My Step-Brother Has Taken My Daughter and Kansas Is Helping Him Keep Her

Ellis County, Kansas (TFC) – Ellis County, Kansas Helps City of Hays Police Officer Facilitate Kidnapping of Young Girl from Her Arizona Mother.

“The most important part of my life is my daughter. All I have ever wanted is to make sure she has a good life, good lessons,  access to the world as she needs and wants and to be there for her as long as possible”.IMG_9447

Amber Ostrom is like most single mothers.  She balances family, home and work as best she can and as hard as she can and, approaches every day with the care of her daughter, Georgia, first on her mind.  After all that is what single parents do right?  During my multiple interviews of her I learned that she just wants what we all want: a secure, simple, stable, loving and happy life for her child.

Sometimes in life we need help.  Financial and health situations arise in all of our lives.  Amber was the owner of Plants4Life LLC, a medical marijuana dispensary in Castle Rock, Colorado.  Amber’s dispensary was closed after the City of Castle Rock voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in their town. Her story was documented by the show American Weed in the episode, “Banned and Busted”. Amber was faced with immediate financial hardship, but more important, Amber is also a patient.

When Amber was a young child she suffered a serious head injury.  Amber developed severe epilepsy as a result and due to Medical cannabis she has been seizure free for almost ten years. The reason she got into the medical cannabis business was to educate and help people who suffer from a variety of serious diseases that cannabis has been known to help. After all she is walking proof that cannabis works.

Amber decided what was best for her and her daughter was to move to Arizona.  Amber went to work in a Medical Cannabis dispensary in the Phoenix area and, due to the financial hardship she faced, she reached out to her step-brother Tom Graham, who lives in Hays, KS. Amber figured if she could get just a little help for her and Georgia, then she would be able to get back on her feet right away.

She asked Tom and his wife Kacey if Georgia could live with them for the next school semester so Amber could work more hours and get their lives back in order.  Tom and Kacey agreed to help, and Tom suggested that, as part of the plan, they execute a mutual consent agreement in case.  As Tom would say to Amber;

“In case anything happens where a decision needed to be made right away like an injury or something”

Amber trusted her brother and was happy she could rely on him for help in this situation. Tom never filed the consent agreement in probate court according to sources.  Apparently, Tom had his own agenda.

Tom's WeddingTom Graham is 29 years old.  Tom is Ambers step brother.  When Tom’s niece came to live with him he decided to implement his agenda.  Tom actions indicate that he had no intention of returning Georgia to her mother.  Tom does not approve of Amber’s choice of medicine, namely, Medical Cannabis. Using Medical Cannabis has kept Amber seizure free, and continues to do so.

Tom Graham is also a police officer for the City of Hays, someone who has taken the oath to protect and serve and to follow the rule of law.  Tom actions in this matter also indicate that he has little regard for the law.

Amber made arrangements with Tom to pick Georgia up after the last day of the school year. Prior to leaving for Kansas, Amber received a phone call from Ellis County Sheriff’s Office informing her that Georgia was placed into State Custody.

Amber arrived in Kansas and was served with allegations that included claims she was a marijuana user, she had abandoned her child, and her employment at a medical marijuana dispensary, in Arizona, was a “dangerous” job. Medical Marijuana and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries are legal and regulated in Arizona. medical-marijuana (1)

It was obvious to Amber that Tom had sought help from the people he worked with, including the County Attorney, Charlene Brubaker, local members of Child Protective Services and his fellow police officers.  Amber had committed no crime.  Had not broken any laws at any time. Amber had never even been accused of a crime, let alone convicted. No allegations of abuse were alleged to have been committed, and yet Tom persuaded Ellis County to file this action, even forcing Amber to defend herself  against false abandonment allegations.

When Amber went to the Ellis County Courthouse to answer the Child in Need of Care action filed by the State, she first had to submit to a urine test for the presence of drugs in your system at the Probation Department across the street.  Amber described being treated with hostility right away by the person taking the test.  Since she had never had one before in her life, she was not aware of, nor ready for, having to give a urine sample with someone literally watching her fill the urine cup and “wipe herself”.  Amber showed her Medical Marijuana Patient Card to the Probation Officer.  She also informed the Probation Officer that she would, in fact, test positive for THC since she uses it medically to control her epilepsy.

On May 21, the Ellis County Judge ruled that Georgia would remain in temporary custody of Kansas.  Amber describes the Judge’s comments as follows:

“I understand how things are in Arizona but under Kansas Law I do not feel comfortable releasing her to you”

Amber now was faced with another hearing date in Kansas within the next 30 days.

