Taking Charge in your CPS Case

Be active. Be present. Be heard.

“Gigi”

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One of the most frequent complaints I read in the forums about CPS is that the lawyers do not submit the requests for different orders that the parent feels may help their case and bring their children home to them.  It feels as if we depend on our lawyers to actually do their jobs and speak up for us, their client, in a timely manner so that we do not have to spend years in the nightmare of CPS. Yeah, it feels just like that alongside a smack in the face that the world of family court does not actually work that way.

I was lucky to have a lawyer who readily listened to me and this required a great deal of his attention as you all now know that I can talk A LOT! However, I did not know that he would follow through with our conversations early in the case and decided that it was best to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. In other words, I kept him in the dark about my intentions at each move so as to avoid him redirecting what I aimed to request. I could not afford the element of doubt as I had to maintain my image of confidence.

I am not advising you to go against the advice of a lawyer but I am saying that if you are adamant that something should be done and you have done your research, then do not leave it up to them to get it done.

My grandson did, in fact, suffer from broken bones. The father was charged with these injuries and they removed the children stating that we must have known that he was abusive. Our job was to prove that we did not know. I mean, the fact that we took him immediately to the hospital and left the father sitting there the moment we knew what happened should have been an indicator that, had we known there were previous injuries, we would have done the same sooner.

Regardless, here we are with them telling us that we must have known. They said that it was impossible for us not to have known even though the doctors had stated that the only way to know a rib is broken is through an x-ray. But, CPS “knows more than the doctors” and therefore took my grandchildren.

There had to be some answer that would explain this. I had never seen or heard anything that would make me think that this man would harm his own child. I never believed my grandchildren were in danger. I began to look into the concepts of medical kidnapping. I got copies of medical records and began to learn about the everything from copper levels to osteogenesis imperfecta. That’s when things began to change in the case.

I arrived at the next MDT meeting toting every medical document I could carry along with a typed summary of what I believed to be true. Briefly, just as we entered the conference room, I told my lawyer that I wanted my grandson tested for OI. I had found the name and number of a geneticist that specialized in pediatric medicine and handed him this information.

As the meeting began, before the worker could even start to speak, my lawyer gave me the floor and I presented my case. The order was agreed and the tests were scheduled. The tests thankfully were negative but there were other tests and options to follow up on. At each meeting, I reported the findings and proposed the next steps. I knew every piece of medical record inside and out. I pushed for depositions and attended each of these. My presence and overwhelming attention to the possible explanations could not be dismissed.

When I first met the GAL, he stated that he needed some possible explanation for these injuries. I worked tirelessly to provide an explanation other than what was already known at the point that the children were removed by GPS. In the courtroom, the GAL made note of my position in the case as well as my efforts to find the truth at all costs. He then recommended that my case be dismissed.

When you need answers, find them. When they need answers, do the same. Your knowledge and confidence will win your case, not the lawyers or case plan.

 

Be active. Be present. Be heard.

“Gigi”

You Cannot Impress CPS with Expensive Clothes (In fact, you may make your case worse)

Know your case like you know your child! Leave nothing to chance!

“Gigi”

When I was researching what to wear to CPS court (you can read more about that research here) I expected to find that name brand and fancy attire would help to show the judge that you had the financial means to support your child and that you paid close attention to every detail. After all, we are all aware that CPS is a money racket and that they often target members of the lower socioeconomic status group in order to minimize the ability of their opponent to fight them in a legal battle. Being poor somehow gives them the impression, or ability to make the impression, that a person cannot be stable enough, smart enough, or caring enough to raise a child. So, I thought that it would make sense to show them through my attire that we were not poor.

Granted, by no means do we typically wear expensive clothing. I have even bragged about our thrift store shopping. However, when it comes to my grandchildren, if I thought it would help, I would have found the means to do so. However, as I read deeper into the research, expensive clothing is considered offensive to many of the workers and, at times, even the judges. I found that this is due to three reasons:

  1. They already know your finances and can view your dress as a mockery.
  2. They may not be able to afford such attire and therefore you come across as a show-off.
  3. They may find that you spend more money on your own clothing than on your children.

Okay, so I may have not agreed with B on this list but I suppose we do not know everyone’s financial circumstances. So, I continued to read and found that modest clothing that is neat and clean is far more appropriate. We purchased new clothing for each court appearance but made certain that no labels were showing, the clothing was neatly pressed, and we were confident yet comfortable in what we were wearing. This helped to show that we felt ourselves in this type of clothing and prevented the court from assuming that we were being phony to gain favor.

 

I continue to note that every single detail of your case will make a difference in the outcome. So many people will tell you that it is an impossible battle and, without a careful strategy, that is exactly what it is. But, if you continue to pay attention to the details and refuse to fail, then your children will come home to you where they belong. You did not put yourself into this situation but you can find your way out of it!

 

Know your case like you know your child! Leave nothing to chance!

“Gigi”

Preparing for Irma: When to Make a Decision with Children

We are in North Central Florida. Our area is deemed a low flood zone and has a very rare history of hurricane impact. The long term residents here chuckle at the overly long lines at Walmart and complain that they simply cannot get through to get their basics without regard to the storm. However, the number of different projections are flagging a bit of concern even among these individuals. So we all sit and watch, wait for updates, and consider the levels of our stockpiles of water and canned food.

Last night, my mother and I ran out to Walmart for diapers as our attempts to potty train are still an ongoing process. The shelves were nearly empty. We found one pack of diapers that would fit the children and two packs of wipes! SERIOUSLY PEOPLE? The governor, in his statement to call the entire state under a state of emergency, said to take what you need for three days and no more. This is what the long term residents were talking about.

We get so caught up in what could happen to us that we forget about other people. Irma is still days away and yet we are already feeling its effects. It is not the wind or the rain that we must fear, it is the reckless behaviors of others.

Granted, I am not saying that the storm is not scary. Irma is HUGE and will bring destruction wherever it hits. I am not saying that we are not worried. But we have enough water and food. We have three vehicles filled with gas and car seats secured in each. We have our hurricane kits and candles. But those things are not for our everyday use. Those things stay put away for an emergency. Going to Walmart for our basic needs should not leave us realizing just how little others think about other people in such a time.

With that said, I met a man yesterday while picking up pool noodles at the Dollar Store. He was purchasing two cases of water and asked me if I needed one of them. I was floored! Of course, I told him that we had plenty and thanked him for the gesture. He continued to tell me that he was on his way to Okeechobee Fl to pick up his camper but he knew many of the people there were not going to evacuate so he was taking as much water to them as he could but did not want to leave anyone without. What a concept!

When I asked him about his plans, he stated that he would return to this area and use well water. When he saw that I had pool noodles, he realized that I had children under my care and said it is different with children though. With children, you do not consider a stockpile at home but rather consider a place to go. He said if you need to use a stockpile, then it is not safe for children. If there is a risk that you will not be able to get out, then do so before that risk manifests.

Tomorrow, we will cross over into Georgia to buy our basic needs such as diapers and wipes. Then, as Irma makes landfall, we will make a decision based on her path. If there is any concern, we will make it an adventure and let you all know where we head.

Stay safe and look out for one another. We are all we got!

“Gigi”