Broward County Is Withholding My Children Indefinitely

Broward County is harming us--bettysbattleground.com

The country went up in arms recently about the US government taking and withholding children from immigrant parents. Social media was abuzz with photos, videos, and audio recordings of children crying for their parents, being herded like animals in cages, and allegedly suffering maltreatment and abuse. It was, and remains, utterly heartbreaking. The fact that people are up in arms, speaking out, raising money, and protesting these events is righteous and it’s having an effect, if a slow one. But I haven’t been able to participate much because I’ve been focused on something else–while this has gone on, my family has been forcibly separated by the US government too. My kids aren’t in cages. There aren’t massive human rights violations taking place in this instance, but there are disability rights violations taking place. My daughters are crying for their mommy too. And I don’t know when I will see them again. But nobody has taken notice. Some of you might even believe it’s just, which is a byproduct of longstanding stigma that is ruining my life.

I haven’t held my daughters without the shadow of an aggressive in-law hovering over me in more than three months. I haven’t spent more than a few hours, collected in one day, each week with my daughters in over three months, besides the week of my daughter’s third birthday, when I got one extra hour in one extra day. This is because of blatant, unmasked discrimination on the part of Broward County that, despite it being blatant and unmasked, nobody is currently doing anything to correct. This is because I was stupid enough to go to Florida to help my husband recover from his mental health breakdown, putting me in the grasp of his parents, who have never wanted me in their family. In my father-in-law’s words, I don’t follow their religion or share their values, therefore I am not family. For this reason, it appears, they believe it’s just to continue a vicious campaign to keep my daughters from me.

What My In-Laws Did

If you follow my blog, you know I moved to Broward County, Florida on a temporary basis to help my husband recoup from a psychotic break. After months of caring for him, and our daughters, on my own–something I had to do because his mother jumped ship at the first sign of trouble–I accepted my in-laws’ invitation to move into their home in Florida, with the promise that in mid-April we would take over their lease because they were moving out. That never happened, and nothing else they promised happened either. Instead, the ruined my life, down the most basic and sacred elements.

My husband had a recurrence in his psychosis in early April. He was rehospitalized, leaving me alone with my daughters and his parents, who have never liked me, and whose mother in particular has physically and verbally abused me in the past (even while pregnant)! The problems began when the hospital refused to provide his prescribed methadone. Withdrawal exacerbates psychosis. This was a terrible treatment plan. I was the only person who fought to get him his methadone; I even asked for help from some of my journalistic sources. But nothing panned out, so he discharged himself AMA to go dose.

At the behest of his clinic, I filed for an involuntary rehospitalization, at a different location, after his clinic confirmed they would work to get him his medication. His mother flipped out. Even though his father physically drove me to file this, his mother started telling people, falsely, that I’d gotten a restraining order against him. She began yelling at me. That began the long downhill to what I knew would be another crazy terrible fight. So, on the 9th, I left for three days so we could get space from each other. I needed to get away from the triggering environment, and I figured she would have a better time with her granddaughters who she loved than her daughter-in-law who she loathed. I left food and diapers and kept my phone with me at all times. In none of her texts did she indicate concern that I was never coming back, or that she didn’t know why I was gone. But they decided to call DCF and make up a story that I’d abandoned my children.

What Broward County Is Doing

The investigator has admitted under oath that she made no attempt to contact me or Rick before deciding to petition to shelter my kids. She admitted that she made this decision because of my addiction treatment history, which is a clear and direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. That fact hasn’t seen my daughters returned to me. My kids were sheltered, the judge said, based on my addiction history (treated, again, a violation of the ADA). I’ve been given a minimum supervised hourly visit. I was removed from the home. I’ve been homeless for the past three months. My in-laws, the designated supervisees, have seen fit to only give me the one visit a week. They have made the visits increasingly difficult for me to get to physically, and increasingly shorter each time.

Penelope has begun questioning whether I love her.

Anabelle has ended the last several visits crying and begging to come home with me. When I told her I was going to Seattle to see Robin, she said she wanted to see Robin too. When I talked to her over video while in Seattle, which Rick set up (his parents don’t update me about the girls or let me see or speak to them by phone save for a few times which they stopped several weeks ago), she asked to come here to be with me.

I Need A Deux Ex Machina

The opposition is trying to use my treated PTSD as a case for keeping my kids from me. Again, discriminatory, but it doesn’t matter. Because I don’t have money for a private attorney. I don’t have money to magic myself into housing. Poverty isn’t supposed to be a criteria for child removal, but it’s clearly the only real criteria for this one. This wouldn’t even have happened in King County, and I was only in Broward to help Rick.

Where’s the outrage for my family? Why isn’t anyone doing anything to help us? I’ve been fighting nonstop but it’s come to nothing and I’m exhausted.I can’t shoulder this alone. I’m one person stuck in the middle. I don’t have the resources or the pull to take this on alone. I need someone to step in and help us.

*PS an earlier version of this post show my SSN accidentally in the drug test results. If you copied it with intent to steal my identity, please erase my debt first, you won’t really go far without doing that. Thank you!

By the way, these are two of four tests that are all negative. If I don’t get my daughters back, I want you to know that Broward County has this information and does not care.

6 thoughts on “Broward County Is Withholding My Children Indefinitely

  1. This is heartbreaking. I’m so sorry. I wish there was something better to say than that. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I pray for you to find the hope and strength you need to keep fighting.

  2. This is so fucking despicable, I’m so so sorry this is happening to you and your children. If there is a fund I could donate to that can support finding a lawyer or shelter, let me (all of us who follow you) know. You don’t deserve this. It’s blatant ableism and abuse of power.

  3. I’m so sorry this happened to you. This is ableism at its ugliest and you so rightfully deserve to have your children with you. This is completely unjustified. I know some lawyers but I’m in California and I’m not sure if they would be of any help.

  4. Dear Betty, there is such a thing called Legal Aid Society; it is fast and free and confidential. Please try there, I will pray for you and never give up!

    • Thanks for the well wishes Shelly. Unfortunately I do already have a pro bono lawyer, and I’m sure he’s a fine lawyer and person but the burden on these types of lawyers is so high that I feel he is unprepared and even more so that I am unprepared. We’ve done no trial prep, he’s difficult to get ahold of at times, and he doesn’t know details that I think could help. That coupled with the way the CPI mishandled the case, coupled with Rick’s representation (so poorly prepared that three days before trial he wasn’t even aware there was a trial) gives me a great case for appeal should I lose, but that means getting an appellate lawyer and I don’t know how I’ll do that.

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