TAMPA - The din of a room at the Economy Inn on East Busch Boulevard is nearly deafening at times.
Twelve children ranging from teenagers to toddlers to infants are here, scrambling across the floor, bouncing on beds. With eyes filled with resignation, they are hungry and dirty and they wear the same clothes they wore the day before and the day before that.
Mom is asking for help, saying she is homeless and hopeless. A relative paid for the hotel room for a week, and after that, who knows. Her fiancé is in prison. Her 1-year-old is named John The Baptist Brown.
Angel Adams is indignant when asked about her situation, saying somebody owes her. The lifelong Tampa resident says she wants justice from the Hillsborough County sheriff's child protection team that took her kids away from her two years ago and from Hillsborough Kids Inc., which got her kids back six months ago.
"What do I do?" she says. "I have no answers. My family has been railroaded. Someone needs to pay.
"Nobody's helping me."
Inside the dingy motel, Adams hands out a list of her children and their ages. Across the top: "Three fathers. One Mother. Fifteen Children."
Food is donated. They get Cuban sandwiches and packaged noodles. There's a microwave and mini refrigerator. No stove. One sink, one toilet, one shower. Everyone's barefoot, walking on a dirty, stained green carpet.
The dull smell of dirty diapers fills the room. Jerome, 11, gives Andrew, 6 months, a bottle. "This is not comfortable," Jerome says.
The baby coughs and spits up.
"The girls sleep on one bed," Adams says. "The boys sleep on the other. I just crash on the floor."
The 12 kids are the youngest of 15 altogether, she says. Three have "aged out," meaning they have turned 18 and are on their own, no longer a part of the child welfare system.
"I can have as many as I want to," she says. All her kids, she adds, "are gifts from God."
The 37-year-old mother doesn't work. "This is my work," she says gesturing toward the throng of children. "I do this all by myself."
She says she has needs and she wants Hillsborough Kids to take care of that.
"I need a house," she says, "a big enough home to be comfortable. The kids are scared. I'm scared."
She says she had an $800-a-month, two-bedroom apartment that was paid for by Hillsborough Kids, but she was evicted last week.
So, she sits amid her children, wondering what will happen next week.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," she says. The system, she says, "is not hearing me. This is a revolving door going nowhere."
Hillsborough Kids spokesman Elaine Olszewski said that's not the case. There is a system of support at work behind the scenes and by next week, she says, Adams likely will be in a home that will be big enough to accommodate her children.
Case managers have been in constant contact with Adams, she says, and the case is about to close. To close a case, social workers make sure all the requirements of a safe wholesome environment exist for the children and a judge signs an order.
Hillsborough Kids, which manages child welfare in the county, is working with Metropolitan Ministries to arrange a place to stay for Adams and should have one ready by next week.
"They are working on it," Olszewski says. "As far as we are concerned, this really isn't a story."
She said the children were taken away by sheriff's deputies two years ago, but were reunited with Adams six months ago, when she was set up in an apartment off North Boulevard near of Columbus Drive. A home-study report was completed to the satisfaction of everyone involved, she says.
"A judge ruled the situation sufficient," Olszewski says. The eviction involved "other issues, not having to do with us," she says.
Typically, single moms in similar situations have frequent visits by case workers, who work with charities in the community and coordinate grant money to pay for services.
"It's on a case-by-case basis," she says. "It's not that we would financially support them, but we are connected to community partners that provide assistance."
The goal when children are removed from the home is to get them back with biological parents, she said, and caseworkers try to work to that end, she says.
"Children always are better with their biological parents," she says. "Once we determine they are safe and everything is appropriate, there's a six-month period when they still are technically in the system. We continue to monitor the kids."
She says all the children of school age are enrolled and going to school, although Adams says they have not gone to school since she took up residence in the hotel. She says she can't get them to school.
"There's a lot of support out there," Olszewski says, "and we kind of direct them. She has the support from the community, churches and family members."
Once all requirements are met, a court hearing is scheduled and a judge signs off on it and the case is closed, Olszewski says.
"It was supposed to have happened last week," but something came up in the courtroom, she says. "It should be this week."