Saving The KIds A Grandmother's Story details the journey one couple took to prevent their young grandchildren from being destroyed as a result of parental abuse and drug addition. With a mother's drug addiction spiraling out of control and an abusive father on the run from the law, the children were heading on a downward spiral of constant moves and disruption destined to ruin their lives.
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Saving the Kids
A Grandmother's Story
By Rebecca Diamond
iUniverseCopyright © 2009 Rebecca Diamond
All rights reserved.
* * *
I got a call from Sean late, around eleven thirty, pleading for my help. He told me that he and Tracey had had a fight and she had run off. He planned to go look for her. I assumed he had called from home, so I got dressed to go over and stay with the children. But when I opened my front door to leave, there he was standing there. When I asked him where the children were, he said they were home sleeping. I asked if anyone was with them. He said no. He repeated that he wanted to find Tracey. Since Sean had no driver's license, he expected that I would drive him around to look for her.
I asked Sean what had happened, and he replied simply that another couple had been visiting and they had all been drinking.
I started across the street to check on the kids. Sean followed and when we got there, despite my protests, he woke the kids and put them in the car. I drove around for a few blocks, then realizing how irrational it was to have disturbed the children in the middle of the night, I told Sean that I was taking them home and putting them back to bed and that he could look for Tracey on foot.
Sean then pounded on the door of his next door neighbor, rousting him out of a sound sleep, and the two of them hopped on a motorcycle to look for Tracey. Eventually, they found her in the ER after the hospital called Sean. It shouldn't have been a surprise for Sean to find her there given what he had done to her. My husband, Jim, worked there as a patient care assistant. He had just gotten off shift and hurried right back to find out what was going on.
Tracey had shown up at the ER with bruises. Due to the nature of her injuries, police were notified and, when they got there, they urged her to file a Protection from Abuse order and press charges against her husband. She refused.
Tracey was released the next day and arrived home just as John Chambers, a case worker from our county's child protection agency, Children and Youth Services, showed up at their home to question them. The agency had already done a background check on Sean, and what emerged was a bench warrant out on him for parole violation. Because of the nature of the charges upon which he had been convicted, i.e., corruption of minors, Sean had been required to be evaluated by Children and Youth. He had not shown up for the evaluation, and the arrest warrant had been issued.
Shortly afterward, the bench warrant arrived in the mail ordering Sean to appear for arrest and detention. To avoid being arrested he decided to move the family to another jurisdiction where police couldn't lay hands on him, but he told everyone he was leaving because his landlord had pulled a gun on him.
My six-year-old grandson had been attending our neighborhood elementary school where he was happy and doing well. The result of the move was that my grandson attended three schools in six weeks, ending in a parochial school he hated.
This month proved so hair raising that I begged Tracey to leave Sean, but she wouldn't do it. It was clear that fear was Tracey's motivator for sticking with her husband.
It had been five years since my daughter and Sean Hughes had gotten together. These years had been up and down, particularly down, and aggravating, but this episode in July beat everything, and I decided to start a "record of events" as a way of trying to understand our family's circumstances and help myself deal with them. I didn't know where it would all lead ...
My daughter, having had quite enough of an abusive husband for the moment and putting her fear aside, called police and told them where Sean could be picked up on his parole violation charge. Unfortunately, no action was taken.
Tracey finally admitted to me that her hospitalization in July had been the result of Sean's abuse, not that I perceived it could have been otherwise. She said that throughout their marriage their fights had been constant, lasting for hours on end. She described her life as all-night fights after twelve-hour work days with the kids cowering in fear. That her children heard their noisy arguments was referenced in data taken and on record with C & Y.
Sean called to tell me that Tracey had lost her job at the hospital where she worked because of narcotics theft discovered during an audit. The hospital decided not to press charges, but they did let her go. It didn't take me long to realize that the motivation for this call clearly was money. They both asked if they could come over, and then they hit me up. Sean had the gall to threaten us with never seeing the kids again unless we helped them out financially. He stated that the kids would soon forget us anyway. I couldn't help thinking that someone as cruel as he would end up paying for such a statement. But in the moment, my fury rose to the surface, and a screaming match ensued. (The kids were playing upstairs and didn't hear us, fortunately.) I stormed into the kitchen and fixed on the kitchen knife. For a split second, I thought of doing the unthinkable. I wondered whether in times to come I would wish I had. Ultimately, that night, I threw him out. I knew that the extent to which they depended on us for food and clothing for the kids would prohibit him from carrying out any threat against us.
