Back when I originally reported on this case, most of my article was assumptions. Most of my assumptions ended up being correct. Since that time, I have gotten to know the McDonald Family really well. I met them while Shawn and his father were working on a house in the Wichita Falls area. I spent the afternoon with them. My kids love him and his family. My husband fully supports his efforts in this battle.
It is horrible and terrible that a parent in this country has to fight as hard as Shawn has. Please keep in mind. Shawn's parental rights WERE NEVER TERMINATED. So there was no adoption. EVER. In legal terms, Sabra and Travis Hess are non parents. That is the legal term for people who are not biological parents or adoptive parents of a child. Non parents have to have extraordinary circumstances in order to gain custody over another person's child. The Hess's have not proven these extraordinary circumstances despite their false allegations. Yes they are false as Shawn was investigated for them by the District Attorney by passing a lie detector test and the grand jury denying action on their accusations. The Hess's have claimed abuse. They are not realizing that they are abusing this child by pitting him against his father. It is called parental alienation. Since these allegations of theirs are false and now in print, they are inflammatory and slanderous. One allegation has probably stemmed from a visitation at Christmas time when the Hess's failed to follow through on the schedule. Shawn was expecting to have his son on December 19, 2008. The Hess's would not let him have his son until December 23, 2008 at which point they expected him to bring Hunter on December 24, 2008. Shawn returned his son to these non parents on December 25,2008. The allegations came two weeks later.
Keep in mind also that Samantha kept both their daughter and her pregnancy from Shawn for six months. She would not let him see their daughter in order to keep the pregnancy a secret. Shawn had to go to court in order to force her to let him see his daughter. That is when he found out about the pregnancy. Samantha did do one thing correct. She did tell the Hess's, LDS Family Services and Erik Larson that he would contest the adoption. It took him sixteen plus months to find out where his son was. Shawn found out where he was when the Hess's became part of the initial trial court case. He began paying child support once he knew where his son was located. The Hess's intentionally hid his son from him. That is parental alienation. With the false allegations and their conduct during the trial court and appeals court, they are desperately trying to turn his son against him.
There has not been substantiated proof of abuse, child abandonment (keep in mind he has been fighting consistently for over four years), or proof of unfitness. He has passed three home studies with flying colors by CPS no less. What father in this country should have so consistently that he is fit to raise his son? It seems only fathers that contest the adoption of their children. In this state, it is against the law for a non parent to take custody of another person's child if no extraordinary circumstances existed. Since the trial court decision, Shawn has also had a very liberal visitation schedule with his son.
Lets also not forget these important facts. LDS Family Services was investigated for not following up with Shawn.
Operation Name:LDS Family Services
Standard Description: Birth Parent Preparation
Technical Assistance Given: No
Narrative:The investigation revealed that due diligence was not used in makingcontact with the birth parent before the placement. Additional contactshad access with birth parent and operation did not act on information.
According to the trial court transcript, this agency was forced to pay the legal fees of Shawn McDonald. Thesocial worker, Eric Larson, was placed on probation for two years which is still pending. There is also a tape on record with Samantha and her boyfriend both admitting that they intentionally hid the pregnancy from him. Her boyfriend is also on record for calling Shawn a dead beat Dad. Interesting considering the boyfriend's mother is raising his child. Another issue to keep in mind here is that Shawn sued LDS Family Services and LDS Church for the violation of his rights. He settled out of court with them.
The reporter in this story had advertised this story on local channels. He called the non parents, the Hess's, the adoptive parents. They are not the ADOPTIVE PARENTS as there was no adoption. Fortunately he changed the content of the story to custody battle. Shawn is not taking this child from the only parents that he has ever known. Hunter has known Shawn quite a bit. He has visited his son every month on his normal visitation. He has also had custody of his son for a month every summer. Hunter knows who is his father is.
Imagine if you will. Your child is kidnapped. Four years later, the kidnappers were caught but they were nice people but they just wanted a child. It was your child that they took. Would you stop fighting? Would you hand over custody to these folks as if nothing happened? No I think not. This happens with too much frequency to fathers in this country. I think Texas will let both LDS Family Services, the LDS Church, and Hess's that the buck stops here. You can not take our children.