I wanted to update everyone who didn't already hear that we did indeed get legal guardianship of Jeffrey last Tuesday morning. Big sigh of relief. Big life changes for us here in the Spaulding House.
I think I was more stressed out than I thought about this whole endeavor, as I now have a giant stress zit growing in that space between my eyes. The spot I tell my yoga students to soften from, to release all tension through. Guess I released some of my own.
Part of my worry about the situation was what Jeffrey's mother was going to do. It could have been awful. It wasn't. For once, she did the right thing. She showed up at court, and she gave her permission for us to take him. A hard thing for any mother to do. A harder thing for her, as it will mean some serious life changes for her now.
I once wrote a blogpost about never wanting to meet this mother, and haven't yet posted it. I thought I might punch her in the face, something I have never done to anyone before. The things that she has put Jeffrey (and Sadie) through in their lifetimes, never ceases to push my hot buttons when I hear the stories.
But on this day she was there, she showed up, she did the right thing for Jeffrey and Sadie.
And for that I cannot be angry.
Many people have asked us the why we would do this. It is sometimes attached to an are you nuts look. Why would we, when life is supposed to be getting less complicated, take all this on?
Our answer is really: How can we not? With just a little of this family's love, support and direction, the growth in these two wonderful children (of a not so wonderful mother), is beyond inspiring.
Below I am sharing a letter that Sadie wrote to her mother the day we sent the court papers asking for legal guardianship over Jeffrey. It is long, but so worth the read for her perspective alone. Her mother had no idea this was coming. She had asked that we take Jeffrey for a month while she "got clean." Soon after she then asked for two more months. Feeling that Jeffrey was already a part of this family, we didn't want to have to give him back, if he didn't want to go. And we wanted to be there for him at school, and the doctor's office, in every aspect of his life. Thus the reason we filed for guardianship of Jeffrey. Well that, and the fact that we love him.
I hope this unedited post from Sadie's Blog helps explain things a little.
It was easier to type this rather than write it because I can get my feelings on paper a lot quicker. But you might have known this…Well to get to the point, after opening this letter you have probably seen the legal documents of legal guardianship of Jeffrey. Jeffrey and I have come to the conclusion that you are not financially, emotionally or mentally stable to handle being his guardian. We were reassured of this the day he left. You may have “changed” but this isn’t new to us. You always “change” then go back to who you were. In our eyes, nothings changed. We aren’t holding out breath this time. The Spaulding family has all the love, stability and parental guidance that Jeffrey needs to help him grow to be successful. We aren’t doing this to hurt you. But we all know what’s best for Jeffrey. The Spaulding family, now my family, was/are here for Jeffrey with open arms and has developed a relationship with him that he’s not willing to give up. He loves this family, just like I do.
Our intention is to make sure Jeffrey has stability, a place to grow, and to be taken care of. He has that here, with the Spaulding family. They have done so much for him already; new clothes, shoes, encouragement to get on the right path in school, gain new hobbies and feel less stressed. I can’t remember the last time Jeffrey was stressed out, cried or got so angry that he wanted to leave this house. I hope you understand that we’re doing this for Jeffrey’s sake. He needs this. It doesn’t mean he won’t be in your life at all. He will visit and eventually get to the point, with you, that he will call regularly. You and him need time to sort things out, need time to talk and work out your issues. All kids have “issues” with their parents but your situation is different. You’ve put him through your Addiction more times than many and he doesn’t look up to you as a child should. You haven’t given him a reason, for you to be seen as a role model, in his eyes.
I know you are bettering yourself by working more, paying bills on time, being less dependable and calling Jeffrey more. But these things are for you. You need to work on you before you can work on your relationship with Jeffrey. I don’t want him to have the same reaction to you, that Mario has. Unfortunately, he is on that path… And I don’t want this. I love you. He loves you. But we know you. It doesn’t take a few months to “change”. It could take years… And we are willing to wait, and have faith that you will succeed in being successful and taking care of yourself. But you should not make Jeffrey go through your process with you. He has his own life to live, and so far he is doing a great job. He’s doing good in school; other than talking to much in class, his teacher enjoy him as a student. You have raised an amazing son, Mother. It’s time to let him grow into who he was meant to be by letting Terri and Mike teach him growth, discipline and knowledge of how to succeed. Because so far, you have shown Jeffrey that you can’t teach him these things. So, the way that Terri and Mike guide him will be new to Jeffrey. He doesn’t understand hard work such as mowing the lawn or getting a job. He doesn’t understand that he can control his emotions and he doesn’t have to tell Facebook about how he feels; although he does anyway. He doesn’t understand that he has a curfew, bedtime and responsibilities.
But he will grow to understand.
I wanted to get legal guardianship over Jeffrey but I can’t. I’m not stable enough to even take care of myself. I’m not ready to take on being an older sister and a Mother to “my other half”. I find out he’s more like me every day. We have gone through the same heartache, loss and have the same insecurities.
Mine are a bit different… “If my own mother doesn’t love me enough to clean up her act and take care of me like a mother should, then why would anyone else love me?” I have had to live with that continuous insecurity playing in my head each time I thought someone loved me. I know better now.
Jeffrey had to live with… “My mother will never be clean, but I can only hope she will change. I love her. She will change. I’m good enough, right?”
I’m not telling you this to hurt you. But I’ve never been able to tell you how you made me feel all these years. I visited you because I wanted your attention, wanted you to love me, to come back, to get me back and be my mother. You never did, until I was all grown up. And even then, after 21yrs of my life, you admit that you are *still* addicted. I’m not holding my breath any longer. You will change when you want to. But I will not let you drag Jeffrey down with you. It is his right to decide who he wants to live with and he does not need your permission. The date is set and I hope to see you in court. Although we wish for this to be a mutual agreement and for you to agree that Jeffrey will be better off here, I know this may not be the case. I understand. Our intention, my intention, Jeffrey’s intention, was never meant to hurt you.
He loves you mom; he wants to see you grow as a person without him. You can do this. He will visit. But you both need time. He needs time to settle into his life and how it’ll change.
I will always be here for him. He knows that. I know you will always be there for him too. He’s going to need you to call regularly, to text him just to say “hi, how are ya?“, to “have lunch” on a Sunday afternoon to catch up on school and life, just because…
If you want him to see a change in you, do something he wouldn’t expect. Be mature about the situation and when you show up in court (you don’t legally have to but it’s preferred) that day, give him a hug, tell him you love him, and make a plan to have him visit once a week or once every other week. Start that bond with him again that you once had when he was younger. Let him see that you understand and respect his decision. It IS his decision. He has the choice to choose this. We did not force him into this nor did we talk him into it. The day he left and I had to go find him to tell him he could stay at my house, he had already made up his mind; He was not to go back to live with you. The Spauldings (and I) love him very much and has shown him so, by helping make this guardianship happen. I know you may not understand this now, but I hope you will soon. You will always be Jeffrey’s Mother. Show him that you have what it takes to prove it.
If you need time to let this all sink in, I understand. But when you come to the conclusion that this “is” happening, Jeffrey has made his decision and the Spauldings have good intentions; The Spauldings and Jeffrey would like to talk with you over lunch or something, about all this, before the hearing. It’s important that you and the Spauldings have a foundation to build on. It’s important for Jeffrey to see three such important people in his life, get along and be there for Jeffrey as he grows.
I’m sorry, Mom. Deep down, you know this is the right thing for Jeffrey. Although, on the surface you may feel that the right thing is for him to be with you, but it’s not. You’re not fit to be a mother.
For more posts by Sadie, you can visit her blog, Letters 2 My Future Self.