Legal Kidnapping: To me, one of the most awesome and rewarding moments of my life, was when I became a mother. The nurses placed that sweet, tiny little girl-baby into my arms, still attached to me; I fell in love. I think one of the best scents in the world is a newborn baby- they smell sweet, like baby powder and love.
I imagine Heather felt the same way when each one of her 3 children came into the world via c-section. But how would any mother have felt if all of their babies were suddenly snatched away, suddenly gone, by way of a crooked court system, into a home that was completely different in dynamics and religion than the one they had always known? No more Christmases, no more birthdays, no more holidays.
This story is the story of the Sage family; the mother, Heather, and her three children; Patrick, Devon and little Trinity. It has been six long years since she has had any contact with the children and now they are almost teenagers now.
Heather was 17, living in Clear Lake, CA with her dad, mom and family in the year 2000. She had big plans; graduating from high school (taking junior and senior years together in an accelerated program). Her dream: To attend a culinary school in Florida and become a chef.
Heather met David in high school, he was 16. They had a short-lived relationship and as a result in November 2001, Patrick Sage entered the world. Heather and David remained friends, but it was obvious that David didn’t want to be a dad.
Heather told me in a phone interview, “I didn’t know that much about being a mom, but I learned quickly and I fell in love with my little Patrick. He was a good baby. My parents helped me as much as they could; with watching Patrick, with expenses; my mother was ill. Mom watched Patrick while I worked to help my dad to provide for all of us.”
Heather’s dad’s employment dried up and he moved the family to Oregon, near his family; he found a job with a gold mining company. After a year, his job ended suddenly and without warning, and Heather’s dad moved his family back to Clear Lake, CA. David, Patrick’s daddy had been asking Heather to move back to Clear Lake, so he could get to know his son, so she willingly moved back there.
Heather finished high school and entered college, working at Sears in Santa Rosa to support her son. At work, she met Darryl and fell in love. He asked her and Patrick to move in with him, and she did when she found out she was pregnant. In December 2004, she gave birth to Devon and it was an extremely difficult birth.
She was recovering from a c-section and returned to work. Her doctor prescribed muscle relaxers for her pain and she stored them on top of the refrigerator. Returning to work and against her better judgement, she had left Devon and Patrick with Devon’s father, Daryl at home; he had lost yet another job and Heather was disappointed in him. While Daryl’s attention was somewhere else, four year old Patrick managed to climb on top of the refrigerator and he got into Heather’s muscle relaxers; Heather was called home from work.
Heather had also found out that Daryl was not being faithful to her; he was having an affair with one of her neighbors and a best friend of hers. With Daryl’s being incapable of holding onto jobs, his cheating, and his irresponsibility, she was becoming weary of making excuses for him and they had a huge fight, where Daryl made excuses and told her losing jobs was not his fault.
Then a godsend: Heather was offered a position for Sears in Colorado; they were willing to pay all of her expenses for the move; Heather had family living there. She told me, “I was about fed up with Daryl; he was not doing anything to help me with expenses or the kids and I needed a change. I received the transfer, signed a lease for an apartment online and paid the deposit, and made arrangements to move. I remember being so excited about it.” Then the move hit a snag; Daryl at the last minute, decided he wanted to be around his children, and he filed suit to block Heather from leaving California with the children. Heather said, “I was livid.”
Heather lost the Sears transfer and wound up having to pay for ending the apartment’s lease and she lost all deposits. Then she found out (even though she was being so careful) that she was pregnant again. But she still moved into her own apartment. Her OB/Gyn doctor assigned bed rest for her through this pregnancy and her mom and dad came to stay with her and help her get back on her feet. Through all of this, Heather’s job was liquidated with Sears during her “lay-in” but she had planned ahead and applied for other jobs, so she was hired on with a local casino in their “cash cage.”
