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Update on Tanisha: We won!!

Thanks be to God!

We went to the hearing yesterday, ready for DFCS to throw the book at her.  Since they hadn't given her a petition beforehand, and there were no business hours between the removal and the hearing, we had no idea what the allegations were.  We were ready for them to dredge up anything and everything.

After opening with, "This is a woman with a long history with us, so for the sake of the children to avoid what's an ongoing pattern of harm with her, we recommend they be taken under the protective custody of the state" (sorry if my legalese is off), here's what they had:
1) child with Cerebal Palsy is severely malnourished
2) children have been taken by DFACS before (once, when CP first began)
3) mother grew up in DFACS

They made a request to remove all children and move toward permanent termination of rights of all children.

The public defender didn't think we had any chance of getting the healthy children back today.  He suggested taking the Child Advocate's offer of getting the older three back (who could speak for themselves and not only backed up everything Tanisha said, including the CP child's medical care, regular feeding, and safe & happy home, but also begged to go home to their mother and siblings (the boys and girls were in separate foster homes)).  But my dh came up with a plan of defense that he related to the attorney, and also implemented himself in an amazing trip to the witness stand. 

By the time he finished, it was clear that Tanisha has a support network of people who are both dedicated and able to help her, is a loving/attentive/nurturing/responsible mother with a full-time job, had the sick child under consistent medical care, and that although the child's condition is critical, her medical attendants were aware of and treating her condition.  He talked about how she enrolled the child in GA's program for small special-needs children and got a speech therapist coming in weekly to work with her on helping her to swallow.

When the DFCS attorney tried to question his reliability as someone who could oversee the family's future wellbeing, since we didn't report the child's condition, he stated that he is not a medical expert on what is and isn't normal with CP, but knew that medical experts were regularly attending to the child and trusted that they knew whether her condition was expected or not, and were treating it.

You see, the therapist had just seen S last Tuesday, and they said, "if her condition worsens before we come back, take her to the doctor ASAP."  It did, and after regular office hours, so Tanisha took her to the ER.  The ER called DFCS without checking the child's medical history, and DFCS made no effort to check on her medical history and care before taking her into custody.  They then took the rest of the children claiming they needed to give them a medical evaluation (they had just had one the previous Monday, and the older children were never, in fact, taken to a doctor over the weekend) - which they could have done with Tanisha standing by, and then returned them as soon as it as clear they were healthy and happy.

The judge was even and thoughtful - he weighed everything he heard, and stated his decision:  The older children have spoken for themselves, and will be returned.  The non-ill toddler and baby, although at greater risk for neglect (if risk exists) because of their age, are also at greater risk for harm from their mother, particularly the breastfed baby, because of that same age.  He ordered all the healthy ones returned that day, and set a date for a hearing on the seriously ill child 3 months from now, in order to give time to subpoena medical professionals, etc.

Dh urged the attorney to mention that the baby is breastfeeding, but the attorney said it wouldn't matter.  Dh mentioned it as part of the evidence of Tanisha's devoted mothering, and in the end, the judge cited it as very relevant.  I think it was part of the picture that was being painted of her as not just doing the minimum to keep the kids alive, but truly devoted to their well-being, even when it cost her greatly.

DFCS, no doubt, does much good work, and hard, grueling work.  But the protocol of taking children without first doing everything reasonably possible to see if it's necessary needs to be changed.  The harm to children from taking them from their families is so great that they should only be removed, even if only for the 72 hr period before a hearing, when imminent harm exists, and reasonable efforts have been made to get the full story when things appear bad at first glance.

The emotional harm to these children is as if they'd been kidnapped.  They hugged each other and their mother and wept at their reunification.

Thanks be to God!  Thank you for your prayers and thoughts and offers of support.  Please continue praying and thinking of the child with CP - she *is* seriously ill and remains in ICU.  She is also all alone until Tanisha's visitation is restored.  Pray for Tanisha's strength and discernment, give thanks for the fair-minded judge, and join me in working for a change working for a change in DFCS protocol.  

I'm still raising money to buy a barebones, good-shape car.  I have one available from a homeschool friend and need just $400 more to buy it.  Tanisha can afford the insurance and gas, just can't put aside money to save for the car.  For those who have emailed or commented offering support, if you'd like to help in this way, or with grocery cards or some of the other wonderful ideas you've had, you can PM me through TBW or MDC or email.  If you came to this site another way and would like to help, leave a comment and I'll think of a way to get in touch.  Right now I'm thinking that everyone came through one of those forums and should be able to contact me directly that way.

This has been a team effort from beginning to end.  It was by no means just me & dh there with her yesterday.  It was everyone of you who have supported us through your prayers, good wishes, goods, and means.

Thank you!!!



( 1 comment — Comment )
Nov. 10th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
Lizette in Canada
I don't know if you'll think this is ridiculous, but have you thought about contacting Oprah and her Angel network? I think this story would interest them a great deal.

Incredible that it is easier to rip apart a family rather than give them the tools to succeed.

You are in my prayers, and I will be thanking God tonight that some of these children are back with their mom.
( 1 comment — Comment )


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