Local News

Wilson Couple Wants DSS to Return Child

Posted April 25, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Every year, the State of North Carolina removes hundreds of children from their homes out of concern for the children's safety. If parents cooperate with social workers and judges, chances are good 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 baby boy. Justice was born when his father was only 18-years-old and his mother 20. The couple was young, inexperienced and they admit they made mistakes.

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

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

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

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

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

DSS Team Leader Rebecca Brigham says she knows the process is difficult for parents, but the ultimate goal is to reunite the family. The department, she says, just has to be sure the child will be well cared for.

DSS can't talk to the media about any specific case, but when asked if parents 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 says DSS usually tries to make such decisions final within a year.

The Masons expect to be back in court within the next two weeks. They say the foster family, who are relatives of the Masons, want to adopt Justice.

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