In Family Betrayal; When Your Aunt Plays Adoption Baby Broker

Kaleigh Holcomb of Alabama born April 17th, 2007

Adoption Corruption and Coercion in Alabama; Family and CPS Involved in Mother Child Alienation

Sometimes it seems that every day  have another mother screwed over by adoption telling me yet another horrible and heartbreaking story. I know them all too well and it is just so sad that I usually cannot really DO anything to help at all. However, there is power in telling the truth and there is some feeling of understanding and satisfaction in knowing your story is being heard.

Of course, like so many of us, nothing can be done to change the past and get back the lost years  of our children’s  lives stolen from us by the institution cloaked in the loving words “adoption”. However, there is always the hope that our stories might help another person going through the same thing to see that they are not alone. There is the hope that others will see the truth and understand that these stories are not “exceptions’ but by the sheer quantity of their tellings, they are, sadly, too often status quo in adoption practices.

The following is  Heather’s story. Heather sent it to me via email and I have done little to her words but slightly edit, reorganize, and optimize for clarity and search.

How  Good Teen Mom Was Tricked Out of Her Child

Hi, my name is Heather and  I am 23 years old. My daughter, Kaleigh, is now 7 years of age.

Kaleigh Holcomb of Alabama  born April 17th, 2007 I was 15, when I found out I was pregnant and I was 15 when I had Kaleigh. She was born in April 17th, 2007 and I turned 16 later that June. When I found out I was pregnant with her I never once thought about adoption or abortion. It never crossed my mind. I have tons of people willing to help me. Everything was fine. I homeschooled for a while and quit. So I started to get my GED and still had a lot of help. My family helped; my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles.

During this time my Aunt Tammy (dad’s sister) wanted to watch my daughter for the day and I agreed. She hadn’t seen my Aunt Tammy much. My Aunt Tammy wasn’t at the hospital when she was born, but I wanted my daughter to have a loving relationship  with each of my family members. She was the first  great grandchild and niece.

My aunt I didn’t have much of a relationship with because she always acted as if her family (including her two kids my age) were better than my sister and I. That hurt because we wanted to have the same loving relationship with them as we did others. Now, I see that along with the hurt there was some underlying trust; I guess I always had the feeling they were going to do something to hurt me. Little did I know.

After the first day visit with my aunt,  my cousins talked about how they wanted another brother or sister and thought it was a good idea for them to adopted a child. I just thought that after seeing my daughter they wanted another kid.  My aunt and I started talking about adopting babies, but nothing about Kaleigh. It was a just a general conversation and did not cause me to be worried or  have any suspicions.  I believe now that it was all planned.

My aunt brings up that her sister in law cannot have kids and how  she met Kaleigh the day I let my baby stay with my aunt for a few hours. She said her sister in law, Darlene Lynne Carter Holcomb, would love to adopt Kaleigh. She then went on to tell me how Kaleigh would be loved and cared for and I would still get to see her. The thought of adopting out my daughter STILL NEVER CROSSED MY MIND.

I told my aunt, “I’m sorry I can’t. I love Kaleigh and I take care of Kaleigh well. She’s always healthy and happy.”

The answer was no and I thought I had made that clear.

Enter CPS Corruption and an Aunt Who Won’t Take No for an Answer

The next thing I know, Alabama Child Protective Services are at my door step.

My aunt had called Department of Human Resources on me and alerted CPS. She told them I was unable to care for my child and we had no food in our house. I was on drugs, my parents were on drugs, my 12 year old sister was doing Xanax.  None of it was the truth. My mother did get family assistance in buying food, but it was food only and that has nothing to do with the care of Kaleigh. My dad and mom both worked full time busting their butts. I went to school, my sister went to school. While Kaleigh’s dad didn’t help much, his family was a great big of help. Kaleigh had never missed a doctor’s visit.  She was healthy at all visits and weighed as she was suppose to and at one point,  she weighed even too much, but my aunt claimed we had no food.

