Wake Up! Government Reassignment of Children is real!

We wander through this life with the perceptions of a reality that is composed of our own problems, our own challenges, and our own celebrations. We believe what it is that we need to believe to support our decisions and prevent us from taking on the issues of others unless these issues somehow coincide with our own. This is not a mean statement nor one that is accusatory but it is the truth. Have you ever tried to disprove a situation that brought you joy or peace? Of course not! If your belief allows you to sleep at night, then you will work hard to maintain that belief and push aside any evidence that could contradict your belief.

But what if your belief is wrong? What if, by holding so closely to your belief, you actually are bringing other people harm and putting yourself at risk of the same harm? It is a surreal existence. It is a life-altering realization. It is the truth. The things that you believe that you deserve, that you are entitled to, that you should support, may actually be debilitating to others. Then, one day, you will look in the mirror and wonder who is looking back at you.

Society does not need to be pinched to make sure that it is awake. Instead, it needs to be woken up! You believe that you are saving children but you are destroying families. You think that you are better or chosen by God, but God placed these children into their mother’s womb. You think that the world is working in the best interest of the children but it is money, always money, that drives the government’s involvement in the lives of the private citizens.

Children are being hurt. I have seen it first hand. I continue to see the fear and the pain. I know that there is nothing that I can do to undo the year that my grandchildren were held in the state’s captivity but I can assure you that I will do everything in my power to protect them and all children moving forward.

There is a way to go about protecting children without stealing them. There is a way to be a part of the next generation without hindering their lives or mocking the decisions that God made long before governments were formed or systems were in place. This is not a dream, people. This is not a game. I am angry and you, if you choose to wake up from your delusions, should be angry too.

Read the reports. Listen to the mothers who are afraid to give birth because the vultures will be standing outside the delivery room. Know that not every mother on earth is neglectful and abusive but that every mother on earth is at risk for having their children ripped from their arms because someone else wants to have a child or feels entitled to that which is not their own.

The government continues to remove children and reassign them to people that support their agenda. Maybe the foster parents or adoptive parents support the same political party or attend the same religious functions. Perhaps they will raise the children in the mindset of the chosen race or affiliation. Wait…the government would do that?

YES!!!!! Wake up, people! This is happening! This is not a dream! This is the reality!

Please, look around. Shouldn’t fit parents be allowed to raise their children? Shouldn’t expectant mothers be excited about their child rather than looking for alternative birthing options to prevent their newborn from being kidnapped? Shouldn’t we all be protecting children and families?

The evidence is there, do not dismiss it to protect your own reality.

“Gigi”

CPS Expects you to Accept their Power! Do Not!

We expect a lot of things in our lives and, in the same breath, we accept a lot of things to be simply as they are despite our expectations or desires. Some of us expect to be passed over in celebration but accept that it is our role as a human being to encourage that celebration. Others expect to be treated fairly and accept that this is not always the case when dealing with teenagers!

However, these daily and normal expectations come with experiencing life as is intended. For those of us who have experienced life through the pain of a CPS investigation, and for those of you who have yet to experience this atrocity but are likely to do so as their power continues to grow, expectations and acceptance take on a whole new role.

You see CPS targets families who are perceived to be weak. The uneducated, the impoverished, the immigrant, the single parents, are all likely to receive a knock at their door. And do you know what, most of these people, including myself, believe that the government is there to help them out of a bad situation? What is even worse, we may not have viewed the situation as bad before they quickly told us just how much “imminent danger” our lives brought to the children!

But wait, the children are fed, clothed, loved, receiving medical care, receiving education, and happy? They have bonded with their family, have a routine, and present no concern of neglect or abuse in the care of their parent?!

Hmmm, but they are the government. They know things. They have a better way of doing things. They have the power to see the future and, according to this “power” they know that your child is in imminent danger or will be soon in the future!!!!

They word this in a way that foster parents, extended family, and community members believe that this power must be real and that this organization is clearly looking out for the children!

