Monday, February 2, 2015

Mommy, where are they? {Part 2}

Ever since my dear friend's children were taken by CPS, I've learned something.
{To read the full facts of this story, click here.}

Nothing in the justice system ever happens quickly.
Their case was absolutely, terrifyingly, no exception.
They didn't get to see their children on the next day, or the next day, or even the next day!!
The children were taken on November 21, 2013, and they had to wait a full 2 weeks, until December 4, to even get a hearing with a judge to discuss what happened.
Two weeks.
Two weeks of having no idea where your children are, who your children are having to live with, what those people are like, and what is happening to your children!
13 full days and excruciating nights.
On that day, another full hearing was scheduled on December 16th and the judge basically ignored their pleas to have their case moved to another court where they had good rapport with the judge as he had presided over their adoption cases.
Another 12 days.

I went to that hearing.
I was on the witness list to testify on behalf of the Tutt's.
As a witness, I was not allowed in the court room, so I sat out in the hallway in a waiting area with other friends and family members.
As the hours ticked by, we got the distinct sense that things were not going well for them.
12 hours later, not having the chance to testify, I watched them emerge from the court room and Christina collapse to the floor in distress.
I then learned that what was supposed to be a sharing of the facts of what happened the day the autistic child wandered away from their home quickly spiraled down into an attack on every single detail of the way the Tutt's parent their children.
Everything was picked apart, questioned, and in some ways, mocked.
Ultimately, the determining factors on which the judge made her decision came down to their choice to homeschool their children.
During the 3 weeks between the time the children were taken, and the December 16th hearing the children were forced to undergo educational testing.
They were in state custody, so they were supposed to be in state school, but they didn't know what grade to put the children in.
When the results of the state testing came back, it revealed that several of the children were quite behind.
No matter these children were under duress, nor had they ever had tests like this before since they were homeschooled, nor had they been studying the state's curriculum to understand the material covered in the tests.
In basically one day's time, we went from questioning how well these children were supervised and cared for (which was quickly determined to not be a problem) to the children being held hostage by CPS because they were homeschooled and deemed not "up to par" with other children their age.
To make matters even more frustrating and frightening, this is not even a legal reason to remove children from their home in our state.
I will never forget driving home long after dark had fallen that night.
I wept for the children.
I wept for their mother and father.
I wept because in the face of injustice the truth was not enough in this case.
The Tutt's right to parent their children as they chose to was put on trial and they were loosing their freedom to do so.
The children were not released on December 16th as we were hoping and praying.
Instead, yet another hearing was scheduled for January 7, 2014.
They had missed Thanksgiving together as a family, and now they would be apart for both Christmas and New Year's.
I couldn't bear the thought of their Christmas tree with all the presents under it for the children that were staying in stranger's homes.

To read what the Texas Homeschool Coalition was doing to bring attention to the injustice of this family at this point in the story, click here.

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