Last winter I made a show about working for the Department of Children and Families and I’d promised to make a show about what it’s like to be a parent whose had to work with this state agency, which is responsible for the safety of Vermont children. It’s no secret that DCF is currently understaffed and overworked. The opiate epidemic is one major factor in the growing number of kids taken into temporary custody by the state, and the growing number of TPR’S, or terminations of parental rights.
This show offers a close look at what it’s like to be a parent inside the DCF system. To have your choices, your lifestyle, your living circumstances under the microscope of a state agency that’s capable of taking away your children.
DCF is an intensely private agency, and there’s no way to corroborate the details of these cases. The truth about these cases is always elusive and complicated. And I’m not looking for good guys or bad guys here.
This is a show about six parents with six very different stories from all over the state of Vermont.
There is a transcript below, thanks to Jennifer Jorgenson at UVM!!
Credit and Gratitude
My thanks to all the parents who shared their stories with me by phone, email, and in person. Thanks to all the DCF caseworkers who have spoken with me over these months. Thanks to Mark Johnson, Bess O’Brien, Elsa Ingpen, Michael Chorney, Diane Zeigler, Mark Davis, Dillon Burns, the Aldrich Public Library and the Milton Public Library.
Kudos from 7 on 7 for 5/28/2016
Speaker 1: Having to prove to DCF that you are good enough to be a parent is definitely a very challenging thing.
Erica Heilman: I’m Erica Heilman. This is Rumble Strip, Vermont. Last winter, I made a show about people who work for the Department of Children and Families and I promised to make a show about what it’s like to be a parent [00:00:30] who’s had to work with this state agency, which is responsible for the safety of Vermont children. It’s no secret that DCF is currently understaffed and overworked. The opioid epidemic is one major factor in the growing number of kids taken into temporary custody by the state and the growing number of TPRs or terminations of parental rights. Addiction, multi-generational abuse, lack of education problems with housing, and transportation, and maybe the mother of all problems, [00:01:00] poverty. If you ask any DCF case worker, they’ll tell you the source of the problems is way upstream from where they work and this isn’t a show that’s going to solve any of those problems.
What this show does do, is give you a very close look at what it’s like to be on the wrong side of DCF as a parent, to have your choices, your life of style, your living circumstances under the microscope of a state agency, that’s capable of taking away your children. [00:01:30] DCF is an intensely private agency and there’s no way to corroborate the details of these cases. The truth about these cases is always elusive and always complicated and I’m not looking for good guys or bad guys here. This is a show about six parents with six very different stories from all over the State of Vermont. Fair warning, there’s graphic language and descriptions of violence in this show. Welcome.
Speaker 3: My memories of parenting [00:02:00] Brianna was that, “I’m going to be there for you. I’m going to talk to you. I have an education, so I will be able to teach you things.” Whereas compared to my mother, who was always working and then having a father who liked girls, I’m just going to say. They were both alcoholics, came from a family of alcoholics. Very uneducated, did not graduate high school either one of them. So [00:02:30] my thought was I was not going to put her in that situation, it was going to be, I was going to be the mom that I didn’t have or we’ll have the family that I was supposed to have.
Erica Heilman:What did your home look like? Where? What [crosstalk 00:02:45]-
Speaker 3:It was look like where, what I lived in a trailer park across from what used to be Jennifer’s restaurant. There was a little tiny trailer park there, trailer was very nice, very well maintained and I had one of the very last trailers in the park. So behind [00:03:00] the trailer was a really cute clothes line for clothes to hang out clothes, because it did come with a washer and the previous tenants had left a swing set there and there was a big, large field behind it.