I was in the bathroom when CPS came to our house. They had the police with them  like we were criminals. I happened to have been using the bathroom when they arrived and the police kicked in the bathroom door. After they checked and saw we had plenty of food, they ordered each of us to go to the court house and take drug test. It was like they HAD to find something wrong based on my aunt’s false claims.

Everyone of us passed our drug tests. But Oddly enough, my test  just happen to come back saying that I used something to clean my system out with. That is not only a lie, but it pretty much impossible. I had NO IDEA that CPS was about to come raid my life. DHR  had followed us and the case worker rode with us  in the car to the court house for the drug test, so when was I supposed to have “clean my system out”? The second test also came back with the same results saying  I used something to clean my system out.

I would give anything to have evidence that CPS had  been paid off to somehow doctor the results of these drug tests. Looking back, there is just no other way that this could have happened. Of course, my aunt and the Holcombs were very well off, so it’s not improbable. On top of the false accusations and the botched drug test,  CPS immediately placed my daughter with my aunt. The very same  aunt who had called DHR. They put my younger sister with foster parents, but left me, as a minor, in the home.

I’m only 16 at this time, so no I did not know any laws and even if I did  I know I probably didn’t even understand them. I was told I was able to see Kaleigh at the home of my aunts. I could not leave with her.

The Goal of the Court was NOT Reunification for this Mother and Child

A month or two later, we had a court hearing. Of course, I couldn’t afford to hire my own attorney of my choosing, so I was appointed a  male lawyer who was really no help at all to me. He asked the court why did they take Kaleigh when we did have food and everyone passed the drug tests, but I had no answer. The court and CPS did not have one either.

My appointed lawyer asked why Kaleigh was taken from me since all the things that were being said were wrong.  So the judge decided I was financially unable to care for the child. FINANCIALLY. Not that I didn’t do a good job of taking care of her, but that finically it was too difficult. She didn’t say I was unable to care for her, because that was not the case; I was a damn good mom.

The judge  just happened to be friends with my aunt Tammy and the Holcombs. They all worked together. So much for a fair hearing.

The judge ordered me to sign a release of information forms authorizing this court and attorneys of record access to all medical and health related records. Of course, I comply because I still think that if I do all these things I will be able to get my child back:

  • The mother of the child herein shall cooperate with DHR and the legal custodian to identify the biological father of the child, locate his current whereabouts, and establish paternity of the child.
  • The parents of this child are hereby ordered to provide DHR within 5 days with a copy of the child’s birth certificate, medical/dental insurance card, social security card, any medication prescribed for the child by a doctor and the child’s clothing and personal property.
  • The mother shall submit has submitted to a psychological evaluation and shall obtain psychiatric evaluation and said party examined is ordered to attend and participate in the suggested treatment plan as determined.
  • Mother has submitted to a assessment and shall comply with the recommendations for treatment as directed by the therapist.
  • Testing color is gray.
  • Mother shall obtain and maintain stable and suitable house and employment.
  • Mother shall successfully complete a parenting skills program as referred by DHR (they never referred me)

So I followed their “plan”.

Identifying   her father was not an issue. Kaleigh’s  father and I both knew he was the dad. He was the first person I have ever had sex with so there was no question at all. When she was born, he was having some trouble and did not make it to the hospital to sign her birth certificate, but paternity was never denied.

I continued to live with my parents, but the stable home was never the issue. We each had our own rooms, and  my parents both worked full time. Since they wanted me working too, I got a work permit and started working while going to school.
I went to all their random drug test.  They system was that I had to call a phone number and  if they give your color, ( Gray) I would go take you my drug test. The color gray was called twice a week. I went twice a week and passed all these test.

I am now 17 and  dealing with this, but I think I can follow their rules and my daughter will be returned to my care.

Favors and Back Door Dealings Behind the Scenes

My daughter is still being cared for by my aunt until around February 2010.

