(Content notes: police behaving badly, those tasked with protecting children doing anything but their job, the use of government authority to bully, having a child and an infant taken away, being subjected to another person's problems with such force it hurts, and all of the rest of the shit that's been going on.)
A few days ago it was officially five months.
Five months since asshole neighbors made a demonstrably fake call and the police responded not by reprimanding them for fucking around with the police department but instead by attacking people, physically and psychologically, who everyone agrees ("everyone" has now expanded to not just include all witnesses and investigators, but also members of the judicial branch of the government) were innocent.
First there was threatening to shoot my sister, then six months pregnant, through her pregnancy, and made this threat by putting the loaded gun to her pregnant belly. When she called the bluff --in hopes that saying out loud that he'd be shooting an unarmed pregnant woman would turn it into a bluff-- he switched to threatening to tase her pregnant belly. Again emphasized by holding the weapon in question to said-belly.
Then there was breaking down the door without even asking the people inside to come out.
Then using the taser on Cody, my sister's partner, because he obeyed their (for by this point there were multiple officers) commands. Why did they attack him for obeying? "Oops, we meant lay on your belly," when they'd been saying, "Lay on your back."
With the taser wires still in-him, and also wrapped around a convenient bush, they had him walk away and charged him with resisting when the wires --anchored on one end to the bush and on the other end inside of him-- went taut, hindering his forward motion.
In all of this they still found time to mistreat the already born child. First handcuffing my sister (behind the back) and then pretending to hand the child to her and acting surprised when she wasn't able to magically pass her hands through the cuffs, bring them to her front, and catch the three and a half year old before he hit the ground.
Five months since my sister asked about filing an excessive force complaint. Five months since the police responded by calling all and sundry agencies with various spurious accusations. Five months since DHHS, which handles child welfare in the state of Maine, was the only agency to take the bait.
They've lost when it comes to the child they opened the case about. The case was thrown out the moment it hit court because no one anywhere could find any possible reason that anything my sister or Cody did was in any way a danger to the child.
But my sister was six months pregnant when it happened.
Now, as I've mentioned, the DHHS workers didn't even care enough to find out if the baby was alive or stillborn when he was actually born. They actually pretended the entire agency had ceased to exist. In their defense, it was Black Friday so they were probably shopping.
But come Monday they took him away, starved him for hours, tried to send him to foster care, and finally conceded that since there was no evidence whatsoever the baby was in danger (and no claims to that effect), my sister could have custody provided that the baby never come near his father Cody.
Now, my sister runs a farm. Goats are consummate escape artists and where they blaze a path sheep and pigs will follow. Combine this with trespassing neighbors on dirt-bikes in the warm months and snowmobiles in the cold months (different trespassing neighbors, it must be said, the dirt-bikers prefer knocking down walls in the winter time to riding around on snowmobiles) and various other things, and she really really needs to be at home to manage things.
Unfortunately so does Cody because he's only got the one home and he can't exactly crash with family since they all live in Cali-fucking-fornia and we're in Maine.
Meaning that the options presented were, "Evict Cody from his home in the last days of November in Maine thus probably dooming him to death of exposure because he's not a native and doesn't know how to survive homeless on these particular streets," or, "Kneel before Zod, admit we control you, and evict yourself from your home, because otherwise we will take your newborn away."
That means that for almost, but not quite, two months my sister has been forced to stay away from her home except when she can hand her baby off to someone else for a short time.
Wait? Can't the baby stay with the people looking after the three and a half year old for as long as needed?
No. That was deemed to be too much work for a single human being to handle.
Put that on the "I shit you not" list.
Apparently every parent with more than one child in the greater Portland area had better watch out because if DHHS finds out they'll take all but one away because no human being could possibly take care of two kids.
Also, people with PTSD be warned, you've all been deemed unfit. PTSD is the only mental hang up Cody has. But what if . . . I get ahead of myself.
So, anyway, only short trips back home to the farm. Cody is useful on the farm. Extremely useful when given proper direction. But he's not a farmer. You know what you call a farmer who can't farm? Broke.
My sister has lost her livelihood. Cody has lost his health insurance because he's not longer part of the same household as my sister and the kids. This doesn't even get into the effects caused by DHHS changing my sister's listed address without telling her, and creating a health plan for the infant that didn't list the person with custody as having custody.