Tracey was able to obtain unemployment benefits. That would keep them afloat for a while.
Several weeks went by with not much contact from Tracey. When she did call, when Sean was not around, she told me how horrific life was with him. Visiting Jim and me had been the only respite for Jacob and Lindsay from all the fights Tracey and Sean subjected them to.
On December 14 my job was eliminated. After twenty-five years with an insurance company, I was laid off. I was luckier than many, however; my company cushioned the blow with two years severance and my pension. I was also able to get unemployment compensation.
Tracey brought the kids over to Jim's mother's house for Christmas and they had a wonderful time. We made it a good Christmas for them. My present was the fact that Tracey left Sean at home!
Jim and I had a quiet New Years Eve.CHAPTER 2
* * *
I had for some time had my eye on returning to school to retrain for a position in the medical field, and finally I enrolled. I was so excited being back on campus after so many years.
Life with Tracey and Sean started out fairly quiet in 2008. When Tracey came to see me, she brought the kids while leaving Sean at home. But their fights continued, so she said.
Sean and Tracey were still living in the adjacent county because of Sean's legal issues, so to make life easier for Jacob, Tracey and I went to his original elementary school in my district and provided my address so that Jacob, who was desperately unhappy in parochial school, could return to the school he loved. It would mean a longer drive, but this seemed an important move.
By mid-month, the fights between Sean and Tracey had escalated. She brought the kids over to our place, and they all planned to stay for a while. But Sean began calling nonstop and Tracey finally gave in and went back. She said she was going to get her things and return here. Unfortunately, I knew from past experience that when she left, she would stay.
The kids were living at home during the week but now they were spending most weekends with Jim and me.
One Saturday night, Tracey planned to stay with us after a huge blow up with Sean, and as usual, the incessant calls started, so of course Tracey went back and did not return until the next day. She repeated to me that she could no longer stand being with Sean and wanted to leave him. And then he arrived here, begged her to return, and she did.
And then an outrageous thing happened. It began after Tracey returned to Sean this last time. He asked Tracey to "get me some cocaine." My ever dutiful-to-Sean daughter trekked out and came back with the stuff. And then the very next day, Sean called Children and Youth to report his wife using drugs.
Tom Delaney, a new C & Y caseworker, arrived at their home that day and told Tracey she would not be allowed to see her children until a urine test proved her to be drug free. The kids were handed over temporarily to Jim and me.
That pretty much painted the picture of Sean: he asked for drugs so that he could call the authorities and report that his wife was "hot."
For me I had an inkling that my coveted return to college would be short-lived, as the trouble in our family would escalate and I would be called upon to shoulder the responsibility.CHAPTER 3
* * *
By the first part of February, Tracey had not yet undergone drug testing. Jacob was with me, but Lindsay had been taken back to their place, even though Tracey had not shown she was clean and was not allowed to be with her kids unsupervised. On the day they took Lindsay back, Jacob asked if he could stay with me until he grew up.
After a week with no call or visit to her son, Tracey phoned to say she had provided urine for testing and the test came back positive for cocaine. I called C & Y to advise them that I had Jacob, but they had Lindsay.
C & Y called Tracey and Sean ordering them to bring Lindsay to our home or the police would intervene to get Lindsay out. Sean accused us of ruining his marriage and said, "You got what you want." Hardly. Tracey did not say much.
Late that day Caseworker Tom Delaney came over with a safety plan for the kids. The plan would place the kids temporarily with Jim and me until there was stability and a drug free environment at home. Tracey and Sean were supposed to be at our place to sign documents, but they didn't show up. They called Tom with an excuse that their car had broken down and they wouldn't be able to make it. At the same time, Sean told Tom that he wanted to sign custody over to his parents. Tom called Sean's mother, Rose, to find out what sort of arrangements Sean had made with his family, and she had no idea what he was talking about. She said she would not be seeking custody. She told Tom that as long as both children were with grandparents and together, she considered that they were doing just fine. She seemed not to want to separate the kids.
Tracey arrived the next day to rant that she was sick of "this crap" with C & Y. I reminded her that the county didn't get involved in other people's lives unless something precipitated it. She grudgingly agreed to take drug tests at C & Y but for one month only. After that, they could get results from her psychiatrist, Dr. Rogers (some help he had been in this whole mess), and I could relay that message to her case worker. Both Tracey and Sean were argumentative with me and threatened to withhold their signatures from the safety plan or sign off to Sean's parents or even strangers.
