Foster fight continues: 'There's a good chance this is going to work'

Foster fight continues: 'There's a good chance this is going to work' »Play Video
Foster parents Brenda Lincoln and Willie Norman were hoping to adopt a brother and sister who had been living with them for two and a half years, but DHS pulled the children from their home in October.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Two children who were ripped from their foster parents by the state now find themselves out of a home again. KATU has been following their plight for months.

Despite many hurdles, there is now a strong ray of hope for their future.

If Aubrey Gambrel can stay on the path to sobriety she may one day get her 12-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter back from the state.

“There’s a good chance this is going to work,” said Judge Susan Svetkey. “I think if these kids have any chance of recovery, this is the way it’s going to happen.”

But there are still serious concerns about how the Department of Human Services plan for the kids went down in flames.

In the fall the kids were removed from the home of foster parents Brenda Lincoln and Willie Norman, despite the judge's outrage.

The kids were sent to Eugene to live with a family the state said was suited for the high-needs kids. But the boy had to be placed at Jasper Mountain Safe Center for emotionally disturbed children.

That special foster family now says it can no longer care for the girl either. The state is now looking for the children’s fourth foster home in nine months.

While the children are coming back to Portland, they’re not coming back to Lincoln or Norman.

“They had to demonize us to move them to Eugene, and that was what that was all about,” said Norman. “If they were there two and a half years and they were in an abusive household, then I think they were really negligent with us for two and a half years.”

The judge also sounded off:

"Frankly, it's stunning to me,” Svetkey said. “Here we were with all the upheaval and disagreement and alarm (about moving the kids to Eugene). It's like we're starting all over again, but starting all over again with a whole new slew of damage to them. And I don't have words for that."

All in court agreed much of the tensions that have made this case so dysfunctional have been diffused. Now the children’s caseworker, Karey Menagh, has been replaced.

“It doesn’t mean they haven’t made a whole lot of mistakes to a whole lot of people, because they have,” said the children’s grandmother Joy Gambrel. “But right now, how can you miss this?”

After our original stories on this case, DHS officials promised an internal investigation. On Tuesday, we asked for an update on their investigation.

Spokesman Gene Evans said he couldn’t release any details yet, although said he might have something to release at a later date.

“It’s a useful process when things go wrong to take a look, see what happened,” Evans said, “make those corrections so it doesn’t happen again.”

Norman and Lincoln have hired a lawyer and said they plan to file a civil rights lawsuit against DHS. Some court observers have questioned if race played a role in this. Norman and Lincoln are black and the children in question are white.