And this is what it comes down to.
DHHS decided, based on no evidence, that Cody mentally unfit when it came to taking care of a child or infant. How do I know they had no evidence? They said it.
They never evaluted his mental fitness, and while having PTSD is, in their eyes, grounds to take away your child, it apparently isn't enough to keep your child away from you. They needed another reason.
So they said he was mentally unfit. When the question, "You base this on what, exactly?" was asked they responded that they based it on nothing because Cody hadn't had a mental evaluation. He'd need to have a mental evaluation for them to change their minds.
So Cody tried to get a mental evaluation.
As soon as it was cleared that the insurance would pay for it, they said, "No, not that doctor."
He couldn't get the insurance to clear two of them, and the process of switching the clearance from the one doctor to the other took long enough that before it was finished the baby was born, Jen was forced out of the house, and thus Cody had no insurance to pay for a mental evaluation from any doctor.
So they took him into a closed room. Just him and them. Not my sister who is less naive, not a lawyer, just him and them.
They said that if he signed over the right for them to look at all of his medical records, they'd be able to use those to declare that he was fit and he'd be able to be reunited with his baby and the child that he's been a father to.
Upon looking through those records they found a single twenty minute session from years ago. They said it proved he was incurably insane. Set aside the all of the warning bells going off in your mind about making a difficult diagnosis in 20 minutes. Make a glockenspiel out of them or something.
Done that? Good. Now ponder this: How the fuck could someone be determined to be incurable in that time?
Of course it had to be incurable because otherwise the question would arise, "That was years ago, what if he got better?"
And that's where things stand right now. The reasons they were called in have been tossed out. All that they have is the miracle of the 20 minute session that somehow proves he was incurably insane. Doesn't matter. It'll be another two months before there's even a chance to challenge that.
We're already two months into My sister having to crash at my mom's home and my dad's home because DHHS has made it emphatically clear that they will take away her baby if she goes to her home.
Tempers are frayed. My dad has problems. Not the kinds of problems that DHHS thinks are problems. They may not particularly like him as a person, but he was one of only two people in the state of Maine that they trusted enough to take care of the three and a half year old while they were arguing my sister was unfit.
They originally wanted to send the three and a half year old to live with two guys who never showed an interest in the child and had never raised any child in the state of New York, but then they found my dad and they were wowed with his perfection as a care giver for a child.
I call extreme bullshit on this, but given that the two guys in New York do in fact make my dad look like Mary Poppins in comparison, I haven't called said bullshit to DHHS lest they twist it into a way to dump my nephew into an abusive household he has no means of escaping.
The fact that the people who are tasked with protecting children from abuse have been trying to place a child into an abusive situation from day one is kind of symbolic of the larger problems at work here.
But anyway, in spite of being a paragon of parenting perfection in the eyes of DHHS, my dad has problems. Two months is plenty of time for those problems to boil over. Honestly it's kind of surprising things haven't gotten apocalyptic given the stress DHHS has been putting my dad, with his problems, under.
But something broke today.
So when I was annoyed with myself for being an hour late to get to sleep, but at least taking comfort in the fact that it was only an hour, I got a call.
My dad kicked my sister and her children out.
They didn't have enough gas to make it to my mom's place. They couldn't go to their own home without getting the baby taken away.
Could I buy gas?
I had to look up my debts, and I found a card with 28 dollars on it, and I spent that on gas for her. Then she asked to use my microwave. Sure. Fine. Why not? I wish I could do more so it seems entirely reasonable.
I didn't count on the talking.
All of the stress of the past five months. Memories of being a child in the house of my dad with his problems that aren't problematic in the eyes of DHHS. Everything.
By the time she left . . .
Fight or flight. Why the fuck do we have that? Why not deer in headlights?
There was no one to fight, and I can't run away from my own home, so I just stayed there as it got worse and worse and worse.
When she left I screamed, ran from one room to the next and bounded through the god damned air. Too much fucking energy.
Way too much fucking energy.
Had to come out somehow.
God only knows how long I've been angrily typing this trying to get the energy out. Maybe I can sleep now.
It's almost tomorrow, I have a post scheduled for tomorrow morning, barely over five hours from now.