Are you all serious? You seriously believe that there is an organization of people who have such a power yet they don’t use their fortune telling ability to win the lottery or prevent terrorist attacks?

There is a financial incentive for placing children outside of their home. The ability to target families without the ability to fight the system aids in achieving this incentive. To these families, the ones who do not believe that they have the resources to fight, FIND THE RESOURCES! For those who have overcome the power, be the resources! Do not accept their power. Do not accept that you are meant to lose your children. Do not do what they expect you to do! Do not give up!

Do the unexpected: WIN!

“Gigi”

Know the Players in your CPS Case (An insider’s guide on who to trust)

Ok, so “players” usually refers to a game and this is real life for you. I get that! But, for these people, you and your children are just pawns in an elaborate game of Monopoly that involves real money. When we began our case, we did not know who was who or who to trust (stretching this term) and even more important, who to focus on. I mean, you have played Monopoly, right? The game is much easier won if you have loose allies. Someone to trade with during the game. In the end, you still try to take them out but you both got to play a bit longer because of this alliance. The problem is, if you choose the wrong person to “buddy” with, they may try to take you out of the game early. They may actually trade you the wrong piece of property by steering your attention elsewhere. Quite frankly, they might cheat!

With that said, I am going to give you a list of the people involved in our case (obviously with no names) and explain their role in us eventually getting Park Place and Boardwalk (aka the children home)

