In 2013 my daughter and her boyfriend became homeless due to drug addiction. They met with child protective services in Vermont and created a safety plan for the 3 children involved. All 3 were currently at the boyfriend's mother's home in NH for the weekend but the plan was for my daughter to pick them up on Sunday and the 3 girls would be placed with my sister until a custody hearing the following Tuesday for the 2 oldest. (The two oldest have a different father). When my daughter arrived to pick them up the boyfriend's mother said they weren't there and served my daughter with a no trespass order. My sister and brother in law then tried to help and spoke with local and state police in both VT and NH. At that time my daughter had papers showing she had full legal and physical custody of the 2 oldest. She and her boyfriend are the biological parents of the youngest and there was no legal paperwork showing custody of her. Nobody would make the boyfriend's mother tell them where the 3 children were and nobody would press charges. The children remained hidden for 3 days and their mother had no idea as to their whereabouts. At the custody hearing for the 2 oldest the father was NOT given custody but instead my sister was given guardianship until June when school ended and a new hearing was scheduled. So my sister took my daughter back to the police and now were told where the twins were. However my daughter was handed papers at the police station where the boyfriend's mother had gone to NH court and filed for emergency guardianship of the youngest child claiming she was abandoned! My sister then took both parents to the NH court where they stated they had not abandoned their child. But because they were homeless, the court left a temporary guardianship in place and gave the parents 90 days to stabilize and find a home and jobs. The twins were brought to my sister's home in VT.
Sadly in June 2013 my daughter and the boyfriend were arrested. Both were sentenced to 2 years in jail to begin in December. Because of this custody of the twins was given to their biological father even though he had not been in their lives since they were 3 years old! The girls did not want to go and the father physically removed one of them, including pushing her against a car and screaming at her. My sister called the police who told my granddaughter she could press charges. However when my sister took her to the police station she was told they were too busy and to go to court and file for a restraining order. My sister took my granddaughter to the courthouse but a restraining order was denied as the judge said it wasn't abuse and the father hadn't left a mark. The youngest child remained with her paternal grandmother in NH and the guardianship was made permanent. (Please note, I lived in Nevada at this time and couldn't afford constant trips to VT and NH to fight this even though I wanted to.)
In December 2013 my daughter and the boyfriend went to jail. In less than 30 days my daughter was told she didn't belong there and was instead transferred to rehab. She spent the next year in a lockdown residential rehab and faithfully attended all groups, counseling, etc. She also was able to get a job. At the end of the year she graduated to an apartment style rehab where she still had to undergo testing, counseling, and groups, but it was not lockdown. After a year in this environment she was ready to be on her own. Unfortunately she hadn't been able to save money as she had to pay rent where she was living and the grandmother had come after her for child support so she was paying $100 a week. Since she only made $9 an hour before taxes, she couldn't afford her own apartment at the high cost of living in Vermont. During this 2 year period she had regular phone contact with her oldest daughters 3 times a week but the father would not bring the girls to VT to see her and she could not go to Virginia where they lived due to probation and financial restrictions. The grandmother refused to allow her any contact with her youngest daughter and every time she tried to send her cards, gifts, letters, they were returned to sender. She tried to get legal help but because it involved two states, no pro bono program in VT or NH would help.
In December 2015 my daughter's probation was completed and she had no further legal obligations. We then moved her to South Carolina to start over, away from all the people in VT associated with the drug culture there. She was then able to enforce the visitation rights in the custody papers with her twins and for the first time since 2013 was able to see them. We had them for 8 days over their Christmas vacation and then again for their spring vacation in April 2016. They visit regularly now. However the grandmother still was refusing contact with her youngest. The grandmother did let my other daughter take the youngest for New Year's weekend in January 2016 and we were able to Skype with her. The child wanted badly to be with her mother and did not want to go back to her grandmother's house. Here she was at 10 years old and her grandmother wouldn't even let her bathe herself, she had no clue how to even wash her own hair! In February my daughter began working and diligently saving money. In July 2016 we took her to NH to file for termination of the guardianship and to regain custody of her daughter. Upon arrival she was told that termination paperwork had already been filed! Even though the court had her current address for child support and the grandmother had been sent a letter with the address, the grandmother had filed paperwork to transfer guardianship to a friend of hers and mailed the paperwork to an old address of my daughter's so she wouldn't find out!! My daughter then filed her own paperwork so she could be included in the upcoming hearing.
