The Family Battle
| Lynne sat in a room with that lady from the hospital....Deanna whatever. What was she asking Lynne? She just couldn't think.
"Answer my question, Miss Keller," Deanna prodded.
"What? What did you ask me?"
"You know the results of the breathalyzer, yet you still choose to deny your use of alcohol?"
"So I drink occasionally, what's wrong with that?" Lynne snapped.
"We have sufficient evidence of neglect. Did you use the child support payments to purchase your alcohol?"
"Well, like I said, I only did it occasionally, and when we had extra money--"
"You let your child go without the things she needed so you could buy your precious drink, and you don't see anything wrong with that?" Deanna could hear the bitterness in her own voice, but she just couldn't control it. How could anyone let their child go without something vital just for something so disgusting as alcoholic beverages?
"What are you talking about? I never did that! Don't believe what Jason says, he's just angry because he had to pay the child support--"
"You can't argue with bank statements, Miss Keller."
"That's...that's fraudulent bank activity! I never--"
"and we have the receipts from the liquor store, along with records of Mr. Hanson's child support payments." Deanna continued as if Lynne had not interrupted.
"Denial isn't going to help your case, Miss Keller."
"You are all against me! I can't believe the state can...my daughter is dying, and you people can prevent me from supporting her--"
"That never mattered before, so why should it bother you now?"
"Yes, well, Autumn is no longer your responsibility. You have clearly proven that you are not able to care for your daughter as you should."
"I never...no, that's not true!"
"It's quite difficult to argue with hard evidence, Miss Keller."
"So, where will autumn be?"
"that information will remain undisclosed to you."
"What? Don't I have any rights here...as her parent?"
"No, you gave those up when you decided alcohol was more important than your child, more important than holding your family together."
Jason sat beside his sleeping daughter. She looked at peace, her face was no longer ravaged by the grief. She would be traumatized for life; she would never forget the events of that morning. Jason had the same question as Lynne: Where was Autumn going to be? His concern was not driven by selfish motives, however. He wanted to make sure Autumn would be safe. He needed her to understand that, no matter what happened, she would be loved. Would she be bounced around from one family to another? Who would want a terminally ill child? If the state Department of Social Services was going to place her with a foster family...he didn't want to think about that. Autumn would be lost in the system until her eighteenth birthday...or her death. Jason's thoughts were interrupted when Deanna Appplegate quietly opened the door. She motioned for Jason to follow her. He hesitated for only a moment. What if something happened to Autumn while he was gone? Still, Deanna would most certainly have something important to tell him. Jason reluctantly turned from his daughter and followed Deanna out of the room.
"Mr. Hanson, I have some good news for you. Due to you wife's...um, that is, Miss Keller's amazing lack of cooperation and her activities during the last several years, we have determined that her home is not a safe place for Autumn to reside, especially with Autumn's health problems. We have seen your diligence in following the child support payment schedule, as well as your recent work history, and finally, we have contacted many people who know you from jobs, Autumn's school, etc. Based on what we have found, we think your home is a suitable placement for Autumn. We would put her in the foster care system, but Miss Keller has adamantly refused to take parenting classes and to go through a drug treatment program. To be perfectly candid, Mr. Hanson, with all of the stuff Autumn has been through, I don't want to put her in foster care. We generally like to try to keep families together, but it is clear that Lynne Keller has no intention of cooperating with us and following our guidelines in order to get custody of your daughter. After looking at your records, financial situation and history, we feel confident that you would provide a safe place for Autumn to live. Are you willing to allow us to place her in your home?"
"I was praying for that!"
"However, she'll have to be transferred to a different hospital in the town where you reside."
"No, I won't put her through that. I'll move back here. She needs the familiarity of what has become her...her second home. She already feels an immense sense of loss, I don't want to exaserbate that, and that is surely what will happen if I take her away from the people and things she knows."
"that is quite honorable, and inspires great confidence in me. I'm certain we have found a proper placement for her. However, you understand that we'll still have to monitor everything that is going on for awhile."
"Absolutely! I have nothing to hide."
"Terrific! Oh...and this is what I have been praying for too, Jason! God will certainly honor your decision today, and I'll continue to pray for you."
"You're a believer?" Deanna simply nodded and smiled, for she could not speak. She loved cases like this in which the parents wanted to change things for their children. She didn't see to many like this one, and she praised God for blessing her with the opportunity to work with Jason and Autumn. She was sure they would survive together with God's help...and lots of prayer support.
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