I think she was probably a or old when she knew all of her ABCs, probably at a year and a half was when she was starting to learn Spanish, because we would watch Nickelodeon Dora The Explorer. So she [00:03:30] could say five or six colors in Spanish and count to 10 in Spanish. And I knew it was because of me being there with her and being present with her, not putting her off a playpen, like I used to with my other kids and go outside and smoke pot with my friends. But I started using again. I thought I am a much better parent than what I was the first time around. And I’m like, “So now I know what I can’t do,” and basically it came into me just using when she was sleeping is what [00:04:00] I thought and how I tried to justify it, “I’m only doing it when she’s sleeping.” And then of course addiction, it progresses.
It was her birthday. I wanted to go. I was planning on having a part of the next day for her. So I had brought her to the neighbor’s house where I got my drugs and left her with them. I borrowed their car and I went to the store to buy her birthday stuff. And when I’d come back, she was in this [inaudible 00:04:28] of the trailer and [00:04:30] Brianna had a little baggy in her hand, which I knew was the corner from a cocaine bag, what they sold. So I took her home. It wasn’t into till the next day when they all came over for the party and we had the kids playing in the other room, windows were open and we were smoking drugs and we thought that that was okay. That later on that afternoon, evening she began to get sick, could barely stay awake.
So I brought her to the emergency room and [00:05:00] she tested positive for her cocaine. I knew, I said, “Yeah. It’s bad. I said, “I’m not going to get her back.” I was in a room talking with them, I want to say it was a state trooper. So Brianna was in her room and they said, “Yeah. We’re going to have a foster family come.” So we have that conversation and I go into the room and Brianna was already gone, so I did not get to see her. [00:05:30] Yeah. That was awful to me. So it’s hard.
Speaker 1: Well, when I got pregnant, I found out the night before my high school graduation, it was totally not planned at all. It was a difficult pregnancy. I gained a lot of weight and had a lot of health problems. Everything was good for a little while and then the domestic [00:06:00] happened. It started, I think the week before I had my first child. I was 39 weeks pregnant and my boyfriend at the time called me a fat whore, pushed me down on the bed. That was when it started. And then, we ended up having a child together years later down the road and that is what [00:06:30] now resulted in my DCF case.
Definitely one of the hardest parts of a domestic is the actual act of leaving the domestic. There’s control over what you’re doing, who you’re with, who you’re talking to, where you’ve been, how long you’ve been gone, there can be control issues over money and finances. When a child is involved, it’s not your safety, it’s [00:07:00] your children’s safety. When you leave, a lot of times you leave with none of your belongings, you pretty much escape whenever you feel you have a safe time to get out and then having to deal with DCF after getting up the courage to leave the abusive situation. In a lot of cases, DCF doesn’t understand what it does to [00:07:30] a mother or a parent if they leave a domestic that takes a lot out of them and then to take their child, the whole reason of why they left was to protect the child that they no longer can protect.
Speaker 4: They end up showing up at my door. My living situation wasn’t appropriate, which I knew ahead of time anyways. [00:08:00] But we were living in the camper because the housing that we had ended up being condemned, so we had to move and we had really nowhere to go and it was towards the winter time and whatnot, so we technically shouldn’t have been in the camper with two children. So then they showed up, they said that there was allegations of abuse towards my children. And when they looked into it, it came to be the children’s father. They found out that their father was unsafe [00:08:30] to be around them because he was an alcoholic and abusive towards me verbally and physically, so then they helped me. Basically, they gave me an ultimatum to either lose my children or move with my children.
And I ended up finding housing in Wilder and for me and my children and then I found out in 2009, that I was pregnant again. So then, I ended up with three children and I had their father [00:09:00] move back in with me through the housing unit that I was in and DCF was still involved.
Erica Heilman: Same father for all three?
Speaker 4:Yes. Same father for all four, actually. But we were good for a little while, even though DCF was involved, my daughter then was born in 2011 and I actually filed for a divorce in 2012 and kicked him out. So it took a while, but I ended up divorcing him and whatnot because I mean, beforehand [00:09:30] DCF was telling me, “Oh, you can’t get married. You shouldn’t marry him. You should separate from him. He shouldn’t be around the kids. He’s not safe, he’s not fit.” And it felt like I was being told how to live my life and they weren’t living my life, so that’s why I pretty much was going against them because it just didn’t feel right.
