Book One: The Cankered Rose and Esther’s Revenge
The Cankered Rose and Esther’s Revenge begins the author’s dramatic journey of adopting his teenage daughter with severe attachment issues in Seattle. The heartbreak of then seeing Cordelia “stolen” by the efforts of his former wife and the child-welfare legal complex in Los Angeles, alongside that of the trauma of being denied during efforts to reunify with her are each foreshadowed here.
Issues surrounding adoption trauma, parenting children with reactive attachment disorder, and the author’s own struggles with Asperger’s syndrome will be his constant companions on this perilous journey of adopting, losing, and then trying to reunite with his beloved daughter.
In this and subsequent volumes, the author will also be questioning the ability of the child-welfare legal complex and the Los Angeles Juvenile Dependency Court to understand the nature of damaged child attachment or the therapeutic parenting needed to heal children with “special needs.” Ultimately, each would be as responsible for “failing Cordelia” as the breaking of the violent waves for the shattering movement of the rocks on the beach.
Book Two: Pride and Legal Prejudice
Pride and Legal Prejudice is the second part of a trilogy covering the author’s efforts to parent and advocate for his adopted child with severe attachment issues in both Seattle and Los Angeles. Readers will be able to see here how his tenacious efforts to help his daughter would end up being denied or invalidated by the child-welfare legal complex in Los Angeles. How the author fought with pride against the legal prejudice that he and his daughter endured during their traumatic three-year dependency court case in Los Angeles will become the focus of this second volume.
The author will conclude that reunifying successfully with one’s child in any dependency case needs to involve more than just being willing to complete an assigned case plan or keeping up with visitation demands. Beyond these worthy goals, Cambridge will be exploring the many ways in which a strong and motivated legal team that is just as intent on the goal of reunification as the parent, is of paramount importance.
Cambridge believes that while he was able to retain his parental rights at the end of their long case, he and his daughter could have forestalled much lasting trauma if their assigned social workers and therapists had been able to do better; and if the presiding commissioner of his case had been less prejudiced.
The author was left still trying to reach his troubled daughter when their dependency case ended. Readers will be able to judge the extent to which he succeeded or made progress in his final volume.
Book Three: Climbing the Broken Judicial Ladder
Climbing the Broken Judicial Ladder continues the author’s journey of exploring the heartbreak and loss of first adopting Cordelia with severe reactive attachment disorder (RAD) in Washington state and then of nearly losing her to the draconian and confused child welfare legal complex in Los Angeles.
In this third volume of his Denied! Failing Cordelia trilogy, Cambridge climbs the broken California judicial ladder from the California Court of Appeals (Second Appellate District) based in Los Angeles to the California Supreme Court. Cambridge concludes that in appeals relating to dependency cases, the ladder is broken for parents seeking to advocate for themselves and for the true best interests of their children. Policies relating to child welfare are flawed, Cambridge argues, because of the preemptive and prejudicial response to the issues raised during the detention of children.
As with his two earlier books, Cambridge explores issues connected with how best to parent his adopted daughter and advocate for her needs in the context of a dependency case. Cordelia’s reactive attachment disorder would surface throughout the judicial struggle as would the author’s own struggles with Asperger syndrome. Each would feed negatively into the overall trauma and drama of the author’s unrelenting quest to reunite his “forever family.” Cambridge believes that dependency proceedings are ill-equipped on many levels to elicit a proper understanding of RAD or of the therapeutic parenting needed to address it.
Cambridge believes that adoptive parents of children with special needs need to be understood by more sympathetic social workers and by therapists trained in attachment disorders. Cambridge’s persistent efforts to reunite his “forever family” would leave him increasingly isolated as he climbs the judicial ladder.
Based on his experiences, Cambridge explores areas for reform in Los Angeles dependency proceedings and evokes Shakespeare’s King Lear by arguing that social workers need to “see better” and that the Los Angeles Juvenile Dependency Court needs to encourage a broader understanding of the issues raised through more effective legal advocacy from assigned dependency lawyers. Cambridge argues that parents should be allowed to address the court directly.
Cambridge also relates how he and his daughter have found many positive and healthy ways to heal in the years since their dependency case ended. Much trauma could have been avoided if those around them had “seen better” and had recognized the value in their dramatic and loving adoption journey.