Sometime between February 2010 and May 2010. my aunt and the Holcombs  go to see the judge without my knowledge and they place my daughter with the Holcombs.

I had no idea of this until I went to visit my Kaleigh at my aunts hourse and she was not there. I was then informed by my aunt that my daughter was now living with her sister in law, the Holcombs, because my aunt could no longer take care of my daughter. I was also told that in the best interest of Kaleigh, living with the Holcombs would be a lot better. I  really believed that they were trying to help me and do what was best for my daughter. I had no idea what they were doing.

While my daughter was with the Holcombs,  I was still able to see her. I never thought about it then, but we always met at the park and played. I never went to the Holcombs house nor was I ever invited to their home, but I had become brainwashed into trusting these people who had my child. I still thought they were somehow “helping” me.

Meanwhile, my aunt would send me letters about what good life my daughter would have with the Holcombs. Over and over again she would tell me that I wasn’t good enough for my child. I couldn’t financially care for her. Horrors stories about when she got older she would have had to get a job and a beater for a car and maybe would of had to go to a community college. I would never be able to buy her a new car when she was 16 or go to a university if she wanted. Loving my child wasn’t good enough. Loving to them didn’t mean anything if I couldn’t take care of her like I should be able to. Because I wasn’t able to provide what they said, then  I must not care or love her that much. If I really loved her then I would let the Holcombs adopt her, because she deserved the better life they could give her.  Letter after letter; all with the same message hammered home;  I can’t give her what he needs and if I loved her I would let  her go to the family that can give her all things material.

After months and months of these letters, I sat down and thought about it. Maybe they were right? What if I couldn’t take care of her like she needs? The Holcombs can. They have everything. They have it made. They can’t have kids, so I know they will love Kaleigh with all their hearts. The Holcombs had done grown so close to Kaleigh with her living with them when my aunt decided she could no longer care for Kaleigh.

Play on a Mother’s Doubts and Question Her Love

When we went back to court. I agreed to let Holcombs adopt her. When I told the social worker, she pulled me aside gave me a huge hug and said, “I’m proud of you. You can learn from your mistakes. You can finish school and get a good job now.”

I was very very worried that I wouldn’t see her again. I was her mother for 2 years, so  she couldn’t forget me and I will never forget her. Everyone reassured me I would still see her. It’s a open adoption, they said. You will get pictures, they said.  You will get to talk to her anytime you want,  they promised. You will get to see her on Christmas and birthdays.

I had never really thought about adoption before, so I knew nothing of the laws.  I didn’t know there were adoption agencies. I didn’t know my rights. I didn’t even tell my family of my plans. I was scared to tell my dad and didn’t let him know of the adoption decision until that day in court.  I was just convinced that they were better people than I was and my daughter would have a better life with them.

When I did tell my dad,  he looked at me and said. ” Are you sure? Are you sure?”

The letters my aunt had sent had done their job all too well. I said, “Yeah, they are great people.” as I am so convinced that they are.

While my dad and I are talking, the Holcombs interrupt me and say again, “You will still get to see Kaleigh;  all of your family will. I promise.”

That day is a day will not forget.

A few days later I got a call from the Holcombs lawyer asking me to come fill out some forms. So I went to his office and I signed a consent form. I was only 18. I legally couldn’t without a lawyer because of my age, but these people got away with it. They didn’t tell me anything. Just gave me a pen and the document to sign.

I was not able to mark on the consent form where it says I do consent to the disclosure of identifying information to said child after he/she reaches the age 19 years as such information related to me.

I signed this form 2 days after my 18th birthday, and the forms says that I am 19 years of age or older. No, I was 18, not 19. They still got away with lying of the consent form

Per Citation: Ala. Code §§ 26-10A-7; 26-10A-8 Prior to a minor parent giving consent, a guardian ad litem must be appointed to represent the interests of a minor parent whose consent is required. The way I read it, by the fact that Heather was 2 days over 18, they managed to avoid having legal representation required

The Last Visit; No Warning- Trauma at Chuck- E- Cheese

The last time I saw my daughter, she was either 3 or 4. I can’t really remember because I try to block it out of my mind. It was so bad.

