The Sonya McCaul Case: Dispelling the Lies

Let’s get this straight first thing.   In a foster-to-adopt scenario, the state is the one who legally brings up termination of parental rights, it is a very specific due process that legally the state must go through.    Reunification is always the goal and there are specific steps in that process.

Also, family is supposed to have first priority for placement.   The first priority for placement should NOT be strangers.

So let’s go there, shall we?   Sonya McCaul was returned to her biological father in January of 2014, admittedly very abruptly with no transition period whatsoever.     Then came the words over the internet, a  “Bring Sonya Home” facebook page and a cry that “our adopted daughter was taken from us and put back into the home of a career criminal!”  (Start noticing a wording pattern here?   Yep, you will through all of this)

The truth was, the adoption was voided in 2009, voided as if it never happened because the termination of parental rights or TPR was ruled to be illegal and without due process you cannot terminate someone’s parental rights.    Plain and simple, that’s how it is.

Further study is a full case of what NOT to do for any Christian wanting to truly take care of a widow or orphan – because this case is all about making a child fatherless in the name of what many would consider Christianity.

In a nutshell, reading between the lines of unbiased (NOT Anderson Cooper 360) news reports, things go like this.

Sonya McCaul Timeline:


2005:   Sonya McCaul taken to Tennessee by caregiver Jennifer Gunn.

1.  One month later father contacted authorities, was informed if he entered the state he would be arrested for abandonment.

2.  Jennifer Gunn’s husband AND Phyllis McCaul went to pick up child.  Jennifer Gunn had left child with her mother who refused to send her home, calling it a “messed up situation.”  (No allegations of abuse or neglect)

3.  Oct 5, 2005 – Joy Gunn named as caregiver to Sonya as a ward of the state.

1.  April 3, 2006:   Joy Gunn had falling out with Kim Hodgin who had been providing care for the child.    Kim Hodgin (NOT a liscensed foster parent) ended up with custody of the child.
2.   July 2006:   Hodgins filed to terminate John McCaul’s parental rights, against DCS wishes.

3.  August 2006:  Phyllis McCaul’s home approved to take her granddaughter home to Nebraska.    Files motion to intervene in case.  DCS prepares to send child to Nebraska.

4.  John McCaul indicted on Federal firearms charges, sentenced to 15 years.

October 27, 2007:   John McCaul’s sentence reduced to 7 ½ years

2008:  Hodgins won TPR filing, adopted Sonya.   John McCaul appealed.
2009:  Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that John McCaul’s parental rights should not have been terminated.   Adoption annulled.   Hodgins were kept as foster parents.

May 2012:   McCaul released from prison.  Hodgins agree to a slow transition to let Sonya know her father.     Process breaks down within three months with CPS testifying that the Hodgins were “uncooperative” with the transition.

August 31, 2012:   The Hodgins file a restraining order against DCS – DCS were getting ready to move Sonya because the Hodgins were not cooperating with the transition period for reunification that was laid out.

January 29, 2014:   Judge fed up with the breakdown of transition period sends Sonya home with her father.

The phone call on Anderson Cooper 360 (A man who is no friend to the ethical adoption community) was found by DCS to be coached by – THE HODGINS!      They recorded it and saved it to start the process to “Bring Sonya Home” thus DCS cut off contact between Sonya and her former foster parents.

Lie number 1, still being spread almost six months later:   That Sonya’s father cut off contact with the foster parents.

Nope, DCS did.    Because of the coached phone call and the fact that they are putting this innocent almost ten year old child through the media despite the contract with DCS to not put a foster child’s pictures in public.

So let’s start breaking this down, yes, John McCaul has a criminal history.    His indictment on weapons charges was simply for being in the same car as an unholstered gun.   Not even his own.   Why?   Because he had two felonies from when he was 19 or 20.   It’s been over TWENTY YEARS since his last real crime.    In addition, there have never ever been any allegations of abuse or neglect – he was Sonya’s custodial parent.    His only crime in this case seems to be overtrusting his best friend’s wife – who for whatever reason STILL hasn’t been charged with kidnapping, though it is still a possibility – there is no statute of limitations on kidnapping.   Or on fraud as the case may be.    The child was not allowed to go back to Nebraska (despite Grandma being sent for her) because Joy Gunn just said that she “wasn’t sending the child back to that situation.”

