(ThinkStock Photos)Can any amount of money compensate for losing your family? $900 trillion is a start, for one outraged mom. Fausat Ogunbayo is suing the City of New York for an almost incalculable amount, after children's services removed her sons from her home in 2008.
Both boys, now 16 and 13, were placed in foster care after their mom was deemed mentally unstable and refused treatment, reports the Staten Island Advance. The city's Administration for Children's Services claimed the 46-year-old suffered from hallucinations and delusions and left the boys alone frequently.
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Ogunbayo denies those allegations, and claims her family has suffered "over three years of terror, horror, grievous harm, time lost, substantial economic hardship and injuries" due to the separation.
Taken from their mom at just 12 and 10 years old, the boys have been living in another borough for the past three years. During that time their mother has fought in court to get them back.
Last month, Ogunbayo had the claim that she was neglectful overturned by an appellate panel. According to that decision, there was no evidence that the children were in any "imminent danger" under her care. The boys had a "near perfect" attendance in school and were "thriving academically." They were also healthy and up to date on medical checkups and vaccines.
Only when they left home did they encounter problems, according to Ogunbayo, who presented hand-written notes from her sons begging to come home. Last summer her eldest started having problems with the law while in foster care. He was arrested for possession of marijuana in August.
The ACS, meanwhile, says their actions weren't unfounded. They had received several reports of bizarre behavior: Ogunbayo allegedly took her kids to the doctor claiming their skin was being radiated and told school officials the FBI and secret service were hunting her family.
When she refused to get treated for what was believed to be a mental illness, her sons were placed in protective custody. But that's not grounds for breaking up a family. "Proof of mental illness alone will not support a finding of neglect," according to the court decision.
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But with her kids still in child services' custody, Ogunbayo isn't satisfied. She wants her boys back and wants the city to pay for the emotional damage they've caused her family over the past three years. In her mind, she's owed 60 times the amount of our national debt.
While that number may seem to back up the ACS claims of Ogunbayo's mental disconnect, there's also a logic behind it. On a practical level, the number alone has gotten this case the kind of attention other custody cases haven't. On an emotional level, the figure expresses the incalculable pain of losing her children. Right or wrong, Ogunbayo's lawsuit has raised the question: is there any compensation for breaking up a family?
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