Serenity Gandara’s Grandmother Speaks Out Against CPS and Foster Parent Abuses, Advocates Grandparents’ Rights

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August 24th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Renee Maese, grandmother of deceased foster child Serenity Gandara, has decided what she can best do to honor her granddaughter’s memory is to fight against the abusive CPS and foster care system in California. Each year, dozens of children die in California foster care homes from child abuse. Serenity was one of these children. Her foster parents, Albert and Carla Garcia, are more than a month later still missing and wanted by police for murder and child endangerment.

Maese explains that the 3 year old girl’s death on July 18, 2010, has motivated her to work to change the system to protect children and families:

I will be the first to admit, if it wasn’t for Serenity dying, I probably would be doing my everyday life things, but now I’m advocating for Serenity. Deceased children no longer have a voice, but being her Grandmother, I will speak for her and fight for her justice.

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Serenity Dead Despite Grandparents Warning CPS of Suspected Abuse

The Kern County medical examiner has reported that Bakersfield foster child Serenity Gandara, a 3-year-old girl living in the home of relatives, was found dead on the living room floor of the home on July 18, 2010. Blunt-force trauma injuries are named as the cause of death.

Grandmothers Maria Garcia and Renee Maese both state that other relatives wanted to care for Serenity and her abandoned brother Isaiah. Isaiah is still alive, but was found with injuries consistent with ongoing physical child abuse. Kern County CPS refused to place the kids with other relatives, preferring to leave them with Albert and Carla Garcia despite child abuse complaints by multiple relatives including both grandmothers.

Mom Selected Brother As Foster Parent

Renee Maese explains that after Serenity and Isaiah were taken from their mother Yesenia Garcia over drug abuse allegations, many relatives wanted to help. Maese’s own father was pursuing a license as a foster care parent and hoped to have the kids live with him. But their mother selected her brother, Albert Garcia, to care for the kids. While she probably thought her brother and his girlfriend would be good choices for care providers for her kids, she may not have had enough information to be making a safe choice. CPS went along with this choice, apparently doing an inadequate job of screening and qualifying the family and not considering other options.

When my grandchildren Isaiah and Serenity went into the system, numerous people tried to get custody of them. The kids’ mother asked her brother Albert Garcia if he could take the kids. He had a girlfriend at the time named Carla Torres.

They put an application for placement. They had 3 children of their own. 2 kids by Albert and one from Carla’s previous marriage. They were placed in their custody in less then a week.

While drug addiction is a problem for some parents, this case and others like it raise questions as to whether children would be safer in the home of a biological parent battling a drug addiction than in foster care. The allegations about Yesenia Garcia appear to reflect past drug use and perhaps did not reflect an ongoing problem.

Maese believes that Carla wasn’t a US citizen at the time but later attained citizenship via marriage to Albert and pending adoption of Serenity and Isaiah. We as yet have not found other information to confirm or deny this.

Child Abuse Suspicions Grew Over Time

The possibly of child neglect and abuse gradually became more evident over the months the grandparents were able to visit the kids. Initially, the concern seemed to be the children’s appetite and emotions indicated they may not have been fed adequately or cared for well by the foster parents, Albert and Carla.

Once my grandkids were placed, the visits started. I spoke with the social worker (Shannon) and was told I could visit my grandchildren twice per month with the parents. I asked her about the children being placed with my parents and was told Albert and Carla were a better fit and she would not change their placement. Once my son began visiting, he would take food, fruits, and juices for the kids. I noticed he would come home with an empty backpack. I would question, “Did the kids eat all the food”? He replied yes. That sent up red flags. Prior to this my grandkids were very happy and outgoing. When my visits began, they were so happy to see me. They clung on to me. Isaiah even went as far to say, “No more bye byes” and cried in front of Shannon. I questioned it but nothing was done.

Grandparents Have No Rights In California

Over time, many visits were cancelled due to alleged illnesses. On some visits, the children had injuries such as black eyes and scratches that were suspicious. Carla claimed Isaiah’s black eye was from falling on a tub and the scratches were caused by other children. Maese believes that her questions about their injuries made Carla nervous.

Carla soon raised opposition to continued contact between Serenity and Isaiah and many of their relatives. Eventually, the social workers told both grandmothers, Renee Maese and Maria Garcia, that grandparents have no rights and they won’t be allowed to see the kids any longer because Carla and Albert would not allow it.

Carla said those were her kids. She even went as far as marrying Albert and becoming a U.S. Citizen by adopting Isaiah and Serenity. Albert was even unemployed at the time of the court’s decision. I now know that that you need to meet certain financial requirements to adopt and are not to live off of the foster care money to be used to support these kids.