Trinity Sage was born via C-Section in November 2006. Heather was 23 years old and had three young children to take care of and provide for. Her pride was that she was able to. She decided she wanted to get a tattoo. When she was introduced to Billy the tattoo artist, she fell for him. At first Billy was everything she wanted; He was funny, “protective” and he made a fuss over her. He told her he did not like her working at “that place” (the casino). Then she was assaulted at work. A security guard had cornered her and put his hands on her; there were video cameras all around the casino, so the guard was quickly apprehended and Heather filed sexual harassment charges against him. But before her case came up before the board, Billy took matters into his own hands and beat the Hell out of the guy. Heather was fired from her job.
So Heather had no job and she lost the new apartment. She considered herself fortunate that David and Darryl had both called, they had new girlfriends that Heather had met, and they each asked if they could have their children with them for the summer and Heather quickly approved the visits. Heather moved into Billy’s mother’s garage where Billy lived. With the children being watched and cared for by their daddies, Heather quickly found a job at Starbucks and another at Target, to start earning money to get her small family a place to live and on their feet again. But Billy did not approve of her working two jobs and the relationship soon soured.
“I lost both of the jobs when Patrick’s daddy called said ‘come and get Patrick; I have lost my job and we’re being evicted. And then a short time later Devon and Trinity’s daddy called me and said ‘come pick up the kids- I lost my job and I am being evicted.’ I felt like I was at a dead-end. Here I had lost both of my new jobs and I had no money for childcare for the children and no place to live.” Heather explained. “I was living in Billy’s mother’s garage, she told me I couldn’t and I wasn’t about to bring the children there. I didn’t have any money to rent a new place, and I had no job.” What was a mom to do?
She remembered in February she had received a phone call from a distant relative in Mississippi that she had not had much contact with; Aunt Alma, known as “Jeanie” to her family, from her dad’s side. She had called Heather out of the blue, after seeing her and the children at a family reunion. “What I didn’t know about Aunt Jeanie, was that she was a licensed foster mother in the State of Mississippi. She knew I was struggling and told me, ‘If you ever need a place to stay or anything, please call me. I have a 6 bedroom house, plenty of room here. You and the kids are more than welcome to stay with me.’
All I knew about Aunt Jeanie, was that she and my Uncle Perry lived in small town in Walls, Mississippi and I knew they were ‘childless,’ but that was all I knew. My dad had talked very little about them. And I didn’t know a soul in Mississippi and I really had no interest in going there. But desperate times called for desperate measures.” Heather told me. “It was 2008 and times were hard. My father could not find employment and my Mom and Dad were living in their car. My children’s fathers had lost their apartments and were unemployed. None of my friends had any room for my children and me. I went to Daryl (Devon and Trinity’s daddy) to ask that he take the court restrictions off so that we could go and stay with my Aunt. My mom begged me not to go, but I felt I had to, in order to get back on my feet. I had my doubts, with my mom’s warnings about my aunt. ‘Red warning flags’ were all over the place, but I did not know what else to do. I called my Aunt Jeanie.”
I remember asking her on the phone, ‘Aunt Jeanie, is that offer for the kids and me to stay at your house still open?’ She did not even hesitate, ‘Why yes, yes it is. When are y’all coming? I can send you a plane ticket, charged on my credit card.’ But I did not want to fly; I knew I would need my car to find work and I did not want to just leave my car in California, so I told her, ‘Oh I don’t want to fly there with the children and besides, I will need my car to find employment there. And besides, I can’t just leave it here.’ Then Aunt Jeanie said, Oh I have an extra car you can use until we get can get your car here.’ Little warning flags.” Heather paused in her story.
“So I packed up what little belongings we had for the kids and I, ignoring the pangs in my gut about leaving my family in California and the children and I caught the flight to Mississippi. When we arrived, everything went well. Aunt Jeanie was welcoming and friendly. I spent the first week at Health and Human Services, getting the children’s medical cards, my food assistance and cash. I signed Patrick up for school, using my Aunt Jeanie’s car to run my errands.” But then things changed.