  1. The CPS Investigator: In our case, we had 2. The first one was in the state where the injury occurred and the second was in the state in which we lived. The first one met us at the hospital. Talked to the family and released the children to my daughter with paperwork to protect her and the children from the father until we returned home. We thought this was over at that point. However, Investigator A transferred the case to Investigator B because of the interstate jurisdiction laws. Investigator B met with my daughter and mother once they returned home (I stayed behind one extra day due to previous plans and the belief that everything was settled). Investigator B had my daughter sign a “protection plan.” She assumed this was a protective order and never filed a DVP (this later caused major issues). Make no assumptions and do not trust any paperwork from the investigator. (Side note: unlike many cases, we did not encounter any falsification from the investigator in the final court but I hear that this occurs often. So, be cordial and polite but hold your trust on this one.)
  2. District Attorney or ADA: I did not even know that the DA would be involved in family court but they represent the state so there they were. We never spoke to the ADA in our case. She never met the children. She never entered our home. She had no history other than the case files. She had one motive which was to “win” a case. I do not know if it is possible to gain access to this player. She is kinda like the banker who does not see the property but only the winnings. These cases are not the primary function of the ADA and therefore they appear to be very robotic. Be personable when directing responses in court. It will show the difference between the “law” and the human factor in the eyes of the judge.
  3. Court Appointed Attorneys: In our case, there were three to begin with to include my daughter’s, mine, and the father’s attorneys. To begin with, it was clear that these cases are just kinda their passage to other cases meaning, they did not choose these cases because of a true belief that they can or should win. My daughter opted to pay an attorney outside of the county simply to break up the “good ole boy’s club.” However, even this paid lawyer was not essential to our case. The lawyers chose to practice law but they did not choose to take on so many appointments because CPS overloads them. They are overloaded! Do your part. Show them how serious you are. Do some of the research. Let them know you are a team. Trade some property and form the alliance. This may not be easy and I know a lot of people will tell you that this is pointless. But, I am telling you from experience, your lawyer does not have the time to allocate to win your case but they still want to win. Help them to win!
  4. Ongoing Social Worker: When our case was transferred from the investigator to the ongoing worker, we believed that this was a step forward. However, this is a typical process and does not mean you are out of the woods. It means that the state believes that they have collected enough evidence to keep your children. The role of the ongoing worker is to establish the services and help to facilitate reunification. We NEVER spoke to this worker outside of the courthouse or MDT meetings! NEVER! She spoke to the foster parents a few times and saw the children. She communicated with the provider for supervised visitations. But she never spoke to us. And we tried! She formed a good relationship with the foster parents and we were sure that she was pushing for them to keep the children. However, she did not speak during the hearing. She did not testify. She was present but did not speak for or against us. She was just there. I guess, throughout the entire case, she was just there. I believe, if you are placed on an improvement plan, the ongoing worker should be one of your closest allies. You should do everything in your power to befriend them. However, in our case, there was no services required other than visitation until dismissal so this was not necessary. I know many people have a lot of negative things to say about their ongoing worker but we really did not encounter ours often enough to speak either way. I am only including this on the list as a way to let new families know about the different parties that will be involved.
  5. The GAL: This individual is essential to your case. The GAL is responsible for representing the “best interest” of your children. In his eyes, you must be the “best interest.” I do not care if you live by the belief that you have nothing to prove to anyone because you are an amazing parent (this is probably true) but to the GAL you have EVERYTHING to prove! We see so many cases of abuse in foster care but, unfortunately, we also see cases of abuse by bio families once the children have been returned home. The GAL is aware of this possibility and will err on the side of caution to protect themselves and the children. I understand that this may be an unwelcomed assertion at this point, but it is the absolute truth. If the GAL thinks that there is the slightest possibility that the children will be harmed if they recommend that the children be returned home, then they will not make this recommendation! With that said, the judge almost always goes along with the recommendations of the GAL so, put on your best mommy/daddy face. Be polite. Be sincere. Don’t trade property just give it to this one! Invite them to visits. Encourage them to know you and your children. Even if they do not come, make them feel welcome. Talk to them. Every chance you get. Show them how important your children are to you. But, I will say this because of other people’s reports, be careful. This is an ally NOT a friend! If you are depressed, anxious, having mental health issues etc. this is not the person to tell. Do not give them any information that would make them question your ability to parent!
  6. Supervised visitation providers: Okay, so I have spoken about our excellent relationship with ours but this is not the experience of all people. If you go to your visits and feel as if you are being judged….. YOU ARE! This is their JOB! They will write down everything! If you raise your voice, if you are on your phone, if you appear tired, sick, or bored…IT WILL BE IN YOUR FILE!!! Do not believe that, because they are in their laptop or phone, that they are not watching. They are emailing, taking notes, and, yes, JUDGING! With this said, these are the only people who you will have constant contact with. These are the ones who will really know you. These are the people who are traveling with your children and trying to calm them if they are upset at the end. These are your best chance at a true ally in your case. If they make a recommendation, FOLLOW IT! If they show a concern, ADDRESS IT! Let them know that all you want to do is be the best parent you can be for your children! Do not be scared or distant but do be cautious. Do not tell them personal information that could be used to make you look bad. Even if not intended negatively, they are required to put this in your file. Be cordial, respectful, and kind. Be diligent in your parenting and genuine in expressing your concerns.
  7. The Foster Parents: There are many different settings that your children may be placed in. Most of the time, they will be placed with foster parents. The foster parents are rarely involved with the actual court case. They do not generally testify or appear in court. However, they do speak to the GAL, investigator, and ongoing workers. They do have your children for holidays, birthdays, doctors, milestones, bedtimes, bathtimes….you know….they have your children. So, as far as the court case is concerned, they do not play a crucial role but as far as your ability to maintain a relationship with your children through the case, they can make or break these options. You are jealous. You are angry. You are hurt. I get that. Trust me. We lost one of every single holiday. But, being mean will get you nowhere! I have had many negative comments because of a previous blog showing compassion for the foster parents but understand that everyone is being lied to and yes, they may have what you deserve but they did not actually take them from you. If possible, have a working relationship with the foster parents. This will show your true concern for the children’s best interest. Eventually, you will have your children home and they will no longer be a concern so do not mistake this relationship as a friendship. But, for now, do what you have to do to spend every possible moment with your children.
  8. The Judge: This is the key player. This is the little guy with the funny eyeglasses that owns the game of monopoly. This is not the banker. This is the BANK! Regardless of the recommendations, the statements, the reports, the witnesses, the truth, the judge makes the decision that determines whether or not you maintain the right to parent YOUR children! Do not disrespect the judge! Do not appear disrespectful to the judge! This is the one moment in your life that you are being judged and this is the person doing the judging. The judge is scary (I literally was shaking) but he or she is a person. They may look as if they are just a part of the courtroom but know that they have a family and a life outside of that room. Talk to them like a person. Show them who you are as a parent. But remember, they have read what everyone else has written. You have to prove the reports are wrong. You have EVERYTHING to prove!