We were at Chuck-E-cheese. She and I were taking picture at the box that draws your picture. Her adoptive dad , David Holcomb, walks up and says; “Kaleigh, it’s time to go.”

She started crying; “No! No, I want to go home with my mommy!”

David  yanks her from my arms and says, ” I’m not dealing with this!” and walks out the door. I followed him watching her cry and reaching for me and yelling for me. He puts her in the car and shuts the door.

I never told her I loved he. I never told her I missed her. I never told her will miss her. I didn’t get to even tell her goodbye.

I didn’t know I wouldn’t ever see her again.

The Broken Promises of Visitation in Adoption

For the first year after, I talked to the adoptive mom and she would send two pictures every two months. When I asked about seeing her, she never responded to my email. So I sent my daughter a birthday card and a Easter card since her birthday and Easter are both in April.

The next thing I know, my aunt, the very one  who set this whole thing up calls me and yells at me  demanding to know why did I send Kaleigh a birthday cards and how did I even get the Holcombs address.

I told her I sent Kaleigh a card because it was her birthday. I told her I got the address from the DHR paper work which is true,. I had her address and no one had ever told me that I wasn’t supposed to know where my daughter actually was or that I could not send her brithday cards.

My aunt said, “Well you need to tell the Holcombs that’s how you got their address. I can’t believe DHR put their address in those papers!” She seemed very mad at DHR for allowing me even to know.

She continued on saying that the Holcombs were telling HER that she was to be cut out from visiting  Kaleigh if they find out  she gave me their address. My aunt was so worried and hurt that she couldn’t see Kaleigh over a address. It was all about her rights to see her.  Not worrying about anyone else. No worries about me, her mother, being cut off.   I wanted to say, “Think how I feel you set me up to make yourself and your sister in law happy,” but I didn’t.

It didn’t matter anyway. After Kaleigh got the cards and they knew I knew where they lived, they packed up all their stuff and moved. They changed their phone numbers. They got new cars and even changed their email address.  They disappeared with my child into the wind.

That same year, I received a Christmas picture in the mail of Kaleigh with Santa. That was four years ago. I haven’t seen her since her birthday party. I haven’t talked to her since her birthday party. I haven’t talked to the Holcombs in a few years.  I don’t even know where they live.

Family Still has Access and Contact, Only the Deceived Mother Cut Out

My grandmother on my father’s side still saw Kaleigh for Christmas every year and the whole family kept  it from me. Everyone on my dad’s side still got to see her, but they were all told that if the Holcombs find out that my family had been telling me anything about my daughter or sharing pictures of my daughter with me or anything, they would no longer see her either.

When the Holcombs found out that my grandmother had told me that my daughter rides by the same school I went to and she said, ” I want to go to that school, mom. My real mommy went there,” the Holcombs decided to cut all contact with my grandmother. My grandmother is still buying Kaleigh Christmas gifts expecting to see Kaleigh, but she hasn’t as far as I know  – unless that is being hid from me as well.

It doesn’t make me feel any better that she sees my family. It makes me feel as if all these people are against me.

When my pawpaw passed away, Aunt Tammy was walking around, right in front of me, showing every one pictures of Kaleigh that she had taken that da. When I tried to look at just a single picure of the baby I gave birth to,  she would lock her phone or do something so I could not see it. While  she was showing off the picture, she would look at me with this smug look of satisfaction and amusement.

I gave these people something could never have and this is how I’m treated. I never stop thinking about this, and the pain I’ve been through and go through every day. Of missing my child.

The Truthful Outcome of a Teen Mom – What’s Really “Better”?

They said they were taking her out of a environment with me that could hurt her by only seeing her dad every so often. With adoption, she would now have two parents together. They are no longer together. The last I heard the Holcombs got divorced.