“After I had arranged stuff and the medical cards, food assistance card and check were mailed to the house, Aunt Jeanie confiscated it. Then I was told the car ‘had “problems.’ My heart sunk. I knew I needed to find a job, quickly, but there was no bus service there.” Heather said sadly. “My Aunt Jeanie was not through with me though. She had me call Billy, my last boyfriend, and beg him for money. Aunt Jeanie called my parents demanding money and my sister; she harassed them daily.” Heather paused again, taking a deep breath.
“One morning at about 5:00 am Aunt Jeanie burst into the room I was sleeping in with my children, yelling at me, ‘You and your little bastards need to get out of my house!’ I started to cry packing our suitcases that I had never really unpacked, and gathering what little belongings we had. Then Aunt Jeanie came in and apologized to me.” Heather took another deep breath.
“What I had no way of knowing, is that Aunt Jeanie called Child Protective Services of Mississippi and told them lies about me. As I was washing up and dressing the children, CPS was pulling into the driveway.” Heather stopped, struggling not to cry.
“My Aunt Jeanie went into a performance worthy of an Academy Award; ‘She is crazy. She has said she will take the children with her, she has no place for them to live, she has been talking all irrational and I am worried for the children.’ If I was upset, it was because she had awakened me from a sound sleep, hollering at the kids and me. Aunt Jeanie walked the back room, passing me in the hallway with an evil smirk that I longed to knock off of her face. The CPS worker sat down with me and I was calm on the outside, but my insides churned. What have I gotten myself into? The woman from CPS explained the complaint and told me that I could not leave the state or I would lose my children. I was bound and determined to leave that house with my children and go back to California.
My boyfriend Billy had called to see what was going on and I begged him to send me bus tickets to get back home. He said he had bought them and we were set to leave that day. I was packed and had the children ready to go; our bus was leaving at 11:00 am.” So close.
“But before we could leave the house with our suitcases, Aunt Jeanie’s acting abilities came into play once again. She was having (phony) heart palpitations and called the ambulance to come and get her. Before she was placed in the ambulance, she pulled me to her and said, ‘You and you’re your little bastards- do not be here when I come home, do you hear? Be gone.” When Aunt Jeanie arrived at the hospital, she called CPS and told them I had tried to choke Patrick, which was a lie.” Lies told have consequences.
“I was waiting to catch the bus with my children, when CPS again pulled into the driveway. They told me, ‘Your Aunt Jeanie called us from the hospital and told us the reason why she is there; you tried to choke Patrick and you are unstable. You have upset her so badly. Now you are going to have to keep your children in the State of Mississippi, or you are going to lose them.’ I hugged the kids ‘goodbye,’ telling them I would come back for them after I had a job and a home for them. I cried my eyes out and took the bus to California. I had a job within a week and a place to live.” Heather paused again in her story. I gave her a minute to compose herself.
She went on with her story more slowly now. “Less than one week later, my Aunt Jeanie was awarded custody of my kids. She called me threatening me and my parents, ‘I have your bastards, so you have to pay for them; they are costing me a fortune.’ But I knew she had my food card, the assistance check, the money Billy had sent me, and the money my parents’ had sent. Aunt Jeanie said, ‘You and your parents need to move to Mississippi,’ but my mother has breathing problems and could never survive there; the climate is too humid.” So moving there for the grandparents was out of the question, but it wasn’t for Heather.
“CPS gives out clothing allowances for children, but Aunt Jeanie demanded the money instead, which made the CPS worker suspicious of her. I was doing all of the classes CPS told me to and I received my reunification papers. I was calling to talk to my kids each and every day, missing them so badly. My kids were removed from Aunt Jeanie’s house because they claimed she was having health problems, but it turned out she was being investigated. They returned the kids to her after the investigation was completed.