Okay, so now that you know the key players and how they can affect your case, do not stop researching. Learn everything you can about each person. I remember one time we had a visit with a doctor during the case and he was discussing his credentials. I said “you also like cats.” The look on his face was priceless when I told him I had checked his facebook to see if there were any negative reviews. He said he had never had anyone research him before and my answer was simple, “if you are going to be involved in the care of my grandson, then I am going to make sure that I can trust you.”

Be diligent in your case. These are YOUR children!

We did not choose to play the game but we can choose to win it!

“Gigi”

Why didn’t they have to go? Questions from a former foster child

As you know, my granddaughter and grandson were removed from our home for just shy of a year due to a CPS investigation that was later dismissed. The children were returned home as if the case never happened and we began to put our lives back together. As the family had purchased property in Florida prior to the case and had intended to relocate, my son had made this move during the year of CPS involvement in order to get my other two grandchildren settled and allow Gloria to access better options for therapy related to DS.

For this reason, I was away from all four of my grandbabies for the majority of that year which also meant that they were away from their cousins. This was heartbreaking but we worked tirelessly to make sure that they were aware of one another. We taught Clarabelle and Elliott sign language just as Gloria’s therapists in Florida were teaching her and her brother. We knew that, eventually, they would all be together again and, now they are!

It never dawned on me that the distance between her home in West Virginia and the home of her foster parents was processed in the same way as the distance from our home in West Virginia to Florida. But, apparently, Clarabelle believed that her cousins had somehow been physically closer to me during that period and was holding some form of resentment that manifested last week.

You see, we had tried to encourage positive memories of that year and gradually replace any bad memories with new happy ones with her family. We never elaborated on the context of the case, we held back our tears during visits, and we did not allow the children to hear any negative words about the people involved in the case.

Even in my post, I try to not reflect negatively because, although I do harbor many negative emotions about that year and the events that took place, I do not believe that negative outbursts will not help anyone to heal. We did not start the blog to add to the negativity of these cases but rather to bring hope in light of so many negative emotions that people encounter in life. I also know that these children will mirror my actions, my emotions, and my beliefs. I have a responsibility to them and I refuse to let them down.

So, instead of talking about our time apart, we discuss our visits and the fun things that we did. Each week when we go to the library, we talk about how we have always went to the library. This replaces the notion of the “visits at the library” with a sense of normalcy that foster care strips away from children. When we do crafts, we talk about crafts that we did during that year. When we play with playdough, we talk about how we went to the store to buy shoes for our playdough statues that we had made. It is our hope that this is what they will remember from that year as we place moments in the context of her normal life.

With that stated, the ugly side of that year came out when I spoke to her about the possibility of seeing her former foster parents. Now, for many reasons I will not elaborate on the response in a public forum nor will I go into details as to why I made the inquiry. This post is not about that. Instead, it is about the perception of time and space that children use to form their emotions and reactions to situations.

Shortly after our discussion, I put the girls in the bathtub. Now, Clarabelle and Gloria typically laugh and play together all day. Bathtime becomes a field of splashing and dumping water on each other followed by giggles. On this night, however, I notice that Clarabelle is not playing and when Gloria dumps the first cup of water, Clarabelle shoves her away.

