Saturday, May 28, 2011

They Were Never Ours...

I have been trying to put this to paper for two days now.  Because things do not always turn out the way that we want them to, or the way that they should.  Maybe writing this down will make it all too real for me, too concrete, too finished.  The wounds are still so raw and the scars which seemingly healed over during the past three years following my brother's sudden death are once again open and oozing with pain, betrayal and regret.  Yet, I must.  In order to begin the grieving process while allowing myself to freely let go, I must.  And although I know that this is not the end of the story, this is where the story must pause for now...

We spent the better part of this past week in court finally pleading our case as to why we should be allowed to continue visitation with my two young nieces despite the fact that their mother has been a hateful, vindictive, bitter woman for the past three years(much longer if I am forced to really admit the truth to myself).  I, myself, spent two days on the stand proving that I had a contiguous, ongoing relationship with my nieces.  My loving husband testified with tears in his eyes.  Our oldest Angel Daughter testified in a compassionate, articulate and graceful way.  It was grueling and more than emotionally exhausting. There is a law on the books known as "The Grandparent's Law".  It includes aunts and uncles, so we were covered under the law.  However, there is a lot of murkiness as to how and when this law will be upheld and enforced by the court, meaning that there is a lot of interpretation and a lot of subjectiveness to the wording of this law.  It came down to this.  We chose not to play dirty pool and to go after Mother's "fitness" as a parent.("fitness" meaning that she feeds, clothes and shelters the children)  The law states, as I understand it, that if a parent is "fit" then that parent is given "special weight" as to the decisions which that parent makes for his or her children.  I did not want to rip my niece's mother down.  I did not want to take her children away from her.  I did not want to cause unnecessary pain.  I only wanted to be able to continue the loving relationship that I have had with my brother's daughters for the past 12 and 8 years, respectively.  We presented our case from a place of love and concern.  Mother presented her case from a place of ugliness and hatred.  And the judge, whom I feel was both fair, and wanted to give my request the weight which it deserved allowed the case to go on for three days, at which point, he chose to stop the proceedings because he realized where things were going anyway.  He began by spending some time speaking about what a good parent and person I am, and how he was sure that my intentions were coming from the right place.  He went on to say some lovely things about me, stating that he could see that my husband and I have raised some wonderful children.  AD1's testimony was a shining example of that.  I am so proud of her and how she handled herself on the stand even though I know that there were a thousand places that she would have rather have been that day.  I will never forget how loving and supportive she was throughout the entire proceeding and in the painful hours that followed while the very sad reality of what we all lost set in.  However, the end result was that the judge could not rule in our favor because Mother was not proven to be an unfit parent.  He stated that even if it was in the best interest of the children to have visitation with us, the state does not like to step into a parent's domain unless the parent is seen as unfit, and in this case, she is not.  The idea that Mother is using her own anger to pollute her own babies does not have any bearing upon her fitness as a parent.  What we discovered on Thursday afternoon, is that the scope of this law is extremely narrow and that emotionally scarring your children by filling them with your own bitterness and teaching them to lie, is not considered unfit behavior.  Truthfully, the way the law is written, there was very little way we could have "won" this in the end.  But, as I have stated here before, I could not have walked away from my nieces without letting them know that I was not the one who gave up without a good fight.  Not only did we lose on Thursday, but they lost so much more.  An aunt and uncle who adore them, four cousins who think they are the greatest, and the history of their deceased father who could have been kept alive through us.

My oldest niece, who is twelve and a half, is already beginning to forget things about her life before her daddy died.  She even forgot some of the details about things she has done with her cousins during the past three years.  The little one, who is now eight, remembers even less.  My heart breaks as to the legacy which my beloved brother left behind for his girls.  I made him a promise that I cannot fulfill at this point in time and that eats away at my very soul, but there is the future.  There are years to come when these children will be out from underneath the unnatural, tyrannic control and hopefully, they will return and when they do, I will tell them first, how much I have always loved them and then I will tell them all about their father...

18 comments:

Angella Lister said...

