PHOENIX -- They are the cases that tug at the heart, children torn away from their families because Child Protective Services (CPS) believes their living conditions to be unfit.
It's the struggle one Arizona family is trying to cope with right now, losing a young family member, and they say it isn't fair.
Devon Cone is 2 years old.
“Devon is very close to all of us, he's very close to his brothers,” said his aunt, Cari Cone. “We are a very close family. We have all these kids. They are all happy, every single one of them is happy.”
Devon's mom is a drug addict who lost custody of all her children. Her three older boys were all adopted by their maternal grandma years ago. Then came Devon, who turned 2 last week, but his grandma, Mary Boland, was denied Devon.
“I have not slept for days, I have not slept for days,” Boland said.
Cone said she would take him but being unemployed she said CPS denied her, too.
“They told me the reason why is that I don't have the money to take care of him so I said are you going to take my kids too because I don't have the money, but the CPS worker said no,” she said.
That's when Devon went to live with his uncle more than a year ago.
“That's who he thinks is his daddy,” Cone said.
And that's who would be his adoptive daddy, but CPS won't allow it and no one is sure why.
“They are using the excuse that Tracy, my father's ex-wife from 20 years ago, is a better fit,” Cone said. “ But she is in New Jersey.”
CPS will not comment on this case specifically but says family reunification is their goal, but it doesn't always work out.
“We want to look at a child as an individual. A child may not be a fit with the family. There may be someone else who's a better fit for the child,” said Deidre Calcoate, an adoption manager with CPS. “We would talk to the family and help them understand why the child was not placed with them.”
Whatever the reason, it is impossible for all these broken hearts to understand.
“I want my brother, I want my brother to stay with us,” cried one of Devon's brothers.
Of course, custody battles are always heartbreaking and costly. Still this family plans to fight and hopes to bring Devon home someday.