Dickson foster parents denied custody of 9-year-old girl

Dickson foster parents denied custody of 9-year-old girl (Image 1)

A judge has blocked an attempt by a Middle Tennessee foster family to get back physical custody of the daughter they raised for eight years.

In court on Friday, Dickson County Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Jackson said 9-year-old Sonya McCaul will remain, for now, with her biological father in Omaha, Nebraska.
The child’s court-appointed guardian, Hillary Duke, said Sonya is doing well.

Duke blamed David and Kimberly Hodgin for blocking the state’s earlier attempts to place Sonya with relatives.

She also claimed the Hodgins have endangered Sonya by making the custody case public.

The Hodgins first got Sonya as a foster child when she was just a year old.  They raised her for two years before legally adopting her in 2008.

Sonya’s mother gave up her parental rights and her father, John McCaul, had his rights terminated by the state after he was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for felony weapons convictions.

McCaul’s automatic termination of rights was reversed when he cut a plea deal and his sentence was reduced to 7 years.

McCaul petitioned in court to get his daughter back and in January, after five year legal battle, Sonya’s adoption was overturned and she was sent to live with her father.

Friday, Rob Johnson, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, told News 2 Sonya is technically still in their custody.

He said she was just placed with her birth father on a trial basis and is being monitored by the Nebraska department of children’s services.

When asked why DCS would place a child with a father she doesn’t know and one who has a lengthy felony record, Johnson replied, “He doesn’t have a perfect record. He’s not a Boy Scout but he has done everything the state of Tennessee has asked.”

Sonya’s Tennessee family isn’t convinced. 

“I think Sonia has rights to and I think a right to have been violated tremendously,” said her grandmother, Wendy Hodgin, after Friday’s hearing.

The Hodgins told News 2 they are disappointed but not giving up hope. 

“We will never stop ever, ever till we get our daughter safe back home in Dickson, Tennessee,” David Hodgin said.

Sonya’s birth father was in court Friday but left without talking.

Another hearing will be held June 18 so the judge can get an update on how Sonya is doing.  The judge could make Sonya’s placement with her father permanent at that hearing.

Supporters for the Hodgin family have set up a Web site and Facebook page called Bring Sonya Home.  The Facebook page has more than 11,000 likes.

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