Thank God for Janine Baker, my closest friend and Tracey's godmother. Janine had been very upset about the entire situation pertaining to Sean and Tracey, their children and what it was doing to me. True friend that she was, she called Tracey and offered her a deal: five thousand dollars to sign temporary custody of Jacob over to us. Janine hoped to quell any idea that Tracey might impulsively sign the kids over to someone else. She had no intention of paying Tracey anything; however the conversation prevented Tracey from making a move that could have had devastating effects on the kids. Janine was afraid that Tracey, just to get back, would sign over the kids to the Hughes. That would have been disastrous — just look at the nut they raised! Janine lectured Tracey about the safety of Jacob being of the utmost importance, considering all that he had been put through. She seemed to understand and finally agreed to have him stay with us.
The next day Sean called, spoke with Lindsay and then asked if we could bring the kids over for a visit. Wanting to keep inside the rules at all times, I called our caseworker to make sure a visit to their place was okay. Tom told me that when and where Tracey and Sean saw the kids would be my husband's and my call.
On Saturday I took the children over and I wished I hadn't. Tracey was distraught, and Sean was confrontational. After the kids gave Tracey a big hug, Sean started in: Why had I called Children & Youth to report on the kids living arrangements? He didn't get that if I hadn't, once the agency found out on its own, our credibility would have plummeted to zero, and the kids likely would have ended up in foster care.
I explained to this nutcase that once Tracey's cocaine-positive test came back — thanks to him, I might add — their being with us was a done deal. I reminded him that we weren't heartless; after all, we brought the kids over to visit. Then he informed me that he would never sign over custody of Jacob to anyone else. (Let's remember that he was not Jacob's legal father and he had no say.) I told him that unless this line of communication stopped, we would take the kids and leave. At that point, Tracey seemed fed up. She looked at Sean and said that if her kids left, she would follow them out the door. That shut him up.
During our visit Tracey motioned me aside to speak in private. Jim stayed with the kids in the living room. She told me that Sean had taken her keys and cell phone and wouldn't give them back but that she still had her checkbook and was planning to check into a motel. I didn't believe her and wondered how she could get there with no car keys, but I told her to do what she had to. Then she told me she would sign over custody of Jacob. She said she wanted him safe and secure.
Shortly before leaving, the kids went over to hug "dad." Sean had been telling the kids repeatedly that they would be back "home" in matter of weeks. However, he still had not been evaluated by C & Y, and Tracey still could not be with them unsupervised. When Jacob wanted to take some additional toys to our house, Sean wouldn't let him, again telling him that he would be back soon — that would be an unlikely scenario! — and, in the meantime, he could play with them when he visited. Jacob just stared at Sean, unenthusiastically. The visit was very uncomfortable and I decided that from then on, they would come to our house.
After dropping Jacob off at school the next Monday, I went to speak with Mrs. Raymond, the principal. I advised her that the county had placed both kids in our care. Mrs. Raymond mentioned that she had been aware of problems. She told me that when Jacob was in school, he was a happy, friendly little boy, but when she saw him with his parents, he shut down.
My longtime friend, attorney Carl Wieder, had referred us to an attorney named Ann Roberts and suggested that Ann would present some options for our gaining full custody of Jacob, which meant that we would be able to make parental decisions for him. We had an appointment in a few days.
Carl also counseled me on the matter pertaining to Tracey's mail. Tracey had been having her mail, including her paychecks, sent to our address. Sean falsified a change of address for Tracey so that her mail would be rerouted to him. Carl told me that the post office had been careless in allowing the address change but that Tracey was the only one who could press charges for his stopping her mail without permission.
Sean called to speak with Lindsay and then asked if we could bring the kids over for dinner later in the week. I told him I was not comfortable with the idea but that they could come to our house. Sean became combative, yelling that the kids were his and they wanted a "family dinner." He again harped that he would not relinquish control of the kids. Well, unfortunately for him, that ship had sailed. He certainly had no choice in the matter. He also boasted that "I will handle acquiring insurance since the kids will not be with you for long." I wondered how, with both of them unemployed, he figured he would meet the payments.
When Tom Delaney came by to deliver the completed safety agreements, I relayed the phone conversation I'd had with Sean. He again indicated that when and where Tracey and Sean saw the kids was our call, not Sean's. I apprised him of my scheduled consultation with Ann Roberts on seeking full custody. Tom thought that was a good idea and that we would have a very good chance. He knew Ann, as she once worked with C & Y.
Excerpted from Saving the Kids by Rebecca Diamond. Copyright © 2009 Rebecca Diamond. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
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