I had started working at Toys R Us but then I got a job at Walmart. I was still calling the kids and keeping track of them, but I still did not have money to go and visit them. I asked Walmart for a transfer to Mississippi, but they told me I would have to work for them for six months to transfer. I just wanted to be with my kids.” You can clearly see that Heather was doing everything to be with her children; she was working to earn money, she did not depend on welfare to provide, like some other mothers do. “In July 2008, I was trying desperately to get my life in order to get my children back. I did not share my plans with Aunt Jeanie- I had learned not to trust her. My only plan was to get my kids back and get back to California.”
One night, before the children were removed from her Aunt’s house, she called her children and talked to each one of them. After she had hung up, the phone was re-dialed, no one was on the line. But Heather heard her Aunt yelling at her children and calling them horrible names and threatening them. Heather immediately called CPS and told them everything she had heard.
Heather takes up her story; “Patrick has ‘night thirst’ like I do. I get up in the middle of the night or keep a bottle of water by my bed. So Patrick was ‘bugging’ my Aunt Jeanie by getting up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water. Well, she started ‘rimming’ a glass with soap in the little glass he used. Patrick became ill. Then CPS leveled allegations that my Uncle Perry was molesting the children- the boys. I was in a panic, but the allegations were unfounded; CPS just wanted to remove the children from Aunt Jeanie’s house and they did; Aunt Jeanie lost her foster parent license.”
There was a man, David Rainey, who worked in the Northern DeSoto County courthouse in records. As it turned out, his wife Jill Rainey had seen Heather’s children, walking with her Aunt Jeanie into the courthouse, and Jill decided she wanted those children more than anything and would go to great lengths, even lie, to get them. Jill Rainey was a licensed foster mother and she wanted those three children for her own.
At Jill Rainey’s machinations, CPS awarded fostering of the Sage children to the Rainey’s and the children went to live with them. It was very traumatic to them; the Rainey’s are Jehovah’s Witnesses and they do not celebrate holidays; no Christmases, no birthdays. Studies find this is extremely hard for children to understand.
By this time it had been exactly one year since Heather had moved with her children to live with her Aunt. Heather had a good job, rented a two bedroom home, and she had passed all of the classes she was required to take. The judge in the case talked to her by phone and a six-month hearing was set up. The judge also had given her three additional months to get things done and she had met all of her requirements and the judge was well-pleased with her and even praised her.
“I flew to Mississippi confident that my children would soon be with me again. I arrived in Walls at 11:00 pm on a Thursday night; I had taken off a week from work for the hearing and to be with my kids, with court being on the following Wednesday. On Friday I went for my visitation with my children and I was told, ‘There is a problem… allegations of molestation by Heather- probable cause.’ I was in shock. I have no money to hire a lawyer to fight this.” She cried to me, fighting tears.
As it turns out, Jill Rainey had falsely told CPS, in her desperate bid to keep the children’s mommy away, that Devon had supposedly told Rainey ‘I don’t want to see Mommy, because she touched me in ‘no-no’ places.’ (No little child of that age would even know about something like that or say it.)
Heather was demoralized and depressed over not seeing her children and the thought that her son would allegedly say something like that about her. She knew she had literally done everything she was asked to do by CPS and the court; how much more could she take? In Walls before the court date, Heather stayed to herself, talking to no one. But she stopped to get gas for her rental car and a chatty attendant saw the name on her credit card: “Sage, you’re with the Sage kids. Jill (Rainey) wants your children.” Heather said her heart went cold at the thought.
“Saturday and Sunday dragged on. I had all of this time on my hands to worry, to think and to pray and by Monday morning, I was a wreck.” At court, they asked her to take a drug test, which passed. “I asked to see the kids and they told me, ‘We are just waiting on approval,’ many times over and over she was told ‘Waiting on approval.’
