I don’t want to see my grandchildren on the news,” Monica wrote to the director of social services. She knew her young grandsons were in danger because their mother, Eva*, had a mental illness, which was later diagnosed as schizophrenia. Monica needed to get them help.
Eva’s trouble began three years earlier, after she gave birth to her first child, Gavin. Monica saw Eva becoming increasingly paranoid and isolating herself with Gavin. Monica wanted to bring Gavin to safety in her home, but a combative Eva refused.
Eva gave birth to a second son, Maleekiah, and Monica could see that Eva wasn’t bonding with her newborn. Monica was determined to get help. She wrote to the director of social services. She told him that the strange men going in and out of Eva’s home could hurt the boys.
Monica’s letter got attention. Child protective services intervened, and Eva agreed to let Monica take the boys. “But the day after, she called the police and accused the social worker and me of kidnapping the kids,” Monica says. Monica got temporary custody of the boys. Gavin was 3 and Maleekiah was 6 months old.
Monica’s case was referred to Lilliput, a part of Wayfinder, for assistance from the Resource Family Approval–Kinship program during the adoption process. “Resource parents don’t have a lot of support,” says Martin Steele, Monica’s social worker. “So that’s a big part of what I do.” We provided Monica with resources for supplies and equipment, like car seats. Martin helped Monica with adoption paperwork and information about the court process.
Monica wanted to adopt both boys, but Maleekiah’s father stepped up for his son. Gavin struggled with the trauma he experienced while with his mother. He didn’t speak until he was nearly 4 years old. Now age 6, he’s a talkative boy who loves superheroes. Monica adopted Gavin in September 2020.
Monica is intent on maintaining family bonds. Maleekiah spends nearly every weekend with Monica and Gavin. She took Gavin to meet his father and paternal relatives in Florida. Eva visits Gavin and phones him. “It’s a challenge because of her schizophrenia diagnosis,” Monica says. Disheartened by the lack of help for her daughter, Monica plans to advocate for better mental health care.
Monica is looking forward to Thanksgiving, her favorite holiday. “This year, we’ll do a Zoom meeting with family in different states,” she says. “We’ll show what we’re cooking and do our gratitude.”
About Wayfinder Monica says, “I’m grateful that I had people passionate about their work. Everybody was really committed to their mission.”
*name changed for privacy
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November 25, 2020