Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tuesday

Today I had to be up and out of the house early, because there was a court hearing for the child I'm a GAL for. I don't think I told you all about meeting this little guy. He's in the care of his great grandparents because his mother has addiction issues and mental illness. He's been with them since he was a month old, and he's thriving in their care. He has big blue eyes and a goofy, two-toothed grin, and is just about the most adorable toddler you ever saw. He was immediately taken with me when I visited the first time, crawling over to me, pulling himself up, and holding out his arms for me to pick him up. He sat in my lap the whole time I was there, and would have happily left with me if we had allowed it! His g-grandma said, "I'm sorry, Baby...you have to stay here with the old folks!" They're very nice people and are giving the boy (and his teenaged half brother) a safe and loving home. They allow the mother to visit whenever she wants to, but they know that the likelihood of her ever being able to care for him properly is low. She's in and out of mental institutions and drug rehab, and her live-in boyfriend (the little boy's father) just got out of prison and has addiction problems of his own.

My GAL assignment is a lucky boy to have loving relatives willing and able to take him in and raise him, so there's no question of his ending up in foster care. I do feel sorry for the grandparents, though. Little B is a delightful child and seems to have outgrown the withdrawal issues he had at birth, but I can't imagine taking on the burden of any 13 month old child at their age. The day I visited happened to be their 50th wedding anniversary, and this is their great grandchild. They love him and want him, though, and it's obvious that they're taking excellent care of him. The judge at the hearing this morning thanked them on behalf of the court and of the state for what they're doing for this child. It made my eyes tear up a little; this particular judge is my favorite because he always speaks so kindly and respectfully to everyone who comes before him in court. He's very wise, and more than fair, and has a gentle sense of humor that I really appreciate. He also thanked me in court today for serving as this boy's Guardian. How nice is that?

This case goes back to court at least one more time, in late August, and I'm about to take on a new case that has a hearing in only two weeks. I'll have to jump right in and arrange to meet the child (or children) so that I can have a report ready by July 23. I'm trying to get in as many cases as possible while I'm out of school for the summer. I won't be able to take on many new ones once I'm back at work.

25 comments:

  1. I think about the seniors who have taken on the raising of their grands and great grands for one reason or another and I am humbled. HOW DO THEY DO IT?
    I'm relatively healthy and not THAT old but just having the grandchildren over for a few hours or overnight is enough to wear me out.
    And you are so, so good to do this work. You really are.
    I wish all judges were like the one you described here. Sadly, they are not.

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    1. I know how they do it....because they feel that they have no other choice. You would do the same in a heartbeat for any one of your grandchildren. Love makes it possible.

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  2. You see grandparents stepping up ro raise their grandchildren so often. They do what they have to do because there is no one else to care for these children. I am so glad to hear about the good and compassionate judge who was hearing this case. I would like to think that they are all like that.

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    1. I wish more judges were like him! When I completed my GAL training with a handful of other newbies, we were given an hour to meet with this particular judge and ask him questions. I was impressed by his wisdom, thoughtfulness, and humor. He's a good man.

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  3. How wonderful and so very sad at the same time.
    Lovely that the Judge is so compassionate.
    Nice for you to get a shout out for all your hard work.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. It really was nice of him to mention me in court, although I felt my face turning pink!

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  4. You're doing a good thing. Hats off to those great-grandparents!

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    1. Seriously. Those two are really taking on a heavy responsibility and are to be commended.

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  5. That is another plus for you and your GAL kids that your new job has summers off. Bless the hearts of those great grandparents, they must be 70 plus, that is a lot of work and joy to care for the little guy.

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    1. I hope their health holds out until the baby is old enough to (at least somewhat) take care of himself. Foster care is so fraught with pitfalls.

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  6. What wonderful work you do!

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    1. It's honestly not that much, Colette. I'm basically there to give an unbiased opinion to the court about what is best for the child.

