"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

gathering of info

I have been a terrible blogger. So sorry!

It seems like there aren't enough hours in the day, especially now that Daddy's working away a lot more. I am kept very busy. As always, I am compelled to give kudos to all of the single Mamas and military families out there with little ones. I don't know how you do it.

I want to thank so many of you that have emailed me privately, left comments or have even called me about Lavender. I don't know how many people ended up writing to the district attorney in Sacramento, but my prayer was that she sat back to read her emails after the Labor Day holiday and fell out of her chair because there were THOUSANDS of emails with the subject line reading JUSTICE FOR LAVENDER!

Michelle asked me for details about Sabrina and Lavender and I know a few others who have been out of the loop and wanted to know what happened to sweet Lavender, the little girl that belonged to all of us.

Here are the facts that I have gathered according to newspaper reports, and police and court documents (links listed below).

Please it is important to note that none of the information below is my opinion nor does it mean that Sabrina has been found guilty of any of the charges against her. God and she alone know the exact truth. We continue to pray that the entire truth be revealed and the person responsible be brought to justice. Lavender is very close to my heart because Sabrina and I were both in China at the same time bringing home our little girls (I did not meet her personally) and of course, because Lavender did have a cleft lip and palate and well...I don't have to tell you how near and dear those babies are to my heart.


January 2002 - Sabrina Stafford (Banks) allegedly hits one of her children on the back and thighs, leaving marks. She admits hitting her daughter the prior month with a "switch". Investigators concluded no license violations were committed, CPS documents said.

May 2002 - Stafford allegedly burned a 3-year-old child on the hip with a hot spoon. Stafford denied anything like that ever happened. Her license was voluntarily withdrawn when she went to Visalia, but it was restored in Kern County in early 2003.

September 2003 - Sabrina Stafford was arrested on charges of willful child cruelty by Bakersfield police after foster child, Angelic Clary, 3 months old, was found dead in Stafford's home. Angelic's twin sister, Tiffany, was found suffering from a 104.8-degree fever.

Paramedics took the surviving sister to Memorial Hospital where doctors found her to be hungry, dehydrated, had low sodium in her blood and barbiturates in her systems. Barbiturates are depressants, normally used as a sleeping aid. Tiffany was removed from Stafford’s care.

Despite an extensive investigation, no charges were ever filed against her in Angelic’s death. Deputy District Attorney Scott Spielman said there was no conclusive medical evidence that the infant’s death was either due to abuse or neglect. Although, according to what Bakersfield police detective Mary Degeare said, the coroner also found evidence of neglect on the dead baby’s body. “There were multiple insect bites (on the baby),” Degeare said. Ant bites were found on her ears, and dead ants in her diaper.

The county forensic pediatrician looked at the toxicology findings and the results were inconclusive as to whether Banks was responsible.

He last reviewed the evidence in March 2004.

Stafford was to be arraigned but was later released when the Kern County coroner’s office ruled the infant’s death was either natural or accidental. The infant likely breathed in something, possibly vomit, and choked, the coroner’s office found.

The mother of the twins, Ruth Rodriguez, filed a lawsuit against Kern County, but it was dismissed in January 2005.

Lavender's Story:

August 14, 2006 - Sabrina sends in LOI (letter of intent to adopt) to China for Lavender.

September 28, 2006 - China sends Pre-Approval for Sabrina's adoption of Lavender.

November 03, 2006 - Sabrina is DTC (dossier to China).

December 30, 2006 - Sabrina makes plea for prayers on several yahoo groups that she be approved to bring home a 2nd child she has found on another waiting list. This child has same special need as Lavender and is at the same orphanage.

January 3, 2007 - Sabrina advises those praying that the agency has decided against placing the 2nd child with her family because "the child has had a lot of interest from other families and they felt it was not a good idea for two children to be placed that close together".

(Friday) April 13, 2007 - Sabrina receives news that the orphanage director refuses to allow her to adopt Lavender on the grounds that she is black. Immediately, the adoption community moves on her behalf, emailing and calling Senators, Congressmen and sending emails to CCAA (the governing agency for adoptions in China). Subsequently, the agency who assisted her in bringing Lavender home loses their waiting child program with China because of this.

April 23, 2007 - LOA (Letter of Acceptance) arrives from China giving final permission for Sabrina to adopt.

June 12, 2007 - Lavender's Gotcha Day.

July 3, 2007 - Two weeks home. Sabrina updates everyone on how spectacular Lavender is doing and shares with those that followed her journey how "Lavender is a prayer come to life".

January 08, 2008 - Sabrina shares Lavender's cleft surgery had to be postponed due to congestion and a lingering fever. She again reiterates that Lavender is everything she dreamed of.

Not long after that last post, the blog and yahoo group were taken down.