Kansas did not have jurisdiction to do this under the Uniform Child Custody and Enforcement Act which states clearly:

he UCCJEA vests “exclusive [and] continuing jurisdiction” for child custody litigation in the courts of the child’s “home state,” which is defined as the state where the child has lived with a parent for six consecutive months prior to the commencement of the proceeding (or since birth for children younger than six months). If the child has not lived in any state for at least six months, then a court in a state that has (1) “significant connections” with the child and at least one parent and (2) “substantial evidence concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships” may assume child-custody jurisdiction. If more than one state has “significant connections” and “substantial evidence…”, the courts of those states must communicate and determine which state has the most significant connections to the child. A court which has made a child-custody determination consistent with UCCJEA has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination until either (1) that court determines that neither the child, the child’s parents, nor any person acting as a parent has a significant connection with the State that made the original order and that substantial evidence is no longer available in the State concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships, or (2) that court or a court of another State determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not reside in the State that initially made the child custody order.

The UCCJEA replaced a previous Uniform Act, the “Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act”, primarily because the old act was inconsistent with the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act when determining proper jurisdiction for initial custody determinations and because of contradictory interpretations of the PKPA. The UCCJEA corrects these problems. The UCCJEA also added uniform procedures to register and enforce child-custody orders across state lines.

In this case, this is very significant.  For example, Amber does not live in Kansas.  Nor does Georgia’s father, who resides in Missouri. Further, Georgia had not resided in Kansas for six months.  Without more significant allegations and certainly without the presence of a parent living inside State borders, A Kansas State Attorney even bringing this action is such a legal overreach that it should not have any force in law, and the Judge in the case should have immediately thrown the case.out.  Georgia’s father has never been a part of this action. Child Protective Services knew this and knows the law.  At least, they should know the law.  The UCCJEA is not some trivial statute that rarely comes up.  This law is the cornerstone of child custody law that exists today in this country. So we have a police officer step-brother making allegations of parenting against  his sister, who is legally medicating herself and working for a legal employer, and a County Attorney, Child Protective Services and a Judge that is helping him do this.  Justice is apparently not practiced in Hays, Kansas.

At the next hearing, Amber was again tested for drug use and she again tested positive for THC.  She again presented her Medical Marijuana patient card to no avail. Kansas was awarded custody of Georgia on the basis that Amber tested positive for THC and that “she worked too much leaving Georgia under the care of her family members when at work. The court further ordered that Amber submit to a DCF Case Plan which would include an Interstate Compact Request to Arizona to investigate Amber.  Amber met with DCF and received her “task list” from them and returned to Arizona.

Amber appealed the court’s decision.

Amber describes the appellant process as an unknown. Her court-appointed attorney, Don Anderson II, handled the appeal, she discusses, but she never received any of the paperwork involved. Nor has she read the decision that she states was rendered some time in November she was told, denying her appeal.  At press time, this reporter has not seen the appellate decision, which I am told was rendered by District Court Judge Bouker.

Amber has had to spend all of her money, money she was earning to get back on her feet to make a stable life for her and her daughter, to see her daughter, to continue to go to court hearings in Kansas, to pay for programs and fees.  Yet, at no time has she broken any laws or failed to comply with the court order of a court that should not be exercising jurisdiction in this case in the first place.

This year alone, at the demand of her step-brother, Amber has had to get a mental evaluation and a drug and alcohol evaluation.  This was not due to any “behavior ” issues, but because her brother demanded it to DCF before he would enter into any type of mediation, mediation that he is not legally allowed to be a part of because he is not a parent of Georgia. I have worked on many child custody cases and I have never seen such a miscarriage of justice by a jurisdiction on a matter where no other parent has brought an action or is even involved. Amber is now facing the possibility of the court terminating her parental rights if she does not move to Kansas.  A ninety-day clock started in early June for Amber to make the move.  The Court also ordered that she could not live at the home of her relatives anymore and had to get her own place.  She did that, and now the court is saying she has to move to Kansas.  Remember, she has broken no laws and done nothing wrong.  That’s okay, we order that you break your new lease and come to Kansas.

Amber started a GoFundMe campaign and her brother sought to have a restraining order issued against her.  He was afraid for his privacy, Amber told me.  The Judge refused to issue it, but Amber has not started it back up again until now, because her court-appointed attorney told her not to.

Amber heard about attorney Sarah Swain, who I reported last month, was attorney for Shona Banda.  Banda is the medical marijuana patient whose daughter was taken away and was subsequently charged with a number of felonies related to her medical marijuana usage in Garden City. Sarah, who specializes in Criminal Law, not child custody cases, agreed to meet with Amber and has been acting as a consultant to both her and her attorney of record. A conversation I had with Sarah prompted me to look into this case and speak with Amber. Sarah Swain

Amber has decided to go forward with the GoFundMe Campaign and ask for help.  She is working with the Solutions Institute, a consulting firm that offers help in these areas, in getting the word. out. She has no choice. Adding to her financial burden now is a support judgment against her by the State of Kansas to pay for the food stamps and Medicaid that her step-brother apparently applied for and received for Georgia.  Amber was under the incorrect impression that her court-appointed attorney represented her in this matter, so she forwarded all notices to him.  He did not represent her and she was notified by her employer that her wages would start being garnished this past pay check.