Hmmmm. This was odd but I had not put it together yet. I assumed she was tired and went ahead with the business of bathing the girls. The next day, Clarabelle sat on her uncle’s lap and wet herself. She then did the same to her stepdad. This beat all I had ever seen. I could not fathom what was going on. So, I did what we are known to do. I grabbed a cup of coffee and we went outside to chat about the world a bit.

“You know that you are the big girl here, right?”

“Yeah, but I want to be a baby.”

“Why? Babies don’t get to drink coffee!” (before you judge she gets cooled down hot chocolate for coffee time)

“I know. But babies get their Gigi all the time.”

Ahhhh…the lightbulb was starting to flicker but had not quite switched on!

If you recall, Gloria is a work in progress on potty training because of DS and the boys both find humor in peeing on the floor on their way to the potty (yes, this occurs more than I would care to state. Thank God for my Swiffer!). However, Clarabelle has been fully potty trained for quite some time.

“You get lots of Gigi time because you are a big girl.”

“But Gloria Ann and Braxton got more time. Why didn’t they have to go away?”

“Gloria and Braxton were in Florida, Clarabelle. You know they did not stay at Gigi’s house, right?”

“They didn’t? When I was with (FM) and (FF)? You did not keep them either?”

“No baby, Gigi used all of her time to bring you home because I love you.”

“Me too, Gigi!”

 

You see, the events that happen are experienced in the perception of the individual. Not everyone remembers or reflects on something in the same way. I wonder how long she has thought that I had chosen her cousins over her. Maybe the idea just popped in her head because I only asked her the question and not them. Maybe the reminder of the events sent her little mind into a state of fear and uncertainty.  Hell, it did the same to me. But regardless, we will continue to answer her questions and pray that she will be allowed to fully heal from these events.

 

To understand an experience, one must see it through the eyes of others.

“Gigi”

We Got the First Haircut!!! (Regardless of how many firsts we lost)

It was a week before court and the foster parents called my daughter to ask if they could take my grandson to get his first haircut. She immediately began to cry. Elliott was only 3 months old when he was ripped from his mother’s arms. She had one Valentine’s Day and one Easter with him but every other first, she had lost due to the CPS investigation. She missed his first time crawling, his first steps, his first tooth, his first Halloween, his first Christmas, and the list goes on and on. You know how many firsts happen in the first year of a child’s life! But this, this first could wait!

Apparently, the foster family had to gain permission from the worker and the mother before altering his appearance. My daughter would not give hers unless she was present. Instead, she offered to have one of her visits to be used for her to take him to get his first haircut. THIS WAS NOT ALLOWED!!!! She was not allowed to have his haircut!

So, she decided that it simply would not be done! Now, my little blonde haired baby boy has hair so light that he looked nearly bald regardless of the strands that laid over his ears so we figured that he would be just fine until he came home.

A few weeks later, he was back in his family’s arms and we kinda enjoyed seeing his little wisps blow as we walked with him along the beach. He still had a little while before it would be necessary to cut it so we waited and held on to the anticipation of his “first” in the same way that we would have naturally anticipated his first steps had the system not robbed us of that moment.

Today, was the day! Today, my grandson received his first haircut with his mommy standing by his side and his Gigi reassuring him while snapping every possible photo possible. This was OUR first and today will forever be embedded into the story of our lives!

When they take all they can, do not give them anymore!

“Gigi”

Yes, You Will Always be a Princess! Happy Birthday, Clarabelle!

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First and foremost, guys, isn’t she beautiful?

I mean, yes, she is physically the epitome of beauty (perhaps a little biased here) but, if you have read any of our “Toddler Talks”  then you know she is beautiful from somewhere within. She has the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child as well as the eyes of someone who could easily have been shattered by the adult world but chose to not let this smudge on her life define her. She is the inspiration that I hope everyone takes from the CPS stories that we tell because, yes, they stole her, tried to remove her concept of family, and tried to teach her that the world is an ugly place, but she refuses to hold on to those lessons. She turned three on 9/13/2017 but, today, since we had been evacuated for Hurricane Irma, we celebrated her birthday at home with family. Today, we celebrated the ability to do so!