But I understand now because I’ve gone through some counseling with my children and I’ve also had testing done on one of my children [00:10:00] and it opened my eyes the most, because it was based on children with abusive homes and whatnot to see where their brain actually lies and growth. And a lot of stuff that I was doing wrong really affected one of my children and his brain growth, so he’s having a lot of difficulties and behavior issues due to that. He is showing through a violent behaviors, he’s showing through lack [00:10:30] of sleeping, so there’s a lot of different areas that are not where he should be as far as his age.
Erica Heilman: Is that something you feel responsible for?
Speaker 4:Some of it, yes, it does follow me because I didn’t see the wrongs that were occurring in that time.
Speaker 5: I got pregnant very young. I had my kids at 18, so I was young to have children of my own at that age. And [00:11:00] then when my son was 3-months-old, I started hanging out with friends and that’s where my addiction started. I think I was just trying to escape what had gone on between the father of my children and I, and he had ended up going to jail for a domestic on me when I was pregnant with my son. And when the dad got out of jail, I ended up going back. We got back together. No one knew outside of my mom that I had a problem, [00:11:30] but it got to a point that when their father came back from jail, she came over to the house and he had hit me before she had come in, my nose wasn’t broken, but he had hit me in the nose, so I had had my son in my arms and I was hurt, I was injured and she could tell and she had had enough.
And so she took him home and called DCF at that point. [00:12:00] I was very angry. I was so pissed. I drove over to her house and tried to get in. I knew what was coming, but you try to not have that happen and the cops met me when I got there and said, “You need to go to rehab, you need to do something because he’s not coming back.” And [00:12:30] my addiction went from bad to 10 times worse at that point. I had nothing. I felt like I had lost the purpose for getting up. So you go and there’s three judges. You’ve got the state’s attorney, you’ve got DCF, you’ve got a guardian ad litem and my mom and they talk about what brought you in. You’re listening to this woman who [00:13:00] you’ve never met, explain how you’re a drug addict and you can’t care for your child and that there needs to be custody taken. And it’s out of your control, you have no control at this point.
You met your attorney for the first time five minutes ago. He has no idea what’s going on and all you can do is sit and listen, I knew I had a drug problem and it wasn’t affecting my son, that’s how I looked at it because I was still doing what I needed to do to take care of my son. [00:13:30] Not understanding at the time that being abused in front of my child was neglectful, that’s something that you see later on. So the court hearing happened, my mom got temporary guardianship of him at that point and I then met the case worker.
Speaker 6: DCF has been involved in our life two times and while in both cases, the claims were found not to be [00:14:00] true. That process of having the claims found to be untrue is something that I get the impression and so [inaudible 00:14:07], but I get the impression happens much quicker for certain kinds of families. And in our case, these things were very drawn out and very horrible. I don’t know if there’s a better word, but in public when you’re talking about it with friends or family, it’s your very indignant about it and you know, “Oh my gosh, how could they treat us this way? Or, or think this about us as parents,” but in the moment [00:14:30] when you’re in it, it’s really fucking scary.
This is an agency that can physically take my children away from on me. And that is you’re acting like you’re indignant, but really you’re facing losing the most important thing in your entire universe. And between us as a couple, it was really stressful, but I don’t think either of us really wanted to reveal our fear to the other one because we’re trying to be strong for each other, so that’s just an emotion that I think we each [00:15:00] carried separately knowing the other one had it through the whole thing, just being scared and really sad, really sad that this is happening, that there is this threat, this possibility looming out there.
