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Wilson Couple Wants DSS to Return Child

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Stone (left) and Justice Mason
WILSON — Every year, the State of North Carolina removeshundreds of children from their homes out of concern for the children'ssafety. If parents cooperate with social workers and judges, chances aregood their child will be returned to the home.

But, it doesn't always happen that way.

A year-and-a-half ago, a young Wilson couple lost custody of their babyboy. Justice was born when his father was only 18-years-old and his mother20. The couple was young, inexperienced and they admit they made mistakes.

Since then, they have had another child. Stone, 7-months-old, ishealthy and happy, but the state still won't return their firstborn andthey want Justice back.

For over a year, Stacy Mason saw Justice only on weekends. Recently, hewas moved to a foster home in South Carolina, so she now sees him onlyonce each month. She says she is bitter and that she misses Justice.

Justice's father Jerome Mason says he has missed things with his sonthat they can never get back.

The Wilson County Department of Social Services took Justice awaybecause they say he was neglected. They cited poor nutrition, poor medicalcare and an unstable environment as reasons.

Now, the Masons are both employed, have undergone counseling andparenting classes and are successfully raising their baby. Stacy Masonsays she doesn't understand why Justice can't come home.

DSS Team Leader Rebecca Brigham says she knows the process is difficultfor parents, but the ultimate goal is to reunite the family. Thedepartment, she says, just has to be sure the child will be well caredfor.

DSS can't talk to the media about any specific case, but when asked ifparents could be considered fit to raise one child and not another,Brigham conceded it was possible.

While the Masons have been waiting for about 18 months, Brigham saysDSS usually tries to make such decisions final within a year.

The Masons expect to be back in court within the next two weeks. Theysay the foster family, who are relatives of the Masons, want to adoptJustice.

Brigham says that would require final termination of the biologicalparents' rights, and that would be a last resort.

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