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”

Blogging Journey Day 18: To New Friends

I believe that this was the primary reason for beginning this blog, to know that we are not alone and to let others know the same. Life is hard but it is so worth it and much more enjoyable when we have others to walk beside. So, thank you for being by our side.

WOW! I never would have guessed that only 18 days into this journey that we would have had a day yesterday with over 500 views reaching more than 1700 views to date. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting us know that we are not on this journey alone.

I believe that this was the primary reason for beginning this blog, to know that we are not alone and to let others know the same. Life is hard but it is so worth it and much more enjoyable when we have others to walk beside. So, thank you for being by our side.

There are so many different avenues that we discuss because there are so many different aspects of our lives that we feel others may also be encountering. A lot of our views have been related to our CPS case and I pray that we are providing a sense of hope for those who are going through this and a greater awareness to those who continue to believe the assumptions about CPS. Ashley has opened up about her relationship with Mikey and has found support from other men and women who have a significant other serving in the armed forces. There is a great pride for their loved ones but also a loneliness that can be lessened through these friendships. Ashley has also been able to connect with other mothers to discuss tips and swap stories. I have met countless of other families of children with Down’s Syndrome and we have been able to discuss the beauty of celebrating every milestone. You all have celebrated my Gloria’s birthday with us, prayed for my dear friend Heather as she nearly lost her life and underwent amputation. You have tagged along to the beach and heard the wisdom of my granddaughter, Clarabelle. There are so many journeys to come and more details to provide. We look forward to continuing to meet others and grow as a community who will overcome all obstacles together!

Together, we are better!

“Gigi”

Beyond the Anger: Emotional Stages of CPS

Leaving the courtroom that day, I moved to a stage that I had not anticipated. Embarrassment. I walked out of that small-town courtroom and passed people that I had once worked with. I saw the faces of others who were so worn down and seemingly alone. I did not pick up my phone to call anyone. I did not tell my father, my best friend, no one.

At first, you will be angry. Of course, that stage does not leave you. It does not leave you throughout the case and, as we are learning, it does not leave you after the last court date. You are angry because of the lies. You are angry because you cannot believe that this could happen. Let’s face it, this list could go on and on. But there are other emotions and reactions in play that affect others that we often forget.

For me, the first of these was shock. How could this happen? Surely this will resolve quickly. The department is just making sure. That lasted until the preliminary hearing when the judge appeared to be drifting off and the first of the lies surfaced inside a courtroom.

Leaving the courtroom that day, I moved to a stage that I had not anticipated. Embarrassment. I walked out of that small-town courtroom and passed people that I had once worked with. I saw the faces of others who were so worn down and seemingly alone. I did not pick up my phone to call anyone. I did not tell my father, my best friend, no one.

You see, I was known as that go getter Mother and Gigi. My college advisor once gave me a postage stamp with the image of Atticus Finch. Her statement was that my relationship with my children reminded her of how the character allowed his children to figure out the world but always stood close by to offer gentle guidance. To me, this was the greatest compliment that I could receive; someone complimenting my parenting! I attended every prenatal visit possible, stood in the room as each of my grandchildren were born, helped to select Gloria’s therapists, helped pick out names, and bragged nonstop about my growing family.

But, as we all do, I have a past and many of the things in my past I am not proud of. I just knew that this small town would echo my younger days and that everyone who now knew me as a grandmother would believe these lies based on who I once was. I was afraid they would look at me differently. After all, they all had the assumptions that I discussed here earlier (5 Things I thought I knew about CPS), so why would they think anything else? I knew everyone would turn their back on me so I turned mine first.

When I finally began to speak, I spoke ill to those who I was most embarrassed to tell. I wanted to push everyone away so that I could be alone in my misery. I knew that I was being judged by the state but I could not take being judged by those who actually knew me.

Following embarrassment, I found myself in isolation. Only my children and my mother were allowed into my world at this point. Once you reach isolation, then you have two choices Depression or Survival. I chose the latter. I used all of my now free time from others to focus solely on the case. I not only turned my back on all others outside of the case but also on all responsibilities other than the basic survival needs.

ALL OF MY ENERGY WAS ON SURVIVING THIS AS A FAMILY!

As I stated before in Prisoners of War: Bringing our Children Home from CPS Captivity, I did not make it out of this case without any regrets but I made it out regardless. It does not matter how you make it. You may need to lean on others. You may need to isolate. You may even need to take a moment of depression to allow your brain to reboot. But you DO NOT need to feel embarrassed. You did not deserve this. You do not have to feel regret because, although we are all here for you in this war, this is YOUR battle and it is your knowledge of your family that will help you to choose the best way to come through. All that I ask, is that you remember that YOU WILL!

 

May your outcomes be worth your regrets,

“Gigi”

She Asks if we Missed Her: When Children come Home from Foster Care

One of the things that I struggled to find information on was what to expect when the children came home from foster care. Of course, as I have stated, few people actually talk about their cases if they end with reunification for multiple reasons but this led us to believe that no children ever came home. This made us question ourselves for having hope. This added to the fears, to the uncertainty, to the sleepless nights.