The moment that I’m most ashamed of as a mother is I remember being on the phone with the case worker when she was needing to get me to agree to the safety plan. [00:15:30] For them, while an investigation is open, they have to have a safety plan in place and I just remember trying to say to her, “Well, I don’t agree with this plan. I don’t think this plan is necessary. This is not a safety plan for my family. This isn’t what’s [inaudible 00:15:45],” because they were asking that that my husband not be alone with the children at all while the investigation was pending, which of course is not logistically feasible for any family, either, for me to have done all the daycare pickups [00:16:00] and drop offs, it just, it wouldn’t have worked for our family, but more importantly, it just, it wasn’t necessary.
And I just remember trying to be assertive and to say, “This isn’t okay. I don’t agree with this,” and saying, “Well, what are my rights? Do I have to agree to this?” And she said, “Well, if you don’t, then we have the right to remove the children from the home.” And that’s when I crumbled and let them put my name on the line and I wish I hadn’t done that. I really wish I had just said, ” [00:16:30] No.”
Speaker 7:I got the impression that they already had me pegged as the abusive stepfather. Mom doesn’t know how to choose a mate that is safe for her family, so she chose me and I’m coming in here and all I do is abuse her, beat the kids and everything else. That’s exactly lead impression I got from the intake supervisor. I felt that once again, because of my size and being in this neighborhood, [00:17:00] in this part of the country and not being of the general makeup of the population up here, that I’m just getting judged unfairly once again. I mean, I’ve been here before and it’s not a good feeling.
Erica Heilman: Since it’s audio and not video. What is your size? Where are you from?
Speaker 7:I’m a native New Yorker. I lived and grew up in Upper West Side of Manhattan up until I was 41- [00:17:30] years-old. I’m currently 295 pounds, six foot two. Yeah. And I’m brown skinned. My mother is of German descent. My father is from Barbados, so I’m a mixed person. Yeah. I’m not the brownish skinned person on the face of earth, but I’m not the palest skinned person either, some like to call it beige.
Erica Heilman: I call it caramel.
Speaker 7:Yeah. Caramel. Yeah. And [00:18:00] I learned during this experience, not being the biological father of these children, it’s automatically, “It’s stepdad and yeah, he could only care, but so much for these kids.” Yeah. Which is so far from the truth. But yeah, that’s the impression I got. And I do understand that they have a difficult job and they see a lot of ugly things, but it’s a tough line to walk, to not [00:18:30] come into a household expecting to see certain things that aren’t there and then writing them down on a legal document as such as if they were there. Every family’s different but to look at it as, “Okay. We know this happened now we just have to look for the evidence to point to it,” this is why a lot of people get swept up in the system that really shouldn’t be there.
Then sometimes you have some families that DCF needs to be in their life and then they miss the whole thing entirely. If I ever saw some [00:19:00] of the ugly things they may have seen, I don’t know if I would lose the ability to do that, either. I don’t know. But I think that’s being on the other side of what happened, I can tell you that’s exactly what they came into here. For instance, they tried to say the kids didn’t have access to nutritious food. That was one of the things that were written down. There’s always fruit sitting there, always, the kids are welcome to it at any time. But the case worker wrote down, “They don’t have access to nutritious food.”
Why? Because when they went through the pantries, we don’t have fruit roll ups, [00:19:30] we don’t pizza, bagel bites in the freezer and all that other stuff, we don’t have that. So it’s, you come in here looking for a certain thing and you’ll find it. You’ll find something wrong if you’re going to look hard enough.
Speaker 5: She was young. Yeah. She’s younger than me walking to my house, going to tell me what I’m going to do. Has no kids of her own because I asked and when she said, “No,” I was all over, “You’re going to come into my house and try to tell me about a situation you know nothing about and you’re younger than me. You have no [00:20:00] idea what this is like, you have no idea what I’ve been through.” She didn’t say a whole lot that first visit. I’m sure to this day, I’m sure she probably thinks about that first visit because I was awful. But if you’re going to send somebody out to somebody’s house, that’s going through abuse and addiction, the worst thing you could do is send someone that has no life experience.