I can’t say why Serenity died and Isaiah and her were abused. All I can say is why did they deserve it? If the foster parents didn’t want them or couldn’t afford them, they should have given them back! Back to CPS, a hospital, police department, or even their grandmothers. This tragedy didn’t need to happen.

Carla prohibited Serenity and Isaiah from seeing their own parents, too. This seems particularly unreasonable and emotionally abusive. Children deserve a relationship with both of their parents. For CPS to permit foster parents to ban children from contact with their biological parents and other relatives is indicative of how CPS truly does not care for children. Essentially Kern County CPS is enabling and participating in parental alienation child abuse. In this particular case, the alienators were not even either of the biological parents. Yet the effect on the children is very much the same.

Their mother Yesenia and father Pedro Gandara were both at the funeral for Serenity. But they and many other relatives had not seen her in over a year, since spring of 2009. If more relatives had been involved in these children’s lives to provide both their love and more eyes on the problem the kids were experiencing, perhaps Serenity would not be dead today.

(from Relatives say goodbye to Serenity)

The girl’s mother, Yesenia Garcia, 22, said she used to see her daughter twice a week when she was in the care of Child Protective Services, but after her brother, Alberto Garcia and his wife, Carla, took the child into their home, Carla stopped the visits.

Maese believes the CPS social workers were negligent and questions why grandparents are treated as having no rights in California.

My thoughts are where these social workers minds were. Were they blind? It doesn’t take a person with a Masters degree to know something was wrong. I do believe grandparents should have rights and I hope to help change that in California.

Police Still Searching for Albert and Carla Garcia

The Garcias are reported to have fled with three children from their home after Serenity’s July 18 death in a white SUV with the following description:

1997 Ford Expedition
white with Eddie Bauer package
17 inch wheels
California License Plate 5FLC681

Two of the children are Albert’s two biological children, Carlos and Crystal. The third is Carla’s biological child from a previous marriage.

Carla and Alberto Garcia

Carlos and Crystal Garcia

Investigators believe the family may have crossed the border into Mexico. Anyone with information helpful to the investigation can call police at 661-327-7111.

Further Reading

Alleged Killers, the Foster Parents of Victim 3 Year Old Serenity Gandara, Captured in Mexico

Autopsy Shows Foster Girl Serenity Gandara Died of Blunt-force Trauma

Bakersfield Foster Child Death Linked to CPS Negligence

Foster Parents Abandoned Dead Child and Brother in Bakersfield, California

Will Mass Media Build Awareness and Opposition to State-Sponsored Child Abuse?

Relatives say goodbye to Serenity

Autopsy: Foster girl died of blunt-force trauma

Grandmother Says She Trusted Foster Parents Now Wanted For Murder

Foster parents of dead girl may have fled to Mexico

Police find dead foster child in southwest Bakersfield

CA – Bakersfield: 3 yr. old found dead; searching for couple & 3 children – July 2010

What you should do if Child Protective Services knocks on your door

Children Who Have Died in Foster Care in California, Texas and Arizona

  1. Renee Maese
    September 1st, 2010 at 16:26 | #1

    Thank you, for allowing me to make a post. I hope this article will help with other children in the system. These are kids, and don’t have a voice in the Judicial System. I pray that this will not happen again, but in realization, it will. I hope others and Grandparents will help speak up and help change the laws in their town and states. Thank you, and God bless…..Serenity’s Grandma

  2. L. Vuoso
    September 4th, 2010 at 00:47 | #2

    I live in the Los Angeles area, and I find it so very troubling that I am just now hearing the horrific story of your Serenity. My condolences to you and your family Renee. It is unacceptable that a helpless, defenseless child had to endure such a horrific circumstance that resulted in her death, a death that I am just now hearing about.

    Sure the Garcia’s (the foster parent’s) will be held to stand trial in Serenity’s death… But what about Bakersfield CPS???

    They are in fact the state agency responsible for seeing that Serenity be placed in a safe, stable, loving and nurturing environment. CPS failed Serenity miserably. It is my hope that CPS be held accountable for their obvious wrong doing that led to Serenity’s death. The case workers are overloaded with cases, causing many mistakes to be made in a already flawed system. A system that exudes complete control over the lives of our children. The flaws and errors in case worker’s decisions never brought to the attention of the public. Swept under the carpet, never held accountable for their own faults. I see and understand the problems all too well with the Los Angeles DCFS. Same problems, different location and different families. But ultimately the problems are all too alike and all too familiar.

    I to am a grandma who has her two grandchildren governed by the DCFS. The only difference is that my grandchildren have been blessed to have been placed in a wonderful foster home. But the 18 month marker is fast approaching and my daughter’s rights are set to be terminated at the next hearing. I am so bonded with my grandchildren and would do whatever it takes to adopt them and raise them. DCFS adoption worker has just informed me that the department has done an assessment and I’m not in the adoption plan. If there is anyone out here who could point me in the right direction, I would be forever grateful. As my grandchildren who are going to be turning 3 & 4 are all I’ve got in my life. I can not imagine a life without them.