We could find articles created by CPS and family service groups giving advice that included using the help of the department to ease the transition.

Uhhhhmmmm, I BELIEVE THEY HAVE HELPED ENOUGH!

We had maintained a great relationship with the children and they certainly were ready to come home, but we knew that the last year would affect them in ways that we could not understand. I mean, after all, Elliott was only 3 months old when this started. He was an infant who had spent most of his life with the foster parents. He knew us, but he did not remember life before this. Clarabelle, as you will learn throughout the toddler talk posts (Why am I pretty?: Toddler Talk, Making Sense of Diversity: Toddler Talk, Understanding Gender: Toddler Talk, is very smart and aware of what is going on. When they took her, they claimed that she was nonverbal because she was 19 months old but BOY she could talk…A LOT! And she remembers things that most children would not.

She would ask to come home, often, and we would fight back our tears to avoid upsetting her and tell her that we were working on something to keep her safe and that her foster parents were helping us to by taking care of her. (I realize that some people would disagree with this approach but it was important for us to know that she was not scared. By giving her, reassurance we could focus on fighting for them to come home.)

Finally, the day came and, when we arrived to pick them up, with each item we carried to the van she asked if we were coming back in to get her and her brother. She was so excited that she nearly slipped on the rain covered steps heading to the van. We were together again which we thought meant this was all over for them. But it was not. There continue to be questions and we continue to answer them with their best interests in mind. Instead of telling them that they were stolen from their home we tell them that something bad happened once and it took a bunch of people to keep them safe. We tell them that we worked really hard to get them back really fast. In fact, Clarabelle says “Mommy and Gigi said, ‘give them back right now,’” and that’s how they came home.

But sometimes, late at night, after we have told all of our stories and sang her “own song,” she will ask, “did you miss me because I missed you with all my heart” to which I always reply, “every minute, every day, the whole time but we are together and safe and that is all that matters.”

 

They hear so much and go through so much during these cases that it is easy to forget that what the adults remember as normal may be different for the children. We, as the adults, just want our lives back that we had before that knock on the door. But the knock did happen and our families were shaken.

Don’t be afraid of the questions but be careful not to let your own memories of the battle affect the way that they heal.

When children ask, it is because they need to know!

“Gigi”

Custodial Rights: If you know a child CPS could ruin your life

Even if you are Not a Parent, CPS Corruption can Ruin your Life!

Custodial rights is a term used by CPS to include nonparent parties in the CPS claim and further alienate the children from the life and people that they know. This can include parties that live in the same home or have spent any considerable amount of time with the children (ie babysitters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, significant others of family members, etc.). Once the party is placed as a respondent with custodial rights (different than parental rights) the party will be placed on the child abuse and neglect registry. (As our case was dismissed, we are working on the grievance to have our names removed from the registry).

One of the first questions that everyone asked when they removed my grandchildren was why didn’t I have custody. Now, as many of you know, family placement is a rarity anyway but our case was a bit different because my daughter’s family lived in a separated section of my home. The state considered my now late fiance and me in the same household and therefore respondents on the case as the state said that we had custodial rights over the children. My mother (who also lived in the home) was not a respondent and there was no concern that we had harmed the children as (A) there was a confession and (B) they did not remove my minor son from the home. However, due to the close relationship that I had with my granddaughter, who we had a complete body scan of which showed no signs of abuse, they knew that the only way to keep from placing the children with me was to place me as a respondent in the case.

I couldn’t understand how I had no legal rights over the children but now I was a “custodial guardian” because I lived in the same home. I began to investigate this and found that living in the household was not the only way that they can claim custodial rights. Babysitters and extended family members are also placed at risk if they have a close enough relationship that would indicate the need to consider them for placement.

Again, we were fortunate with many aspects of our case and I cannot speak for all cases involving CPS.  But I do ask you to realize how wide spread this issue truly is and join the fight for reform before you find yourself in the whirlwind that thousands have already experienced.

Stand together!

“Gigi”

 

Four Lies that are Told to Foster Parents: Parents Should React to

This subject may not be your favorite but it is a large component of the evils that have inflicted our lives, our security, and our family. When the state steps in to steal our children, they place them in other homes. In order to form a pseudo-family bond, they refer to the guardians as foster “parents.” This clearly shows that the state recognizes the importance of “parents” but wants to be in charge of matching parents to children rather than allowing God and Nature to make this selection.

This leads us to this discussion. Foster parents are NOT parents. They are GUARDIANS! They are essentially over involved babysitters as they do not have legal custody of the children (the state holds this title) but are granted the right and responsibility to perform duties consistent to those expected of a natural parent (more lenient obviously in the eyes of the state) but still relatively consistent as they are expected to meet their basic needs. However, despite all of our reasons for disliking or distrusting foster parents (and there are many), there is also another side to this and being informed will help you to work with all parties (at least cordially) until you have your children home where they belong.

