My second husband left me in the summer of 2004. Soon after, I realized that due to my mental disabilities and my emotional instability, that I would not at the time be able to take care of my boys all by myself.
Map of Tennessee highlighting Rutherford County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I moved in with a friend in Rutherford County, TN. She had children who were about the same age as mine, and she and I had been friends for years. Soon after I moved in with her and her family, I got a job. While I worked, she kept my children, even if I had to work a double or triple shift.
We got into a routine and it felt like everything was going smoothly. I had become more emotionally stable and even had enough money saved up that I was finally thought I was going to be able to move my kids and I into our own place. The next thing I knew, my life was being ripped from me. A friend of mine had given birth to my goddaughter, so I got the boys ready and took them with me to Clarksville to see her. When we arrived back home, my roommate informed me that DCS had been to the house and had told her that all three of us (my friend, her husband, and me) had to be at their office in the morning for a meeting and that we had to have our children with us. It turns out that they had received a call that she had abused one of her children. Anyone who had seen my children would be able to tell that they weren’t abused, but they still insisted that I had to be there.
What occurred at the meeting and afterwards was absolutely shocking. They had not received any complaints about my children or me, but yet, they still had to label me as if I was a horrible mother. JUST BECAUSE I LIVED WITH THE PERSON THEY HAD GOTTEN A CALL ABOUT, and even though I had made sure to tell them and show them that I had enough money to move us out, Rutherford County, TN DCS decided that they had to take my children from me and throw me in jail!!!!!
What’s worse? 1.My friend’s husband got out on bail without paying anything up front AND wasn’t there more than two days, AND 2. My friend got out on an O.R. bond a few days before I did! I was stuck in what most people just call “940” for 33 days.
Oh wait, it gets worse!
Now remember: I had done nothing wrong. My children were not abused, there were no complaints about me, I had a steady job, and I had enough money to move us out.
English: Rutherford County Courthouse, Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had been appointed a horrible criminal lawyer. When I finally found out what my actual charges were, I about died. I was being charged with neglect. I obviously was not guilty, but the lawyer, who was supposed to be on my side, was either lazy or she was assuming that I was actually guilty. The woman told me that it would only make things worse if I plead not-guilty. She said that the State would only drag it out as long as they could and would use my mental disabilities against me to prove me unfit. She also told me that if I did that instead of just pleading guilty, that my kids would only be in foster care longer, which would make it harder for me to get them home. So I did the stupid thing and listened to her. I plead guilty so I could hurry up and get my babies home.
Oh, I’m not even close to done.
I began working on the family plan so I could just get them home. I went above and beyond. I tried to do everything I could possibly do to make sure I got my babies, and they just kept telling me it wasn’t good enough and piled on more and more. You know, I thought losing the man who had been my first real love was hard mentally and emotionally when he left the summer before, but this definitely took its toll on me. The more I was told my babies couldn’t come home, the more it broke me. Not only was I also a foster child and knew what it was like, but I was also still suffering from PTSD that began when I was a child. I began having a minimum of five panic attacks a day. The harder I tried, the more they told me no. I was a total and complete mess.
It still doesn’t stop there.
Right around January of 2006, I was told that my children had been in custody for too long. They told me if I didn’t give up my parental rights, that they were just going to take them from me. I was told by Rutherford County DCS that I had to make the choice. I really should have known better since I wasn’t given a deadline to decide. I should have know since I was in custody almost my whole teen-aged life.
Length of stay in U.S. foster care (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
That is exactly where they used my disabilities against me to manipulate me.
If I really look at it in a completely clear view, I guess they seriously coerced me into making the hardest/worst decision of my whole life. Since they had made it very clear it was already a done deal, the only reason I didn’t make them take me to court to in order to take my rights was because they told me that if they took my rights, the files would be sealed forever, but if I signed them over, the files would be unsealed as soon as my children reached a specific age, and as long as I kept the records up to date, they would be able to find me. In a nutshell, they promised me a reunion. They promised me that I would be able to have them come home someday, but that if I didn’t do it willingly, I’d never see them again.