"The history of the juvenile Court system has demonstrated that "unbridled discretion, however benevolently motivated, is frequently a poor substitute for principle and procedure," and that "the admonition to function in a `parental' relationship is not an invitation to procedural arbitrariness."-Justice Abe Fortas, In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 18, 30 (1967)
I want to begin by thanking you for reading this article. I was told that publicity about this might help move the situation forward, and I know little about how to achieve that. On the subject I am bringing forward, I have much wariness and hesitation to write about. I also feel that all the effort and expenses we have accrued are not being recognized, and my fiancé’s case will be lost.
From the beginning, I want you to understand that I have only been involved with my fiancé for only a year and a half. I was not present from the beginning, but I am aware of most aspects of this case. The reason I am contacting you is because My Fiance and myself have been striving to regain custody of her children from DHHS.
When I first met My Fiance, she had moved up here based upon the promises of a High School friend to help her get on her feet and create a home for her children.
Unfortunately, the outcome was drastically severe.His mother and he told My Fiance that if she did not want her children to live on the street, she better give him what he wants, when he wants it. This went so far as to include her body. She relayed an instance where she and her children were not allowed to eat because she denied this man sexual gratification.She and her children were kept in a tent, not allowed to have contact outside of those approved by her boyfriend, and the pair had called DHHS to have her kids taken away.
You can read about it here:https://daniel-slack.newsvine.com/_news/2016/10/30/36283440-mainely-love-beginning-an-adventure-chapter-1
For almost 2 years, My Fiance and myself have been officially together. We have had our share of ups and downs. She has shared with me the time when my career path seemed clear, and saw my misery when I had to choose between having a home and having a job.
I do understand the reasoning for taking her children away, but what I do not understand is why DHHS allowed My Fiance to stay in this unsafe situation to begin with, but I am getting off the topic of what I am writing about….
My Fiance and myself have been working hard to reach and surpass the goals that DHHS had expressed, not just for My Fiance to regain her Children back, but also to be able to provide a safe, nurturing, and respectable environment. I invite anyone to come to our Apartment and take a look at what we accomplished
I had purposely chosen Camden because one of her children is special needs, and Camden has a most excellent school system. Besides that, there are tutoring programs we can take advantage of from the Montessori Program to the Wayfinder School. Though Camden can be problematic financially, the advantages for my family make it worth the expense.The DHHS Worker in Charge had told us in February 2016 that once we had a stable home environment for the children I would finally be allowed into their lives. Considering what we have done for the reunification process, I have yet to be brought into the picture;
- I had already taken all the available parenting classes in a "Real Class" setting. DHHS Worker in Charge has the documentation of my parenting classes, I have just been waiting to get them back from her. I have over 20 Credit Hours in the actual classroom setting. This was before she even made the request for me to do so.
- I had initiated Counseling at the suggestion of DHHS Worker in Charge , in August. I have a copy of the letter written by my therapist, a competent and logical man with over 30 years in practice. My Therapist is certified as a Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MS, MSW, LCSW. I have been incredibly candid with him.
- My Fiance has been followed by My Fiance’s Therapist, a licensed counselor, for a while.
- My Fiance has used her case manager, My Fiance’s Case Manager, to find services that both she and her children would benefit from
Come, look at our house. That did not happen by accident. All our furniture was bought from my own money, not from donations, or even Goodwill. This could not happen if I was using drugs. This could not happen if I was mentally unprepared. It did not happen because of My Fiance's Social Security Settlement, that went to her car.
She has had a hard life and she is still adapting to a man who treats her with respect. I have never manipulated her for sex. In fact, we are waiting until our marriage vows to fulfill that role. She has even stated that no man has ever treated her as precious and as valuable as I have.
Of course, there are mental health consequences from the situation she was involved in, but in our short time together, I have seen that a stable home environment has really made a difference in her life. She is not the same woman I met a year and a half ago. Everyone involved in her case, even DHHS, attests to this change. Its amazing how stability can change a person’s character.
If you were to witness last Christmas, you would see how I provided gifts for the children, we have receipts proving I spent $500 on the Children for Christmas, and the engagement ring is the first real diamond she ever received in her life. Unfortunately, I was not permitted to see the children's faces when they opened their mountain of presents. I was forced to sit in the parking lot at a ferry terminal and watch Netflix, instead of participating in the Christmas Celebration.
This home we created was a combination of our blood, sweat, and tears. From money saved when I was working that sustained us for a time, from help nonprofit organizations gave us to come up with a deposit for our apartment (Thank You Town Of Camden) and from our support net (many thanks to My Fiance’s Lawyer Wright, My Fiance’s Case Manager, My Fiance’s Therapist, and My Therapist), we have created a dynamic yet stable environment to raise my future Children in. We will continue to expand our resources, as needed, to create a successful family.
