Saturday, July 26, 2008

Child custody dispute.

The young woman wanted a police officer to accompany her to her mother's house and retrieve her child. The grandmother had been keeping the child and now would not return him to his mother. I asked the young mother for her name and her mother's name. She gave them to me and I immediately recalled the grandmother.

Grandma had come into the Police Department a month or two earlier. She explained to me that her daughter had left her grandson in her care and had taken off with no explanation as to where she was going, how to contact her, or when she would return. Grandma wanted to know what to do to be able to keep the child. I told her to immediately contact an attorney and inquire about getting custody. From what I had heard about her daughter and was now observing with her and the little boy, he was better off with Grandma. I stooped to talk to the little guy, about the age of my own son. I then wished Grandma luck on getting custody. She thanked me and left. Now I was on my way to her apartment with her daughter and hoping she had gotten the paperwork done, or at least started.

As soon as Mom and I started up the walk, Grandma came out of the apartment. She didn't want us on the premises. I asked her if the woman with me was Mom. She admitted that she was. I then asked her for any paperwork giving her legal custody of her grandson. She had none. I would have settled for anything to muddy the water a little and allow me to leave the boy with Grandma. There was nothing. She hadn't even called a lawyer. I was incredulous and out of options. I told her she would need to turn the lad over to his mother. She protested, pointing out rightfully that she was the better guardian. I explained that I had no choice without some kind of legal paperwork to back me up. We entered the apartment.

Mom gathered up the boy and some of his clothes and started out the door. The child began to cry and call for Grandma. Mom carried him out the door as I looked at the floor. It wasn't right, Mom taking this child, but it was legal and I had no options. Right at my feet was a toy hammer identical to the one that my own little boy would be playing with when I returned home. Mom carried the young one to the car, buckled him in, and drove away without a backward glance. She hadn't even told Grandma goodbye or how to contact her.

I had Mom's contact information and decided to pass it on to Grandma. She would need it if she decided to pursue custody. I cleared my throat and began to speak. Grandma cut me off. She began to yell at me that I shouldn't have let her daughter take her grandson. I tried to explain that I had no choice. Unheeding, she got louder. I didn't care about children at all, she explained. I was probably corrupt anyway on top of it all. If the child died or was injured as a result of her daughter's lack of care she would be sure to let me know since it would be my fault and should rest on my conscience. Of course I probably didn't have one. I could leave now that I had put her grandson in danger, probably had donuts to eat or bribes to collect anyway.

That was enough. After five minutes of the tirade I cut Grandma off. My turn I told her. Shut up and listen. She had been told previously to get the paperwork in order to avoid just such a situation as this. She didn't do it. Not my problem. Having a boy of my own of the same age I understood her frustration and did care.

That seemed to catch her by surprise but she quickly rallied. What she had or hadn't done didn't matter. I had no right to let the boy's mother take him. Having my own lad didn't insure my sensitivity, my boy was undoubtedly white and her grandson was black. I just hated black children and it didn't matter to me if they lived or died. I was a racist and didn't value her grandson as much as I would have a white child in the same circumstances. Had the boy been white I would have acted differently.

I turned, walked back to my car, and left. As I pulled away from the curb I called dispatch and advised them that I was done with the call.


Pierre Bellville said...

Man, that's tough. I'm sorry you had to go through that (have to go through that?). But thanks for doing it. I'm proud of you, even if that woman was frustrated and unchecked.

I think you may need to adjust your dates. Did you really post this back in July?

Spiff said...

Yes, I did post it back in July. My posting on this blog has been woefully inadequate.

Joshua said...

Erg... Must have been a lot longer than I thought since I've done my blogroll... (sheepish grin)

Lynore said...

How interesting. I guess you're really the victim here, aren't you?

Isn't part of your training to diffuse situations? Isn't part of your job to understand human behavior? Are you surprised she thought this might be a black/white issue?

I sympathize there was nothing you could do -- I understand that. How frustrating. But isn't that the nature of your job?

As the wife of a detective (and former PO) I know that offering resources are another service. Since she's a grandmother maybe she doesn't have the funds to hire an attorney. Did you offer her any low-cost options the first time?

You know I scrolled down to see what other opinions you have and was saddened to see how you made yourself out the victime here.

As Pierre said, the woman was "frustrated and unchecked." I guess that's the real crime.

Spiff said...

Guess you didn't scroll down far enough Lynore. I didn't make myself out to be a victim of anything here. Didn't even feel like a victim. If there was one it was the child.

Yes, I followed my training and diffused the situation. Nobody was hurt and the law was enforced. I am not a social worker and so don't function as one. As the wife of a cop you should realize that. I had referred the grandmother to other services previously.

I am saddened to see that you have not carefully read through my posts before splashing your opinion throughout.