Friday, September 3, 2010

Define "Best Interest of the Child"

Daughter and "boyfriend" remain in Dallas County Jail... CPS has no open case on Kaylee. She is with the other grand-parents still. They told me that Kaylee was "placed" with them, but CPS has told us that there has been no official placement.  We are at an impasse there -

I do not know all of the details, but my daughter's bond amount is now $150,000.00. Her recent theft charges are enhanced previous convictions and violation of probabtion. I don't think she will be getting out soon, but I have been wrong before.  The irony is that "Boyfriend's" total bond amount is less than $3500.00; $1500 of which is for the charge of Abandon/Endanger Child by Criminal Negligence. HE could be released any day.

Based on what I know, when arrested, "boyfriend" took off running with Kaylee in a carrier, tossed her across front seat of car and attempted a get away. Thankfully the officers on the scene stopped him. At some point he was "tazed." (I must admit that I would get great satisfaction if I could have seen that taser action. Sorry, but it's true.) THANK GOD for the quick actions of the Garland PD - I still get nauseous thinking what would have happened if a high chase pursuit had ensued with Kaylee in front seat, unsecured.

Norm and I have faced a true delimma, and feel that we have made the best decision that we can at this point...

A. We have done what we can: We called Texas, VZ County and Dallas CPS.  Written to them as well. Faxed same correspondence to the prosecuting attorney's for both my daughter and "boyfriend." I contacted a local reporter. I emailed Dallas Children's Advocacy Center, an organization that works with Dallas County District Attorney's office and law enforcement.  The goal and hope being that someone will tie together the past with the present to help ensure Kaylee is safe.  I have not gotten any direct response from  any, except the reporter's kind assistant who asked me to "keep them posted" and from a wonderfully compassionate soul at DCAC - I  believe she has done what she can to bring the info to anyone she felt could help... in one of her last emails to me she stated (regarding VZC CPS) "unfortunately, I am having a hard time getting a response, too. And I work here!" - apparently one difficulty is that there is no CPS case  number. Anyway, in an over-burdened system, a direct reply is not necessary...

B. Norm did speak with the VZC CPS worker who apparently has spoken with the other grand-parents. She is the one who advised there is not an open case, as Kayle is safe now. And, that despite what the other grand-parents have implied, there is no safety plan or formal placement, and Norm and I need to coordinate with the other grand-parents directly to work out visitation with Kaylee. 

This is the hard part - We do not feel that we can take on this responsibility with the people who have proven time and again to us that they have no respect for us, will not put the children's best interests first, or be honest with us about issues affecting the children. Nor have they made any attempt to include us in Kaylee's care. They have brought her with them on the last few "Landon exchanges" so that we can see and hold her all of 5 minutes. Yes, we could ask them if we could take her with us for a weekend... but, not only do I hesitate to ask their "permission" for something I am as entitled to as they are, but also am very aware that at this point, when they say "no", I really have no recourse. We have made arrangements with other family members to bring her to see us.

The example in the picture likely seems trivial, to anyone unfamiliar with the history dating back to 2007.  But this text message here from the other grand-mother just emphasizes the fundamental concern, to us - From the day Landon was born, they have resented our "intrusion" - They see us as adversaries.  I suppose they believe we see them the same way, and to a certain degree that may be true.

**venting alert**
Specific concerns, based on our history of attempts to work with the other grand-parents (and my daughter and their son) at the very least demonstrate to us a co-dependence and enabling pattern that we feel has and will continue to put Landon and Kaylee at risk.

  • In 2007, after arranging for my 2 months pregnant daughter to enter re-hab, they came and picked her up and "took care of her." They refused all efforts to meet with us to discuss the situation or take any other action to ensure the saftey of the child on the way, despite knowledge of the heroin addiction and their son's past history with CPS related to his heroin addiction.

  • They supported my daughter and son throughout her pregnancy with Landon. Including bailing them both out of jail - which lead up to Amanda's withdrawal emergency at 8 months preganant.

