Our battle for our Grandson - Continuation!
We may not have won the battle but I think we have won the war!
THIS IS A REPEATED POST FROM THE END OF NOVEMBER. The whole post from it's beginning in October, was removed by Garden Web including the continuation of the original that I posted in October (telling the story and posting pictures of our grandson).
The second installment was a report after the November 22/23rd trial in Edmonton, Alberta. It was inadvertanly removed by by Garden Web (aftr I asked them if they would mind removing a minute part of my post as I had named somebody whose name I realized should not have been made public (the foster care "Mum") I guess I did it without thinking, so tried to get that part of my post only, taken away. So was disappointed, after my specific instructions, that they removed everything including my original post and pictures of our grandson that I had put up!.............never mind, back to the beginning of our 2nd court appearances for anyone who may be interested I apologise ahead for it being so long, and I do not blame anyone if they cannot find the time for this.
Ever heard people say, "that it all depends on the judge"! Well they got that right! Much to our disappointment, there was a different judge again, an older guy, seemed a bit arrogant. After first appearing and hearing the opening speeches from the various counsel, he proceeded to say, "you mean the grandparents wont take BOTH children"?? We knew by the subsequent comments from him that we were in for a tough ride. He also said "now what if we never bothered with this to-day, what do you think would happen"?. I felt like saying, "what the bloody hell are we all here for"?.
I found out later that our lawyer at this point was going to withdraw and insist on taking it to a higher court because he was disgusted at the judges attitude who had not yet read any of the affidavits or knew anything of the whole concept of the case. All counsel got up and argued their piece then the judge more or less said that he would adjourn and take time to read through the affidavits etc. so adjourned for 45 minutes.
He did come back with a different attitude mentioning that it was a tough case and everything about us was positive but he did not want to separate the siblings.
I was called to the stand first and as terrified as I had been, you would have been very proud of me I am sure, as later everyone complimented me and said I had done a good job, imagine that, when I have such a tough time speaking out in public -
I was cross-examined by three lawyers. I was dreading Renee's lawyer, but it went very well and she was very respectful, which surprised me. She threw questions at me, like what grade is Ryan in, does he have any allergies etc, lots of little tricky ones and I never faltered with the answers. Even some questions from the judge also.
Alan was next but for a much shorter period, you see, the affidavit was mine, but he signed it as a co-applicant that he was in agreement with the sworn affidavit.
The inspector and a case worker were also called to the stand, to speak about the children and Renee and our involvement in it all and how Ryan cried for a full 20 minutes after we first called him at the foster home because he was missing us.
At this point I should tell you that we became more shocked from the appointment we had withh our lawyer the day before, until the trial was over. Apparently, they only apprehend children from their home in extremely bad circumstances. Well it went way beyond what we originally thought. Renee is accused of child neglect, using and dealing drugs, involved with Hells Angels, prostitution, and close your eyes, if you want to ----------------- a stabbing at her place in which someone was killed - SO HELP ME GOD!
Other things that were brought up about the mother, Renee, were that she had failed to make any of the three psychological assessments that were set up for her. She only made half of the supervised visits with the boys at a neutral destination. The kids were very upset on the days that she did not show up. She also missed some drug analysis testing, three were clear and two were no-shows.
Court was for the whole day on Tuesday but I could see that it was not really going in our favour. One thing we learned from this, was discovering that the children are not based in a "temporary" foster home which we have always been led to believe, but they can stay there indefinitely!!! Anyway, the judge like the others, did not want to make a decision and said that he was going to go home and sleep on it, afterwhich, he would be able to give us a verdict, informing us that he wanted to see us all in court the next morning at 9:00. He had another case at 09:30 in another court room.
That evening, we went to the foster care people's home for supper and to spend some time with Ryan, they invited us before we left Nanaimo, and said they would be honoured to have us. We were really touched. No one else is allowed to have their address or phone number - even their names are not allowed to be given out. Renee's visits with the children are supervised and at a neutral place. She or her family do not know where the children are at, but children's services are trusting us with this information. Anyhow, we met the people the last time and they are really, really nice. They came and picked us up after court, from the hotel, a 40 minute drive from where they live into the city with four of the children and provided us with a with a wonderful supper.
We told her that we did not feel that it had gone that well in court that day. She was really surprised she had all Ryan's clothes etc up-to-date and ironed in case he was going to be going back home with us. She said that the law now is preferring to put children in the care of family members, as they feel it works out better for them, "naturally" belonging and being in a more stable environment than a lot of foster homes, as this is has proving more often than not to be in the clhild's best interest.
But I guess it is very difficult for a judge to make that decision to separate them. Anyway, I knew I would be meeting Richard for the first time since he was a baby. I had a gift for both Ryan and Richard of cute soft toy dogs, (both different) very soft and cuddly. Richard is undoubtedly very cute - a stocky little fellow with a husky little voice that does not shut up, but the funny thing is, well maybe NOT funny, is he is very difficult to understand, so he will definitely need some speech therapy. He calls Sharon (the foster care mum) "Mum", but undoubtedly, he is, all that we said, a real handful. I saw that ALL Ryan's toys/and some other belongings of his were on top of a kitchen cupboard, out of Richard's way. Three of the other children showed us marks on their face on arms where Richard had attacked them with his nails.
