an officer on the board of directors for an organization for foster parents using the FPLS name to sell our former Foster Parents Legal Plan. Oddly enough she is still serving on this board. We believe that she was taken advantage of by a "shirt tail credibility" person who was using the FPLS name. We received several concerned calls from foster parents who know to verify that those representing FPLS are part of our nationwide team. Sadly, I had to report that neither of them were, it wasn’t long after I received the calls this situation ceased.

We were discussing individuals who are posing as Advocates trying to entice you, the victims of CPS, into paying them to assist with your case!

Let us continue with that subject now; One occasion; Personally, hearing one of these individuals saying they were tired of “these CPS people attending these meetings”, when in reality it was these CPS people, as they were called by her, that were financially supporting these functions, many flying or driving great distances because they had been promised legal assistance by this person

Many times you will hear “key phrases” used by these individuals who are circling their new victims. Authentic advocates will readily admit that they don’t have all the answers, but in fact, we are still learning, we learn from each other on a daily basis. You will discover this for yourself at

I heard someone use the term,“child abuse has become an elastic term” and then asked this person where that phrase came from. She readily took credit as the author of this term. This term was coined by Gregory Hession; a dedicated attorney out of Massachusetts who works diligently for and on behalf of CPS victims. Real advocates would not take credit for this coined phrase. Check out his website at
Read any good books and articles lately?

Does this person who is asking you for money have articles and books with their name on them that you can check out? If you are an avid reader, you have probably read articles and books on the subject. Are you hearing phrases used from these articles/books coming from the person doing the presentation, or “quotes from the articles, books”? Is this person knowledgeable on this subject they are lecturing or teaching on or are they just parroting others? Parroting is Shirt tail credibility" unless you credit the person who came up with the knowledge, phrase, and/or information. Often times they will have printed forms and/or data they will present without revealing the source or claim to be the source themselves. Because it is their meeting or presentation, most people assume it is their material and their expertise thus giving them the false credentials or credibility.

It often takes years to become an overnight success.”

Questions on whether your "advocate" is for real? Here are some "red flags";

No Guarantee to get your children back.

1. If this person asks for fees, up front in any form; retainer, deposit to cover expenses such as intake, filing, consultation, etc., do not buy into this program. Unless you know this person/ advocate or this person has come recommend by someone you know that was assisted by this person, keep your money for a qualified attorney. Make sure they have qualify ably helped this someone you know and is not, supposedly, still in the process.

2. Never take originals of any of your personal papers and or documentation to any of these meetings. Observe if this person has taken the time to read your documentation. Have they taken notes? If they tell you they need originals, beware, this is not true. Do not trust them with originals of your journals or your documentation. If they have checked out, you may allow them to review your originals in your presents. If you have provided them with copies or any thing else make them along with you sign for this information released to them with time and date. If possible, have someone you trust sign as a witness. This protects not only you, but, also them.

3. It takes hours to learn the specifics of each individual's case so if they indicate that they understand all the aspects of your case in minutes, use the next exit.

4. Do not give them a check, bank account numbers, access codes, passwords, etc. even with the assurance that the check is just to be held for security.

5. If they assure you they will successfully get your child (ren) back, this is a lie; no one can guarantee that, not even your attorney.

6. Ask for printed materials to see work completed by this individual. CD's, books, brochures, pamphlets, etc. Is there a cost for the purchase of these materials? Ask what the cost is?

7. Request a business card. Does this person have a website address? How long has the advocate’s business been in existence? Has the site just been created, or is the business card still wet from printing? Check them out. Check out all references and/or persons they have claimed to help. Make sure that the success of these persons cases was attributable to this party and not something that would have happened anyhow. Remember the term "shirt tale credibility". Which Vice-president reportedly took credit for inventing the internet?

8. Is this person telling you that all work will be completed on your behalf by them? A red flag! Are they showing you the work to be completed by an attorney free of charge?

NOTE: We have found as real advocates we do not have time to do all the work on your behalf ourselves, nor do we want to. You will be asked to assist in this project, by learning how to accomplish some of the work yourself. We will help you understand the complexities of your case. However, you will then organize your paperwork into what we call a "Law Book." We will guide you along and help you accomplish this.

Now let us continue with the red flag list;

9. Ask the advocate you're are dealing with if they would be willing to sign an agreement spelling out specifically as to what they will do on your behalf. This advocate may even claim to be a “paralegal.” Check their credentials with the state they were purportedly issued in. In many states, “Paralegals” must work directly under the supervision of an attorney. Know what that State’s codes say before attending this meeting. Be prepared. Ask if they are working with a lawyer. If they a representing themselves as paralegals they may not know that you are aware of this requirement. Ask this person in what state they are certified? Are they hesitant to tell you this? Why? Also remember, if they are legitimate, they are only qualified in that State. They are not necessarily knowledgeable of the laws and statutes in the State or States your problem may be in.

10. If this person is claiming to be a paralegal, here are four of the eight codes of ethics for a paralegal;


Code of Ethics; the American Alliances of Paralegals, Inc.

1. A paralegal shall not engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

2. A paralegal shall keep confidential any and all information,

documents and other materials entrusted to him or her or

acquired in some other way during the legal

representation of a client. The confidentiality shall be

maintained before, during and after the legal representation

unless the client has given consent or disclosure as required by

law or by court order.

3. A paralegal shall avoid conflicts of interest and shall

Immediately disclose any potential conflicts of interest to his or

her employer.

4. A paralegal shall ensure that his or her status as a paralegal is

disclosed at the beginning of any professional relationship with

the attorney, client, personnel of a court, or the personnel of an

administrative agency.

If this advocate reveals names and specific case information at any time in their presentation and/or their relationship with you, ask to see the written release from the person whose case or information is being revealed or from the court having jurisdiction in that case.

Just one more note; If you feel uneasy with this person in anyway, back off, there is a reason you feel that way. Trust your instincts! You must have confidence in the person who is going to assist in building your case. This is your life as well as the life of your child (ren) we are talking about. Would you trust your brain surgery to a podiatrist? No, you would not! Be careful.

Where to learn more or

Marilyn Harrison

National Administrator for Foster Parents Legal Solutions

National Director for

National Foster Parents Coalition for Allegation Reform