Ministry Seizes Okanagan Children
KELOWNA – A Kelowna foster family is speaking out after having their two foster sons seized by the ministry for children and family development Wednesday morning.
After a 2 year long battle, the ministry seized the 11 year old boy and his 14 year old foster brother and moved them from the only home they’ve ever known.
“Their mind is made and I mean the children will leave and we said we accept that, we don’t agree nor do we understand it,” says Klemens Koester
Koester and his mom Eva have been caring for the two boys since they were infants.
The two boys are both severely disabled.
Family and friends say Eva Koester is the only mom the boys have ever known.
They say she’s tended to the boys every need for years, even sleeping beside the younger boy who needs to be rotated throughout the night.
“Everyone is feeling very broken. Eva is distraught. They just destroyed a family,” says the younger boy’s aunt Nancy Ross.
“You can say bye to kids when they go off to college but can’t say bye to kids when they are being ripped from their homes and hearts. It is definitely a tough day, tough day,” says Ross.
The ministry arrived Wednesday morning to seize the boys but shortly after arriving on scene, they left without the boys.
Ministry staff refused to execute the seizure in front of our Global Cameras but came back when we left the property.
The whole ordeal started a couple of years ago when behavioral problems with another adoptive son prompted Klemens Koester to ask the ministry for help.
That adoptive son made allegations against the Koesters.
While they were cleared of any wrongdoing, the ministry decided to go ahead and remove their special needs foster kids.
This was their home for their whole life. There was no reason to stop that. There is no reason why they could not remain here. I mean they left them here for so long if they were in danger they could have removed them a long time or should have at least,” says Klemens Koester.
The family says the ministry has made a huge mistake but there is no recourse.
“No one overseas their decision, no one questions the decisions,” says Ross.
While they know it’s too late for them, they say they will fight to bring changes to the system so that other families don’t have to endure the pain they have.
“There can’t be just one sole power to have the right to make all those decisions. When they say they use an independent review they use someone who works in ministry and if they make a report not favoring the ministry, they won’t be used in the future,” says Koester.
As for the boys, the family says the youngsters don’t understand they have been seized from their home-at least not yet.
“Oh definitely not but will they understand by the time they go to bed tonight. I believe so because their whole world has been turned upside down,” says Ross.
An investigation concluded the seizure was warranted but the family says that review was biased because they say it was conducted by a former ministry worker, and they believe it was only done as an attempt to appease the family.
The Ministry says the placement of a child in the care of the Ministry occurs only after thorough assessments of all available options and decisions are made based solely on their best interests, including their need for permanency.