Body of girl killed in Mexico returned

Date: 2008-09-23
Source: Oregonian

The Hillsboro Argus
By Kurt Eckert

The body of a Cedar Mill girl murdered in Mexico in 2005 has finally been returned to her family, casting light again on the Oregon's Department of Human Services' practice of relocating foster children to be with siblings, regardless of citizenship.

A memorial service for Adrianna Maria Romero-Cram, a U.S. citizen who was beaten to death by her biological aunt and uncle at age 5, was held Sept. 15.

Her aunt is in year three of a 45-year sentence for homicide, said Adrianna's mother, Tausha Cram, who had to go through a grueling bureaucratic process to bring her daughter's body back home.

Tausha brought infant Adrianna to live in Cedar Mill with her grandmother Evonne Cram, escaping an abusive husband.

DHS took custody because the family couldn't find affordable insurance to buy necessary prescriptions, Tausha told the Argus in 2005.

Evonne couldn't take the girl because she and Tausha were feuding, and a restraining order had been filed. Tausha had drug problems, and though she admits she couldn't take care of Adrianna, the state should have placed her with a local family. The return of her daughter's body and the funeral service doesn't bring closure, she says.

"I won't feel like her death had any meaning until this never happens to another child again," Tausha said Wednesday. "There should be no American citizens being sent to other countries.

"The only one who didn't make a mistake was Adrianna, and she's the one who paid."

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The funeral service brings to mind the plight of Hillsboro's Maurice and Luz Cephus, who still haven't received final word on whether the DHS will send their 2-year-old granddaughter Faith to live with the grandparents of her half-siblings in Mexico, who aren't related to her at all.

Three separate committees have reviewed the case, and while it was determined there is a bond between Faith and the two children, Faith will remain with her grandparents until a judge makes a final decision, Stewart said. Both fathers and the mother are in prison.

In March the DHS said it was in Faith's best interest to stay with the two children her mother had with another man, rather than stay with American relatives, sparking media interest.

Like Adrianna, Faith is a U.S. citizen, leading the Cephuses to think the decision would be an easy one.

The DHS originally placed all three of the children in one foster home after they were taken away from their mother, but that family had to get out of the situation for personal reasons, spokesperson Lauri Stewart said. The DHS is provided with information that is usually not available to the public, and has to make decisions based on the facts.

"To categorically exclude all geographical locations because of one tragic case, I'm not sure that would be a practical policy decision," Stewart said. "Sometimes it just doesn't work.

"We're forbidden by law to exclude people because they don't live in the United States. Geographical locations are not supposed to be an issue."

Faith, a bright and happy toddler, calls her grandparents "mama" and "dada," though they remind her often they are her grandparents, not her parents.

The committees' decisions are subject to review by the department director.

Faith's mother and father have voluntarily surrendered their parental rights for now.

These incidents come on the heels of the adoption of Oregon's Gabriel Allred in 2007. Child welfare officials recommended be sent to Mexico to live with his grandmother, but a judge ultimately let his American foster parents, who had cared for him from age 4 months, adopt him.

Stewart said a decision on Faith Cephus could still be months away.


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