A mother of 12 was scolded by a judge for not being grateful for the financial help she and her kids had received from various sources (video below).
Florida mother Angel Yulee Adams first landed in court after she and her dozen kids caught the attention of authorities while living together in a small motel room. They had been evicted from the two-bedroom apartment where she had been living for months without paying rent.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the state Department of Children and Families, Hillsborough Kids Inc., the Children's Home Society and A Kid's Place all chipped in to provide the family with a temporary six-bedroom house.
Hillsborough Kids paid more than $6,000 that Adams owed to the Tampa Housing Authority. The Children's Home Society paid the first month's rent for the house and its furnishings.
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After 28 appearances in court, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Tracy Sheehan expressed her frustration with Adams' apparent lack of gratitude.
Officials from most of those agencies were present at that latest court appearance. Nick Cox, regional director for the Department of Children and Families, spoke on their behalf.
"Everyone has bent over backward," he said. "The mother has been less than gracious." He said that Adams appears to be a loving mother, but could lose her children if she doesn't work with caseworkers and show the state she is adequately caring for them.
"From a legal standpoint, she's backing us into a corner," Cox said. He asked the judge to tell Adams to "stop complaining and start cooperating."
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So that's what Sheehan did.
"We know you want us out of your life," she told Adams. "We will be thrilled to close this case when you have all these things. A lot of people have gone way extra miles for you. Do you understand that? Hear what I'm saying. Reach out your hand to these people instead of looking a gift horse in the mouth and asking for more, more, more."
In response, Adams replied quietly, "No comment, your honor."
After the hearing, Adams explained that she previously had a good factory job, but lost it. Then her troubles mounted when the father of 10 of her children was sentenced to prison on a cocaine conviction, causing her to fall into debt and lose everything.
The Drug Policy Alliance sheds some light on Adams' situation: "Although rates of drug use and selling are comparable across racial lines," the organization notes, "people of color are far more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated for drug law violations than are whites. ... We believe that the mass criminalization of people of color, particularly young African American men, is as profound a system of racial control as the Jim Crow laws were in this country until the mid-1960s.
Wherever exactly the blame lies in the case of Adams, Cox insists that his agency's main mission is keeping families together. However, he notes of Adams, "She is the ultimate test of our belief."