Well....I am Jason's mom. Jason passed away on 8/25/05 at the age of 19 from cancer and my heart is broken--long thread on another board. Christmas was hard this first year without our sweet boy. We went to East TN as usual and the story I heard from relatives about my first cousin's granddaughter has me very concerned for this little girl's safety. This will be long, but I would appreciate any advice you can give me on this situation. I am very concerned, but I don't know what else I can do.
My cousin's son, age 21, also named Jason, has had trouble for years with the law. He has had trouble with drugs abuse, speeding, car wrecks, etc. His dad, whom my cousin divorced, has given Jason and his little brother Matthew (age 18) marijuana. The little brother for various reasons through the years has spent a lot of time in Juevenile Detention. Anyway, while Jason was in a hospital for drug rehab he met a pretty young woman named Vanessa, a couple of years older than he is, who was also there for drug rehab. They became involved and a pregnancy resulted. They married shortly before their baby was born. Relatives say Vanessa abused drugs even during the pregnancy, but they had a beautiful, healthy baby girl that they named Alicia. Alicia cried constantly for 10 days and many relatives thought that she showed withdrawal signs as a newborn. Jason has two other daughters by two different women--that he didn't marry-I don't know the ages of these children, but he has little to do with them and really he hasn't had much to do with this baby either. Jason has a foul mouth and can hardly speak without uttering curse words.
Almost since birth Alicia has been cared for by her grandmother (age 54)--my first cousin and sometimes by her great-grandmother(age 80), my aunt and up until the first week of January the grandmother had temporary custody of her and she is now two years old. I am not sure why the grandmother had temporary custody, but was told of Vanessa's continued drug abuse. In the last two years she has been in jail and drugs were found on her even there. Recently, within the last six months, she had her driver's license taken away for DUI. At one point her husband attempted to remove her from a drug dealer's home where she was living at the time. Later, she lived with someone who badly beat her, but she didn't press charges against him. Right now the family says that she is living with a woman who sleeps with either men or women. My cousin says that DHS knows about the mother's drug problem. No one in our family even knows where exactly Vanessa lives now. She always arranged to meet them somewhere when she came to get the baby to keep her for a week or weekend. At times in the last two years, she seldom even came to see Alicia, but would say things like, "I'll be back next week to get you" and then she wouldn't show up for a month. [nice babysitting arrangement, don't you think?] I don't know what the custody arrangements were other than that the grandmother had temporary custody and she allowed Vanessa to keep Alicia at times. When Alicia was small, her mother didn't often come to visit. Now that Alicia is older, cuter, less trouble, almost out of diapers, the mother became more interested.
Vanessa has stolen money from my relatives when she visits them and if she isn't stealing money from them, she is crying and begging for money. I have been told that her dad and step-mother live nearby, but don't have much to do with her because she steals from them, too. Vanessa's mother lives in Florida and although she came up for the baby's birth 2 years ago, she had to go back home before the birth and has never seen Alicia.
My concern when I heard the story was that Alicia was being neglected and abused by her mother when she is allowed to keep her. I was even more concerned after hearing of Alicia's reaction after the Christmas visit, when the mother came to pick her up on December 31.
The mother must have kept her some when she was small, but she didn't take her for any of her vaccinations. The grandmother took her to the health department and got her vaccinations caught up, finally. The mother doesn't take the child to the doctor. The little girl is often sick and on antibiotics which need to be finished. When the mother picks her up and these medicines are sent with her--the medicine never comes back when the child is returned to her grandmother, even though there should be doses left. When the grandmother asks her about the rest of the medicine Vanessa always says that it is too far to go back to get it. My cousin sends her with her mother wearing shoes and when Alicia is returned she has no shoes. The mother has not bought food, clothing or diapers for her while Alicia lived with her grandmother.
She came back from a recent visit to her mother's and on diaper changes she began saying "tickle-tickle" and making motions on her uncovered diaper area with her little hands. (Another cousin who adopted two little girls who were sexually abused said that those words in this context are a classic sign of sexual abuse--it is what people who abuse small children often say to them as they abuse them). Alicia has been having problems with vaginal yeast infections and has had a bladder infection recently also. It is unusual for little girls to start getting these kinds of infections at the age of 2 or even 9. Normally happy, smiling, open-armed and loving she returned from her Christmas visit with her mother afraid of people she knew and had always gone to. She appeared to have lost weight during that one week visit and when the mother was questioned about the weight loss, she said, "I don't want her getting fat!!!" When her mother picked her up on Dec. 31, she didn't want to go with her. She had to be taken away screaming and crying, which was very unusual and made her grandmother cry.
Also, after a recent visit with her mother, Alicia came back home to her grandmother, calling both her grandmother and her great grandmother "Daddy" as thought they had tried to get her to call women that.
My cousin, as I said, was given temporary custody, probably when Vanessa was in jail. Vanessa wanted the baby back, now, and was angry that my cousin didn't just give her back to her. Vanessa hired a lawyer. The family has no idea where she came up with the money for a lawyer--she never has money. My mom says this lawyer is a "real good crooked lawyer" and that the judge and court system isn't really run properly in the small town where the trial took place. My cousin didn't have money for a lawyer--they are expensive. So at the custody hearing on Jan. 6 my cousin was there with no lawyer and Vanessa was there with hers and the judge gave Vanessa custody of Alicia. The lawyer and Vanessa even tried to set up a plan for my cousin, to have visitation rights--for $25.00 per visit. Whoever heard of such a thing? No one I've talked to has. Vanessa picked up Alicia that week and that is the last that anyone in my family has seen or heard from her. It has been over 20 days and this little girl was with my cousin almost every day for two years.