    What caught my attention to this article is that I too have a grandaughter named Serenity.

  3. WTF?
    September 4th, 2010 at 21:16 | #3

    Responding to a line in L.Vuoso’s comments above:

    Yes, of course anyone who reads about this tragic little girl’s demise feels an empty pit in their stomach of sorrow, and also of extreme disgust regarding the STATE CPS A$$HOLES.

    But you stated “A system that exudes complete control over the lives of our children”.??

    What is that crap? Those POS idiots in the morbid state agency known as CPS do not exude anything over the lives of my children. How do they exude control over the lives of yours?

    If they ever came near my children or me, I would put my shotgun up their ass and they would enjoy cps HELL. F*CK CPS. THEY ARE STATE SPONSORED TERRORISTS. Protect your kids, your grandkids. Get a shotgun.

  4. Diane
    September 21st, 2010 at 18:32 | #4

    I am also a grandma who has had a 6 year old grandson in the system for the last year. The mom made false accusations against the dad and no one but the mom and boyfriend had access to him. We knew he was being abused but LA County CPS would not listen. The mom’s boyfriend beat her up in public and was arrested and my grandson was put in foster care rather then letting us take him. My son was finally cleared and has full custody. My grandson is telling horrible tales of abuse by mom and boyfriend that should not have happened all the while CPS says they are convinced he was safe. Unbelievable we really want to sue to make them responsible for their actions — someone has to be responsible. We are still fighting the system to keep him away from the 2 people he is most afraid of and CPS is still not listening.

  5. eileen
    September 25th, 2010 at 22:52 | #5

    Renee, did you join a coalition?

  6. kindness
    April 11th, 2011 at 18:34 | #6

    I live in canton ohio I have 2 kids my kids are in foster care I’m still fighting for my kids we have to stop dcfs / family court I’m trying to start a group here in ohio to help parents / families we need a wrongful adoption organization started in all states we would have to get every closed case reopened I would like for anyone to contact me my e-mail is [email protected] we have to all come together in all states we have to stop cps now

  7. corie
    June 7th, 2011 at 16:32 | #7

    i am very interested to know how u plan on changing laws and how far u r into doing that

  8. corie
    June 7th, 2011 at 16:32 | #8

    i am very interested to know how u plan on changing laws and how far u r into doing that
    feel free to contact me ty

  9. November 19th, 2011 at 04:45 | #9

    i’m looking for two grandchildren that was placed in foster care in 1991 and in 1992 they the boy should be 21 and the girl 22 years old.. i was refuse custody by the court stating that my daughter was not allowed around them ..and that i had my daughter with me …i was trying to help her get herself together. then they was adopted without our knowledge i have been looking for them ever since…does anyone can advise me how to find them

    • November 19th, 2011 at 06:24 | #10


      Are you saying that the State of California seized your grandchildren and then proceeded to adopt them away without required notices and due process and then kept you from any contact with them and blocked all knowledge of what they did with the children?

      Are you saying that it is now nearly two decades later and you still don’t know what happened to them because the government will not tell the children’s family?

      To somebody who has not seen the evil that is the State of California firsthand, this is a prime example of what California government does to families. The people are the slaves of the state, no different than livestock to be bought, sold, used, and traded by government officials.

      For another example of the criminal conduct of the State of California in regards to adoptions, please see CA Courts Again Force Adoption on Child With Fit Father.

      State courts and agencies prefer to put children in foster care or adopt them away rather then let them live with responsible family members such as a fit biological parent who wants the child. Read Fit Father Stands in Custody Line Behind Aunt, Foster Care for more evidence of this. Although it is not in California, California is just as abusive if not more so.

      It seems you and the many other citizens abused by the State of California or its county “child persecution services” (CPS) agencies should be able to sue them for committing what appears to be a clear violations of laws that have caused immense damages. There are supposed to be legal safeguards to prevent these kinds of crimes. But they are routinely ignored by the greedy criminals in CPS agencies and their court stooges who violate requirements for disclosures, mandatory notices, waiting periods, and hearings. They know their victims by and large do not have the knowledge or finances to protect themselves from the evil government so they do whatever they want to do, regardless of the law. CPS and the courts believe that following the law is too much work and they know best and should not have to follow the law.

      Make no mistake, every one of these government criminals is for all intents and purposes guilty of treason. They should be imprisoned and in some cases executed for their crimes against the Constitution, the laws and citizens of this nation, and their oaths of office.