I was awful to her for the year and a half that she [00:20:30] was supervising my case. I had given up. I had actually come to the conclusion that my son was going to be adopted by my mom. And as painful as that was, I knew he was going to be okay and you have to change the relationship with a child. I was able to spend time with him, with my mom, but the relationship had changed for me. It’s almost like you have to grieve a loss of [00:21:00] child to break the bond so that you can survive because you know you’re not going to be a parent anymore.
So when (beep) was going to be born, well, when I got pregnant with her, I knew there had to be a change because they were going to take her right from the hospital from me. So I on April 23rd of ’06, packed up my [00:21:30] car and left their dad, not knowing what I was doing or how I was going to do it. But I called the case worker at the time and said, “I’m done. I’m done. I need to figure this out because I don’t want to lose my daughter.”
Speaker 4:I know that every parenting style is going to be different anyways. My parenting styles [00:22:00] are from when I was growing up because that’s what I was shown, that’s what I went through. My pants were pulled down, my underwear down, I had bare hand, bare ass slaps depending on the behaviors. And then I also remember one occurrence where I said that my sister was a bitch, my mouth got slapped. That’s the way I was growing up. My parenting now, I’ve slapped them on the asses and so [00:22:30] what I was shown. And I was also told in one case, “If you kept having a nasty mouth, it was going to get washed out with soap.” So a dab was soap in your mouth, on your tongue. And then of course my second son, he was very vocal once he got his words and would speak and whatnot.
Well, they were inappropriate words, a lot of swear words, a lot of cuss words and so hot sauced, [00:23:00] just not even a raindrop full on his tongue, he would scream at you and then he would stop. And I got yelled at for doing that, the dab of hot sauce on his tongue by DCF saying it was inappropriate. It’s a food item. Yeah. It’s a little hot on the tongue. Yeah. It made him ugly at me, but it got my point across to him, but I can’t do that. [00:23:30] It’s hard for me not to do what was done to me as a kid because now it’s wrong. Nothing happened to my mother when she was doing that to me or my siblings when they got the hand on their asses and whatnot. When I was growing up, if we bit somebody we would get bitten back, so I mean, that’s how I was showed to deal with biting.
And my oldest son did bite me, so I did bite him back, [00:24:00] but not to the point where I left any kind of a mark. So I mean, that’s what I was taught when I was growing up. So therefore that’s the only discipline I knew of as far as with biting, then you have DCF step in the picture, all of a sudden and, “Oh, you’re doing this all wrong.” Here he is kicking me, slapping me, I’ve actually got him to stop swearing at me. I’m telling him to get in the chair, he’s refusing to get in the chair, how am I supposed to get him to do the time out if I can’t get him in the chair?
Erica Heilman:Well, what’s your [00:24:30] instinct?
Speaker 4: I mean, there’s times when he’s gotten me to the point where I would just want to bend him over my knee, slap his ass. But if I do that, it’s going to get reported and then I’m going to get in trouble again. What am I supposed to do? I don’t know what to do.
Speaker 1: So once DCF has been involved with you once, whether it is an assessment, or [00:25:00] an accusation, or an investigation, it’s you’re guilty until proven and innocent, you have to go and jump through hoops. Shortly after my daughter was born, we were still in the hospital and I actually had a visit from DCF, an emergency visit. So I had a 3-day-old daughter. I had DCF in my hospital room and two [00:25:30] cops stationed outside of my door at the hospital. Having to prove to people that you can handle your child is one of the hardest things ever.
One of the nurses called DCF because they said I had gotten upset with her over breastfeeding and [00:26:00] that her father had gotten upset because some poop got on his shoe, which never even happened, she was always changed in her little bassinet thing that the hospital provides you with. Because of my previous involvement with DCF, the anxiety building up to when they actually come and see you is the hardest part, having to impress so to speak someone who doesn’t know you [00:26:30] or your situation. The DCF worker who came out cleared me after my meeting saying that it wasn’t a emergency and that they didn’t need to take my daughter, but I had to follow up with DCF because it was still an assessment. So shortly after we got to leave with my daughter, I had to have a home visit with another DCF worker and then he [00:27:00] was supposed to close the case in 45 to 60 days.
