Saving Baby Angela

An infant with two fractured ribs and bleeding on the brain. A teenage single mom with no high school diploma. Grandparents with a business to keep afloat. Can CPS find a stable home for Angela Delacourt?

March 13: Angela had had surgery on Friday, March 10 -- not on her heart, but to repair her cleft palate and insert tubes in her ears to prevent infections -- and she had recuperated fine, drooling as she got used to the new roof of her mouth where there used to be none. She and Cheyenne had come home on Sunday, and today they returned to the hospital for follow-up visits.

Cheyenne knew, more surely than ever, that Angela was facing years of medical problems. While in Cheyenne's care, Angela had remained alarmingly skinny, and she was losing ground on her developmental milestones; close to her first birthday, she still couldn't sit up. So far no one knew for sure what caused those problems, much less how to cure them. The doctors wanted to delay the open-heart surgery until the bleeding in Angela's brain cleared, but Cheyenne worried about waiting.

Susan, at least, called with good news: No one at the hospital believed that the new bleeding signaled abuse. Once again, the case was closed. Susan was relieved: Angela's life wouldn't be easy, but at least it would be safe.

"I shoot from the hip": CPS caseworker Susan Sciacca.
Deron Neblett
"I shoot from the hip": CPS caseworker Susan Sciacca.

Cheyenne was still hurt that Susan had reopened the case, still didn't believe that CPS had ever needed to open the case in the first place. But on balance, she thought, Susan had done Angela more good than harm. If nothing else, CPS had forced the people who loved Angela to recognize how serious her situation had grown. With Susan's prodding, Star had admitted she couldn't care for her daughter; Cheyenne and John had felt compelled to take over. A good outcome, Cheyenne thought.

March 15: Cheyenne called Susan. Just to stay in touch.

E-mail Lisa Gray at lisagray@alumni.rice.edu.

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