They Took My Kids and Broke Me. Now I Want Them Back.
My story, my fight, begins May 17, 2004. I remember that day clearly. Dilico came into my home and told me they were apprehending my kids, because someone was staying with me who had a criminal record, which I was not aware of. That day, they said my children were not safe. I asked them, “How are they not safe?” They said it was because of the person staying with me, so I said, “OK, he will be gone.” But even then, they still took my kids.
I showed them my cupboards, my cupboards were full with food, including baby food (my baby girl was only few months old). I showed them the rooms that I was establishing for them (we were just given a new home from Native Housing here in Thunder Bay), my children had clothing, beds. I even had daycare for my kids that they were just starting.
Not too long afterwards my former partner walked out on me. There had been a lot of damage done and we wanted to be true to ourselves, and our family. We tried to console each other. One day after a big argument, he went to work and didn’t come back. I was left with no support. I was on my own, left to my struggle and despair.
I remember sitting there, by the front door, crying, lost, hurt, angry. I had money. I walked out and started my 'using' - I call it a career because it was like a job, working to get your next fix (doing anything and everything). I became pregnant with my son while under the influence. In a way, I am thankful for that because it spared me some time away from the 'using'. So I quit and moved back home to my reservation. Dilico again got involved.
I asked them, 'What can I do to keep my new born son and get my daughters back?' All they said was 'get a house'. I did that, (a four bedroom house). I participated in Dilico’s programs, letting them into my home to help me out. I wanted to show them that I was co-operating and willing to do pretty much anything to get my children back.
They told me I didn’t need a lawyer. By November 2005, the temporary child agreement was almost due. I told them, “I did everything you asked me to, I fulfilled all the requirements, I want my kids back.” Dilico said flat out, ‘NO’.
I had a mental breakdown and blacked out. I don’t remember much of that day, except they said I tried to commit suicide. I was hospitalized and medicated for a couple of weeks. I don’t remember much except that I couldn’t write my own name. Whatever they put me on, my brain wasn’t processing anything. That was very scary. My counsellor ordered the psychologist to take me off the medication but the psychologist said that I had to be eased out, that if I was brought down right away, it may break me for good. I was in the hospital for about a month or so.
While I was hospitalized, thinking I would be there for the rest of my life (as the doctor put it), Dilico convinced me that crown ward ship was the best thing for my children. They told me I was an unfit mother, mentally sick… blah, blah, BLAH! Right then and there I gave up and threw in the towel. I said, “OK. Crown wardship”.
After being discharged, my career started all over again - the drinking, the drugs, and going in and out of jail. I stopped giving a shit about anything. Deep down I was broken. I wanted to die. I was unstable, barely seeing my kids because I was too sick or in jail. This went on for another 2 years. I became pregnant with my youngest child.
Once again Dilico got involved. They told me they would apprehend my baby at the hospital. When my extended family came for a summer visit, they were told by other family members what was going to happen with my unborn baby, before I was given any chance to be a mother. (Not one of my pregnancies had alcohol or drug abuse. As soon as I found out, I always stopped.) My extended family stepped up and adopted my last child, whom I gave birth to in August of 2008. I was relieved and happy, because for once I had support. I had family that would not let another child go into the foster care system.
As soon as she was taken up north with my extended family, I started using again. This time I hit rock bottom. I was thrown in jail February 14th, 2009, and was there for four months. During this time, I made a true decision for myself - not my kids, not Dilico, no one. Just me. I decided to stay sober. I was released May 7, 2009.
As I am writing this, (it’s now November 30, 2011) I realize that what happened was that I abandoned my kids after they were apprehended. Accepting what I did and the things I have done, is taking a big step forward. Even looking at myself was not an easy task. For the first few months, I remained on my reservation to attend counselling. That’s where I learned about myself, and took a good look at myself. In December of 2009, I moved to Thunder Bay to go to school. I was scared for many reasons. I was afraid of failure and I was afraid I would not maintain my schooling. After a little while, I stopped being scared because I had family supporting me through this time.
Since I've returned to Thunder Bay, I have maintained stability. I have a place of my own that I have rented for over a year. I am going on 3 years of sobriety. I also achieved my G.E.D.,and am now looking into college courses. Does that matter to Dilico? No. But it matters to me.
I am also faced with a new obstacle. Last year, Dilico came and spoke to me about adoption. They want the foster parent who has been their foster parent for many years to adopt my kids. She is a First Nations foster parent and lives on a reserve with my kids. I am both blessed and not blessed to have her as a foster parent. She has not abused my kids in any way, shape or form and she takes good care of them. My children are all in the same home, which I am also grateful for.
I say that I am not blessed because when she first had my kids, she gave me her home number. She was on my Facebook and we kept in contact with one another. Now, within the last two years, she has changed her number. The foster parent has blocked me from facebook and told me it was for financial reasons, but I know that’s not why.
I see my children on a weekly basis. I have three daughters, ages 12, 9 and 7, and a 6 yr old son. I rarely miss my visits or cancel. I talk to my children about how they feel, and I always let them know that if they want to talk, need to talk or say something, that they can, and that I won't get upset or mad. I can't get mad at them because it's their feelings and my mistakes. (By mistakes I mean my past using of drugs and alcohol, not being stable, and not looking healthy).
My oldest daughter just turned 12 and I've only talked with her about the adoption. She is unsure at times. It's up to my children where they would want to be. If my children want to come home to me, that would be awesome. I leave it up to them because it's their life and choice. I do not want to hurt my children anymore. I have done that enough.
If the adoption process takes place and Dilico wins, I know for a fact that I will lose my children forever. As I am sitting here writing this, I am surfing the net for resources on how to fight, and stop it. They are my children.
~ Patti 9:07pm November 30, 2011