Well, I don't even know where to begin. This is a day that we've "anticipated" but, hoped it wouldn't have to come to this, for the past four and a half years. Recently, I've asked for prayers for Zaylee. Until now, I've not said anymore because I really didn't know what to say. But, today, things have changed. I don't know even where to begin. Deep breath.
Last Sunday, we heard "through the grapevine" that Kelly was in jail and had been for a week or two. We last saw her/heard from her at the Fireworks on July 3. A few days before that, she'd dropped by with Zaylee and a new girlfriend. She's been doing so well... working a lot of hours to support her family (because Kevin won't work), living in a cute little home, not drinking or doing drugs. She has frequent unexpected drop-in visits on a regular basis by a probation officer that have, basically, forced her to "be good" or else. Until now. I don't know any details, but after a little checking, we do know that she was arrested for a "Probation Violation". KELLY!!!??!
As soon as we heard this news, my first thought was a fear that Kevin might try to disappear with Zaylee again, like he did last summer. With Kelly in jail, who'd pay the bills because he certainly won't work. I worried if Zaylee was eating, who was around her, what was happening to her. BUT. EVERYTHING in me said, "Do nothing." All week long, I kept thinking, "Go over and ask Kevin if you can bring Zaylee over for a few days." But, everything in me said, "NOOOOOOOOOO!" I even drove up their street three times to see if she was outside playing. But again, it was "DON'T STOP!!!" And I do try to listen to that voice that speaks my name.
And then what happened is just beyond me.
On Friday afternoon, while ZJ and I were at the theater, my cellphone rang just as the previews began. I walked outside to take the call. It was the Department of Child and Family Services calling to inform me that Zaylee was now in their custody. Apparently, the Police Strike Force went in and SURPRISE! Kevin and his new girlfriend (the "friend" who Kelly had brought to our home a few weeks ago) were arrested and sent to jail. Zaylee was "endangered". Meth and marijuana were found in the home.
(If you are reading this and saying, "I can't believe she's sharing this on her blog"...YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL... WHY TRY TO HIDE THE TRUTH OR ONLY TELL THE GOOD STUFF? LIFE IS REAL!)
I don't know a lot of details. NOR do they matter to me. What does matter to me is Zaylee.
The DCFS worker informed me that Zaylee is in a foster home. When I said I would pick her up immediately, she, regrettably, informed me, "It's not that easy now." She then explained that Zaylee is now "in the custody of the State of Utah" and that they will be, basically, "calling the shots". For Zaylee's sake, we see this as A HUGE BLESSING! FINALLY!!! She assured me that Zaylee was fine, was with a family who have children. (Zaylee is so used to being passed around to so many people that she's very adaptable.) She said that Zaylee was present when the Strike Force entered. I do not know if it was like a scene on TV where they kick in doors and aim guns or if they quietly knocked. But, she did tell me that Zaylee was removed immediately, that she did not even cry, that she was "actually very calm".
I know nothing more about Kevin and I don't really care. From what little I was told, I'd be perfectly fine if he stayed in jail for.ev.er!!! What I do know is that this was his doing. He can't walk away and allow Kelly to take the blame, as he has done so many times before, because she hasn't even been there. WHO DOES THESE THINGS IN THE PRESENCE OF A CHILD!??!!?
The question is: What now? Zaylee will be/was tested and if she tests positive for exposure to drugs, his consequences will be even more severe. The home was unclean, unsafe, Zaylee was exposed to things that no four year old should be exposed to and, from what we are told, drastic changes will have to take place before Zaylee could ever be returned to Kelly or Kevin.
Today, Doug and I will be going through the required screening, even though we are her grandparents, in order to be given "temporary guardianship" of Zaylee. The DCFS person did tell me that Kelly AND Kevin both were contacted and both recommended/requested that we take care of Zaylee. We can not even see Zaylee until we've been "screened", had criminal background checks, our home has been visited and approved as a safe and clean place for her to live. (The DCFS lady laughed and told me that Kelly had told her that "that's the least of your worries. My mom's house is the cleanest house in the valley. She's a germaphobe!")