Omaha World Article on Sonya

Second issue here was that the Hodgins were never registered foster parents.   They had been caregivers for Joy Gunn and then reported HER home as unstable and somehow managed to get relative status.   THEN in 2006 they decided to apply to adopt Sonya – NOT by waiting through the normal legal processes but by going the private adoption route.   This was at the same time that DCS was preparing to send Sonya back to her Grandma who had been approved to take care of her granddaughter.   In fact, her mother had not fought the TPR because she was told that Phyllis was taking the child.

The first attempt to terminate McCaul’s parental rights was in 2006 – they alleged abandonment, but the judge in 2008 also tacked on the prison sentence.    They allowed the adoption in 2008.

Now take a moment and go back.   McCaul’s prison sentence was reduced in 2007 – which means that they did not inform the judge about the change in circumstances.    Irregardless, in 2009, the adoption was overturned, the judge ruled that McCaul had NOT abandoned his daughter and the Hodgins were well aware of this.

They tried the same stunt with Chancery court THREE MORE TIMES.    Their attempts are a troubling attempt at setting legal precedent.   If a foster parent wants to just go around parental due process then according to the Hodgins they should be able to do so.

In May 2012, when John McCaul was released from prison, he immediately started to push to get his daughter back.   The one that should’ve been with Grandma all this time.   The one that missed knowing her maternal grandmother because the Hodgins wouldn’t give Sonya up.     The Hodgins agreed to a transition process but court documents make it very obvious that this was not working out.

Meanwhile this tidbit is still posted on the page of Bring Sonya Home.

Part of the Q&A about the transition period.

Part of the Q&A about the transition period.

If this is true, then why did the Hodgins file a restraining order against DCS moving the child in AUGUST 2012.  Why does everyone say that the Hodgins were noncompliant except the Hodgins?  To me, that restraining order says more than anything else about the situation, that compliance to them was not an option.

In January, a juvenile court judge FINALLY got over their games and pulled her away from her home.

Then the chaos truly began.    First, the aforementioned Jessica Munday got involved and Brad Caricofe built a website for them.    She is still speaking for them, but as of right now, has not started a foundation about foster children.

Did they hire her or did she volunteer?

Did they hire her or did she volunteer?

No, they did not hire Trio, for whatever reason they put themselves in the big fat middle of this, using the same tactics that seemed to work for them during the Veronica case.  The website even seems to be using the same form as Save Veronica Rose’s website.   In addition, the list of trolls came out of hiding and called for this father’s head on the proverbial platter.

There are even two sets of blogs that seem to have the same purpose, finding anyone with the same last name as either McCaul or Brown and attributing anything done wrong to these men.

This despite the fact that the Hodgins have been proven to lie time and time again – literally any time they are caught in a lie, these people justify it as being in the best interest of the child.  And McCaul is lower than low for not being the bigger person and giving up his daughter.   In addition, the blog that they keep posting every chance that they get is nothing but a bunch of legal documents picked and chosen for maximum shock value.

At this point, the Hodgins have once more decided to file to terminate John McCaul’s parental rights.    While she is in her father’s home and while she is still in DCS legal custody and without DCS consent – DCS says that the Hodgins are “detrimental” to Sonya at this point after the media frenzy.   Their lawyer has said the TPR should stand on the original sentence, not on what John McCaul’s actual sentence was.

This should scare any parent.   Someone could decide that they are a better parent than you are and just try to take your kids.    This is not something that should stand period.

So should a Christian support the Hodgins?