My daughter is almost 3-months-old, so she’s almost 90-days-old. I have been playing phone tag with this person, they are either on vacation, they don’t return your phone calls. You have to sit and wait and wait. They say, they’re going to send you something in the mail, telling you if your case is closed or what you need to do. You sit and you wait [00:27:30] for the mail, you wait for the phone call. And I don’t think that DCF really understands how much control that puts on someone having to find out if other people think that you can handle your child.
Speaker 4:The case worker I have in regards to my second child right now, because I mean, that’s pretty much the only one she’s dealing with. [00:28:00] I can call her three different times in a day, I can’t reach her. I can call her three different times in a day for a week straight and I don’t get no calls back. Contact as far as when you want to get a hold of them is ridiculous. But if they want to get a hold of you, you better return their call within that day, otherwise, they’re going to hunt you down.
Speaker 6:When we first dealt with them, we [00:28:30] thought about getting a lawyer, but knew that realistically, that was not financially possible and went in there on our own. We felt judged, we felt vulnerable, we felt very vulnerable, we felt scared, we felt angry, we felt sad. And going into it the second time with a lawyer, which was not something, I mean, bills didn’t get paid because we hired the lawyer. I mean, it’s not like it was an easy decision, but we just felt we could not risk, we couldn’t put our family at more risk and we did. We were in the position [00:29:00] where we had the money. And when you go in with a lawyer, you feel safer.
There were three people in the room for our interviews because there was the case worker assigned to our case, but then her supervisor was also present for all of it, which I’m sure is because we had a lawyer and she was a younger, newer caseworker, so her supervisor was also there. And the supervisor and the lawyer were shooting the shit beforehand. And he’s like showing her pictures of kids and talking about where they went on vacation [00:29:30] and I’m thinking, “Well, we’re fine because look at this, they’re telling us that we may be harming our children, but obviously they’re not really telling us this, or they wouldn’t be talking about their vacations together.” And you can be well sure that, that would not have had when we went in on our own, they wouldn’t have said, “Oh, how’s the beach this summer.” No way.
Erica Heilman:When you’re in that room and you’re witness to kind of the chit chat between the DCF supervisor and your lawyer who you’ve hired and they’re talking about their kids and their vacation, was that [00:30:00] objectionable to you?
Speaker 6: No.
Erica Heilman:Or was it was comforting to you?
Speaker 6: Yes.
Erica Heilman: Interesting.
Speaker 6:Yeah. Because I’m thinking, if they have this relationship with each other, because they’re obviously, we’re trying to play like we’re middle class and here’s people who are much further beyond than that, and they see each other as peers I felt like, “Okay. That I’m sure this is going to be okay. And I think that it’s not necessarily the lawyer itself [00:30:30] as being seen in a certain light and the stories we were talking about where people have very minor and quick involvements with DCF, because something reported by a jealous neighbor or whoever, and they have to look into it, but then it’s wrapped up very quickly. I think that that maybe because people are seen in a certain way. And because of our past involvement with DCF and our history in general, we had to take [00:31:00] a big step to say, “Hey, we’re not those people, we’re these people.”
Speaker 7: The outcome with DCF is that the kids were removed from the house for approximately nine months and then it was three months until the case was finally closed, so it was almost to a year to the day. What has changed since then, I guess the couple of the kids have access to some of the mental health facilities they may need, but [00:31:30] in getting there, there was a whole lot of trauma, a whole lot of damage was done to this family that we’re still repairing with the children. And within my wife and my relationship behind this, you can’t be angry, you can’t show that you’re angry because then they will say, “Hey, you have an anger issue.” You just have to grin, bare it, and jump through everything they ask you to do and hope that at the end of the day, the kids wind up back home.
