WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Exuberance and relief from winning an appeal to regain custody of her children more than a year after the state took them away were soon smothered by anger and frustration for a local mother.
“400 days, and finally there’s a little bit of justice,” April Doyle said. “But so quickly that turned to anger. I’m furious and heartbroken. Why did this happen?”
Doyle said she grew up in Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) custody, and as a teenager voluntarily surrendered her rights to her first child.
But she was confident she was a good mother to her 9-year-old boy and newborn, despite financial constraints.
A case of domestic violence, an eviction, and worst of all, an alleged molestation case involving her son and a gym teacher further complicated everything and brought DCYF back into Doyle’s life last January.
According to the appeal, before the month was over, the agency’s investigator determined the children should be removed from Doyle’s custody based on five claims: two for inadequate shelter, one for lack of supervision and two for other neglect.
DCYF spokesperson Kerri White confirmed Doyle filed an administrative appeal but said she cannot “comment on the specifics of this case due to state confidentiality laws.”
The appeal indicates the investigator cited an incident at a battered women’s shelter, where Doyle purportedly did not supervise her children.
Doyle was also accused of not finding services for her son after the molestation allegations surfaced.
The inadequate shelter charge surfaced after the investigator visited Doyle and her children at a family member’s home, where Doyle said they were staying temporarily while she looked for permanent housing.
One by one, Doyle’s appeals to the five claims were granted, with the appeals officer ruling “there is not sufficient evidence to support” any of the five allegations.
Doyle found out in an email.
“I was sweating, nervous, shaking, scrolling down the [56-page appeal],” Doyle recalled.
Then, the anger.
“I lost so much. You destroyed my family for what? Because now that’s the question: why?” Doyle said. “It’s a lot, and all for a mistake. It’s not acceptable.”
While Doyle does have custody of her 9-year-old, she has to return to court in hopes of regaining custody of her infant, since he was placed with the child’s father.
“They said they cannot remove the child from a [biological] parent,” Doyle said. “Although, they did that with me.”
She also noted the time she lost and continues to lose with her baby as she waits to go to court is priceless.
“I missed out on a bond with my baby,” Doyle said. “Someone else taught him where his eyes, nose, and ears are.”