Many have noted that I’ve had some serious personal troubles lately and I am going to share right now. My parents and I have been fighting to save my 6-year-old nephew from an abusive home life but we failed in our bid for guardianship. We’re out of money and need a new attorney to file a retrial as well as petition for grandparent’s rights. But the cold hard truth is we’re tapped out. We spent $10,000, which included hiring a private investigator, and we have nothing to show for it — not because we didn’t have evidence — but because the judge found the evidence irrelevant to our case.
Here was my original Facebook post, written with tears streaming down my face, at 3 a.m. after losing in court in June 14, 2013.
The word for the day: Relevance.
That was the objection for every point of evidence brought to the court.
Let me share a story about relevance and how it made the life of one little 6-year-old boy IRRELEVANT.
• When he was six months old, his mother was found walking with him in 30-degree weather in the snow, while he was wearing only a diaper and a thin t-shirt. His little toes were blue and his body was chilled to the bone.
• When he was three years old, my mother (his grandmother) rushed him to the doctor’s office because when he urinated, a thin, ropey substance came out. The doctor’s diagnosis: extreme dehydration and malnourishment and his tiny body was literally digesting itself in an attempt to stay alive. Reported to CPS but no action taken.
• When patches of his hair were missing from his scalp, it was blamed on a bad haircut even though it was apparent the hair had been ripped from the root.
• Puncture wounds on his arms and bruises on his legs were reported to CPS but no action taken.
• His maternal uncle slaughtered his pet rabbit in front of him as a punishment and to keep him quiet about abuse.
• A court order states his maternal uncle is to stay away from the boy, and yet, he “visits” the residence where the boy is living. Not important.
• The court has previously ordered a hair follicle test for the mother and father. To date, no compliance and no action taken by the court.
• The court has previously ordered counseling for the boy. To date, no compliance and no action taken by the court.
• Until recently, the boy slept on the stairs or the floor because he didn’t have a bed and would often go to school wearing clothes two sizes two big or small. Not important.
• He was failing the first grade. Not important.
• He was left multiple times at the bus stop —forgotten — so that the school had to call my mother to come get him. Not important.
• He shakes and flinches around adults. Not important.
• His father’s girlfriend attacked him with scissors during a domestic violence event. Not important because the charges were later dismissed because his father recanted.
• The father and mother both have suspended driver’s licenses; neither hold jobs. The father has openly admitted to selling marijuana to supplement his income. Not important.
• Prior criminal history, which includes acts of violence, was deemed unremarkable.
• In an entire year, the boy didn’t gain a single pound, remaining a frail 32 pounds but in the two weeks he was in the custody of his paternal grandmother he gained 7 pounds from regular meals. Not important.
• The father was seen by multiple witnesses being abusive, jerking the boy around and screaming at him for daring to be happy to see his paternal grandmother, at a school event and nothing was said or done by any of the mandatory reporters.
• The school is mandated by state law to record all calls made in regards to the child’s health and welfare in his cume file and yet, the school admitted that “they don’t do that.” So, when it came time to show the court, when such instances happened, there was no record.
• The father has never participated in the child’s financial responsibility; his only enjoyment of being a father was delivering discipline and terrorizing the child. Not important.
• The mother is dying of lupus and cannot see to her child’s care. Not important.
• The maternal step-grandfather is growing an illegal amount of marijuana in his home, exposing the child to substances the court has ordered him to be free from. Can’t prove it.
• The father has proven to be hateful, spiteful, and cruel to the child when it suits him and when he wants to punish his parents for imagined slights. Not important.
• The court investigator, whom the court cannot (and will not) provide documentation as to her credentials, did not actually visit the maternal grandparent’s home where the child was living, nor did she visit the facility where the mother is currently residing to determine if she’s competent to make decisions for the child. She also found the father’s house, dirty, yet sufficient. Apparently broken glass from shattered windows and dog feces everywhere is an acceptable environment for a child. (Would she allow her children or grandchildren to live there? Not likely.)
• This is how kids fall through the cracks of the very system created to protect them. The judge in this case didn’t feel any of the previous family law history was relevant to the guardian case, in spite of the fact that all of the above statements pointed to a history of abuse and potential detriment to the child. In the end, one 6-year-old child was found to be IRRELEVANT in the eyes of the court.
When it’s all said and done, we’ll have spent $10,000 to protect a child from the people who are hurting him and now, the court system that failed him.
There is no greater pain than that of being forced to hand over a small, shaking and sobbing child who, wailing asks in total terror, “Do I have to live with them forever?” and having no choice but to give him back to the very people who are destroying him.
This was not a case of two sets of grandparents fighting over a child. This is one set of grandparents who’ve actively lied and cheated, taken advantage of the system, mocked and provoked the other side to the point of insanity and another set of grandparents who are just trying to keep their grandson safe and healthy.
The system is irrevocably broken and the path is stained with the blood of every innocent it fails.
To the judge: it is fortunate for you that the judge presiding over your bid for guardianship for your grandchildren did not see fit to find your flesh and blood IRRELEVANT. If only we’d been so similarly fortunate.
The message is loud and clear. One small boy, who has no control over who is in his life or how he is treated, doesn’t matter in the eyes of the court.
To the people who’ve been fighting the lies, the ignorance, and the courts — he means everything.
I want the world to hear this cry of pain because that’s all we’ve been left with. Please like or share. Spread this message so that the world might weep with us. Maybe that’s how we can make real change before it’s too late.
Now we are fundraising to hire a new attorney. If it’s in your heart to share the link or donate, you would have my gratitude but far more important, you would be helping a small boy who can’t help himself.
Here is our GoFundMe link:
Alexx Andria/Kimberly Van Meter