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CAS Holds Three Kids
June 19, 2007 permalink
Mark Bonokoski gets a CAS story almost right. CAS does not remain mum because of any law — when they want to talk about a case, they do so with real names. Here they don't want to. And the real reason for keeping three kids in foster care is the buckets of money CAS gets from the taxpayers.
The father is an upstanding, sober citizen. The drug-addled mother can't care for their children. Why is he being denied custody?
From the outside looking in, it was the perfect Father's Day weekend. The kids' eyes lit up when they heard they were going for a boat ride on the lake where their paternal grandparents ran a country store and inn.
The store had a candy counter, of course.
It was a kid's dream come true.
From there, it was off to a reunion of his father's side of the family. Lots of pop and hot dogs. Lots of cousins to play with. Lots of fun.
And then it was home to the Oshawa area, the kids fast asleep from the exhaustion that comes from burned energy and fresh air.
When their father dropped them off, however, it was not at their mother's house, even though the courts had once given her joint custody.
No, instead of dropping his children off at his ex-wife's house, he had to drop them off at the homes of their foster parents -- the oldest boy, at 13, going to one foster home, while the two youngest, his 10-year-old son and his 8-year-old daughter, having to go to another.
'BREAKS MY HEART'
"It breaks their heart, and it breaks my heart," the father says. "All I can tell them is to trust me ... that things will work out eventually.
"But what a nightmare."
The Durham Children's Aid had scooped his kids from their mother's custodial care and, from the outside looking in, social workers could not be criticized for their initial actions -- not by a long shot.
They had responded to a 911 call from one of the children. There was no food in the house, the child had said, and they were hungry.
When Durham Regional Police arrived, the children's mother had trouble talking coherently and negotiating the hallway.
Drug use was suspected.
Before the children's parents broke up, and later divorced, their mother was a pharmaceutical technician. Unfortunately, it also led to her allegedly treating each pharmacy as if it were its own kind of candy store.
It led to lost jobs for suspected theft of narcotics. It led to an addiction to prescription painkillers. And it led to her going into detox and rehab.
In rehab, she got knocked up by another patient.
That child, now 3, is also in foster care.
And that, in a nutshell, is all she wrote on this mother -- other than the impaired driving charge she is also facing, having blown into the balloon at 0.14, almost twice the legal limit, and all while driving on a suspended licence.
It would seem, however, that the Durham CAS is doing everything it can to give the children's mother more chances than she deserves to straighten out her life than it is willing to give the children's' father even one chance at trial custody.
And here is what he has to offer, as compared to the woman he divorced several years ago. He has a steady job that earns him $65,000-plus a year. He is married to a woman who holds an executive position as the general manager of a Holiday Inn and who wants, and has said so in writing, to be the stepmother of his children.
Unlike his ex-wife, the father has no substance abuse issues. He also has no criminal record, all which can be verified because, as a licensed aircraft mechanic, he has done high-level contract work for the American military, which had him checked out every-which-way but Sunday.
The reason the Durham Children's Aid is balking at giving him custody is as simple as its reasons are complex for siding with the drug-addicted mother who is now facing a drunk-driving charge.
The mother lives in Durham Region.
The father lives eight hours away, but those eight hours take him across the border into a small town in the northeastern United States.
He lives in a three-bedroom townhouse in what he describe as a "picture postcard town, with blue-ribbon schools." And he is employed by a subsidiary company of the Sikorsky helicopter corporation as manager of its composite shop, a job which had its beginnings in Toronto when it accepted an offer to do a contract job in West Virginia five years ago when his marriage tanked and his divorce was finalized.
No calls were made to the Durham CAS, by the by, for either confirmation or denial of the scenario presented here. The Privacy Act prevents the CAS from commenting on any specific case and, from past experience, the Privacy Act is also used as blanket to cover any and all controversy -- which is one reason Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin wants to oversee CAS operations province-wide.
But there is such a thing as court documents, and those in the Sun's possession paint a fairly clear picture.
Within the week, the lawyer representing the father of these children will be appearing before the Superior Court of Justice, yet again, in an attempt to persuade the judge to cut the father some slack.
By month's end, the children's school year will have ended and, rather than have them spend their summer in a foster home, he is seeking the court's permission to take them home to the States -- first for two weeks, then possibly for a month.
The childrens' mother, it should be noted, also remarried, but it was not to the man who made her pregnant while in drug rehab.
Unfortunately, this marriage, too, is reportedly ending in divorce.
Source: Toronto Sun