We then flew my daughter up for the hearing and my younger daughter went as a witness. My daughter also brought documents with her to show the returned mail, and the old address used by the grandmother. The judge refused to look at any of it. During the hearing he told the friend of the grandmother that she shouldn't be there and her petition should not have been accepted since there was a biological parent able to care for the child. The biological father did not show up for this hearing either. However a week later my daughter recieved a letter stating that guardianship had been given to this friend!! A GAL had been assigned to investigate and there would be a hearing in 6 weeks. In the meantime my daughter was to have unlimited phone contact with her daughter and visits if she could come to VT. She began calling her daughter 4 times a week but the guardian either didn't answer, didn't call back, or kept the child in a room with several other children making it difficult to have a conversation. If my daughter was lucky, the guardian answered once a week. Then the GAL started her so called investigation. She talked to absolutely nobody on my daughter's behalf and then told my daughter she was not recommending that her child be placed back in her custody at this time! I called the GAL, my sister who had been involved in VT called the GAL, and my younger daughter called. (My sister is a family services manager with Headstart and has a degree in Psychology. I am a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor with a Master's Degree in Counseling). The GAL did reports that were not accurate and did not reflect anything at all that was said to her by anyone except the other grandmother and the current guardian. My daughter tried to tell the judge at the hearing but he wouldn't listen to her and granted guardianship to the friend still. However it was recommended that when my younger daughter or sister came to SC that the child be allowed to come with them so she could see her mother.
Since June 2016 my daughter has struggled to call her youngest daughter several times a week. Then the guardian said that the child's grandmother was giving her a hard time and there was going to be a hearing in May because the father now said he wanted custody. The father is still heavily involved in drugs and we have pictures from social media where he and his girlfriend are constantly posting large quantities of marijuana and other drugs. We are pretty sure he is dealing again as well. The girlfriend also has a long history with child protective services with neglect of her own children. She and her children receive disability and welfare. The child's father is not working at this time. According to the guardian each time the father picked up the child, he just took her to his mother's house. Last month my daughter was coming to NC from VT for Easter. She asked the guardian if she could bring the child, the guardian refused. The guardian claimed that the grandmother was giving her such a hard time that she wasn't allowing any visits until after the May court hearing. My daughter called the courts and they said she could file paperwork but there was no way it would be heard in time to make the visit happen. So then the court hearing was today. Suddenly the current guardian changed her tune and it came out that she and the child's father had planned to transition the child to the father when school let out!! The guardian also said the mother only called once a week and hadn't visited!! My daughter told the judge how her calls went unanswered, how she works 6 days a week, 36 hours a week and only makes $8 an hour. With rent, car payment, insurance, and daily expenses she can't afford to take time off from work and go to VT. She also told how the guardian refused to allow her daughter to come visit in SC even though that was recommended by the GAL and the courts the last time! So now the judge says he is terminating the guardianship and allowing the child to transition to her father when school is out but he is not granting custody and my daughter has to file in VT against the father for that.
On top of all this she is still having issues with the father of her twins. The custody paperwork was issued in VT in 2013 and says things like "the children will spend a minimum of 6 weeks per year in VT"..."the father will transport halfway to the Poconos and the mother will meet him there for visits", etc. So the father refuses to allow the girls to visit any other time and refuses to share in the transportation. Even though the order also says the girls are to have unlimited social media contact, he took their phones away from them. The order also says as the children get older the parents should be flexible and modify based on the children's needs and desires. He refuses. They are 17 and they are not happy. They want to be able to visit more and spend time with their mom and the family here but he won't let them. Virginia says they can't enforce the court order or modify it until VT sends 2 certified copies of the order. My daughter has been calling the VT courthouse literally every week and they keep saying they will send them but never do.
She needs legal help desperately! However we are technically dealing with 4 states here. SC, VT, VA, and NH. We have also found out that at the time the grandmother hid the 3 girls, (kidnapped them!), apparently there was a social worker who works for the state of Vermont who called the police chief in both the VT and NH towns and said the mother was going to be looking for these children but they were being hidden for their own safety!! This same social worker also advised the grandmother to file for guardianship of the youngest based on lies!! This was AFTER my daughter, the boyfriend, and my sister had worked with the same worker to create the safety plan of having the children picked up on Sunday and placed with my sister. (Her home is also a registered foster home in Vermont!)
Is there anyone out there who can help?? It really is not safe for this youngest child to go to her father and the older children should at least have the option at 17. They are not allowed internet or phone use, they cannot get driver's licenses, their every move is monitored. They are constantly told that their two younger stepsisters have given up a lot for them to live there.
If anyone has advise or can help, please, please, for the sake of these 3 children, let me know.