Another cousin told me to advise the grandmother to call Child Protections Services and to ask for a lawyer for people with low income. No one would do this. They all acted as though their hands are tied. And I guess they really are because when I saw they were not going to call anyone--I called. I called on Dec. 31 after hearing how Alicia acted when her mom picked her up. They asked and I chose to remain anonymous that day. I didn't want them getting mad at me and I didn't even have my cousin's phone number with me at the time. Later when I heard that Vanessa got custody of the little girl and had picked her up, with all my concerns, I called again on 1/7/06 and this time I gave them my name and address, my cousin's phone number and address. I told them everything I told you here.
Last edited by Prayingmom; 01-28-2006 at 02:22 AM.
Reason: additional info.
Additionally, I have heard that Vanessa and this woman live very transient lives--they move into a place and when they get behind on their rent they just move on to a new place. Jason (ex husband??) said that Vanessa uses heroin. I have heard others say that she will take any drugs of abuse she can get her hands on. Jason claims he will kill himself if anything happens to little Alicia. Yet Jason is not fit to be the child's custodial parent either.
On 1/18/06 I got a response on a form letter from our state's department of children's services. They say "Thank you for sharing your concerns about Alicia.... reported on 1/7." The box they X'ed for my response says, "Although we understand your concerns, the information you provided does not describe a situation that requires a child protective services investigation. Therefore, we cannot conduct an investigation at this time. However, if you have additional information, please make another referral."
So we are left just wondering--
Where is little Alicia? She's only 2 years old, so small and powerless and no one is checking to see if she is okay.
Is she being taken care of--fed, clothed, bathed, changed?
Is she being treated with kindness and love?
Is she being sexually abused?
Would her mother sell her (for adoption) for money for drugs?
Would her mother sell her (to be abused) for the same reason?
How can a person who abuses drugs really take care of a little child?
What condition is the house where she lives?
Are there drugs and drug paraphenlia out where the baby can get to them and possible overdose on something?
I can imagine all kinds of terrible things and can only hope that Alica is being taken care of. Will we ever see her again? It seems to me that if someone has obviously had the kind of problems with drugs that Vanessa has had, she ought to at least successfully complete a drug rehab program before she got custody of her child. I feel like a person who is desperate for drugs would do anything to get them. Mother's should have a natural affection for their children, but drug abuse can take it away. Poor baby Alicia. Please pray for her. What else can I do? I have no additional information. Tonight, I told my mom who lives nearby to let me know if she hears anything about her...
What a terrible story. I cannot stand hearing so many stories about children's "PROTECTIVE" services that don't do anything. I really don't know what to do. My only thought was to call a social worker, not from that agency, tell them your story and ask them where else you can turn to or what you can do. They probably can't help you, but most social workers are so concerned about people that they should be able to point you in the right direction to get more action in this case. Please keep fighting, this child cannot defend herself. I wish you stregnth and the best of luck. Please keep us informed.
"Go slowly, breathe and smile" Thich Nhat Hanh
I talked to my mom this weekend. It has been 23 days since Alicia's mother took her. No one in my family has seen or heard from her since and we don't know when we will, if ever. So there is no end in sight. Everyone is so worried about the baby and we have no way of finding out anything. I just wish the baby's father, as messed up as he is, would try to get visitation rights or something...but he would probably make the same excuse about no money for a lawyer.
I learned that someone in the family has a contact number for Vanessa, Alicia's mother and they have been calling and calling, but she never picks up the phone. Where are they?
This week I will call my cousin, who adopted the two little girls, and see if she has any suggestions for where we can turn now. I live 300 miles away. I don't know any social workers up there where my parents live--near Alicia's grandmother. At least when she lived with her grandmother, she was living in a stable home with lots of family around to watch out for her and love her. No one even knows what kind of home she is living in now or what kind of people she's around, but so afraid for her that it is drug addicts like her mom. If only the child protection service would have just been willing to check the condition of the home where her mother took her.....
I talked to a friend yesterday who worked as a social worker. I know that the situation has changed a bit as the mom has dropped off the planet.
If the family gets back to the point where the mom is back in town and they are helping her out, this is what they can do. They need to call the police anytime that the mom is late picking her up (like when she takes off for days) A report will have to be filed every time that they are called. This is child neglect. This will start to end up big red flags. Whenever the cops get involved things move faster. Call child services EVERYTIME that something isn't right...she seems dirty, no shoes, losing wiehgt, telling you about the "tickle" incidents, any marks, even just being very upset about having to go with her mom. Everytime you call a file will be made. They may not be able to rush right out, but when those files start to pile up they will get noticed.
I was informed that they use a "grid" to evaluate every case. At least in my state. The top of the grid lists childrens ages. Then down the side are categories of neglect, etc. So things like marks on the body combined with a very young age is a high priority case. Many things dealing with really young kids gets high priority due to the fact that those children can't fend for themselves. Unfortunatley that means that a child of 12 who is being left alone all them time is pretty low on the priority list even though its still awful. Even the social worker said that it was a terrible system, but there are so many cases that they have to prioritize some how.
So keep calling for everything, tell every family member to call for everything. The more reports that are filed, the better chance you have of something getting done. And don't be afraid to call the police. Not only is is part of their job to file reports, but most of them are strong family people and will really try to help.
I hope I've helped in a little way. My heart breaks for that child.
"Go slowly, breathe and smile" Thich Nhat Hanh
The following user gives a hug of support to Kiera1595: anniedunn81 (12-05-2011)