KinGap allows me to still be mommy

My kids were removed six years ago when they were 7, 6 and 2. That was the worst day of my life.

The problems started when my youngest’s father went to jail. I guess I was not ready to be a single mother because I did not put my partying to the side. My kids came into care for emotional neglect and lack of me doing laundry, cleaning and taking my kids to school on time.

Three months later, I was evicted. It was so stressful that I developed a mild stroke. I also started drinking and that’s never good. It was because I was starting to believe I had no reason to live anymore. I had already lost my kids.

TAKING STEPS

I myself grew up without my mother. All my life I called my mother Malicia and my grandmother “Mommy.”
I wasn’t being disrespectful. As a child, you call it like you see it. Growing up seeing your mother and just walking past her, wondering if she knows you are her child, feels crazy. I always felt alone.

Four months after my children were removed, my aunt and her husband agreed to take my kids and I was able to get unsupervised visits in their home. I saw my kids throughout the week and on the weekends. Two years ago, they moved upstate, but I still visit every weekend.

Over the years I’ve done a lot to get my kids home, from therapy to parenting classes to anger management. I learned about talking more than yelling and that you have to break the chain if you want your kids to be better than you. I really wanted my kids back home so my life could be complete.

Every Saturday, I get up at 4:30 a.m. and leave my house at 5:30 a.m. to go upstate for my weekend visit. I like to get the 7:15 bus. I get the 4:45 bus back to New York. I continue to call my kids often.

LIKE A VISITOR

My kids and I play, talk, do homework, eat and laugh together. Still, I only see them for a few hours once a week. And since the visits are at my aunt’s house, I feel like a visitor, not their mother.

Then, a few weeks ago, my case planner and the law guardian told me that my kids stated that they don’t want to be with me. I just sat there. I felt like I did everything for nothing.

REELING

Since then, part of me wants to curse out the case planner. Part of me wants to give up on my kids. Part of me wants to fight harder to get them home. I just don’t know what do.

At the same time, I know that I still don’t have my life together. I live with my cousin, and it’s not a place where my kids can live. And my kids are happy with my aunt. After a few days, I started telling myself, “That’s all that matters to me.” I even started thinking that, if staying with my aunt makes them happy, I could move closer to them.

AGREEING TO GUARDIANSHIP
Recently, I had a Family Team Conference to talk about “KinGap”. When the case planner first offered KinGap, I did not want to take it. I thought it was like signing over my rights.

But then my parent advocate explained that my rights would not be terminated. My aunt and uncle even agreed that I could have my kids on weekends, birthdays and every holiday. At that point, I agreed to sign the papers.

My hope is that I’ll see my children more. But I am also worried. Last weekend, my aunt was supposed to bring my kids to a family party, and they didn’t arrive until the last half hour.

My doors will always be open for my kids. I’m glad that, even though my kids have been in foster care, they still call me “Mommy.”