My aunt is trying to get custody of her step-granddaughter. I have been in constant contact with her to provide emotional support, encouragement, and to help her fill out the paperwork and get in contact with others that can help. It has been a nightmare.
The girl(6) has Type-1 Diabetes, is on daily insulin shots and her mother is mentally unstable and abusing drugs and alcohol. Now, I don’t use any of these terms lightly, I promise. Most of my favorite people could be described as unstable and everyone knows I abuse the hell out of some alcohol every once in a while, but this a case of chronic neglect and abuse.
I won’t go into the whole story, but today was particularly difficult. My aunt and her husband have been estranged from their daughter (technically her stepdaughter) and their granddaughter since July. This morning, my aunt’s husband got a call from a stranger saying that his granddaughter had been left in her care the day before and her mother had never come back to pick her up. Her blood glucose level was 388 and this woman was afraid to give her a shot. The little girl had been left in this stranger’s care with only one needle and no instructions for administering her medication. The woman was panicked (obviously) and demanded that he come to pick up his granddaughter. So he did.
My aunt called Child Protective Services to let them know that the girl was at her house and the circumstances leading to her husband picking her up. CPS came out to her house and spoke with her , her husband, and the child.
The little girl admitted that her mother was drinking every day, that she was sleeping in the bed with her mother and her mother’s new boyfriend, and that there was no food in the house but sometimes, when her mother could get some money, they got McDonald’s. The CPS worker after giving my aunt and uncle some advice about filing for emergency custody.
The little girl was dressed in flip-flops, a tank top, and shorts. The temperature was in the mid-60’s, so a neighbor was called to see if she could provide some suitable clothes for her. The girl was taken to the neighbor’s house to change and to play with the neighbor’s children.
Then the mother showed up, drunk. My uncle called the police. She proceeded to beat the living shit out of my aunt and demand that her daughter come with her. The little girl was still at the neighbor’s house. Once the mother realized that she wasn’t in the house, she went over there.
Are you with me so far?
My aunt followed her to the neighbor’s house, and the mother then strangled and beat her in front of all the children. She also put holes in the walls and broke some knickknacks and furniture. Then she dragged her daughter out of the house and into her boyfriend’s car. Remember, she’s clearly drunk.
Luckily, the police showed up just as she was pulling out of the driveway. They arrested her for DUI and talked her into leaving her daughter with my aunt and uncle. Then the CPS worker came back.
At that point, a friend of the mother’s came to the house. This friend had witnessed most of what the child had been going through for the last few months; she had been using heroin with the mother and just got out of detox yesterday. She confirmed everything the girl had said and added that CPS had been called on 15 separate occasions to the various places the girl and the mother had been staying; no action had been taken at any of these times, despite the fact that the mother was drunk and belligerent on more than one occasion.
So, that poor little girl is safe tonight, but my aunt is scared to death. Not for her own safety, mind you, but that the little girl’s mother might break in and take the child in the middle of the night. My aunt refused to be taken to the hospital because she is too afraid to leave her granddaughter. She also worries about what will happen to this little girl next. There are apparently no safeguards in place to make sure the child has a safe place to live tomorrow or next week.
I firmly believe in parent’s rights. I cannot imagine anyone trying to take away my children. I do not believe that the state should have absolute power in determining the best circumstances for someone’s children. But in a country where infants are taken from their mothers for far less, why is there no guarantee of this child’s safety? How can CPS be contacted 15 separate times by several different people and do nothing?
I would love to see this mother get some help – counseling, drug treatment, whatever she needs. I do believe that the best place for this little girl right now is with her grandparents, but that could change if her mother chooses to do the right thing. But how can a system that is set up to protect children just let this situation run off the rails like this when they have had so many signals?
I worry like crazy for this little girl. She has seen things that would make a grown man freak the fuck out. She has been hospitalized for ketoacidosis. She has been paid to dance for her mother’s boyfriend (yeah, that one fucks with my head, too). What will it take for someone to do something?