On November 22nd my attorney and I made the first of our many court appearances: to contest a Juvenile Dependency Petition. Prior to this horrific afternoon my only exposure to the number ‘300’ was a gladiator movie released several years ago. Mr. Attorney warned me it would not be pleasant– we’d each receive a packet detailing my offenses several minutes before setting foot into the courtroom– and I honestly cannot express the anguish in words. Said packet more closely resembled an encyclopedia than a collection of documents and it was the most biased, factually inaccurate, and damning material I’ve ever seen in my life. It was as if [forgive this terrible analogy] I received notification that my parents, Maris, and Danielle were on a plane….that crashed with zero survivors. The floor dropped out from beneath me. I’ll be physically sick if I discuss it anymore.
The ‘Parent Partner’
My only reasoning for mentioning the absolute worst day of my life is to share with you a rather interesting exchange. Despite our arrival over half an hour early– and the fact that we were sitting in a very visible spot– nobody [with the exception of the clerk who handed us our respective packets] ever approached us. Yet the moment Mr. Attorney steps into the restroom, a woman materializes from thin air and takes a seat next to me. She introduced herself, gave me her card and brochure, and sympathetically told me that she’s been in my position and knew what I was going through. Immediately the warning signs started flashing in my head as her information clearly stated that she was a ‘Parent Partner’ WITH Child Welfare Services. What a relief! So you’re not the Gestapo but you still take orders from the SS, fair enough. I politely engaged her in conversation knowing that Mr. Attorney would be very interested in our discussion upon his return. He immediately asked who she was and received the card and pamphlet as well. While I didn’t openly deny her services it was apparent I wouldn’t be putting her on speed dial. She disappeared. We took note of the organization after the ‘with’ on her brochure and he reminded me that this person was not my friend and I was to never contact her.
Our 300 petition in San Luis Obispo was conveniently scheduled at the same exact time as the hearing for my temporary restraining order in Paso Robles– even though CPS had known for days we were on the docket for the TRO [there was proof of service from both Will and CPS]– so we immediately returned to my neck of the woods after scheduling a hearing in juvenile court. Imagine my surprise when I see my potential ‘partner’ waltz in….with Will. Did I miss something? Not only did she actually accompany him to court but she tried to speak on his behalf as if she was his attorney.
Can we say conflict of interest?
Please enlighten me as to how this works. She’d obviously made previous arrangements to be Will’s ‘partner’ so how exactly was she hoping to escape the ethical conundrum associated with being a ‘partner’ to us both? We’re not a happily married couple acting as a united front to get our child back…he has no problem whatsoever telling blatant lies and to this day he’ll bash me to anyone who will listen. It is a huge conflict of interest to think that she could represent us both. What if I’d actually said yes?! This entire system is so disgusting. Perhaps that’s why I’m a pariah and Will’s a saint [he’s not glorified but they certainly don’t mention anything negative about him], because of this spectacular ‘partnership.’ I’m not drinking their Kool Aid. Let’s take a look at what I would have gained had I agree to these services.
“About Parent Partners – We understand that this is an extremely difficult and overwhelming time in your life. We are here to help you:”
- Understanding the process of what is going on [I’ll give them credit on that one– if I didn’t have an attorney I wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to what’s happening so that’s definitely a positive aspect of their group]
- Help you move forward with the next step [Is this before or after you report back to the social worker?]
- Offer resources for services in your community [Again, credit for this one. Though I would be highly skeptical of any ‘services’ as it forever ties you to the system]
- Stand beside you as a mentor and peer [I’d prefer my mentors to have integrity and professionalism versus being sneaky and operating with the knowledge of an obvious conflict of interest.]
- Attend meetings with you for support [Excuse me?! You can attend a meeting with me but my attorney can’t?!?!]
- Help with transportation to and from meetings or appointments [To set the stage for more hearsay dialogue?]
- Connect you to other support groups [I sincerely doubt there is a support group that could adequately address my issues with this process. Maybe the Supreme Court?]
I will NEVER stop speaking about my ordeal until somebody investigates it thoroughly and comprehensively…and does the same for all cases. Maybe one day I’ll even start an organization similar to ‘Parent Partners’ that doesn’t answer to CPS and actually advocates on behalf of parents– and more importantly the best interests of the children afflicted in these situations.
Does anyone recall a little boy named Adam?
Although I just devoted significant space to expressing legal frustrations, I truly feel as though I am one of only a small handful of people who care about Adam’s best interests. I’ve been told by CPS they don’t care to do any further investigation because they “have their proof” nor do they have any desire to tell Adam why his parents aren’t around, which is just cruel. I could sit here and write paragraph after paragraph about the injustices against my son….yet I think the examples I use speak loudly and clearly.
How does Will factor into all of this?
I’ve refrained from speaking of him as much as possible– and I just can’t stay silent anymore. So many people inquire as to whether or not he makes me angry. Aside from kicking me and calling me despicable names in front of our son, nothing he has done angered me. Instead he is a giant disappointment.
The power to make this nightmare end for our son rested solely in Will’s hands. What did he do with that tremendous opportunity? Squandered it. We could have sent Adam back home to the loving grandparents who helped me raise him. Yet he’d much rather see his child subjected to the endless loop of the system than to do the right thing. In his eyes, placement of Adam with my parents is a victory to me meaning a loss for him. Regardless of anything he says or does from this point forward he has made it abundantly clear his parenting approach. It’s not an Adam-centric one as mine is….yet one that focuses on Mommy bashing and hoping the rest falls into place.
Will sent an email to our CPS worker. It speaks volumes and I’ll break it down by sentence:
- Sloane’s a terrible person.
- Why is she persecuting me?
- Please help me stop her from persecuting me!
- My ‘parent partner’ says Sloane’s a terrible person too.
- Oh and by the way– first mention of Adam– I’d like to see him more than once a week.
- I want to be allowed at family functions so technically I can be around Adam but I won’t have to spend time because he’ll be playing in the backyard with his older cousins.
- The “S.S. has the power to” let me around Adam more. [Even he knows the role of the Third Reich!]
- My public defender says Sloane sucks too and needs to be informed that the domestic violence charges will be dropped per “Marcy’s Law” [Personally I’m going with my Victim Witness advocate who answers directly to the D.A. and says this isn’t the case. Furthermore, Marsy’s Law: ” This measure amends the state constitution and various state laws to (1) expand the legal rights of crime victims and the payment of restitution by criminal offenders, (2) restrict the early release of inmates, and (3) change the procedures for granting and revoking parole” says Wikipedia. So basically I benefit from this?]
- Sloane’s an awful mother and human being and you are forgetting this!
- “I miss my lil dude….and this just sucks.”
I understand that we arrived in California together. Yet it is an egregious error to assume that Will was anything but an absentee parent with little to no interest in Adam from June ’08-March ’11. He never paid a dime in child support nor made any attempts to visit his son. The few times they talked on the phone happened only because I called and begged him to talk to Adam. What a damn fool I was to think that we could be a ‘happy family.’ I let the idea of a nuclear family with Mommy and Daddy and two children cloud my rational judgement and I will spend the rest of my life regretting this.
With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,