But you know, nobody in court admitted Richard had problems, the caseworker there who was new, was not there from the beginning, had only met him once. She just went on about how adorable he is and how much he loves Ryan and was always by his side when being interviewed. Even Sharon the fostercare mum, said she was not with him long enough, and Richard just saw someone new who was going to give him lots of attention.
We bonded with Sharon and Rob's kids, their own two girls were so outgoing and a lot of fun, the next two were siblings permanent foster children which they have had since the children were two. The little girl, same age as one of her girls was very sweet, the boy who is 11/12 is challenged in that he is a few years behind in age, but a quiet pleasant kid that seemed to be side by side with Ryan in what they were doing. Apparently they had another long term foster set of siblings - first nations, and after 8 years, the band insisted on having them back!
Back to court the next day. The judge started with us, and how great we seemed and all the rest of it, then went on about the kids how they have been together since birth, and that Richard, besides his mum who he has been taken away from, only has Ryan, he has no father in his life and no grandparents. etc.etc.
Have to say, it really is a sad story. It was also brought up that Ryan is parenting Richard, but who is parenting Ryan? We feel, he needs that too. Anyway, I definitely feel that Ryan is holding a lot on his shoulders!
It too was brought up by the inspector and the case worker how articulate they believe Ryan to be and how smart and polite that they think the mother has done a good job, somehow!........................and of course we do agree with that and cannot take that away from her for all her misgivings.
Well, believe it or not, my friends - a lot of good has come out of this. We may not have been awarded guardianship and parenting, at the moment, but we have been given a lot of rights, more that we have ever had before. The court have agreed to us having much more freedom with Ryan for instance they have said he can come to us for a week in the Christmas holidays, we agreed from Boxing Day on, did not want to push it. Which is good for us, as we will be on the mainland at Lou's on Christmas Day, staying over so can pick him up from the airport and have another Christmas just for him at Lou's with his cousins, then he will come back to us for a week.! The Children's service will pay half of his fare. (big unexpected bonus) He is also entitled to come out to us in the Spring Break and a few weeks in the summer. So our access will be even more than we have now, we are really happy with the place he is staying, especially knowing that it could be long term, and above all, it sure as hell beats what he had before with his mother.
Also the judge in his closing speech, looked over to Ryan Snr. Renee's brother, who has attended every court hearing and said, I see that the brother has been here all the time, and I implore you to encourage your sister to smarten up, and do what the court recommends.
Then he turned to Renee, and literally gave her hell like you would never believe. Told her that if she missed any of the visits with her children, missed any psychological assessments or drug tests, then she was in big danger of losing the children permanently, and that if necessary, they WOULD be separated.
Imagine her lawyer saying - and even the Judge picked up on it, that this is ONLY the FIRST time that the children have been apprehended. My lawyer got up their quick and said, but your honour, there has been a global warrant out for her arrest from when she was in Nanaimo where the children were to be apprehended then. She slipped through the system. So I guess certainly, theoretically, this was NOT the first time!!
Anyway, guys, that's the report. but you have to read between the lines too, it was so much more complex than I can ever write. It was very mentally exhausting. I could not believe this was happening.
Anyhow, the summary: After a day of wondering what really happened, somehow, believing we had lost the case, then it struck. Hey NOT!! Things are going to be so much better now. Ryan and Richard are together. They are in a really nice place, Richard in play school - never had contact with other children before. Ryan is doing well at his new school and they are both well fed and with a wonderful family. We have even more rights than we did before with Ryan and get to be more involved as grandparents.
It is still not over. They still want us to have the home visit in case some things go wrong and if they are in a difficult position again for whatever reason, they know they have grandparents that are there for Ryan.
There is something called for by the judge, named a JDR (Judicial Dispute Resolutiion) which we probably will need to attend and that will be in the form of a meeting with the judge, all counsel, Renee, the Children's Service people and I think even the Foster care people. The judge has also called for counsel for Ryan. I do not think this is necessary, but our lawyer says the judge has ordered it so we can not do anything about it.
Anyway, it is over for now, yet it still is not over.
...........and still summarizing. We have no regrets and despite our first feelings of thinking we have lost, well you know, decidedly we are ahead for now and are feeling a big relief. Also at this time, we do not have the responsibility of becoming parents again, just the niceties of being Nana and Poppa which is what we really want.
Thanks again all for your terrific support and for those who have also e-mailed me private. It has been very much appreciated and ment a lot.
Anyway we will be back in Edmonton to attend the JDR. That is scheduled for 13t March.....and round that time, I will bring you more up-to-date on what has happened since November.
Will keep in touch
Sorry this is so long.
Pauline - Vancouver Island