Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Appeal

Tomorrow morning at 10 AM, JP and I will be in court for his DCFS appeal. We will both testify on his behalf, listen to any testimony against us, and then wait for the decision that is supposed to arrive within 90 days. I haven't written much about it, even though it's been on my calendar and my mind for weeks. There's been plenty of stress from other sources (like papers and teething) as well as other happy things to write about (like prom and crawling babies with giggling video clips). And the DCFS stuff seems so over the top and caused such a firestorm of drama back when I was writing about it day by day that I'm almost embarrassed to bring it back up again. I also just haven't had a lot to say, in real life or in this blog. I'm dreading it-- dreading putting any hope back in their incompetent hands, dreading having to search for words to convince another stranger of what a wonderful father JP is to Landon, dreading seeing Dr. K again and listening to her testify with certainty that we're child abusers, dreading the flash backs to those horrible days when we saw Landon for an hour in a supervised room and didn't know when he would come home...

I don't want to go. I'm not yet angry about what happened; when I let myself think about it at all I just feel sad and scared and weak with relief that it's over. I told JP that I would support him 100% in an appeal, but he had to make the decision to file it because if were up to me I wouldn't do it. I know I'd regret it later, and I think the moral victory is important, but I like pretending we're done and we're fine and that I don't think about what happened in October a hundred little times a day. I wrote a few weeks ago that I go whole days without thinking about DCFS. I've realized since that wasn't true, I think about them all the time. The difference is that those thoughts no longer paralyze me; they pass through my brain and move on, sometimes I barely notice they were there. That feels like a big step forward and makes me wonder if there will ever be a day when I don't think about some moment of that nightmare at least once. I'm not sure there will be and I hate them for that.

There is reason to be optimistic. The burden of proof is higher for the appeal than the investigation. DCFS must prove "by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse or neglect did occur." I have no idea how they will show that, which is perhaps why the appeal success rate is 75% in Illinois. It's also comforting to know that the worst case scenario is the status quo, and that we're doing okay with the way things are. We're permanently leaving the state and the odds of his indication mattering in Texas are extraordinarily small. Of course it would be wonderful to win - to clear his name and to feel like we finally pushed back, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up. We won't pursue the appeal past this stage (which is in front of a DCFS administrative law judge)- it's not worth the time, money, and stress- especially from 1,000 miles away.

I wish we could just bring in the mountain of video clips and pictures that show how much Landon adores his dad. I've had to make JP leave the room when I'm taking pictures because Landon won't look at the camera if he can somehow get a glimpse of his daddy's face instead. Here is an example from last week when JP standing to my right and Landon would not look away from him:


JP is an amazing, loving father and it is beyond absurd that his name will be on a child abuse registry for the next 20 years. I've always thought of myself as a fighter, as someone who would never just roll over when falsely accused of something, and I hate that they've shown me I'm not as strong as I thought I was.

I don't want to go tomorrow. Not. At. All. But for JP I will.

23 comments:

  1. You will all be in my thoughts and prayers. You have been for many months. As a mommy of 3, I couldn't even fathom the heartache that you and JP have been put through. For no reason at all!!! It sickens me. It chills me to the bone that you were accused and that you spent time without your baby.

    Even though we have never met, I am here for all of you !!

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  2. Best of luck! Sumo and I will be sending you good vibes!!!

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  4. I tried to email you, but it came back to me. I have some information that could help you.

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  5. Wishing you nothing but good!

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  6. I can understand not wanting to deal with it anymore but if he does win then maybe it will help you move forward from this. Maybe it will teach that doctor to be more cautious in her accusations in the future. Who knows? But JP is doing the right thing making them have to finally show some proof. You aren't alone. There are 75% of people accused by DCFS who appeal the decision who were in similiar positions as you. And of course, we'll be supporting you too.

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  7. We email every so often, so you know that I can relate to the 2nd paragraph of this blog. I really do think that there will be a point where you won't even think about it unless someone brings it up. It starts to fade. I don't think I'm there yet, I still vividly remember sleeping on the pullout bed in the Intermediate Care Unit at Children's for a weekend, with my son hooked up to like 10 leads. But the memories don't come up so much, and other people start to forget it even happened. On Mother's Day, we were all with Andy's family and Ethan tripped or something and Andy's brother made a joke about having Child Protective Services on speed dial...he had totally forget that we might actually HAVE their phone number on speed dial..their number is still in my phone from calling for updates on our case last year.

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  8. It doesn't seem like they could ever do enough to make this right. I'll be thinking about you guys.

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  9. I forgot to say the most important thing...Good luck today! I'm happy JP is going forward with this appeal, and that you are supporting him. You sound like a great couple, and great parents.

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  10. Best of luck to you all! It's so absurd you have had to go through the investigation, when it's clear for everyone to see that you are wonderful, devoted parents. I couldn't have done half as well at your age, and I am so impressed at how well you have weathered the last year!

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  11. Goes w/o saying that we're all sending LOTS of good vibes and luck yours and JP's way. I would do the same exact thing he's doing and I hope it turns out for the best. Good luck!!!

    Ashj

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  12. Anon: the lagliv@gmail.com email should work, did you try again?

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  13. I won my own appeal back in March 2006 when I too was falsely accused and forcibly separated from my four year old twins for six months. A wounding experience, but behind us now. Child "Protective" Services is being exposed for the monstrosity it statutorily is: See today's newspaper column here --> http://www.sltrib.com/ci_9238520

    -JB Gold (j2310b@yahoo.com)

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  14. Good luck today! I'll be rooting for you. I bet the judge will be able to see what great loving parents you are.

    ~ps

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  15. We'll be thinking of you and sending you good thoughts & moral support!!!

    And yes, you are very strong to get where you are now...no one will fault you for wanting to avoid it. This not only shows how much you love your son, but also your husband.

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  16. My thoughts are with you! You guys deserve to have things go your way tomorrow and I hope the Judge does just that.

    Good luck!

    Rebecca Hanson

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  17. I tried to email you again. Hopefully you will get it.

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  18. You ARE strong, LL, we can all see that. I will be thinking about you guys tomorrow and sending all my most positive vibes for it to go well and for you to be able to truly put it behind you and to start healing. You deserve it.

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  19. I'll be praying... I am so sorry that you guys are still going through this nightmare.

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  20. I'll be praying for all of you -- you have so much support from so many of us whom you've never met! Hope you'll be able to feel all of us with you, in that room!!!!

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  21. Hold your head up high and take pride in letting the world know how that lousy excuse for a doctor made an erroneous conclusion, based on her inexperience, her zealousness and her arrogance, not to mention her lack of qualifications. Stand her down and put that bitch in her place. We're all cheering you on!

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  22. most definitely thinking of you, and sending lots of strength and hope for justice your way.

    the pendulum MUST swing back toward the truth.

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  23. I'm sending happy thoughts and strong suppoertive vibes your way. I have no doubt that you and JP will come out of this victorious. You're an incredibly strong woman, and I admire you more than I can say. Good luck!

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