Reinstatement of the Parent-Child legal relationship in New Mexico

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My name is April. I am a mother of 3. My son is 22, my oldest daughter is 21 and my youngest daughter is almost 12. I (like everyone else in this world) made some bad choices 7 years ago. I was a great mom and I stayed home with them, I took them to school and picked them up everyday from head start until middle school, I was the secretary of the parent counsel at my two older kids YDI head-start school for 3 years straight, I made sure they were always clean, girls with bows in their hair and son always clean cut and looking good, I put all 3 kids in the New Mexico baby pageants every year from ages 3 months to 6 years and now they have good self esteem, I was taxi mom, nurse mom, best-friend mom, cool mom, I was the mom every kid wished they had. BUT within 6 months when my oldest was 12 years old, I became a single mom after a 7 year relationship, and I got caught up in the wrong crowd and felt so free and within that 6 months, I lost my apartment, got behind on my car payment and started casually doing meth. I know that sounds bad and I will not try to justify any of my actions in that 6 months because I take full responsibility for the choices I made. So in the 6th month my youngest daughters dad called CYFD on me and by then I had already been clean 2 or 3 days, I had kicked out the bad people of my home and my life, I cleaned my crappy apartment that I had gotten so my kids could be with me on christmas morning that year. ( I had them staying with my cousin, I was also homeless for 2 months living in my mothers RV in her front yard) Thats why they were not with me. So when CYFD called me to come in for a meeting, I had agreed to come not worrying about a drug test because by then I would've been 7 to 8 days clean so I figured I didn't need to worry. I had their rooms set up with brand new everything and had my fridge full. I was planning on bringing them home that Friday of the meeting before the meeting was even planned,but when I got there, they tested me and I still came up dirty. I wasn't clean long enough I guess and because I would not agree to inpatient drug treatment they took my kids while I was still in the meeting. They sent the BCSO (sheriff) to get my kids. I worked 7 months and started getting day unsupervised visits which turned to over nights with my son and youngest daughter, my older daughter was not where they wanted her to be in her treatment so she only got to come home on the weekends with a casa worker with us from 10am to 6pm who wrote everything down, including the little fire i accidentally started in the kitchen and told the courts how well I dealt with the situation. Things went good for 6 months until I breached the safety plan by letting a homeless family (close friends down on their luck) stay with us. They were only staying 5 or 6 days until their housing inspection and then they were going to have their own place, but 2 days before that was to happen, CYFD found out they were there and re-took my kids into custody. At the Team meeting, they did not give me a chance to talk, and they all agreed on turning the case from reunification to adoption. NOT ONCE did they EVER advise me that I could turn the adoption back to reunification, NEVER. So I hit rock bottom and because of a game I was playing on Myspace, I was kicked off housing and left homeless, and I would have qualified for a 1 bedroom due to my disability but because of something I posted about an online game, the housing took my housing. Then I went to jail for a misdemeanor over night and missed my visit with my kids at the office, they completely took my visits away. 3 months later, At court they were accusing me of off the wall BS and my lawyer never once stood up for me. Her name was Maryann D'Angelis and she was a horrible lawyer. So at court they took my parental rights and as I was walking out of the court room I saw my two caseworkers and my lawyer talking, they all looked at me and grinned, one of the caseworkers was actually smiling. I got to see my kids 1 more time at a goodbye visit.

My older kids of course would contact me threw out the years and my oldest daughter was adopted at the age of 16 years old, moved to Ohio and they changed her name. After being on the streets of Marion Ohio and being physically and sexually abused, and robbed for everything she had, she was able to contact me threw an old childhood friend. That was November 2014, Dec 4th 2014 i had her on her way home on a Greyhound bus. She's 21 now and is still living here at home. She has a lot of issues shes needs to overcome still before she can even think about living on her own.

My son is now 22 years old and has been home since he was 17 when he ran away from the teen homeless shelter CYFD had him in and I pushed him to stay in school and graduate. He did. He also has a 11 month old daughter he is alienated from himself.He also has a lot of issues he needs to work on due to foster care.

My soon to be 12 year old is still in foster care. They have her in a treatment center in another state. After almost 7 years of us being separated, until June 2017 and CYFD got letters between my daughter and us approved. Then after a couple months we started supervised phone calls at the office every other Friday for 15 mins. Those calls went so well after 2 months they allowed my daughter Kaitlynn to call me every other Friday unsupervised for 15 mins and the other Fridays she would call on speaker with her counselor. Until one Friday when she called, she told me she was being abused "out of Camera view", a kid over heard her and told the staff, she was told to hang up. When I brought it to the attention of the CYFD worker, she said "kaitlynn makes up stories and unless you really now her like I do, you will believe anything she says" this is coming from a person who has never met my child in person and only talks to her once every couple months. A week later my phone calls stopped. After the fourth week, my daughter called on a Thursday instead of a Friday due to the hurricane, so I did not hear my phone ring. She left a message saying she had something to tell me but did not want to say it on the machine and for me to wait for her call next week, (she sounded pretty excited) So I did. I got the call and to my surprise she told me she was having our calls cut because she needed to focus on her treatment and having her family around is "disrupting" her treatment. That was Jan 2018. CYFD said i could still write her and I have dropped a letter off every week since. I have not heard from her.

I have completely changed my life since 2011. I am now married a little over 5 years, I am not in any legal trouble and have stayed out of trouble since 2012. I help lots of people when I can and I advocate families in need on my own time. I have been completely clean since Nov 23rd 2011 and I am very involved with my nieces and nephews.

I believe if Kaitlynn could come home, she would have a better chance at life and due to her being institutionalized for the last 3 years, she needs a structured home that I as her parent CAN provide. Not only her needs and wants will be met but the love she will receive will make up for all the love shes missed out on.

Now I am asking for your help to help reunite Kaitlynn with her family by signing this petition. Not only will it help our family but it will help thousands of deserving families reunite also!

The bill I am trying to get passed is already in place in 9 other states and similar bills in 17 other states. The bill I want to propose to the state senate is the same one Colorado has had in Place since 2014. here is the link if you would like to look at the entire bill

How many of you have lost a loved one to CYFD? Never again to see them until they find you. How many parents have lost their kids and really changed their lives knowing one day those children will come looking for them? I am one of those parents. and because of my lifestyle change, my kids have came home and have a bright future ahead of them. Kaitlynn and many other children deserve that chance at life, and with this bill, it'll give us a chance to make things right. If you're a parent who has lost their parental rights in New Mexico and you think you can pass the criteria in the Bill, please contact me asap.

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April Marie O'Grady-Leat (Westfall) needs your help with “New Mexico State House: Reinstatement of the Parent-Child legal relationship in New Mexico”. Join April Marie and 214 supporters today.