Reflections of a Grandmother

A voice for my Grandchild

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Getting a Jump on January

Diary of a Nutty Woman

31st December 2012 5:45am

I awoke at 5:20am and already a trillion (maybe less) thoughts have gone through my head; this will either be yet another page in the life of the journal that is my life or the start of the book that I must write! It all depends really on whether I survive the next few days, weeks, months, and whether this bloody irritating tinnitus will ever bloody cease!

I wish I was as talented as say Raymond Briggs who can write and illustrate his pain and frustration whilst at the same time delivering joy from his work.

Mine will not be joy but a calamitous gathering on paper of my utter misery! And if you want to read on after that line then your better than I am Gunga Din! (Hopelessly, misquoting, Kipling is it?)

As a writer (get me!) I suppose I should have a target audience in mind, well I don’t  write for an audience darling, I do it as a form of therapy for myself, it is a release valve a stop cock if you will, I let the random thoughts and bullshit that is screwing up my life flow! (In no particular order!)

But for this exercise my target audience is my future Therapist, although once he reads this he may never be my Therapist at all! Having decided already that,

“ TO THE NUT HOUSE SHE MUST GO!”

Why do I say that? You may be wondering?

“She definitely is suffering from an inferiority complex, or at least a lack of confidence!”

 Well no, I disagree, but then again I would, although it is me that has sought therapy and had to self refer!

“Internal conflict, very interesting,”

I have no confidence in systems that analyze behaviours, whilst they may be based on thorough outdated research, I am an individual and so are the rest of the 7 billion people who inhabit planet earth!

Each  and  every one of us are affected differently by circumstances, it is what you do with yourself once you have been affected that dictates the person you become, how you live your life and how you cope with the shit that is thrown from  a great height at you! ……………

(A series of ….. indicates a long pause of reflection, while I try and focus in on  what I  am trying to say!)

 And above all else how you move on!

I am at the moment trying to figure out how I move on with my life, my next  step, what to do, how to achieve what? A solution, a victory? Normality (whatever that is) or just maybe simply not to wake up in the middle of the night crying, or snap at someone because they inadvertly (or otherwise) say the wrong thing! To conduct myself in public without a panic  attack, or crumbling into hysteria and a mountain of tissues, or worse still, tell the judicial system what I  really think of them, and their treatment of Children, Mothers, Grandparents  and their  beloved Grandchildren.

 There now, it only took me five hundred words  to tell you the main source of my problems at the moment , I have to represent myself in court in the battle to maintain contact with my Grandchild, contact that has already been hard fought and won in the last four/five years but has now been suspended since May 2012.

It is a battle that I will continue to fight with every fibre of my rotting body and with every last breath in it! ( Not dramatic at all there, am I?)

I consider myself to be a kind, patient, tolerant person, with a self-deprecating if not sometimes, wry, sarcastic sense of humour,  and of course there are the equal opposites in me too! (But I am as all people, trying to convey the positives in me!)

Why do all processes have to take so long?

When you fall as a child and scrape your knee,  a little plaster and a little  tender loving care will have you  feeling better in no time, the older you get it requires more than a sticking plaster to fix a graze!

Because I still have  a child’s mentality, I find  it difficult to navigate the waters  I now find myself in!

So then  what  do I want or need a therapist for, at the tender age of fifty?

I need new coping mechanisms, not that I ever really had any,  I need a fresh independent  approach, my family and me too,  are worried  for my mental and physical health.

I need a metaphorical switch inserting into my  brain to become less emotional (yes, even I can’t believe I’m asking for this??) well let’s say less emotional at inappropriate  times, i.e. take my heart off my sleeve and hide it and protect it, at least, so that I don’t keep feeling like it is  constantly being ripped out of my chest  by wolves, chewed, vomited out and stamped on by the Judiciary, CAFCASS and Social Services! (Slightly too graphic? Maybe?)

You may well be thinking don’t put your heart on Tumblr either!

I do it for so many reasons as stated above, and so others are aware of the issues I and others face, for some positive feedback to keep me going,(please) so that an illustrator out there can collaborate with me on a useful book to aid Grandparents and Grandchildren, but most of all for my Granddaughter so she will one day find it and know that I never gave up or stopped trying to give her, her own voice! and not some twisted version of it, as  presented to me  on 22nd December in the form of the latest psychological  assessment!

Wish us luck and say a little prayer for us as we return to court this week.

Raymond Briggs is the Artist, writer, cartoonist and graphic illustrator of notable works  such as; The Snowman, When The Wind Blows, Father Christmas, Fungus the Bogeyman, Ethel and Ernest : A True Story.

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SEPTEMBER SIGHS!

Well after attending court on the other side of the country, the outcome was not as I expected, but then I did not have too high an expectation or at least I thought I didn’t.

You have to have the Wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job to get through the law process and to deal with the three parents involved which is far easier to write than to put into practice!

This case has been kicking around the courts and across the country since my grandchild was 18 months old, and for the last seven years, that is most of her life!