On Wednesday when I walked into court, I was told that the Guardian ad litem, Katie Jewel, was suddenly struck ill and the court date was moved to six months from then. I finally reached the judge in my case to tell him I had followed every required thing and asked to see my children and be allowed bring them home with me and he put me off. Then the CPS worker asked how me how I was going to get my children home with me. I told them I had the money for plane tickets for them. I was finally allowed to see my children for 30 minutes and I had been there a week.
I took the kids to McDonald’s and bought lunch for all of us, ice-cream too. I don’t know why Jill Rainey was allowed to be present at my visitation, but I was just so happy to be with them again. I took picture after picture of them. But it looked as if my Patrick had been drugged. It was not until after we had eaten our lunch that he returned to his old self and was laughing and having fun. I noticed that Devon did not talk much. Trinity was clinging and so loving and I loved having her back in my arms again. The time went by so fast. When lunch was over and the children had eaten their treat, the CPS worker and Jill came over and took Trinity and Patrick to the car, while Devon stayed behind and I wiped the ice-cream off of his face. He broke my heart all over again when he said looking into my eyes, ‘Mommy, I want to come home with you.’ I fought back the tears, not wanting to cry in front of my little boy I whispered softly, ‘I love all of you. I wish we could just all go home too.”
Heather cried all the way back to California. She worked hard to get the case transferred from Mississippi to California with no success. She was trying to get Walmart to transfer her job to Mississippi but she knew that would take some time to do. “I was told the children were told to call Jill ‘Mom.’ I found out they were ‘fed’ stories to say to the CPS workers by Jill. All of this was designed to tear me down to my kids.” Heather followed the court order for regular drug testing and went to the same place each time. After eight months of clean reports, she was told “no more tests,” and the court served her with a “contempt of court” charge. The court threw out the counseling Heather had undergone in California, citing her counselor did not have the “right letters after their name.” According to Mississippi law, counselors have to have certain initials after their name and there are no counselors in California who have the required letters.
The Guardian ad Litem, Katie Jewel, obtained documentation of numerous calls about Heather and her children to CPS officials in California, by a disgruntled neighbor; charges that were thrown out for no basis of fact. She used the incident concerning Patrick and the muscle relaxer pills that he got into that the hospital reported. The Guardian ad litem used nearly everything from Heather’s past to discredit Heather as a mother, to make her look bad in the eyes of the court, whether they were true or not.
Then court reviews were moved from every three months to every six months, as the next year without her children at home with her went by. Heather only was only able to see her children for 30-40 minutes at a time with Jill Rainey present at each meeting. Heather attempted to find a lawyer to take her case with no success.
During a visit to Mississippi at one of the required hearings, her parents were present. Her dad carried a satchel with all of their court papers in it. They all were having lunch when the satchel just disappeared, then reappeared on the courthouse steps. What they didn’t know at the time and would find out much later, is that one paper containing an important hearing date was missing from that satchel. As a result, Heather missed a required October 9th hearing. (In Mississippi, if you miss two hearings, your case is thrown out).
Heather was at work in California when her CPS worker in Mississippi called her cell phone and said, “Have your forgotten you are due in court in fifteen minutes?” Heather panicked. She told her worker, “The date on my paperwork was wrong then, because it says October 25th.” The next court date was moved to March.
In October, Heather became ill. Her doctor diagnosed her condition as endometriosis and stated she would have to have an emergency hysterectomy—in March. Heather submitted paperwork to the court from her doctor about her health issues, which was not made part of the case paperwork or court record. Then her CPS worker who had been there from the start quit the case, but she called Heather and told her, “I refuse to do to you what they want me to do.” Heather asked what they were planning, but the worker was so frightened, she would not tell Heather what was going on; she only wished her luck.