I submit that My Fiance and myself have jumped through the many hoops that DHHS has presented to us. The only issue at this point is the insistence of "Live Parenting Classes," which seems quite redundant due to the in home supports, like HTC In Home Therapist for Parents, that are and will be working with My Fiance and My Fiance’s son in regards to parenting a child with a disability.
So what is the hinderance, now, to either my inclusion to visits, or even furthering reunification? I have lost 100's of hours having to leave my own home, due to visitations. Even when I was sick with Bronchitis, even when I had sprained my knee, even when I was miserable with a stomach virus that had me vomiting everywhere, I was required to leave my own house.
Why does DHHS have the right to simply make and break agreements with no discourse on the matter? By what Right is my personal freedoms and rights being violated in my own home.
In fact, DHHS threats of taking away visitation entirely, had instilled fear of any visitors during her visitation times. DHHs threatened her when the Maid came to clean up her hotel room. DHHS actually cut off her visitation for a while when she called me, in need of silverware for the children's meals I had delivered to our abode. A DHHS Visitation Supervisor threatened to stop visitation when a UPS delivery truck came to deliver a package. DHHS threatened her, when our landlord wanted to come by to do a quick inspection and repair. DHHS hung this power over my Fiance's head mercilessly, including when they coerced her to allow her children to Belize with the Children's Foster Parents.
This issue no longer seems to be about the condition of the children's homelife, and more about some agenda that is required to stifle, dishearten, and defeat parents (and future parents) of children in DHHS custody.The only good I can say upon the matter is that it has become a "stress test" on My Fiance's and my relationship. We have endured homelessness, hotel living, building a home from scratch, while enduring the judgments of DHHS claiming that "they are unsure of her mental health or our relationship."
What is worse that there is no motivated recourse that we can go to in regards to the decisions making process that is being used. I had called DHHS in Augusta to try to get an answer on the illogical and sporadic consistency we are experiencing with this case.
The woman, who will remain nameless because I appreciate her candor, relayed this to me;
“Daniel, what you are going through is the status quo for my department. Reunification is expensive for the state to supervise. It is cheaper for the Maine to just keep the kids in the foster care system than to reunite families, and Maine receives a stipend form the federal government for every child in their care. When you put those to pieces together, then you will understand what you are facing. I wish I could help you more, but this is what you are dealing with.I wish you Good Luck.”
My Fiance's therapist told us that the children's foster mother called her this morning. It was a discussion about how the foster parent is petitioning to be a "person of note" in the case, so she could file a complaint against the Guardian ad Litem.
Understand that the relationship between My Fiance and the Foster Mother has been adversarial, at best. Being that those two parties have not often before made this contact, rather odd. Apparently, there is some situation developing between the Foster Parents and the Guardian ad Litem, and she wishes to change her status to do harm to his good reputation. That My Fiance should not object or worry because the foster parent believes My Fiance will get the kids back, this is just for the motion to elevate her status in some way so she can make a complaint.
In my deepest heart, I feel these kind of conversation breaks so many protocols. Confidentiality, Objectiveness, Professionalism, and many more.
After reviewing much of the records regards this case, I understand why the Foster Parents opinion of My Fiance would be stand offish, but here data was not accurate and was Dishonest:
- She was told that My Fiance was doing Cocaine, Pills, and other illicit substances.
- She was told that My Fiance has been receiving the son's, My Fiance’s son, Supplemental Security Income payments. (He was not awarded disability until after My Fiance’s son was taken into DHHS custody)
- We were also told by another party that DHHS did not believe that My Fiance could even achieve a stable environment to reunify with the children
Her understanding of the case was based upon lies about my fiance's situation, implied understandings and vague innuendos (Backhanded Comments) made by DHHS, I can distinctly recall on two occasions where I saw that exhibited during a Team Meeting, specifically.
From the beginning, there have been threats, innuendos and nuances concerning My Fiance's case (things we have heard directly):
- From DHHS Supervisors, she was told "We are going to make an example of you!" or "You have no say about your kids, unless we allow it!"
- From DHHS Workers, "If you don't allow the trip, it will make more work for me and my supervisors to find replacement home while their current foster parents are away. Besides, it would be safer for the kids to let your children go to Belize, then to let them stay where they do know anyone. You want your kids to be safe? You want to be a good mother?" (This was during the time that the daughter's father who lives in Florida was threatening to come to Maine and steal her daughter . The Foster Parents had scheduled a 2 week trip in Florida that took a cruise to Belize during Thanksgiving.)
- From DHHS Representatives telling me that the "hidden goal" of Child and Family Services IS to keep the children, it has less cost, fiscally.
- From her previous DHHS Case Manager, "You and your kids can stay in the tent, it will get you on section 8 quicker." (The old case manager was a friend of the host family)
- From the Foster Mother wanting to use this case against the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in whatever personal machinations she wishes to devise.