It is hard to remain objective when reporting a story like Amber’s.  It is crystal clear to me that what is going on here is wrong legally, morally and any other way one can imagine.  No one has the right to interfere with the parent child relationship absent good cause. Absolutely no cause exists here. Further, the law does not support this action either

I wish her well and hope her and Georgia are back together soon.

 

14 comments for “My Step-Brother Has Taken My Daughter and Kansas Is Helping Him Keep Her

  1. Ed
    July 6, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    The gofundme account for this person is not functioning.

  2. erika
    July 7, 2015 at 1:26 am

    This makes me sick to even say I am from Kansas

  3. Amber
    July 7, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    This is a sad case and the “mother” didn’t even want her kid now that she has a stable home the mother wants to play the victim. She needs to do what is best for the minor.

  4. jessica
    July 8, 2015 at 6:17 am

    The child was not even the state for 6 months. She was making things good for her child. Your family should be someone to help not to manipulate an use the system. I would never want the state to have anything to do with my children. An my family shouldn’t either. Sad example of the “law” of Kansas showing police can do as they please.

  5. Anon Female
    July 8, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Did anyone ever think to get the other side of the story?!? Or just one side and ASSume that person HAS to be telling the truth? That’s the problem with this society….people jump to conclusions before knowing the whole story!

  6. amber
    July 8, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    I completely agree with you. It’s sad to know people can ruin other peoples good name. I’m from Hays and I know that family, they are great people and nothing like what is being portrayed.

  7. David Kimbrell
    July 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    What a asshole. You’d think he’d be more concerned with the health of his step-sister than the old attitudes about pot.

  8. Reagon
    July 9, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    There are two sides to every story please be mindful of that. I have heard two very different sides of this story and don’t feel that I as a person who knows this family am in a place to judge. What is blatantly untrue about this story are two things. 1- Tom is Amber’s 1/2 sibling. They have the same mother. They also were very close to one another. As is obvious that Amber trusted Tom to take care of Georgia in the first place. The second is the depiction of Tom as a kidnapper.
    Maybe this is an accurate depiction of Amber’s conduct and Toms staunch conservative opinions I DON’T KNOW. But what I do know is that he feels that he is giving Georgia stability which she needs. Is the way he’s going about it up for debate yes. Is this a tragic story all around yes. A family is divided and a little girl is ultimately paying the price.
    I would have liked to see the author include info from Tom. Maybe I missed it but I didn’t even see a “he declined comment”.
    At the end of the day I wish for love and peace for this family as a whole.

  9. anonymous
    July 10, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Love is unconditional when it comes to a child.I’m sure in the time your daughter has been in Ks. you have been asked to move back.There are medications that u can take for your epilepsy but YOU have chosen your pot.To the step brother sounds like this is a retaliation for a super job u r doing.Has anybody asked or care how the child is doing.Amber it sounds like this is all about u and your pot.Through all this u have exposed your daughter to the public her friends etc.Kidnapped I doubt it there is more to the story than u wish to share.

  10. Jayhaux
    July 12, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I’m not defending either party in this situation as there is not enough information in this article to do so. But I am a medical provider and have family with epilepsy. Treating and controlling seizures is not cut and dry or simple by any means. Seizure medication, has side affects and takes a lot of trial and error that may take years to figure out an effective combination. It often involves ongoing blood work to regulate. And even then, the seizures may not be controlled. But, if her choice of medication “medical marijuana” does control it who is anyone to judge one person’s choice of treating their medical condition?

  11. Anonymous
    July 12, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Another case where the cops in this town think they are God. Put a gun on their hip and the laws don’t pertain to them.

  12. Leeny
    August 26, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    The law is the truth and it’s not being followed

  13. October 10, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    No sir, you are wrong about that. The Uniform act most definitely applies in CINC cases. Only if there is a reasonable factual basis to believe
    that the child had been abused by Amber in AZ would the KS district court
    be allowed to assert “Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction.” Having done so, the District Court was then obligated to contact AZ to see what AZ wanted to do: AZ could either assert jurisdiction
    and assume responsibility for resolving what was in the best interests of the child, or it could
    decline to do so, freeing KS to assume jurisdiction. What KS could not do was enter a permanent
    order – – anything beyond the initial detention – – nor could it assert jurisdiction and ignore AZ.
    UCCJEA is a uniform state law, a jurisdictional statute designed to resolve custody disputes.

    The UCCJA is a jurisdictional statute relating to child custody disputes. . . . It
    seeks to prevent parties from forum shopping their child custody disputes and
    assure that these disputes are litigated in the state “with which the child and the
    child’s family have the closest connection.”
    In re Van Kooten, 126 N.C. App. 764, 768, 487 S.E.2d 160, 162 (1997).

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