Dear Debra, I know this is heartbreaking, but the day will come when they return to you, because you left the way open for that. I know more closely than we would wish exactly what you are going through. Perhaps we have talked about it? As painful as this is, you have done all you can for now. Send your love in the form of prayers for them to thrive. It is all you can do for now.

Bless you and your beautiful family.

Love,
Angella

jojo said...

Oh Deb, my heart just aches for you. My fervent prayer is that their mother will realize just how much she is hurting her children. They will come to resent her eventually and that will be an enormous loss for all. My heart to yours dear one...I love you.

Renee said...

Your hearts must be so broken right now. How sad for you all and especially your neices who need healthy loving people in their lives. Sending gentle hugs to you this day as you grieve the loss of seeing your neices at this time. I hope and pray their mom will somehow change her mind and come to her senses, giving her children the extended family their so deserve and need.

tj said...

...That is all you can do dear Debra. You have done all you can do up to this point, now it is up to you to store away memories for your nieces when they are set free from any barriers that stand in between your family and them. They will seek you out. They. Will. Seek. You. Out. Angel Family.

...Know in your hearts that when they come of age, when no one or nothing can stand in their way, they will be there, in front of you, wanting to hear about their father, wanting to hear about you, what you have been up to, wanting to tell you about their lives, to make up for lost time, wanting to make new memories with you and your family... Believe me Angel Deb, this is only a stepping stone for what is to come. Keep the faith my friend... :'o)

...I thought about this and thought maybe you could keep a Memory Box or a Scrapbook (I dunno if you or your Angel Daughters do this), but any milestones or events or memories, photos, stories, etc... that you could put in the box or book for them so that when they do come calling they each will have something tangible to see, touch, read for this time that they were missing from your lives. It could be a sort of 'testament' of your love and your willingness to never let them go. They could 'see' that in these years you were held apart that they were a part of your lives even when they couldn't be. Does that make any sense? ;o)

...My heart aches for you and I just want you to know that you all are in my thoughts and prayers. I love you Angel Deb...

...Blessings...

Shrinky said...

Oh Debra, what heart-wrenching situation all round. I can't image the courage it must have taken for you to have made it all the way through court as you did. You truly have done EVERYTHING possible to let your neices know how much you cherish and love them. Trust they know that, and that they will return when they are able. ((x))

Miss A said...

I'm very sorry Debra, but they will return to you. Trust me! You have shown them love and understanding thru the years and you have a close bond that cannot be broken. I've been in the place of your nieces, my mother also severed ties with her family and I lost touch with my aunts, uncles and cousins... Until I was in my early 20s and independant. Then I felt the urge to reconnect and t
I was so relieved to see that not only them welcoming me back with love, but to see that they hadn't forgotten me and had missed me as much as I missed them. So yes, I do believe that they will return and the bond will be even stronger. I'm sad for you, but even sadder for them, because they probably need you and your family more than ever. Hang in there.

Miss A said...

Oh sorry about the mispellings, I think my computer ate a few words...

Tracy said...

Hi my friend...I am glad you were able to put your thoughts and feelings onto paper, although it wasn't easy. I hear you made a promise to your brother you feel you cannot keep but I must remind you that you made a promise without knowing the vileness of what was to come or with things out of your control; that's not your fault.
What I was going to relay is a similar situation of mine. I was legal guardian of a 14 year old at 25...this girl had been abused by her mother and step father, had been kicked out of numerous school, was failing and was on drugs. I met her when she played on my church softball team and we became friends. When she had gotten kicked out of her 'last' hope school, I volunteered to take her in and her mom agreed. I gave her a structure and routine, high expectation, held her had while she had withdrawls, tutored her in every subject and introduced her to the church and in one short year she was getting B's in school, off the drugs and playing basketball and softball for her HS team. She was happy for the first time in her life when all of a sudden her mom showed up at my door to take her back. She felt she could just take over now and TJ would do great with her. I didn't have the money to fight for her and she felt I had abandoned her and was very angry at me but I didn't have the means...I had talked with my pastor and he told me that the best I could hope for was that I had planted a seed in TJ for a better life so she could continue that for herself. I had to believe that to be true.
Three months later, TJ ran away from home and ended up at my house and her mom dragged her back home. I moved to Fl. and she ran away again and hitch hiked from Oh. to FL. to find me. I unfortunately was in the throes of anorexia and in an abusive relationship and couldn't care for her. It's been more than 20 years and I still think of her and occassionally look for her. I do hope I planted a seed of love.
I know you have done that for your nieces and one day, may they return to you but hold you in their heart forever...

miruspeg said...