We are willing to do, temporarily, whatever it takes to see that Zaylee gets what she deserves in life... a good family who will care for her, love and protect her and treat her like the little precious child of God that she is, that she deserves, just like the other seven children that Kelly had brought into this earth. Four families, including Doug and I, have been blessed more than words can say because Kelly gave birth to the children that were so longed for. Ultimately, we hope that the state will allow Liza and Buddy to be Zaylee's guardians or more. It's already been suggested by Kelly, the social worker told me on Friday. Liza and Buddy are more than ready and willing. Yes, even with the baby on her way. They've loved Zaylee as their own since her birth and Zaylee adores them both.
In a perfect world, as Kelly's parents, we'd love nothing more than to see her become a responsible single mom, free of her past, free of Kevin and turning her life around forever. However, for eleven years, Kelly and Kevin have been like each other's poison. It's the most unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship I've ever known. As long as they are together, we have no hope for a normal and healthy life for Zaylee and now, now that the court is involved, we feel hope for Zaylee's future. They will either have to make some major changes in their life or they will lose her for good. Based on their history, and based on what information I was given last week about the condition Zaylee was discovered in, I hope and pray that Zaylee never has to endure another moment of that life again. Sad to say for Kelly, who was no part of this most recent nightmare, but who's made enough of her own bad choices that now she has to pay consequences, as well.
A few other thoughts...
I felt so strongly not to call Kevin and ask for Zaylee last week. What a blessing that was because if Zaylee had have been with us when the Strike Force arrived, she would still be back in the same situation as soon as Kevin gets out of jail. Tender mercy.
Friends are asking, "Are you and Doug ready to raise another child?" The answer to that is "NO." It was not an easy task to "inherit" a baby, a toddler and a pre-schooler when I was 44, although we would have it no other way. At 55, with a seriously injured foot, two bad knees and three busy teenagers, it would be much more of a daunting task. However, we will do whatever we need for Zaylee. This is temporary and we want what's best for her. If it would expedite things for her to stay with a foster family to get Zaylee to Liza sooner, we would even consider that.
We love this little girl so much. She's been through more than any child should ever have to go through. Our prayers every day have been that she be protected and that we would accept whatever it takes for Zaylee to be in a safe and loving environment.
I do believe that both Kevin and Kelly will be devastated over this and I KNOW that this is not going to be a cake walk. However, (the mantra that I have the babes quote daily) "The choices we make today determine our happiness tomorrow." This is the natural consequence of their actions. And if anyone can tell you, it's Kelly... Doug and I do not interfere with natural consequences. We've not visited her. We won't accept her collect calls from the jail. (She has not even bothered trying this time.) And we certainly would not stand in the way of Zaylee's removal from the environment that she was removed from. This was their doing. Now, they will have to live with outcome of their actions.
And So. Today, we're meeting with DCFS. I'm not sure how long it will take until we have Zaylee. It could be a few days even. She has no clothes, no toys. Nothing. We don't want anything from their home because it will be hazardous. Ironically, we'd just took all of our things for Zaylee to Kelly's a few weeks ago because we saw her so rarely that she's outgrowing things before she even used them. I will also do what I can to get her enrolled in Head Start because she's going to need that extra help. All weekend, honestly, I've heard over and over in my head, "Mamma Mia, Here we go again!"
It was an emotional weekend. I cried. A lot. I had a meltdown on Saturday as I was gathering and compiling all that I've studied for my SS lesson. At one point, I thought, "I can't do this. (my lesson) Not this weekend." But, when I woke up on Sunday morning at 6, I knew I was fine and could do it. Doug and the kids had a great experience at the ranch. ZJ and I did manage to have a wonderful time together. I'm actually very happy for this past two weeks because we've made some special bonds as she's gone through this illness, surgery and recovery. It's interesting... ZJ becomes more and more like Liza every day. More about "our" weekend tomorrow.
And I say this, in all seriousness...Life is good. It's these trials that make us stronger. It's days like Friday that help us appreciate the "good news" days even more. And most of all, it's times like this that we feel Heavenly Father's hand in all things and know of his love for each of us individually. Continued prayers are appreciated.
Challenges are what makes life interesting.
Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.