In Atlanta XXXIX… Chapter 39

We have been sitting in the hospital waiting room for what seems like forever.  In reality it has really only been about fifteen minutes.   I am generally a patient man.  Not today.  I am beyond myself at the moment.  I want to get my kids and get the hell up out of here.  The thoughts that are in my head are moving a mile a minute.  This just seems like a nightmare that I can’t wake up from and it is horrible.  Ms. Garrett hasn’t said too much since we got to the hospital and because she was with the children I feel like now may be a good time to talk to her.  “Ms. Garret, I really appreciate all that you have done and what you are doing right now for my kids.  I don’t know how I will ever be able to repay you.”  She gives me a sweet and genuine smile.  “Oh Joseph, I am a parent myself.  I know what it is like to want what is best for your children.  This was no trouble at all really.  I am just as concerned about their well being as you are.  I just don’t want you to be upset because I called Social Services.  I had an obligation to make sure that these kids were alright.  I do hope you understand.”  Truth be told.  I would not have known what to do had I been Ms. Garrett.  At least she has had the proper training as a school teacher to know what to do.

Before I can respond to Ms. Garret, a slender white woman approaches us.  She does not have on a white coat or a nurse’s uniform.  She just has an ID badge hanging from her sweater.  “Good Morning.  I understand that you are Joseph Jones the father of Jacinta and Jordan Jones?”  I shake my head to confirm the words that I can’t find to come out of my mouth.  My mother on the other hand is already in full effect.  “Yes, and I am the paternal grandmother of those children.  My name is Susan Jones.  We are here to get the children and we will take it from here.”  The lady looks over her file for a bit and then she asks if we could follow her.   I am not sure where we are going, but my hope is that she is taking me to my children.    I am wrong when we enter what seems to be a smaller private waiting room.  This is not what I was expecting.

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“Mr. Jones, is it ok for me to speak freely in front of Ms. Garret and Ms. Jones?”  I do a double take at the notion that she is already acquainted with Ms. Garret.  I am hoping that this is someone that Ms. Garret knows personally.  This may be able to work in our favor.   I tell her that whatever she needs to say to me, she can say in front of these two.   “My name is Melissa Gardner, I am the Social Worker that has been assigned to this case.  I would first like to say that your children were found in an extraordinary amount of neglect.  Ms. Garret was able to get the children in her possession and bring them to the proper authorities for evaluation.  In the medical findings, both children were found to be dehydrated, hungry, and both children are suffering from bronchitis.  In addition, the younger daughter Jordan has several rashes on her body including a severe diaper rash.  These rashes generally occur when a child has been in their own soil for a period of time.  The older daughter Jacinta, has several bruises on her arm and on the back of her legs.  We believe that she received some sort of beating or punishment that caused these marks.”  The Social Worker stops to allow what she has just said to sink in.  She doesn’t need to do that, I am heart broken.

“Miss lady, we just need to get to the children.  I am sure that when they see their father and myself, they will feel safe.”  My mother is speaking what I can not get my mouth to move an say.  I am so thankful that she is here.  I am devastated at hearing the condition that my children are in.  “That’s why we are here Ms. Jones.  It is my understanding that Mr. Jones has been away at sea for work?  Is this correct Mr. Jones?”  I am finally able to look this woman in the face.  “Yes, my job requires that I travel pretty often.”  Regardless of the situation, I am no fool.  I know that I am to answer only what I am asked.  Never give any additional information that has not been requested.  Ms. Gardner continues with her questioning as she is reviewing the notes that she has in her file.  “Can you tell me where you think the mother of the children is?”  This question cuts me like a knife.  “No ma’am, I have been unsuccessful in finding her right this moment.”  The social worker takes some additional notes.

I feel my mother grab my hand.  I know that this interview is bothering her too.  The thing is that one of us has to be strong.  I am not the one right now.  To hear that someone has laid a hand on my child is horrific.  I have never given either of my children a spanking or any other kind of disciplinary action for that matter.  So if I haven’t done it, what makes someone else think that they can?  I have seen Julianna get frustrated and even angry at times, but I have never seen her lay a hand on the children.  This either means that Julianna finally lost her cool or someone else made the decision to put hands on my child.  I am furious and whoever this is, will feel my wrath.   Know this!!!

“Mr. Jones, because of these findings, we will have to maintain custody of your children until we can deem either of their parents to be fit for them to retain custody.”  I lose it!  “What the hell do you mean, you will have to maintain custody?!  I am their father!  Who else is supposed to take care of them?!  I am here and I am ready to take my kids home now!”  All three women watch me lose my temper and it is Ms. Garret that gets me to calm down.  The social worker seems helpless.   I know that she knows that this situation is not her fault.  I know that this situation is beyond her decision.  My mother speaks up while Ms. Garret is talking to me about keeping my cool.  “Listen, I know you have a job to do.  We as a family appreciate all that you have done to help my grandchildren.  But please understand that these kids have a family.  They have a support system like you wouldn’t believe.  We are not going to be able to just give these kids over to you.  It is not going to help them that they are with people that they don’t know.”

“Ms. Jones, with all due respect, it is exposing these children to people that they didn’t know that put them in this position in the first place.  My job is to make sure that nothing else happens to them.  I hope that you can understand the hard position that I am in.  I am not for breaking up families.  I need you to know that.  What I can do, is I can see if the family court will show favor for either you or Ms. Garret to serve as a guardian for the children until all of the safety checks have been made.  If the judge sees fit that Mr. Jones can retain custody of the two children on his own, then he can get the kids back at that time.  However, until then, I will be an advocate that Mr. Jones gets visitation rights with the kids.”

Sur La Table

I feel defeated. “Can I at least get to see my kids now?  I have to see them.”  The Social Worker says that she will be back and that we will need to wait here until she comes to get us.  The minute she closes the door, the three of us go into full discussion.  “Oh Joseph!  Please don’t worry, we will work our way through this.  I am not leaving here without my grandchildren!”  Tears fall down my face.  How did this happen?  How could Julianna let this happen?  What would possess her to have just anyone around my kids?  Most of all, where the hell is she and why can’t I find her?  Ms. Garret and my mother continue having a conversation about next steps.  Ms. Garret is a saint, she has agreed to become a guardian of the children if asked by the courts.  This is a bit much for anyone, more so for her.  I mean, it is not like the maternal grandmother of these children didn’t take her husband from her.  You have to have a special kind of heart to be willing to do what she is willing to do.  I am forever grateful for her.

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My eyes feel the sun shining on them.  I realize that I am not in my bed.  I am on the sofa of my parent’s house.  I smell coffee being brewed and this lets me know that Big Daddy is up and making breakfast.  I walk myself to the kitchen.  “Good Morning!”  Big Daddy gives me a kiss on my cheek.  “Can I fix you some coffee or juice?  Breakfast should be up in a moment.”  I will take both.  I am hungry and nothing beats a good cup of coffee.  “Is Julianna and mother still sleep?”  He flips the omelet in the skillet with a chef’s precision.  “Well Joan, you know your mother is going through her ritual of what she plans on wearing for the day.  As for your faithful cousin Julianna, she left with Pocket last night not too long after you fell asleep.”  How in the hell could she just leave like that?  Something is wrong with that chick I swear.  Big Daddy can tell that I am frustrated with this bit of news.  He is also, I can tell.  “Joan, it is going to be up to us to find these kids.  I don’t think Julianna is of sound mind to do this on her own.  We need to find out who all was at her house for that party.”  He is right and knowing Julianna, she is probably two sheets in the wind off of some cocaine.  Sad.

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