There have been allegations of abuse against both parents, by both parents, endless Cafcass reports by three different courts, two different social care authorities involvement generating yet more reports, medical examinations, psychological evaluations, police reports, and mediation all at the expense of public funds which the taxpayer pays for, and last but not least of which the relentless manipulation of a small and innocent child!

I stepped in four  years ago to try and put a stop to this nonsense!( It is worth noting here that my husband is my second husband and not the  biological grandfather, nonetheless, he  is an outstanding example  of  a  caring grandpa!) My husband and I used our retirement fund up employing solicitors and barristers, until there was no money left; in fact we still owe Thousands  of  pounds although not by my calculations (…but then again, maths really was never my strongest attribute).

I am now reduced to acting in person or representing myself! I am not legally qualified and there are those who will say “I have a fool for a client!”

My daughter did not attend court, she has given up on her child and has become unresponsive she no longer answers my calls, texts or letters and does not answer the door if I visit, she has not seen her daughter in over a year, and I have given up trying to persuade her to do so, she is over thirty years old and has long since “gone her own way”.

I fully understand why my daughter has given up, this whole process has taken a physical and emotional toll upon her and she can no longer take the stress and strain, she has removed herself from her daughter’s life in the vain hope that she will be better off without her.

I don’t like injustice in any  form,  I particularly do  not like bullying of any kind, so  when I come across a bully who uses the law to further his own narcissistic and selfish motivations of power and control over vulnerable women and children, well…..  I think you may begin to understand why I will fight it.

Back to the most recent outcome,  ‘acting in person’ is not easy, particularly not  if you have no legal training, there are many pitfalls not least of which  can come from the ‘other parties’ legal representatives!

In my experience, most of the negotiations are done in private, between the legal representatives before you go into court and sit in front of the Judge. 

When you are ‘acting in person’(aip)-representing yourself, you have the right to be present at these negotiations at all times, (I only know  this because a kindly district Judge made  me aware, at an earlier hearing upon finding me excluded from such).

These negotiations are vital and you must be present to have your input, it can be quite intimidating sitting and negotiating with members of the legal profession but don’t let that put you off!

In this latest round I was excluded at first, accidentally an oversight maybe? But I went in and gently reminded both solicitors that I had the right to be there.

Thus begun the games, the Cafcass officer who had previously been attached to the case had sent in her report recommending yet another pyschological evaluation of the child I only had minutes to digest this report and its recommendation of suspending the current contact order!

(it is worth noting  here….it had been handed to me by the child’s solicitor outside   a  few minutes earlier and whilst I was reading the child’s father was  trying to  intimidate me into giving it back to him, I politely refused and told him I would return it to the person who had given it to me, when he persisted in demanding I  return it to him as it was HIS report I again politely refused in a louder voice and told him not to  try and intimidate me or I would have him arrested, I then walked away!)

Apparently the report had only been received by the court that morning! I will address the issue of cafcass in a later post. Either way it was duly copied and we all received a copy.

The father’s solicitor wanted the case returning to a district court (we were at a county court), whilst I don’t pretend to know the difference between the two I knew that my previously employed legal team had fought for a county court because of the complexity of the case and because “they have real teeth”??? This was to be put before the Judge.

Then it was time to negotiate who would bear the three to four thousand pound costs of the psychologists report? Dumfounded!

There was more but I will come to that at a later date.

The upshot is the contact order has been suspended although I may have indirect contact in the form of letters, cards, and gifts his solicitor said before the judge that these would not have to be acknowledged, and it was agreed,???  the judge also politely reminded the father that he should not have arbitrarily stopped contact without returning to court after all it was a court order! (Not much teeth in that telling off then?)

And so as  another summer ends  and we  await the psychologists report  and recommendations it will  be January next year before we return to court and the relationship between my  grandchild and I will  have  floundered and been  all but decimated thanks  to a laborious  and excruciatingly slow and painful process !

BIG SIGH!

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As Time marches on……

I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but there has been very little to report by way of progress! The justice system grinds on at an exceedingly slow pace!

It can also be manipulated by certain individuals to grind even slower to their advantage!

I know I can be naive, but is that because I have unrealistic expectations? Is this really the case? Or is there really such a thing as a level playing field?

These are just some of the questions and more, that are my constant companions as I continue to have sleepless nights and fogbound days, as the summer rolls on and I know that this will be the second summer in succession that my 8 year old granddaughter will not enjoy contact with the Maternal side of her biological family, relationships that have been with her from birth!

The more distant into the future having the relationship with my granddaughter & her Maternal family restored becomes, the more isolated I feel!

This is not unusual; there are a million other grandparents just like me!  

Source; www.grandparentsassociation.org.uk

Now I sound like a neurotic Nanna I know! But unless you have experienced the outpouring of unconditional love that you give and receive from a grandchild, you may not understand unless you too are a loving parent and grandparent.

