April 16, 2016.
That date will forever be burned into my mind. I knew there was something wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know until the Doctor came in the room, told me that my son’s femur was broken and asked that my fiancé leave the room and not come back in until CPS was notified.
Flashback to the night before when 19 of my closest family and friends along with all of our newborns and toddlers were having the time of our lives at a big cabin in Gatlinburg. Everything was perfect. The kids were all being good, the parents got to relax a little. Perfect.
A couple of weeks go by of me consoling my hurt 3 month old, trying to figure out how the man I was about to marry could do such a thing, and having interviews with my case worker who, at one point, told me that this would be the first case she ever had that she wasn’t filing on the mother for failure to protect.
April 28, 2016
Let me tell you. That was a picture perfect morning. Clarabelle was playing in her pool. Elliott was in his swing on the porch with us. The sun was warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Then we went inside to make some fruit pizza. We ate and laughed so much that day.
Nap time came around and I had Elliott laying on the couch with my hand on him. Trying to get him comfortable enough to sleep. When I hear a knock on the door. A police officer, my case worker, and another woman was standing at my door. They inform me that they would be removing the children from my home and putting them in foster care with my (now) ex fiancé’s parents and asked me to gather their things.
I wake my mother up with the scariest news either one of us had ever received. And we go back to talk to them. A few heated words and a supervisor call later I walked down my driveway to take my car seats out and put them in the case worker’s car.
With tears in my eyes and an aching in my chest like I’ve never felt before, I gathered my children’s things, hugged them both tighter than I had ever hugged them, put them in a stranger’s vehicle, and watched them drive away.
The next year of my life was filled with supervised visitations, having Christmas in the meeting room at a Hardee’s, postponed court dates, MDT meetings, and a whole lot of tears.
Hearing my daughter ask “mommy why can’t I come home with you?” Was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever heard. Mommy didn’t have the answer. I didn’t know why I couldn’t have my children back. I hadn’t done anything wrong.
I missed my son’s first steps. I only saw them later through a Facebook video message. I missed his first Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, first tooth.. All of it.
After a whole year of looking for answers and coming up empty every time, we finally got in front of a judge. This was the first time outside of the preliminary hearing that a judge was going to give a ruling. The first time in a year.
After hours of testimonies and being belittled by the most “sacred” of all systems, it was finally time. The judge set the date for Chris’ termination hearing, dismissed my mother off the case, and turned to me.
This was it.
I sat there with my heart in my throat going through every emotion possible.
That’s when the most beautiful words rang out of his mouth like a harp played by an angel. “You have done nothing wrong here. You are dismissed off of this case and your children will return home to you.”
I have never cried so hard in my life. A year of depression, fear, and confusion rushed out of me. We went home, packed our van, went to the MDT to sign papers granting me full custody, and I picked up my children. For the first time in a year, I was a mother again. I didn’t have someone watching my every move. They were my babies again.
We left West Virginia, headed south to the sunshine state, and never looked back.