3 children abused by adoptive mother in Cheatham County, DCS explains procedures

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CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Three adopted children were abused at the hands of their adoptive mother, according to an indictment in Cheatham County.

Coletta Gorman and her 30-year-old biological son, Alvin Jensen appeared in court Monday. They face felony charges after an investigation into allegations of child abuse following a 2020 amber alert for 9-year- old Jordan Gorman.

News 2 reached out the Department of Children’s Services to see what type of procedures and steps they take to keep incidents like this from happening.

The director of permanency planning Lindsay Coleman says it is a rigorous, invasive process to foster or adopt children in Tennessee.

“Safety is paramount. We want to make sure kids are placed in a safe and loving home and we do everything we possibly can to make sure that is an excellent, safe, happy place for the child,” she said. 

Tennessee state law requires children to be placed in a home at least six months prior to the adoption finalization. DCS foster’s to adopt Coleman explained saying Tennessee is a duel licensing state.

“During that time we have case managers in the home a couple of times a month and there is usually more than one case manager at the home and then the child has a case manager that interviews them privately once a month, so there’s certainly opportunities to see how the placement is going and make sure it’s safe and healthy.” 

Once the fostering is complete the adoptive parents become legal parents for that child and until this year that would be it for the state’s involvement. A new law requires the department to make contact with the adoptive family once a year for proof that a professional outside of the home sees the child annually.

“Rather that be at school, a mental health professional, a medical professional, we just want to make sure that child has eyes on them so that if there is a concern they can call the hotline and we can look into it,” said Coleman. 

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While DCS can’t talk about specifics cases, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials say Jordan Gorman became the subject of an Amber Alert after leaving home to flee abuse. Jordan’s birth father telling News 2 at the time of the search that the 9-year-old had been in the DCS system for about two years. The Cheatham County sheriff says Jordan wasn’t the only child abused in the adoptive home, but their were three children under the age of eight and that all three of the children were home schooled.

Coleman says they rely on the community when abuse is suspected in any household.

“I couldn’t speak to the frequency that we would have referrals called in, but we largely depend on the community to call in referrals to let us know, regardless of what type of home the child lives in so if they live with a relative, a foster home, adoptive home, or if their birth family we depend on the community to call us and let us know if they suspect abuse or neglect and we certainly will follow up on those referrals.

The sheriff tells News 2 those three children are now back in the state’s custody.

DCS says they have more than 400 children in foster care who are available for adoption and need an adoptive placement.

Coletta Gorman and Alvin Jensen both appeared virtually before a judge Monday and pled not guilty to aggravated child abuse, neglect and endangerment.

Gorman’s bond is set at $550,000. Her attorney asked for the bond to be lowered Monday, but Judge Wallace asked for a motion to be filed.

Both mother and her biological son are scheduled to be back in court in March.

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