Still weak from her surgery in March, on pain medication, she and her parents flew out to Mississippi in June 2010. What Heather did not know about is that the court had moved against her for two missed required court dates. When she walked down the hallway of the courthouse with her parents, Heather was stopped by Jill Rainey and her (new) CPS worker. Jill said to her with malice, “You’re losing your children today. We can make this easy or hard; I will make this an ‘open adoption’ if you will sign this paper.” She shoved a business card at Heather, “Here is my home address and mailing address,” then she handed Heather a piece of paper, and a pen. Still in shock from reeling from the news, fuzzy and weak from her surgery, Heather made the biggest mistake of her life and signed the paper Jill Rainey had handed her. “It was the single biggest mistake of my life!” Heather cried to me.
Once they were inside the courtroom, the (new) judge moved for termination of Heather’s parental rights, as Heather sat shell-shocked, angry and crying, with her parents comforting her. She had literally done everything: The parenting classes, the anger-management classes, the counseling, the drug testing and put up with Jill’s snide remarks and her presence when Heather was having a visit with her children. All of the steps she had taken, the court had required her to take- she had taken. Why was she losing her children now, when she finally had her life together; a good job, a place to live and stability for her children? All of these questions kept running through Heather’s mind, while her dad and mom kept asking, “Why?”
This time in Mississippi after flying all that way, Heather’s mom and Dad were not even allowed to see their grandchildren for the very last time.
The three children; Patrick, Devon and Trinity that Heather had given birth to through difficult births and had loved and raised, were awarded in an closed adoption to Jill and David Rainey. Heather felt as if her entire world had just imploded and her reason for living was now gone; how she was continuing to function, she did not know. She was severely depressed. She worked all of the time. She went to counseling to help her deal with the loss of her children. She returned to college to better herself, but she still hoped…
Finally after searching for a lawyer in Mississippi for nearly a decade, she has found one who is willing to take her case. But he has informed Heather it is going to cost $3,000.00 to unseal the case, because since the adoption of the children by Jill and David Rainey was final, Jill Rainey had the records sealed.
“I found out later that Jill lied to the specialist, telling her that we; my parents and me, would be allowed to see the children one last time. This was denied us and the specialist filed concerns about the way the adoption was handled. The Specialist also told my mother that she knew that I had signed the paper handed to me by Jill ‘under duress’ and I had been threatened that if I didn’t sign that piece of paper, I would never see my children again.
The Specialist also said she knew the address that Jill had provided to me was false, because she had seen the real address where Jill and her husband lived. Mom found out the Rainey’s are Jehovah’s Witnesses and I found out in one of my counseling sessions that to the children who are adopted into this kind of home, from another religion, it is traumatic to them when they are not allowed to celebrate that which is familiar to them. Mom called the Kingdom Hall where Jill and her husband attend meetings and asked them if they condoned “the legal kidnapping of children from a loving home and what Jill had done to my children and I.” Later on that day, Jill called my mom, taunting her and laughing at her. This woman Jill is sick in the head.” Heather said, shaking her head. “Jill also made herself disappear off of the ‘grid,’ placing everything in her husband’s name, so that she could not be traced; I found her and asked her if I could talk to my kids and Jill said, ‘No,’ and was really nasty to me, using such foul language. And I recently found out there is a police report for domestic violence between Jill and David Rainey, where they both were arrested and put in jail; so where were the children during this time they were in jail? Who was watching my children?”
Heather continues to fight for her children against a crooked, criminal enterprise worked system in Mississippi that removes children from their loving homes where there is poverty, with families fighting to survive in a hostile environment with no jobs, placing children with wealthy families. Child Protective Services across the United States are removing children from their homes daily; some with reason and a few who are corrupt, looking for extra cash for finding adoptable children, not allowing them any contact with their birth parents, fostering and adopting them out through the crooked juvenile court.
Note from Author: Heather has a “gofundme” account at: https://www.gofundme.com/justiceforpatrickdevon&Trinity. Donations will be used to pay the lawyer’s fee of $3,000.00 to unseal the case, and Heather will need some money to pay the lawyer for his time in court. Please give whatever you can to help this poor mother to regain her children. No proceeds from any donation are being used for this website or this author