  • Despite the fact that our actions likely saved the life of my daughter and Landon, they resented our involvement of CPS. Once they were included in the CPS Family Safety Plan, which made us all responsible to take legal action to obtain custody if my daughter and their son failed to uphold their responsibilities (stay clean, go to rehab, get a job, create a safe home, etc) - they refused to follow through with us when my daughter and their son continued to use heroin.

  • Due to their refusal to cooperate, CPS advised Norm and I to obtain a lawyer and file suit for custody of Landon. We did so and filed suit in the proper jurisdiction: Dallas County - where Landon was born and legally resided. Process servers attempted to serve notice to my daughter and their son at all known addresses, but were unable to locate them. The other grandparents and family stated to us and to law enforcement that they did not know the whereabouts of their son and my daughter.

  • After failure to serve them papers, we were advised to not only seek custody, but termination of parental rights. Again, for the same reasons we were unable to serve them papers of amended motion.

  • Shortly after a Dallas County hearing in which they failed to appear, despite finally having them served when they went to Dallas County for an appearance concerning a criminal charge, the paternal grandfather appeared on our doorstep with an order granting them temporary custody of Landon! All of the while they had claimed they did not know where their son and my daughter where, after and fully aware that we had filed proper suit in Dallas County, they had retained an attorney, filed an illegal custody suit in Van Zandt County stating that Landon lived with them and attached affidavits written by my daughter and their son stating that they were unfit to care for Landon and wished custody to be granted to the paternal grandparents. In so many ways they perjured themselves. We did not hand Landon over to him, of course - when he called local law enforcement and they came to our home, they agreed we did not have to turn the baby over as we had the same orders issued out of Dallas County.

  • Within days, the paternal grandparents had obtained a "writ of mandamus" from Van Zandt County ordering law enforcement to take Landon from us. (Somehow, hmmm, local law enforcement was unable to locate me or Landon until our attorney took the legal steps needed to invalidate the writ.)

  • Despite the illegal actions, we agreed to change venue to Van Zandt County and became parties to the suit there. This was an expediency issue, not to mention a financial one, as it was the quickest way to get the case before one judge. The end result was an agreement reached for shared custody of Landon that we have today. Our legal expenses alone where $15,000. I have heard the other grandparents spent $5000.  It seems a travesty that $20,000 that could have been invested in college funds for these children, or rehab if and when either my daughter or their son sincerely wanted help, was instead spent the way that it was simply because the other grandparents would not work with us per the terams of the CPS Family Safety Plan.
So... are the paternal grandparents dishonest, and hateful? Or are they so seriously entrenched in their co-dependency that they really believe the things they have done out of love for their son were the right things to do?  I can't answer that. I do believe they love their son, and Landon, and Kaylee.  I also know they do not love them more than I love my daughter, and Landon, and Kaylee.

Other areas of concern are chronicled throughout my blog.  Norm and I, based soley on our own experience, do not feel comfortable entering into another legal fray like the last.  The current effects on Landon under the custody we share with them now are becoming more and more difficult for Landon, the older he gets. We have no enforcement of the custody that stipulates no unsupervised visits by my daughter and "boyfriend" when Landon is with the other grandparents. If and when they are released from jail, the worry in that regards begins again.

CPS is an overburdened agency - an official safety plan if put in place will again make the family members who enter into it legally responsible for the safety of Kaylee.  At this point, we could only consider it if the others had unsupervised visits. We cannot guarantee her safety otherwise. But even then... Really, honestly ... I do not understand why a safety plan rather than flat out termination of my daughter and "boyfriend's" parental rights should even be considered. There are wonderful people who are unable to have children of their own and would rejoice at the opportunity to adopt a 6 month old baby girl.  To me a "safety plan" with the goal of re-uniting Kaylee with her parents is an excercise in madness, with the consequences ultimately being tragic.  Kaylee is safe right now, but all of the things that could have happened on August 4th when Kaylee was innocently involved in a crime by her parents.

