Last week, a 9-year-old girl was taken from the family she’s spent her entire life with.
Sonya Hodgins was adopted by the McElhaney family when she was just one year old. At the time, her biological mother revoked her parental rights, and her biological father, John McCaul, was in jail. With no one to care for her, the state automatically revoked the father’s rights and put Sonya up for adoption.
Sonya and the McElhaneys have been a family ever since, with love and bonds as strong as any other. All reports indicate Sonya was being raised in a stable home with a nurturing father, mother, and older brother.
Then, her biological father came into the picture. Upon his release from prison, the father argued that his parental rights never should have been revoked by the state. He pointed out that he never agreed to terminate his rights and that now, as a free member of society, he has a right to raise his child. The court deemed the father’s argument valid.
Last week, the McElhaneys were greeted at their door by the Tennessee Department of Child Services. They were there to take Sonya.
"I was there the night they literally took that child away from their mom and their dad,” the girl’s uncle, Tim McElhaney, said. “They ripped her from their arms. They were down on their knees begging them to not do this.”
Sonya cried out as she was taken from her family.
"She was calling us, begging us to come and get her, please don't let them do this to her. And we couldn't do anything. It's horrible,” McElhaney continued.
McCaul left for his home in Nebraska just hours after gaining custody of Sonya. On Wednesday, a judge denied a motion to return Sonya to the McElhaneys. The family will likely appeal the ruling.
In the meantime, the McElhaneys set up a Facebook page titled “Bring Sonya Home” in hopes of raising awareness about their struggle.