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  7. Thank you so much for doing what you do. I am pretty sure at some point we wil be asked to take my husband’s granddaughter. She has already been in foster care. Her mother, my stepdaughter, left town with her the day she was off probation with only a grocery bag of clothes. At this point I don’t want to even know where they are. My husband does but I have stopped asking questions. Now the other step-daughter is expecting. Drugs. Alcohol. Has an eating disorder and weighs 85 pounds. She has been in trouble with the law. No job. Didn’t graduate high school. No father in the picture. She was homeless but a woman’s shelter housed her. It’s such a mess.

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    1. Oh, Birdie...I'm so sorry to hear that. How old is the granddaughter who has been in foster care? It doesn't sound like she needs to be with her mother even if living with you is not feasible. Poor girl.

      As to the other step-daughter...is she getting any prenatal care? With all of those issues it's so very important that she is closely monitored by a doctor if she intends to continue the pregnancy.

      Good luck to you and your husband. I hope everything works out for the best, for everyone concerned.

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    2. The little girl is 5 and is already having major behavioural problems. But, “mom knows best” and yanked her out of the community she was living in and is now in a community where nobody knows her. No doubt she will have free reign to be abusive and neglectful. As for the other daughter, I doubt she is getting proper prenatal care. She a “vegan” and has no idea how to eat properly. It seems to me she has found a a socially accepted way to have an eating disorder.
      My husband and I have almost divorced over his daughters. They could come into our house and take a shit on the dining room table and he would not blink. Then he would clean it up after them. They have been so awful to him and is just so happy to have them in his life that he accepts any and all behaviour from them. He will not call social services because he thinks everything will be fixed me because the 5 year old is starting school in September and mom will get a break. In my opinion, neither of these girls should be have children but nobody seems to care.

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  8. I have a friend who took on a granddaughter in very similar circumstances. I expect it's more common than we imagine. I've just read Birdie's comment, so I guess it is.

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    1. Yes, it's very common. The courts and DSS always try to find a relative to place a child with before they consider any other options when the family is in some kind of crises. And a whole lot of grandparents raise kids without a formal court intervention, too.

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  9. People sometimes have very difficult lives but still soldier on, like the great-grandparents in this post. Babies and toddlers are at a very vulnerable stage of their lives. Good for the judge who seems to have a good understanding that life is not a level playing field and for recognising the part you play in this situation.
    And although the post I'm about to comment on was way in the past now, you're to be commended for taking a political stand, not just sitting around wringing your hands and bemoaning the situation.

    Alphie

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    1. The judge is always kind and encouraging to everyone, even the parents who have to show up to court in prison uniforms and handcuffs, such as two different mothers I saw yesterday.

      I'm trying hard to not sit around and wring my hands, so to speak. It's better to volunteer with the League of Women Voters here in my town, and to meet periodically with our local political action group to discuss practical ways to shift our politics.

      Thank you for this comment. :)

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  10. Like the others here have said, I admire you greatly for being a GAL. Also, the great-grandparents of the Little toddler deserve everyone's respect and gratitude. Are the grandparents not around, I wonder?

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    1. I'm not quite sure about the grandparents. I think the g-grandma mentioned something about them not living in this area.

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  11. I know that you never set out to receive comments like the one I am about to make but you are an angel Jennifer. I echo the wise judge's words of gratitude. The world needs more people who are prepared to give freely of themselves for the benefit of the wider society.

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    1. Thank you, Neil. I actually hesitated to hit "publish" on this post because I was afraid it would come across as looking for praise. I sure hope it didn't read like that! I wanted to talk about my work as GAL because it's still so new and interesting to me.

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  12. Among my friends are two married couples who adopted a total of 3 babies of drug addicted mothers. These infant girls were abandoned at the hospital --the eldest, 7 years ago. I know a little of what they go through to escape the drugs absorbed during gestation. I've learned about the sleepless nights and all the fears and worries. For that and all the healing Little B's grandparents have helped with, I consider them heroes. I have known heroes. You're quite a GAL, yourself.

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  13. Thank goodness for those grandparents. I hope the boy doesn't have any lasting issues stemming from his mother's addiction problems. And thank goodness for YOU, being willing to take on the responsibility for helping out!

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