Orange County couple says DCF missed opportunity to unite child with his adopted brothers

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orange County couple has filed a complaint against the Florida Department of Children and Families over the failed adoption of a 2-year-old child.

They told investigative reporter Daralene Jones the state agency missed an opportunity to unite the child with his two brothers in their home.

They believe DCF violated the law, and are talking now in hopes of changing the process for other families.

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Their reasons are spelled out in a complaint.

The couple knows they have missed an opportunity to raise the three boys together.

They are talking now in hopes of changing the process for other families.

Thomas and Brandon Feinsod spend time after school building a family bond with their children, brothers, they adopted five years ago in August; two small children who have now been immersed in a complicated situation that not even grown ups can understand.

“I don’t think they’re prepared to process this kind of thing,” Thomas Feinsod said. “In the beginning it seemed cut-and-dried.”

About a year and a half ago, they found out the boys had a new brother. The child had been removed from his mother’s home and placed in a temporary shelter.

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The Feinsods said DCF never contacted them, but they happened to get a call from a friend familiar with their case who worked for a social service agency.

“Got myself connected to the child protective investigator who had removed him. He was surprised to hear from me,” said Brandon Feinsod. “It’s kind of a shock that a child would be brought into the system and placed in a home without anyone doing any due diligence to see if they had siblings.”

DCF is governed by state law, and there’s a section of Florida law that requires DCF to make reasonable efforts to keep siblings together if they are removed and placed in out-of-home care.

The Feinsods said they went through new background checks as part of a plan they thought would lead to eventual fostering and adoption of the child, so that he could grow up with family. During that time, the baby was moved to three different foster homes.

One of those families was just approved to formally adopt the baby.

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“The entire ordeal could’ve been completely bypassed if anyone of consequence had any point in the process just asked the question, ‘What have you done to find the siblings of this child?,’” Thomas Feinsod said.

The Feinsods are now working with local lawmakers to see if someone can take a look at the process with DCF and its fostering agencies. They believe judges involved should be required to use a checklist to make sure all aspects of state law are followed.

They also believe DCF and its agencies should be required to sign off on a due diligence form proving they have exhausted all options to find siblings.