I would argue that they should not.   The half truths supported by the Hodgins and so called Christian Jessica Munday are not honoring to Christ at all.   Lying, spreading false witness, covetousness, aren’t those all covered under the ten commandments?   The money they are raising is going to nothing, please send it to another charity if you want to give to someone.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bluehydranga
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 03:46:31

    Ms. Gailfarrington: yours is an excellent summation of a very serious situation involving an innocent child wherein the former foster family is trying to claim the moral high ground. Anyone with an once of common sense, as well as entry level critical thinking skills, should be able to see right through the former fosters thinly veiled attempts over EIGHT YEARS to legally kidnap a defenseless child and taint her life forever by their romanticizing sinful behavior, both their own as well as that of their minions, trolls, PR professionals, TV commentators, and miscellaneous supporters out of South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, CNN, and other environs. Shameful, disgraceful, embarrassing, devious, shocking, vicious, ungodly, lying, deceitful, rabid, and downright horrible are only a few of the words that come to my mind as I consider the breadth and depth of the behavior of the former foster parents, aided and abetted by other equally odious individuals.


  2. Barbara
    Aug 31, 2014 @ 22:45:47

    The Hodgins were not caregivers, the Gunns were caregivers to Hodgins relatives. Everything else looks good.


  3. canne
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 19:15:26

    On 8/28/2014 Judge Jackson revealed that the ONLY plan for this child from the beginning was reunification with her family in Nebraska. It now also was revealed that Tn. DCS was aware there was a prevailing custody order in the State of Nebraska, but, that the caseworker failed to investigate that and bring it forward to the courts. The order basically means Tn. never had jurisdiction in this case. The child should always have been returned to her family in Nebraska. This would have happened in 2006 as Tn. DCS and the Juvenile Court were working with Ne. DCS and Grandma to reunify. The former fosters proceed against their DCS contract and filed for adoption in Chancery court. That action basically stopped the reunification from moving forward. The adoption was quickly vacated. The former fosters then basically filed one legal action after another stopping the Juvenile Court and DCS from proceeding with the planned reunification. In 2012 it appeared the former fosters had run out of options. At that point they filed a restraining order against the Father and Tn. DCS to prevent this child from being moved to a home more able to comply with reunification. How many years was this child denied her family? How many years was the family fractured because these fosters were allowed to use the court system to their own benefit? The child is where she should have been. The family is reunited and doing well.


  4. ca waack
    Sep 20, 2014 @ 20:29:25

    Information revealed in Judge Jacksons court, now a matter of public record, indicates that the former fosters always knew this child was not available for adoption. He also revealed that there was a prevailing custody order in Nebraska and that Tennessee never had jurisdiction. The former fosters were aware of this. The knew from the beginning that the only plan for this child was reunification with her family in Nebraska. They were informed and signed a contract acknowledging that she was not available to adopt and that they agreed to take no action to TPR or adopt. Most important the Judge brought out that the fosters did everything they could to prevent this child from knowing her true identity and having any contact with her real family. There is no way to give this child and her family those 8 years back. There is no way to make the vile media smear of this case right. The damage has been done. The people responsible for this travesty should face the legal consequences of their actions.


  5. Nicole
    Nov 13, 2014 @ 17:47:02

    What happened to Sonya’s birth mother?


    • gailfarrington
      Nov 14, 2014 @ 12:08:15

      Sorry, I couldn’t get to this until today – work has been crazy.

      Sonya’s mother’s rights were terminated in July 2006, not by DCS – she was not considered unfit in any way by DCS but by the Hodgins who were trying to go around DCS to file for an adoption.

      She did not fight the termination because she was told that Phyllis was going to get Sonya. At the time it was the path of least resistance to get the child back to Nebraska.


  6. Cathy Probst
    Jul 06, 2016 @ 17:32:25

    I will never understand why BOTH of the Gunn women are not up on FEDERAL “CHARGES. This whole case should never have happened. Sonya’s bio relatives should have notified the FBI that she had been kidnapped the minute she was not back in Nebraska on schedule. The behavior of the Hodgins, assuming this is an accurate accounting, was reprehensible at every turn


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