You see, last year, we celebrated at the local bowling alley under the watchful eye of her foster parents. Granted, we were there. We brought the cake and the food. Her mom, Ashley, had carefully ironed on the patch of the number 2 onto her birthday outfit. We brought gifts. We brought love. We brought a birthday to remember (but we try to forget). Her face looked a bit sadder than usual. Her demeanor, by this point, was slowly slipping away. Her awareness of what was going on in her world was taking over her innocence.

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Of course, she is home now. She is no longer monitored for her actions. We are no longer monitored in our ability to love her. She can now smile! AND SHE DOES!!!!!happy.jpg

Clarice Isabelle (AKA her “Princess Name”) was born on 9/13/2014 with eyes wide open and ready to take on the world. In her three short years, she has endured more than most people will in a lifetime. And yet, she lights up the room with a love for life that we could all stand to learn from. Just as royalty, she may be a little spoiled (oops) but she sees the world for what it is….a place that needs more love and laughter. And, just like a true princess, she does her part to make this a reality. So, yes, Clarabelle, you will always be a princess. You will always have the wisdom that comes from hardships and the heart to make a difference. You will always be Clarabelle!

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.

May you always be strong but never again have to prove it!

“Gigi”

Trashbags: What this “luggage” means to foster children

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Have you ever wondered why when we move to a new home we use disposable packing supplies but when we go on a trip we use luggage? My thoughts on this are that, when we move, we plan on staying in that location but when we travel we value our possessions enough to keep them safe until we return home. When we move, we do not need to return the items to the bags and boxes because we will not be leaving. We will not be returning. We are at our “home” and this is where our belongings belong. This is where they will stay. We move them from the bags and boxes into a more permanent storage such as a dresser or closet and do away with the disposable items that remind us of the process of packing. We are done with that process and expect to settle securely into this new setting. When we travel, we may enjoy our different destinations but we always know that we will be putting our items back into our luggage and returning to the home that we know.

When we move, we do not need to return the items to the bags and boxes because we will not be leaving. We will not be returning. We are at our “home” and this is where our belongings belong. This is where they will stay. We move them from the bags and boxes into a more permanent storage such as a dresser or closet and do away with the disposable items that remind us of the process of packing. We are done with that process and expect to settle securely into this new setting. When we travel, we may enjoy our different destinations but we always know that we will be putting our items back into our luggage and returning to the home that we know.

When we travel, we may enjoy our different destinations but we always know that we will be putting our items back into our luggage and returning to the home that we know. Our luggage is as much a part of our travels as it is of our home. We remember our home and where the luggage will be stored until our next adventure. We may even dream of staying in that beach house forever but we see our luggage and know that home and the life we have built is waiting on us. So we hold onto our luggage until we return.

One of the ways that the foster care system begins the process of alienation is the very method of transporting the children’s belongings from their home to their temporary residence. How many of you have been told to throw a few things into a trash bag? How many of you dropped off some items in Walmart bags or grocery store bags? How many simply had time to pack a diaper bag as the workers placed your child into a strange vehicle to go to a strange home?

When the children arrive, the bags are tossed out and the children see their items being put into more permanent storage and no longer see any resemblance of their home. There is nothing to remind them that they will be going home. There is nothing to state that this is a temporary placement and that they soon will be returning home. There is nothing to say that it is okay to be comfortable and even, if possible, to have some good days while they are there, but that it is important to always remember that they have a home and life waiting for them once the CPS case is over. They have to know that their belongings belong at home with them and their family and they cannot know this if they cannot envision how their belongings will be returned.

They have to know that their belongings belong at home with them and their family and they cannot know this if they cannot envision how their belongings will be returned. Their disposable luggage has been disposed of just as the system wants them to believe has happened to their life before placement. But we, their family members, are not disposable. We are their permanency. We are their life before, during, and after this whirlwind that is called child protective services.

We are their luggage! We are their way home!

