Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grandmother barred from looking after her grand-daughter by hostile Missouri officials

The mother of the girl is a druggie so is no help -- but the grandmother is perfectly competent and respectable

Janet’s most-pressing concern is the fight to keep her granddaughter, a little girl for whom she’s been the primary caregiver during most of early life, from being placed up for adoption — possibly by total strangers. In less than 10 days, a court hearing could determine whether or not she succeeds in the fight that begun in earnest 15 months ago.

Almost five years ago, Janet convinced her daughter and the biological father of her granddaughter to sign a document that, after being notarized and filed with the court, would have given her legal guardianship of her granddaughter. While the document was notarized, Janet never filed it. Why? Because she was holding out hope that her daughter would change her ways. But she didn’t.

During the early morning hours of a Thursday during the summer of 2010, police officers and paramedics responded to news of a person lying on the ground in front of an apartment building in the St. Louis suburb of University City. Upon arrival, they found a woman unresponsive and barely breathing. It was Janet’s daughter, the 26-year-old mother of a beautiful little girl. She had overdosed on heroin.

The overdose occurred on one of those rare occasions when Janet was not watching her granddaughter and the little girl was being cared for by someone else inside her mother’s home.

As soon as Janet found out about the overdose, she picked up her granddaughter and took her home, fully expecting she would soon become the girl’s full-time guardian until her daughter was able to care for her again after completing rehab.

A hearing was held two days later and, not surprisingly, Janet’s drug-addicted daughter was angry at her mom and didn’t want her child to go with Janet, the responsible parent against whom she liked to lash out, especially when she was in trouble. And she was in trouble.

Perhaps due to Janet’s daughter’s outbursts during the hearing, custody of Janet’s granddaughter went to another woman, the grandmother of Janet’s daughter’s other child by a different father — a woman acting as a foster parent who is not a blood relative of Janet’s granddaughter. This occurred despite the fact that the judge had allowed Janet to intervene early in the case and said placement of the child with her was NOT contrary to the best interest of the child.

The emergency petition to take the granddaughter into state care was falsified and not warranted, Janet said, since she had had her granddaughter for several days after her daughter’s overdose and had ensured she was safe and well-cared for.

By granting temporary custody of Janet’s granddaughter to someone other than a blood relative (i.e., Janet), Children’s Division appears to have violated Missouri law (Section 210.305, RSMo) which requires the agency to give preference and first consideration for foster care placement to grandparents of a child.

I used the word, “appears,” because there is a loophole in the law that allows Children’s Division to avoid placing a child with a grandparent if they deem such placement as being “contrary to the welfare of the child.”

Children’s Division workers who opt for the loophole must, according to the statute, document in writing why the child was not placed with grandparent. In this case, however, they did not conduct a home study or background check on Janet and, as a result, had nothing upon which to base their decision. Apparently, they simply decided that her grandparent status didn’t matter. Falsified reports by Children’s Division workers and the deputy juvenile officer assigned to the case followed to hinder Janet’s efforts to save her granddaughter.

Three months after the little girl was placed with the foster parent, the Family Court judge in charge of the case said Janet should have immediate access to her granddaughter if she passed a drug test. Interestingly, she passed the drug test as well as five other blood and hair-follicle tests during the past year. Inexplicably, the foster parent never had to take a blood test. In addition, Janet had to undergo a psychological evaluation which the foster parent did not.

Despite the judge’s directive and the fact that Janet passed the drug and psych test hurdles, access to her granddaughter continued to be blocked by the foster parent. No birthdays. No holidays. And, for the first time ever, no Christmas morning celebration. As a result, Janet’s granddaughter’s life changed dramatically.

Since being taken from Janet, the trips the gifted child enjoyed with her — to the zoo, theater and symphony — have not happened. Her other regular activities, including swimming lessons, dance, music and art classes, ended as well.

Over the summer, the little girl spent more than 12 hours a day in daycare, arriving at 6 a.m. and leaving at 6 p.m. daily. This fall, despite objections from Janet and from officials at the girl’s school, the judge allowed her to miss several weeks of school so she could travel with the foster parent to a far-away state.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

No comments: