The Family Meeting

It was a meeting I never thought I would attend.  It was a Family Group Decision Making meeting to get input from the family of what they would like happen in the custody of two little girls.  My little grandchildren.  Child Protective Services held the meeting.

Both sides of the family (mother’s and father’s) met in a waiting room and made small talk until the clock struck 9:00 am.  We were all cordial and respectful to one another, keeping our opinions to ourselves.  It was almost 11:30am before the meeting concluded.  There were plans to go over, and actual opinions to be expressed, as one child protective worker said, “the good, not so good, and the bad.”  “Just speak with respect…” we were told.

I was shocked to hear the mother was homeless, sleeping on a park bench in a local park.  She had not had her children in quite some time, but wanted to stabilize her situation and regain custody of them.  The father, my grandson, was in the military, stationed across the country without family support to help him to keep the children.  They had been staying with the grandmother until a problem arose and they were removed.  She had done the best she could for them under the trying circumstances she was under.  As you can see, fingers could have been pointed in several direction, but to our credit, we all stayed loving to one another.

What to do with the children?  Both parents have a year to get their act together, take all the classes and make all the meetings required of them.  If they don’t, the children will be put up for adoption.  In family or outside family?  Everyone agreed to keep the children in the family.  My son and his wife were there to offer their home in the interim and later, if possible.  It was a big decision–their children were almost gone from home and it would mean raising two little girls from the early years up.  I personally think it will be a great blessing for them, but that hasn’t been seen yet.  I can’t do it, and my heart is sad that I am not able to be of more help.  I was asked what I wanted to offer the little girls.  I said the gift of a loving relationship and support for the parents wherever they go.  I felt like it wasn’t much to offer, but then I thought a treasured relationship would be a gift indeed…it takes a village to raise a child.

It is somewhat shocking to think a circumstance like this could come to our family, but I think of all the unrest in families across the nation, and can see this same meeting being played out in other lives with little children.  And I am grateful for the future planning for the safety and well-being of the children fortunate enough to be caught up in the Child Protective System.  Many are lost in the cracks of society and the children suffer silently with little help coming to them.  I’d better stop before I cry.