The children need you to be their parents: What? They have parents. They have parents who are at home right now crying, praying, and holding each piece of clothing that they have of their child’s. They do not NEED new parents. Now, there is a chance that these parents need help for various reasons but the children do not need new parents.

When you realize that the state has lied to the foster parents about this, it is easier to understand how they become so overbearing in the case. They may have been fed the same lies that CPS told the judge to remove your children. The department has painted you as a monster and told them that they are now their parents. Of course, as assumed parents, protecting a child from a monster is a number one priority. When this lie is debunked, then the foster parents will begin to see the department for what it is: CORRUPT!

Why they tell it: To rally the foster parents behind their efforts for alienation.

What you can do: Send letters, make calls, try to make the case easier on the foster parents. (We even sent thank you cards and crafts that we made during visits). BITE YOUR TONGUE! You DO NOT NEED MORE ENEMIES!

The parents are against you: Okay, this one may be true on some level but not to the extent that the department makes it out to be. Sure, parents are angry and hurt that someone else is getting to enjoy all of those milestones but our anger and hurt are aimed at a system rather than specifically at the individuals who have been placed as guardians over our children. Yes, we may have ill thoughts about them, but obviously, we know that the system would not return them even if the foster parents were abducted by aliens and carted off to a far away planet (okay, maybe we dwelled on this too much) but the truth is, the family is not out to get the foster parents. The family is out to get their children home. Wherever the children are until this happens, we want them to be safe and cared for. We could do it better, but we would not sabotage their safety to prove this point.

Why they tell it: Divide and conquer. If the foster parents believe that you are going against them, then they will go against you by all means necessary.

What you can do: Do NOT allow this division. Even though you may not want this, you are co-parenting (at best). If you want to get through this, the more parties that see you as a partner rather than an obstacle, the better.

The children will always know you as their family: This one is cruel on so many levels. First of all, it places the foster parents at a place of grief once you finally win your children back (AND YOU WILL!!!). This leads to a great deal of confusion for everyone involved. Foster parents go over the top to make “family memories,” natural parents are left out of a great deal of the children’s activities, the children are shown a “grass is greener” faux lifestyle in the name of making memories for a short duration that will cripple their adjustments to normal life.

Why they tell it: To encourage foster parents to go over the top with the children. For instance, if the foster family goes on expensive vacations then the foster family may look appealing to the child. If the foster family provides things that the natural family cannot afford then the child may begin to believe some of the things that the foster parents and department tell them about you.

What you can do: Make your visits count…I repeat…make your visits count! As I began in the discussion Making the Most of Visitation: When you try to parent a child two hours at a time it may be difficult, but it can be done. You may not be able to include yourself in their outings, but remind your child what is important to THEIR family. On a side note, if you have placed yourself in a good relationship with the foster parents then inclusion may not be out of the question. Otherwise, this relationship may help you to have input on the types of activities that you would like your child to attend or avoid.

We will be here to help you! This one was quite shockingly a complete lie. I assumed that, since the state stole the children, they would be very involved in their upbringing. As it turned out, the state rarely checked on them, returned calls from the foster parents, or gave them information about the case once they convinced them to take in the children. The foster parents had to make several visits and phone calls to verify information and were uncertain about many things that natural parents would know such as the age of a child when they are front facing, schedule of shots, etc.

Why they tell it: To get consent to drop off the children and hold someone else accountable for their well being.

What you can do: USE THIS!!! The foster parents have had children dropped into their home and, although they may have raised children, they have not raised YOUR children. Continuously provide them with information that will not only make their role easier but will also ensure the health and safety of your child. Be a voice to speak up at meetings about how little help they receive.

In sum

The foster parents or guardians are as oblivious as to what kind of parent you are as are the judges in these cases. EVEN WHEN THE FOSTER PARENTS ARE FAMILY MEMBERS the lies and corruption of CPS can and will change their view of you. Your job, as a parent, is to bring your children home at all costs. Recognizing why some of the players in the cruel game act the way they do will help you to better prepare yourself and react accordingly. Again, this was our way of getting through this and we came out of the fire holding my grandchildren. It was hard at times because we were angry. We were missing milestones. We were unable to tuck them in at night. But our anger was at the system. Our anger was at the abuser. Our jealousy of their time with the children may have been seen as anger, but in truth, it was far easier to crawl on our bellies than to hold on to any more anger throughout this case. Do what you believe is right in your situation and, if that does not work, try something else. But, no matter what, NEVER GIVE UP!

To save our child, we would all dine with the beasts,

“Gigi”

 

This does not refer to the abusive and neglectful foster parents that we read about. I am talking about those who enter this agreement with the same types of assumptions that most people have about the system as I discussed in 5 Things I thought I knew about CPS!