Speaker 3: [00:32:00] It was just my lawyer. She was like, “Cindy, so they’re going to push for TPR and they’re probably going to get it. I don’t think you should fight because you can’t beat DCF. And they do have all this information about you, your past, your charges and, the slips that I’d had.” But so, yeah, they’re like, “I mean, I will go to the hearing,” I said, “but I do think I would like to fight.” She’s like, “You’re not going to have a chance. You’re not, you can’t win against DCF. [00:32:30] And then you hear that and you believe it. And maybe I also believe that I wasn’t deserving to be her parent because of what had happened. And even if you would’ve got Brianna back and not come to jail, I can definitely say now that I probably would’ve gone back to using drugs.
And then, I also thought she’s probably to myself, she’s better off there. She’s got a mother and a father. [00:33:00] They’re a very good family and that’s kind of what drove my decision was what was in the best interest of her. I think it was the most unselfish thing I’d ever done in my life.
Speaker 5:So at the point that I gave birth to my daughter, we were at the point where, when I knew that they were going to be trying to take my rights away from my son. At this time, the case worker had become [00:33:30] a support system as well. She saw me doing what I needed to do and the guardian ad litem that I had had for my son, I was in contact with faithfully. And they all collectively the case worker, the Easter Seals worker and the guardian ad litem petitioned the court and said, “No. This needs to stop. She’s doing it.” So they got rid of the TPR. And I just remember looking at my attorney and he was like, “Thank God you figure [00:34:00] it out because you were so close.”
\And I just remember feeling at that point that the case worker had my back, she fought for me, they understood I was ready to do it, to be a mom on my own and I was okay. And I remember the day that we went into the courtroom to have them transfer custody to [inaudible 00:34:24] and the state’s attorney was like, “You [00:34:30] are one of the only ones I have actually seen do this, that I have actually seen get that close to losing your children and you pulled it together. And I’m really happy that I could be the one to get them back to you.” She only had me as a successful case at that point. I was the only one,
Speaker 4:The discussion was brought up saying, “Well, you’re not having contact with him. You’re not staying in contact face-to-face. You’re not doing this, you’re not doing that, [00:35:00] so we’re going to be requesting to go through and terminate parental rights.” And in one of the counseling sessions, before we had talked about where he wanted to live, as far as if he wanted to live with me live where he was, which is the foster placement or live with his father. And by talking to him about that helped me sign away because I was doing what he [00:35:30] wanted.
Erica Heilman: He wanted to stay with the foster family?
Speaker 4:Yes. He wanted to stay there. And I think because of all the fighting back and forth, he didn’t want to choose between his parents. So when we ended up actually going to the court, I signed away my rights, but [00:36:00] he also knows that I am here, he knows that he can write to me and talk to me. We get pictures and letters.
Erica Heilman: Where are things now? What do you see now, when you look forward?
Speaker 1: I had another [00:36:30] child two months ago, a little girl and I’m living with my husband. I see my oldest child every day. At this point, I have decided that in the situation with my middle son that, I really don’t have any control of the situation right now, I have come to the conclusion [00:37:00] that, I just have to wait it out till he’s old enough to come find me.
Erica Heilman:You’ve been listening to Six parents. Six DCF Stories. I want to thank all of the parents who’ve shared their stories with me in writing, on the phone and in person. [00:37:30] These are hard stories to tell and I’m really grateful to all of you. I also want to thank all the case workers at DCF for the hard work they do. If you have a story or a comment on the show, then please write it down at the bottom of the show page at rumblestripvermont.com. Comments are really important, comments are part of the point. Music for this show is by Marie Helene Belanger and Isha Love. There are links to their work on my website, rumblestripvermont.com. This show runs on a kind [00:38:00] of Bernie donation model. So if you like what you’re hearing, please donate and I will send you my thanks and a really sweet bumper sticker. There’s a donate button on the website, in the upper right corner, it’s green. This is Erica Heilman. Thanks for listening.