I cannot stress enough (There’s irony for you!) how important family relationships are, and in particular to a child who has formed attachments.

I know that without the support of my loving family and friends in particular this summer I would be much sadder and far more stressed than I am at present.

But there is always hope!

On the question of continuity the child’s solicitor from the previous court case has been re-engaged, same too of the CAFCASS officer although she works for a different department, she may well make her observations known.

I have again tried to communicate and negotiate openly with my Grandchild’s father and step-mother, but alas to no avail!

So now I sit and wait for the court date in two weeks!

I am also in the  process of setting up a much needed support group for Grandparents, who have little or no contact, in the Manchester area, for more information , advice, support,  or  if you would like to help, email: grandparentsupport@hotmail.com

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Continuity

Continuity:

1. The state or quality of being continuous.

2. continuous  or connected whole.

In the family justice review of March 2011 it was recommended that in the family courts that there is more continuity.  The following is taken from the final report published in November 2011:-

“32. Nearly everyone has told us at every stage how important it is to have

the same Judge throughout a case.

The aim should be judicial continuity in all familyCases.

We recognise that to achieve continuity will need changes to the work

patterns of some judges. A willingness to adapt work patterns to be able to

offer continuity should be a condition for the ability to take family work. If

some courts can achieve continuity it should be possible in all.”

Family Justice Review Final Report – November 2011 |page 10

You can read more at

 (type Family Justice review Final report in the search box)  

When I filed the papers at court in June (C 79: enforcement of a contact order) I humbly requested for the same Judge (by name) who had been involved in the original protracted case, for exactly this reason continuity, and hopefully a swifter outcome, so that there be less stress for all involved, in particular the child, and no need for duplication of process, i.e. more reports etc.

The date of the initial  hearing (  known as  a  directions appointment ) was given  for some three  weeks later in July this gives sufficient time for all parties involved  to be served papers,  the required  14 day notice period.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

  1.   I checked with the court and the same Judge will not be presiding.
  2.  The CAFCASS officer in the original case is also not available.
  3.  The respondents solicitor returned the papers to me yesterday saying as this was a new case; they could not act until receiving a new instruction from their client, and suggested I serve the papers directly to the respondent, and to request a new later date from the court.
  4. At this stage it is also doubtful that child’s solicitor in the original case is available.

SO MUCH FOR CONTINUITY THEN!

Disappointing?  Yes!

Will I give up? No!

I have re-served the papers to the respondent, and I have requested a new hearing date by email.

And as I truly believe everything happens for a reason you never know, maybe the original Judge, CAFCASS officer and child’s solicitor may become available!

In the meantime I will stay in faith and defer to the one book of law that never fails:

“Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions.”

Deuteronomy 32:11

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Monday morning Mush!

Today my brain is a bit mushy, having an emotionally draining week last week in actually forcing myself to go back to court!

I spent the weekend doing research! and hours updating my Kindle and downloading a book. I did warn you that I’m not that techno savvy didn’t I? what should have taken minutes took up most of my Saturday????

Anyhow I managed to read the book, finished it this morning……………

GRAND WISHES: Advocating To Preserve The Grandparent Grandchild Bond

Although uplifting and inspiring, Susan Hoffman is American therefore this book was tailored for the american market, it is her account of how she lobbied and campaigned to change the law in Orange County so that Grandparents rights became law, under the fourteenth amendment, as she so eloquently put it in her book:

"balancing parental autonomy with "Grandparent’s Rights" which in reality is the right of a child to continue to have a beloved grandparent in their lives"

" what the state can do is protect children from serious psychological harm resulting from severed relationships that are centrally important to their lives"

Having been on this uncertain treadmill for the last five or more years, Susan’s book has given me hope that we in this country must continue to campaign and petition our politician’s and the judiciary to adopt, adapt or at least look at what our american cousin’s are doing to help preserve the family in the 21st century.

There is one group that I know that are working hard to this end and that is ;

Grandparents Associationhttp://www.grandparents-association.org.uk

Today I will end with a quote;

What comes from the heart, goes to the heart. - Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

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Where do you start?

It would appear that I have the inability to be precise and concise!

Just so you know I have been busy all week filling out forms for court yet again to enforce a contact order granted over a year ago now, but rarely adhered to and since I have been threatened with not being able to see my grandchild until she is 16, well I’m a bit riled up to say the least!

To enforce a contact order you will need form C79 and the fee of £200.00

I was trying to prepare a brief history for the blog but it already stands at 500 + words. more of the beginnings of a book really….mmmm….

my intention is to be a Grandparent activist and this blog will hopefully help other grandparents to actively seek contact through the courts, or mediation or whatever method works for them to maintain contact and the all important bond between Grandparents and their grandchildren.

Understand one thing at the outset it is not easy, we are a marginalized group in this country (U.K.) and from my research around the world too!

I will be posting my thoughts and feelings (as they are not allowed into the judicial process!) some top tips and any useful links to books or websites that I come across.