May 2, 2008 - Elk Grove police said Banks called 911 and said the child wasn’t breathing and was "unresponsive". Paramedics were unable to resuscitate her and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Lavender had visible injuries that "were not consistent with an accidental death," said Office Christopher Trim of the Elk Grove Police Dept.

August 5, 2009 - Sabrina was arrested and booked into a Visalia County Jail.

An autopsy report lists the probable cause of death as "asphyxiation by smothering" and "multiple blunt force injuries," according to the Sacramento County Coroner's Office.

Trim said it took detectives more than a year to gather the evidence necessary that led to charging Banks with murder, assault resulting in the death of a child under 8 years of age and endangering the life or health of a child.

"It was a very long process of interviewing the mother, her friends, checking her history, working with the coroner's office," he said.

"There was one other child at home when the death occurred, that child has been in protective custody since", Trim said.

August 11, 2009 - Sabrina Banks is transported and booked into the Sacramento County Jail.

Deputy district attorney Scott Spielman said the DA is now going to forward the case back to the Bakersfield Police Department and contact police in Elk Grove to see if they can assist each other in their cases, and possibly re-file charges in Kern County for Angelic's death.








Desiree' said...

Crazy isn't it? I tear up every time I read this...

Stefanie said...

Positively heartbreaking.
How in the world did her background clearances come back without a hint of what this woman was capable of?? It's horrifying.
Thank you for all you are doing to help bring justice for sweet Lavender!!

JShannon said...

Lavender keeps popping into my thoughts several times a day. I just cant get over it. How could anyone do that????? I can't wrap my head around it at all. I keep giving Malia a few extra tight hugs everyday because of this. Ugh.....

Jill said...

Ohilda...how I get a CONCRETE BLOCK in my stomach upon seeing Sabrina's "mug shot" each and every time. I remember rejoicing over their time in China and just enjoying how beautiful their family WAS...including sweet Sabrina and her joy at being Momma to Lavender...and now...I feel as if I will physically THROW UP! I pray for Sabrina...I am so glad that God loves her.
Thank you for your passion for children. AND for justice!

Karin said...

I can't imagine how she got clearance to adopt. We all have to do the background checks and child abuse clearances. How did they not catch it? What a tragedy--for everyone involved.

TanyaLea said...

Everytime I read about this case and see a photo of this woman it just shakes me up inside. How in the world did she get 'thru' the system...let alone the extensive background checks associated with adoption. It's unthinkable and just angers me to no end. I pray that justice is definitely served and that the truth...ALL of the truth, is revealed. It's the least they can do in memory of these sweet innocent lost lives.

Don and Lisa Osborn said...

Hi~I stumbled onto your blog as I was doing some reading this evening and I commend you for taking a stand and being bold in your faith and convictions.

I see that you're bloggy friends with several of my bloggy and Facebook friends and I look forward to reading more of your blog!

Many blessings to you~

Keisha said...

I... AM... OUTRAGED!!!!!

With those types of "PREVIOUS" Cases... WHAT IN THE WORLD... WHO approved her to EVEN ADOPT!!!!!!!!!!

These are details... that I WOULD have loved to have known...
& Praise GOD the second child.. wasn't placed with HER!

Praying for Justice to be served!
Even though.. sometimes are system may have flaws.. and fails...PRAISE GOD that HE NEVER FAILS.. AMEN?

Aus said...

Wow - if you are ever looking for a job keep that post and show it to any sizable LE agency - there is always a need for civilians to be able to put together chronologies and summaries like that one!

Like you - please do not construe the following as a statement of guilt - one of the Blessings of our Country is "Innocent until proven guilty"!

You know my background - and as a 'csi type' I'm never one to rush to conclusions - sometimes it just takes time for all the pieces to fall into place. I didn't know that the investigation had taken a year! For most (because they have never investigated a slam dunk much less a 'can of worms' case like this) a year seems like an outrage. From my chair that lends a lot of credence to the investigation as well as a lot of carful following of the evidence to a conclusion, and a lot of dedication on the part of the case officer to see it through. I'm hoping there's a little recognition coming for everybody who worked this one - I'm also sure that it was a sleep taker and life disrupter of a job. (I've had cases take 2 and 3 years to 'make' - sometimes that's what it takes.)

And while it will be good to see justice in this life - I know in my heart of hearts that Lavender has had full justice - and is playing with the Father of us all.

hugs -

aus and co.

Anonymous said...

I have not heard of this story until now. Heartbreaking. How did she slip thru the system?

May Lavender rest easy in Jesus' arms.

You openned a point of interest I did not know was an issue....are black families not readily allowed to adopt from China?

Lindsey's mom said...

Thank you for this post. As a momma to a child that died after we did everything to save her this makes me mad! I thank you for writing about it so we are informed. God Bless you and God Bless Lavender
kathy in Ak

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