- From DHHS refusing any contact with her son, whom was hospitalized under questionable circumstances. When asked about this, the DHHS Supervisor’s response was; “You not permitted to have any contact with him, despite the court order to the contrary" DHHS has no consequences when they do not follow not just agreement they make, nor do they when they disregard court orders contrary to their whims.
When our case is all said and done, I wish there was a way I could help improve that system. There is no point to criticizing if I am not willing to try to do something about it.There is weird attitudes, weird actions, and weird politicking for whatever reason. It has led to causing alienation between the children and their mother, it has caused alienation between the foster mother and the children, it has caused alienation of almost everyone, all around, in one form or another.
And It Is The Children Who Are Paying For This!
The Case is Complex, Situations are Complex, Life is Complex, so why add more complexity?
What can I do to help DHHS work more efficiently for ALL Children's Sakes? I wish there was a department that handled average citizens who want to get involved in government departments, but don't know how. I would love to find a way to help with DHHS efficiency while improving how children are handled in their custody.
On 1-12-17, My Fiance's therapist told us that the children's foster mother called her this morning. It was a discussion about how the foster parent is petitioning to be a "person of note" in the case, so she could file a complaint against the Guardian ad Litem. Apparently there is some situation developing between the Foster Parents, DHHS, and the Guardian ad Litem, and she wishes to change her status to do harm to his good reputation. That My Fiance should not object or worry because the foster parent stated specifically:
"DHHS Worker in Charge told me that My Fiance will get the kids back, this is just for the motion to make a complaint."
In my deepest heart, I feel this kind of conversation breaks so many protocols. Confidentiality, Objectiveness, Professionalism, and many more.
Even today, when I got home, My Fiance had an interesting discussion with me concerning how DHHS Worker in Charge , is reinterpreting and retranslating the reports she is receiving from the Visit Supervisor.
On Tuesday, January 3rd, I bought My Fiance a birthday cake with candles. I was excited due to the fact that My Fiance was able to celebrate her birthday with her children.As is the common custom in most American households, My Fiance lit the candles of the birthday cake. Her children sang “Happy Birthday” to her and she blew out the candles.
When I returned, My Fiance told me how happy the children were to be able to celebrate their mother’s birthday. In fact, they had left a little late and I was able to speak with Visitation Supervisor, before they left.
The Visitation Supervisor relayed to me how proud she is at how My Fiance handled the birthday ritual. The Visitation Supervisor told me that My Fiance kept the children at a safe distance. Visitation Supervisor relayed how cautious My Fiance was to keep the time the candles were burning to a minimum. Visitation Supervisor was happy that the celebration was held responsibly.There were no issues, no worries, and no danger.
Today, I came home after My Fiance’s visitation (due to DHHS’s insistence that I still not be allowed around the children) and was told that DHHS Worker in Charge is purposefully trying to further damage her reputation in regards to her children. The Visitation Supervisor relayed information that is pertinent on how DHHS is handling the case.
The Visitation Supervisor told us that she had written a report telling how positive the birthday experience was.
The Visitation Supervisor had discovered that DHHS Worker in Charge had reinterpreted and presented the experience in a negative light, and she was VERY UNHAPPY how DHHS Worker in Charge had reinterpreted her positive report.
The Visitation Supervisor also insisted that she was going to talk to DHHS Worker in Charge on Monday about this situation.
Unfortunately, I believe that DHHS Worker in Charge ’s reinterpretation was discussed with the Guardian ad Litem. The Guardian ad Litem mentioned, during his visit in the home on Jan. 10, how inappropriate it was to be celebrating My Fiance’s Birthday with candles, due to the potential danger with fire. He insisted that we should have found another way.
My Fiance, the Visitation Supervisor, and I were shocked to hear the Guardian ad Litem criticize this celebration, regardless of how cautious My Fiance was with the Birthday Cake. At that time, we had not realized that DHHS Worker in Charge had “spun” the Visitation Supervisor’s report to be negative. Nor did we realize how much power DHHS has over the perception of those involved when scrutinizing the relationship between My Fiance and her children.
This is not the first time this type of behavior has been exhibited through the DHHS workers and supervisors. There are a number of professionals that are contracted with DHHS that are very dissatisfied about how the case is being handled. We have evidence that DHHS has been actively trying to “Demonize” My Fiance, through the use of deception, through misdocumentation, through the use of manipulation, and other dishonorable means.
If all relevant professionals agree that My Fiance should get the children, except for the DHHS Representative, then to what end is this situation continuing on to?
"If we want to raise decent children, then we must start by having decent departments, staffed by decent people, that treat others with respect and decency. Only then will Family Services be about families and not about some political agenda!"
If you have any questions, comments, or even suggestions on help with the situation, please get ahold of me, or comment down below.....
Who knows, you might be saving the only family I have!!!