Mother Convicted of Battery On Her Adopted Child
By Melissa Schroeder
LONOKE COUNTY, AR -- A Lonoke County foster parent, who adopted three children with her husband, is serving prison time for beating one of the kids with a vacuum cleaner attachment.
The children's biological aunt, Amber Butera, said, "I cannot bear falling to sleep because I know those kids could be...that they could be hurting."
Last month, a judge sentenced Jacqueline Ferguson to six years in prison for domestic battery in the second degree. Another foster child -- in the home at the time -- brought the abuse to the attention of the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
Kayla McPherson, the children's biological mother, said, "It hurts really bad to know I wasn't able to save them from that."
The state terminated her parental rights a couple years ago.
McPherson said, "We want them to know we love them very much and we are fighting for them."
While the kids were in foster care, McPherson says she told her caseworker about bumps and bruises found on her children. She says there were even photos taken months before the adoption went through...but she says nothing was done.
About a year after the adoption, Ferguson was charged with harming one of the kids, but family members believe all three of the kids were abused.
Butera said, "They got beat. We are talking that these babies got beat."
Family members say the three children are now in custody of a relative of the adoptive mother, so they still fear for their safety.
Kim Herring, the biological grandmother, said, "Horrible, absolutely horrible."
A DHS spokeswoman says they can't comment on specific cases. But, she did tell us the rules change after an adoption is final.
Spokeswoman Kate Luck said, "Then we are out of the picture. We treat every adoptive home as if it is their biological home."
After going through this traumatic experience, McPherson hopes a biological family member will be able to get custody of her three children.
In the meantime, family members are spending hours a day researching and working on ways to prevent this from happening again.
Butera said, "I'll spend until the day I'm dead fighting.
We did try reaching out to the Ferguson family, but have not heard back.