We must serve as a reminder to them that their lives are there waiting for them. For us, we chose to buy luggage as a reminder for ourselves that they would come home. We packed these bags with plenty of items for our move the moment that they were returned to us. We often re-sorted the items and changed them out based on their growth and the season. But we always knew and we never let them doubt!

I have read articles that talk about the inhumanity of dropping off children with trash bags as if they are homeless, unwanted, and unworthy. I have read about programs that are intended to help with this issue. We are currently looking into these programs to find out more about the avenues for assisting as well as to find additional research that will foster additional support for this critical but often overlooked aspect of foster care. I will keep you posted on our findings and hopefully, we can work together to minimize the stress on these children until we can find a way to truly reform this broken system.

Until we can bring them home, let’s remind them that they have one!

“Gigi”

Peculiar: Things Never Noticed Before Our CPS Case

This storm and process of evacuating Florida to avoid Irma’s fury toting four toddlers have made it difficult to concentrate on blogging and, for that, I apologize. I remember thinking, during our case, that I could not believe that the rest of the world could keep turning while my family was in ruins. I could not imagine that people were cooking turkeys or worrying about graduations when MY family was under attack. Of course, I think back now and realize that I was fighting to be able to enjoy those things in complete oblivion once again. I wanted to focus on the larger picture and be able to concern myself with the problems of others rather than singularly thinking of my own family.

Then the case was won and my family was returned. But, I could not go back to oblivion. I could not only focus on jumping back into the life of the Jones’. My eyes have been opened and every thing that has happened to us is also happening to others. So, thus the apology. Yes, I can get distracted but I should not get so distracted that I lose contact with those who are struggling as we did. Those who are out there who want to be concerned with this large storm and the safety of others but can only concentrate on the fact that their own family is hurting. Please know, that your job right now is to do what you are doing.

Your worry should not turn to ours but rather ours should turn to yours.

You are in a battle that affects all of our lives. I felt like less of a person, disconnected from the world. We who have overcome this obstacle to happiness should not allow you to feel those emotions. Instead, we should always let you know that you are not alone and that you are doing everything that you can. The destruction that I may find at home following the storm is nothing compared to the destruction that your family is going through and I know that this realization has not been properly portrayed through my absence this weekend.

In a loss for words and a tired mind, I turned to a daily prompt provided by a fellow blogger and found the word “peculiar.”  I couldn’t find the connection between my need to connect with you and this word. Strange, different, directly associated with…Discussing CPS is not considered peculiar to those of us who have encountered them and those who have not encountered this injustice would not understand any metaphorical connections that I might make. So I nearly closed up my laptop and went to check in on the little ones before turning in for the night. But I still felt like I was missing something that might keep my mind awake through the night. Then it hit me, there are things that I once thought were normal but now I see them as peculiar to the child protective system that has destroyed so many lives and families. So, these are my thoughts on the oblivion that CPS stole from us all:

  1. The Oblivion: I once saw two people having a discussion about maybe a reunion whereas one of the friends brought their laptop to save the plans and the other one could not get a baby sitter for the day so they had to bring their children alone. The friend with the children may seem a bit distracted but the friend with the laptop was clearly inspired as she typed away and checked for any messages that were perhaps from other friends engaged in the planning.
  2. The Reality: These are not casual meetings and they are not friends. The individual with the laptop is a supervised visitation provider and the distracted individual is trying to both interact with her children and appear engaged with the provider. I want to call out to her and tell her to truly be in the moment . I want to ask the children if they are okay. I want to tell the provider to put herself in the parent’s shoes. I see the drain in their eyes. I see the fear and the sadness. I no longer think of a planned reunion but rather of a plan to prevent reunification.