What about future children my daughter chooses to have with "boyfriend"- for all anyone knows, she could be pregnant again. It's a hell of a mess. My heart breaks for all of children of addicts; and for the families who really want to ensure their safety.

13 comments:

Fractalmom said...

oh my. just simply, oh my. prayers coming. i'm so sorry. i wish i knew a federal court judge in texas. sigh.

Athena said...

Ug - this post is a bit rant-ish, isn't it? Maybe I should edit it -

Addiction--Mom trying to Detach with Love said...

I don't think it is rantish but your frustration with the whole situation is obvious as it should be. I work in the court system and see this type of thing every day. The amount of guardianships in our county alone is astonishing for grandparents seeking to protect their grandchildren from addicted kids. CPS is overstrained and so many times things are missed or not followed up on. Landon and Kaylee are very lucky to have you as their loving GM. I will pray for the right and positive outcome for your little ones and you. (((HUGS)))

LisaC said...

Your love and concern for the children is obvious; and I'm just so sorry that you and they (the children) have to go through all of this.

BMelonsLemonade said...

It is a shame that for the children's sake ALL the grandparents cannot be actively involved in their lives. I see how my mother adores my son, and I would hate to deny him of that. I remember how special my grandparents were to me, and both of them are gone now. One of my biggest regrets is the time I avoided them in my addiction. I never did get to see my grandmother after I got clean. We talked on the phone a lot, and we actually shared the addiction gene (she was an alcoholic who had been sober for over twenty years when she died.) Grandparents are supposed to spoil their grandchildren, and I feel like crying to think that those children are denied of 50% of that opportunity. It is selfish of anyone to deny these children of their family. Family is all we have sometimes. I am so thankful to be clean today, especially for my child.

Anonymous said...

So sorry that you are going through this. It must be beyond painful. I know that there are no easy answers but I was wondering if you have gone to the jail & tried to have some straight talk with your daughter about this? No sugar coating. No soft touch reconciling attempt. Just trying to have a frank conversation.

Syd said...

It is indeed a bad situation. Too bad that the innocent children are in the middle if the fray.

Oxy said...

Dear Athena,
Thank you for your blog and the courage it takes to share your story. Your insight is a powerful and valuable resource. My name is Dana, assistant to journalist and author Erin Daly. Erin is currently working on a book about her brother’s addiction and death, and the Oxy-to-heroin phenomenon in general. I assist in maintaining Oxy Watchdog, a blog that attempts to reflect the staggering problem of prescription drug abuse. Some time ago, we listed your blog under the Resource section of our blog precisely for the reasons I mentioned above. In effort to drive more traffic to each of our sites, I would like to propose a "link share" in which you list Oxy Watchdog on your blog. Please let me know if this might be a possibility, and definitely check us out at http://oxywatchdog.wordpress.com/. Thank you again and I look forward to reading future posts.

Dana
oxywatchdog@gmail.com

yaya said...

Children of addicts are collateral damage.

And as for "straight talk" with an addict -- that's impossible; there is nobody home to talk to.

God Bless and rant on!!!!!!!!!!

Laura said...

Athena....I haven't been in blogland for a while...you and your husband have been taking the right steps...life sometimes just stinks with its insanity and unfairness. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and especially your precious grands.

I hate what our "legal system" has become. What seems right and logical always seems to be sidestepped. Keep the faith the best you can.

sydney said...

Would it be terrible to offer her $1000 cash to sterilize herself?

I think I'd seriously consider it if it were my daughter... but I don't know...

it's a terrible dillemma. The kids are the true victims here. I feel for them.

Mike said...

Wow... A lot of drama here. I hope this situation improves for you and the child! With a little perseverance and help your daughter can get clean again! I did it after 15 years of Heroin/Cocaine addiction.

Pressing The Issue

Anonymous said...

I really want to read all of your post, but it may take me a moment. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you sharing your story with everyone. You never know who will read this and how it will impact their lives.