Julian and Jada (Courtesy Lisa and Ted Williams)
Julian and Jada (Courtesy Lisa and Ted Williams)
The Williams family (Courtesy Lisa and Ted Williams)
ROSWELL, Ga. -- Playing in her tiny plastic kitchen area, Jada is very much in charge. "I cook," the 3 year old announces.
Meanwhile, her twin brother Julian is outside, driving his electric car around their Roswell driveway, a confidant toddler behind the wheel.
This duo is unaware of the battle over who will raise them, and their adoptive parents hope to protect them from that battle as long as possible.
"We just decided maybe this was the time to do it," Lisa Williams said of the decision she and her husband Ted made to become foster parents more than three years ago.
Their own three children were almost grown, and they said they wanted to give back.
Ted talks about the day the twins came to them. "Imagine at noon having a very normal day, and by 6 p.m., you have three children living in your house."
Jada and Julian were five weeks old when they came to the Williams family. Their older brother Jayden was 16 months old. Lisa and Ted said three children was too much, so after a month, Jaydan was moved and they had just the twins.
At the time, Jada was recovering from a head injury. A medical report from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta says Jada fell off her mother's lap at three weeks old. She was also diagnosed with failure to thrive and was underweight. DFACS removed all three children from their birth mother's care.
"At three months, we thought we're done, the family's going to come take these kids; and it just never happened," Ted said. "So I think at one year, I said 'We need to do something for these children.'"
The Williams family had fallen in love.
"They are special kids," Lisa said. "They've been through so much, they've conquered so much."
The children's birth mother, 22-year-old Tina Wilson, was living in a shelter when she had the twins.
Lisa and Ted said she visited the twins during their first year but did not attempt to get them back.
11Alive News reached Wilson by phone, but she would not speak to us. Wilson has had several run ins with the criminal justice system.
She was charged with family battery in 2010 and Clayton County authorities tell us Wilson currently has an outstanding warrant for her arrest on violation of probation, related to traffic charges.
When Jada and Julian were 15 months old, Tina Wilson's adoptive brother and his wife, Jeffery and Elissa Wilson, came forward and said they wanted to raise them.
Ted and Lisa wanted to raise them too.
11Alive went to the Wilsons' McDonough home and called them. They wouldn't go on camera, but by phone, Elissa Wilson told 11Alive the reason they didn't come forward for 15 months was because they didn't know the twins were in foster care.
However, in court documents obtained by 11Alive, Jeffery Wilson testified in juvenile court he knew what was going on with his sister Tina, "But I'm not going to really go around trying to play hero to her family unless she asked me to." The twins older half brother Jayden now lives with Jeffery and Elisa.
"I've never seen a case with this many twists and turns honestly," said attorney Diana Rugh Johnson. Rugh Johnson is a child welfare law specialist. She has represented parents who've lost their children to DFACS. But in this case, she is representing Ted and Lisa Williams.
RELATED | Statement on behalf of the Williams family
Here is an example of the twists and turns. On February 28, 2011, Fulton County juvenile court awarded custody of Jada and Julian to Elissa and Jeffery Wilson and the twins were taken from the Williams' Roswell home and were sent to the Wilsons' McDonough home. But that only lasted nine days. That's when the Williams family successfully adopted the twins in Fulton Superior Court. They went and picked the twins up that day.
Fulton County Child Advocate attorney Brian Condon, who represented twins Jada and Julian, appealed the decision to give custody to the Wilsons, saying "It would be detrimental to the children's wellbeing for them to be removed permanently from the home of Mr. and Mrs. Williams." He also said "The mother (Tina Wilson) and her family have failed to demonstrate the commitment to the children that they need and deserve." Both sides are awaiting a ruling from the court of appeals.
"My biggest fear is that they'll take them away from me," Lisa Williams said. "They're my kids. We love them. We all love them. And we worry for them. All the reports say it would be permanently devastating for them to lose the only parents they've ever known."
RELATED | Statement from Fulton County Public Defender
Tina Wilson's attorneys at The Fulton County Public Defender's Office would not talk to us on camera, but in a statement say Jeffery and Elissa Wilson are upstanding citizens who want to raise their niece and nephew and reunite them with their older half brother Jayden.
Tina Wilson gave birth to another set of twins a year ago. Right now, she is raising them.
"So this idea that you're going to have all of the biological mother's children raised together under one roof is an impossible dream, and it's a dream for which Jada and Julian should not be sacrificed," Rugh Johnson said.
Jada and Julian are three and a half years old.
"They're happy," Lisa said. "They're adventurous. They're so smart, and they're so accomplished already."
They know only one mother and father.
"Imagine as a parent, waking up every day not knowing if you're still going to have your children when you go to bed that night," Ted Williams said.
The decision of who will ultimately raise them could come any day.