      You’re not the only one to which such crimes have happened. Parents and grandparents all over the state and also many other states are treated the same way. It’s because the US government pays states financial rewards to treat their citizens this way. Every child seized is worth a paycheck, every put into foster care is another paycheck, and every child adopted away is yet another. It doesn’t matter if the extended family could have cared for the child or the allegations were false and malicious, once the CPS Nazis get their fingers into a family they will find a way to make a Federally funded profit off of them.

      The US government finances this terrorism executed by state and local governments against American children and families.

      Ask yourself, who has caused more harm to Americans, the US government or Al Qaeda? Anybody who takes a hard look at the statistics can clearly see it is the US government that is the biggest terrorist threat the citizens of the world face. Al Qaeda kills tens of thousands, the US government kills millions all in the name of money and power.

      Realistically, your best best to find the kids is probably not going to be with the criminal-controlled government and courts in California unless you can get the court files for any cases involving them. Court files are generally supposed to be open to public inspection, it is supposed to be that way so the courts can be held accountable by the public. But California courts have increasingly sealed public records when there is a self-serving reason to do so. It appears part of the motivation for this is to hide the evidence of their crimes so that the public and media cannot investigate and hold the criminals accountable.

      If you have the children’s names and birthdates, you may be better able to find them via steps such as public records database searches for people with those names and birthdates. Then again, the state could have changed their names to make it harder to find them or for some other purposes.

      What identifying information do you have so far? What information do you have on their last known whereabouts?


  10. One of Thousands
    November 21st, 2011 at 04:55 | #11

    I concur completely with Chris’s comments–the State of California–particularly it’s courts– has devolved into a terrorist organization worthy of the hatred and spite of millions it attempts to rob and/or enslave. The arrogance of these judges and their perverted lawyers and prosecutors is unmatched by any society in history. These are not top notch lawyers folks–exactly the opposite. I’m a lawyer and have practiced in this and a half dozen other states for over a decade. They’re bone headed self-aggrandized untethered dictators who have little respect for the Constitutions they’re sworn to uphold. They worship their own power–a legacy they’ll die with. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

    Vote them out. April, 2012.

  11. Renee Maese
    March 9th, 2012 at 19:03 | #12

    Serenity’s Killers were caputured By FBI and are in a jail in Mexico!!!!!

    • March 9th, 2012 at 19:51 | #13


      Thanks for the update, I will write a quick story to let everybody know.


  12. arrie pharms
    October 25th, 2012 at 19:27 | #14

    It’s true,CPS puts up all kinds of road block to fight for your child. CPS main purpose is to reunite families. I find this hard to believe. I am a grandmother my daughter is going through all cps demand. Now they want her to divorce her husband in order to get her children back. I think that is locust, cps refuse to give me my grandchild and has my granddaughter up for adoption 4/2013. I’m looking for a lawyer to help me fight cps. CPS must be stoped. My granddaughter was born with a roar syndrome and could day at any time. CPS is infringed on her right to die at home with family. The put her in a foster home that was train to care for her. She now has a infection in her freed tub. She need to be with family that love her and want to care for her. CPS make problem so bad that people want to give up. We must be strong and keep fighting.

    If you can help me please e-mail to:
    Arrie Pharms
    email: [email protected]

  13. angela
    March 13th, 2014 at 23:55 | #15

    Proof cps isnt held to the same standard they impose on parents.
    Mad angel cps placed my kids here – YouTube…

  14. panfila johansen
    February 11th, 2015 at 17:19 | #16

    It hurt my heart to read this post. My 1 year old grandson is in the foster care and yesterday he came in for his visit with a black eye, foster mother said he fell and hit his eye on the tub. I try not to think he is being abused he is a happy baby. I tried to get him in my custody but live out of state, so they are trying to reunite child with parents and can not do that if he is out of state, yet the social worker only allows 1hr a week supervise visit. When he first went into the system they were seeing him 2 x week unsupervised. Got a new social worker and she stopped that saying it was a mistake. I need help getting him out of the system in Ventura California.

  15. panfila johansen
    February 11th, 2015 at 17:30 | #17

    I would contact your congressman see if they can help you.

  16. Jumana
    December 3rd, 2015 at 20:56 | #18

    Hi there,

    I need to connect with a community that share information like this. CPS in San Diego has my 16 month old grand daughter and is what everything in their power to limit my visits to once a month for 72 hours. And the reason they are doing this has nothing to with the best interest of the child but to with defending their position. CPS chose great to place the baby with in the unification period because I live in Los Angeles county. Now that unification period is over and I’m asking for placement they are doing everything in their power to protect great aunt because they chose her. They told me that grand parents have no rights in the state of California and I want to find out if this is true. Please email me if you have any insight information about this process [email protected].

  1. September 27th, 2010 at 02:24 | #1
  2. November 9th, 2011 at 07:32 | #2
  3. March 9th, 2012 at 03:36 | #3
  4. March 9th, 2012 at 20:43 | #4

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