Kaleigh Holcomb of Alabama  find your family I am now married. I have my own home and car. I have a one year old and 12 year old step daughter that my husband and I fought for 4 years to see due to parental alienation. I met him just a few days after the consent form was signed and I had 3 days to change my mind, if I had only known what the future really held for me.  Every doubt that they put into my mind about myself and my child did not come true at all. All I needed was to be left alone and given time,  but they decided that they wanted MY daughter.

To this day, I feel this is my fault. I have a wonderful family now, but I’m still broken. My daughter is still missing. I’m much  older and wiser. I have had to grow up fast. I am only 23,  but I’m much smarter now  and I know that what was done to me and my family is illegal. I think the Holcombs are afraid  of me now because they know what they did was wrong and I could use this against them. I wonder who they can look at my daughter and explain to her that they lied and tricked me to get her.

All I want is too see my child, hold her, hug her, kiss her, take her to school. I just want to talk to her, hear her voice, or just a simple picture!

Thank you for reading my story.


The sad moral of Heather’s Adoption Story? When a person  with more power, more connections and more money desires your child, if you are young and without as many recourses, often enough, they can win. It doesn’t have to be legal, or moral, or ethical at all.  People CAN and DO lie and make false promises and trick mothers out of their children.  Then, we call it adoption and everyone thinks it’s a lovely heartwarming story. The truth says otherwise.

While I do normally say that IF one wants to adopt, then foster to adopt is the LEAST of the un-ethical situations ( as opposed to domestic voluntary infant adoption or international adoption), the fact is that MANY mothers DO lose their child to CPS abuses like this case.  I am not, at all, an expert, in CPS removals, but do know that there are many others in the USA that have CPS abuse on their radars:

Google CPS Corruption or CPS Abuses for more information

For Kaleigh Holcomb of Alabama should you ever Google your name; these are your mother’s words. No matter what stories have been told by David and Darlene Holcomb, know that you mother did not want to lose you, but was tricked, promised, and lied to. Your family is missing you and always will be waiting and hoping for you to come home. This is just a breadcrumb for you. This is the path to find your way back to your mom.


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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine,, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

4 Comments on "In Family Betrayal; When Your Aunt Plays Adoption Baby Broker"

  1. Ginger Hayes | August 8, 2014 at 1:22 pm |

    Claudia, PLEASE post this because what I am writing here should help many birthmothers! Although I happen to be a mother via adoption, I know that there are many vulnerable women who are duped into giving their babies up for adoption. Heather’s heartbreaking story contains a detail I have seen in most of these sad stories: the vulnerable person — usually a young birthmother — does not have to money to retain a good attorney to fight on her behalf. If you have no money and someone is trying to take, or has taken, your baby away from you, research (on the web) who the TOP adoption attornies are in your town. Then go to each of these attornies and BEG for help. The best lawyers WILL do pro bono work, and they DESPISE people who exploit the vulnerable. BEG the best lawyers to help you! You have nothing to lose…and your baby to gain.

  2. I am so enraged right now,. Since they lied, I want to lie and say I’m bar certified lawyer and make the holcombs pay (literally & figuratively) for what they did.

  3. Though it still hurts, my whole family betrayed me. My step-mother didn’t want the competition my child would be with her daughter’s children, for my dad’s affections, so she and her daughter with my father’s blessings helped David McConkie and Colleen Burnham rip my child away from me. Then my step-brother gave the police the date-of-birth of my son, whom I did not have custody of, whenever he was being arrested. My brother called me an child-beater, to those named above. And everybody else in the family falsely accused me of doing drugs. Because my step-mother called me a child-hater when I was a teenager, she later escalated her false accusation against me and called me a child-killer. Since those corrupt adoption practitioners David McConkie and Colleen Burnham wanted to believe these lies and false criminal accusations–told them by my father, step-mother, step-sister, step-brother, and brother–they dogged and hounded me forever trying to force to confess like a murderer to the death of my son. This is family betrayal.

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