I am writing you today to ask for your help and support in keeping a family together. I am the Grandmother of a now 6 year old little boy named Christian Michael Collins. He was taken by the State on June 14th 2010 because my daughter went down a path of drugs and bad choices. At the time (before they took him) I was trying to figure out how I could take custody of her 2 boys. Not having much money I couldn't afford an Attorney to do this. So I was learning on my own. But in a matter of weeks my daughter got in trouble with the law and the State stepped in. I told them from the beginning that I wanted the boys. I had been the one raising them from birth, financially, emotionally and physically because my daughter was only 15 when she had my 1st grandson and 17 when she had the 2nd one.
I know that doesn't sound good, but I was trying everything I could to help my daughter from the time I started having troubles with her at around age 11. But all I could do now was move forward and support her with taking care of these little ones. When the 1st case worker (Kirsten) came to my home I told her that I wanted the boys to stay with me. I was told by her that the best thing I could do was to be a support to my daughter (she had nowhere else to go) to help her do what she needed to do to get her boys back. I was also told at that time that a brother and sister in-law of the youngest son would take them (all my family lived out of State at the time and they wouldn't send them out of State). So I trusted them that they knew what was best for everyone. The boys stayed with me until the next week when my daughter had court. But when we got there the caseworker (Kirsten) informed me that the brother and sister in-law backed out and that the boys would be going into foster care that day. I was in shock, no one had called me to see if there was another option.
So not truly knowing what drug addiction was all about, I just told my daughter, do what they tell you that you need to do and get the boys back. Then the long journey started. There was many, many, set backs. On at least 2 occasions I told the new case worker (Priya) that my daughter isn't ready to get better and I just want the boys. She encouraged me again, to be the support for my daughter because she had nowhere else to go. So I listened and kept trying. Finally at the end of January 2011 I said enough is enough and kicked her out of my home. My focus was now on my Grandsons. A week or so later in Feb 2011 there was a hearing and the Judge (Bazzelle) started talking about Adoption for Christian (Kylers father was doing what he needed to do to get Kyler back). But the Judge ordered that a Therapist do some research on if it would be in Christians best interest to be separated from his brother and be adopted. So that’s when I started looking into what I could do to have Christian and keep him in our family (mind you I have younger children of my own who were like siblings to Christian).
The Therapist Rachel Jones met with everyone involved including me and my children. I also told her, that I wanted the boys. By the time we went back to court at the end of April 2011 the foster family had backed out of being foster parents and a new foster family had them for only 3 weeks. I had been having twice a month visit with the boys unsupervised for 3 hours. So there was still a bond with me and my children. When we went into court on Apr. 27th 2011 and Rachel started her report she said, it would not be in Christian’s best interest to be adopted to strangers and the kinship window should be reopened and that he should be placed with family. I thought at that point they would consider me being that that is how the Law is written. But instead she stopped Rachel right there and said it is too late he is being Adopted! Again in shock I raised my hand and ask the Judge if I could speak. She said to me "If you think you’re going to change my mind you’re not ...but go ahead". I pleaded with her and told her how much we loved Christian and how much we wanted him and that my children feel as if they lost a sibling. And that we need him as much as he needs us. All she said was Thank You and then asked the Foster family who he had been with only 3 weeks if they wanted to adopt him. They said yes.
At that point talking to many people they said I needed to go get my own Attorney and fight for him. I immediately found one and borrowed money and had many people donate money to help pay for this. And now to this point we have been to court 6 times and the Court will never hear my case. They (*Caseworker, GAL, Asst. AG, and the Judge) always have some kind of excuse and sometimes seem like they don’t know if they are coming or going (and I think to myself "these are the people deciding what is best for my grandson?").My Daughters rights were Terminated on Nov 30th 2011 where she asked the Judge that she consider me to adopt Christian. I had a final Hearing on Dec. 21st 2011. On Dec 7th we were informed that the Foster parent ask to have their Adoption case (we didn't even know they had filed for adoption) consolidated with mine. The Judge granted it and we had the hearing without being able to prepare (originally this date was supposed to be a pre-trial for my Evidentiary Hearing). Through this whole ordeal I was never given an Evidentiary Hearing and was denied my Due Process. A day later Dec 22nd 2011 the Judge made her decision and was in favor of the Foster family adopting my grandson. A day after that Dec 23rd 2011 the Judge had their adoption hearing and finalized the adoption. I wasn't notified of the Judge’s decision of the Dec 21st hearing until Dec. 27th 4 days after my grandson was adopted.
I have now filed an Appeal for which the Appeal Judges granted a Full Briefing. And I have now filed my last response in that step. I now am waiting for them to make a decision. Then we were notified that they sent it straight through to the Supreme Court of Utah. We filed another briefing and have my Oral Argument on Oct 3rd 2012.
I am now to this day waiting for a ruling while my Grandson is growing up. I have not seen him since June 30th 2011. I have tried so many things to make my story public but nothing has worked. These kind of things need to BE STOPPED. I am sure there is so many stories of families that this has happened to and they have just had to walk away.
Most if not all do not have the kind of resources (ie money) needed to fight this kind of thing including me, I will be paying for this the rest of my life. And “All of them know it". We need people with resources to step up and HELP with these case so they can be fought and won. The more cases that are won in these matters will make a difference to the families that come after us. And then change can happen!!! There is sooo much more to this case and I would really appreciate it if you would sit down with me and or my Attorney to hear more about my story.
P.S. We also have a YouTube video called "Help Save Christian From DCFS And The Courts In Utah"
and I have a FB page called "Save Christian" https://www.facebook.com/