Debbie my heart and soul aches for you as you begin a journey without your brother's children in your life.

Time will heal your pain slightly and know in your heart that you did everything in your power to have visitation rights with them.

Accepting the decision will be a very difficult one so please take care and surround yourself with the people who love you dearly.

Warmest love always.
Peggy xxxx

LauraX said...

Deb, I am so, so sorry for this deep loss...this deep loss for all of you. You are right though, one day, the girls will be grown and curious about their father, about their family, and you will all be there for them. I'm just so sorry you cannot be there with them physically now. On the other hand, your prayers and energetic love will be unending, and support them is ways they will not understand, but you, your husband and daughters will be with them always, just like their Daddy will forever be.

sending you so much love my friend.

WV LeAnn said...

Debra, you know I don't comment often here but want you to know my heart aches for all of you, thoughts are with you AND prayers. These girls will grow up and come back to all of you. I'm so sorry things didn't work out for you and your family.

Catherine Holman said...

This is simply heart breaking. Prayer is the only answer.
Hugs,
Cathie

koshercritternyc said...

Oh Debra,

I am so sorry. I can't begin to imagine your grief. To be shut out from your the lives of your brother's children and forced to watch as they wither under the weight of a bitter woman must be unbearable.

As many others have said, they will find their way back to you. Children have a way of incorporating the good, holding on to it, secreting it away. They know the good in you and will come back when they can.

chandelier magic said...

Debra, I feel so badly for you, court must have been so intense, and you did right by those girls.

Like every kid, they will very soon want more of a connection to their Dad's family. They will - we all do.

I wish I had your amazing ability to say comforting compassionate words.

I'm hugging you.
Marsha

deb colarossi said...

the comments above have said everything so well..

I hold you close , dear Deb.

I cannot imagine what this feels like.

the only way I can relate is in the "loss " of my best friends children in a sense. She passed away very suddenly almost four years ago and her husband met someone and has remarried and moved. I feel the loss of her and the whole family and a whole part of our life. It is not the way I ever thought it would be. I still get upset thinking about how we just assumed we would grow and live and share together forever and then life deals just hard hard reality. I still mourn all the could have should have. I still pray that her babies will know the love that she wanted them to.

I know that this is what you want. That you love them for all the right reasons and unconditionally.
And I know that they know this.

I came from a kind of sort of similar situation and the people that "formed" me? They were and are my angels.

Just as you were , are and will be .

Trust.

Trust.

xoxoox

Sharon said...

Such a difficult situation, which you and your family are handling with love and grace. I have a friend, a young man not yet thirty, who is going through this with his younger half-brother. Their father died tragically a year and a half ago, and the younger brother's stepmother is doing everything she can to keep the brothers apart. In a few years the younger brother will be of age and can see his older brother when he wants. As in your case, in the meantime, they hold each other close in thought.

Blessings to you and your family ~

Ness said...

Deb, I am so proud of you and Mark and the Angels for doing right by both your brother and your nieces. I know when they are from out of their mother's control, they will come back to you. You represent the only connection to their dad and they love you unconditionally. I only pray that their very misguided mother will not torment them with hateful words about you and yours. Perhaps it would be a good idea to create a scrapbook from the time they were born until the present, listing all the memories and pictures you can get your hands on. They will thank you for it as they get older. In the meantime, know that you did all you could do and the positive comments the judge made were very true and speaks well of you and your family. I wish I could give you a real hug right now. Know I'm so proud to call you my sistah-friend and you and your Angel Family are the real deal. Love you, dear heart!

Kathleen Botsford said...

whether they are aware of it or not, your love surrounds them and embraces their hearts with each and every breath you take. You are fulfilling your promise. Rest assured dear heart.

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