 

  1. The Oblivion: I saw those billboards asking for foster parents and I envisioned families reaching out and putting aside their own needs to help children who had maybe became orphans or their parents were getting treatment. I saw good in a system where people would willingly open their homes just to make certain these children are not alone while their family mends. I saw the billboards and saw hope.
  2. The Reality: I can no longer feel hopeful driving down the interstate and looking up at these billboards. In fact, I cannot even look. I see people who will stop at nothing to replace the family bonds with those that will program the children into what the government wants them to be. I see the foster families as carefully selected computer programmers and the children as pawns to be bartered or sold to bring revenue for this mission. I see the parties who were involved in our heartache and those who are involved in yours. I see a loss of hope and fear that others feel the same.

 

  1. The Oblivion: All families are happy on the holidays. Or so I thought. I lived in a world where I understood financial struggles but I also knew that the holidays always worked themselves out. We made silly boxes of Christmas Eve necessities. We made peanut butter bonbons. We held the grandchildren up to the tree to hang the star. I believed, and loved the idea, that all families were doing the same thing at the same time.
  2. The Reality: Every happiness can be ripped away at no fault of our own and this means that many families are not doing these things. Many families are unable to put up a tree or bake cookies because of their sadness and loss. Many families are struggling to open up their social networks to reach out for help because they will immediately see the family photos with Santa that will surely flood their news feed. Not everyone is happy and not everyone is ready to deck the halls.

Do not get me wrong, there are so many other moments and situations that I would never have found to be peculiar during my previous state of oblivion but these are just a few that my tired mind can recollect. At times, I would like to go back to feeling hope for all of the society and believing the best in every situation. But, if I were to do so, then I could not reach out to others and try to help to guide them through the maze that is CPS. And quite frankly, I am afraid to be oblivious now as we can never let our guard down.

So, when you feel that your whole world has changed because of this, know that you are not alone. But also know that we can change the whole world because they have changed ours.

Please let others know that oblivion is a dangerous place to live,

“Gigi”

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Peculiar

Taking Charge in your CPS Case

Be active. Be present. Be heard.

“Gigi”

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”

Bedtime Routine: Adjustments after Foster Care

Last night was a hard night for Ashley and the children. For the first time, in the nearly five months since they have been home from foster care, Ashley had to work an evening shift. This meant that it would be the first night that she was not able to tuck in her children since the year that she sat next to their empty beds every night making certain that everything was in place for their return and cried at the thought that the day may never come.

When children return from foster care, they also suffer from the uncertainty of “forever.” It was important to them, as well as us, that we normalize their routine as quickly as possible. Of course, the first few nights were spent blowing bubbles and simply holding them close, but then we gradually began to implement a bedtime routine.

Every night, Clarabelle has me to read her “own stories” which means she grabs a bunch of stuffed animals and we make up a story about each one. Then mommy reads her a story from which ever book she selects. Elliott, not being as vocal as she enjoys the stories but does not join in on the selection process. I sit with him while mommy reads and then we switch back as Clarabelle insists that I sing her “own song.” Elliott now sings along until he drifts off to sleep and Clarabelle stares off into the night until her eyes finally close. I often wonder what she is thinking about but I figure sometimes there are things we just need to work out in our own thoughts.

But last night, she told me what her little mind was processing. “I don’t want mommy to work,” she whispered as I was singing. “Mommies work when it is shining (her word for daytime) not when the sun is sleeping.”

I explained that Mommy only had to work this night and that everything would be normal again tomorrow but then I considered the word “normal.” Which normal would she fall asleep anticipating in the morning. For a year, her normal was seeing Mommy three times a week.  For more than half of his life, Elliott’s normal had been falling asleep in the arms of his foster parents. For a year, our normal had been fear and heartache.

I quickly adjusted my statement and said, “tomorrow, Mommy will tuck you in like she did last night.”

“Okay, Gigi. I love you.” And she drifted off to sleep.

There are so many “firsts” that we had to miss while they were gone and now there are so many “firsts” that we will face because of this. Like the first time that he asks about his father or the first time that he asks about how he was as a baby. We may not be able to prepare for all of this but we can make sure that their “normal,” is love and security with their family.

 

You can only move forward so do so with a purpose.

“Gigi”