Mom sees social services win as help for others

The threat came first: “If you don’t submit to me, you’ll never see your kids again.”

Then the Orange County social worker produced a document, telling her she must sign it.

Suddenly, Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick was faced with the social services version of a Solomonic choice: Sign a paper that says you’re a bad parent, or lose your children. Fogarty-Hardwick refused to sign it that day in 2000 and the very worst happened: Her two daughters, then ages 6 and 9, were placed in the Orangewood Children’s home and then in foster care.

“That’s when I thought, ‘OK, this is a nightmare,'” Fogarty-Hardwick said. “This is America.”

But last week, after a painful seven-year battle with the Orange County Social Services Department, the Seal Beach mother won a second major victory, coming after a record-setting $4.9 million jury verdict against the county.

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