Juan and Tiffany’s Story: A Family Reunified on Christmas Day!
Juan and Tiffany’s Story – Family reunited with the help of VPRC’s advocacy and support.
Tiffany returned to her job six weeks after the birth of her first child. She and her husband, Juan, were having a hard time making ends meet. Juan’s mother offered to help on the weekends, when both parents had to work, and this lasted for a couple of years. When Tiffany and Juan’s second child was born, Tiffany returned to work three weeks after giving birth. Juan’s mother agreed to continue to care for the children on the weekends.
Mental health issues arose and the father lost his job.
When Juan, the father, developed mental health issues he stopped working. Tiffany took on a full-time job, which she holds to this day. But by then the couple had difficulties even putting food on the table for their children. So Juan’s mother decided to petition probate court for guardianship of her older grandchild. The toddler’s parents agreed to the idea with the understanding that this would be short-term, just until their financial situation improved.
A few months after this arrangement was made, Juan was hospitalized as a result of a panic attack. After he was discharged, he went to stay with his mother for a few days, to spend time with his young child. His mother started talking about petitioning the court for guardianship of the younger child. She pressured Juan about his mental health, even though it had improved and his plan was to go back to school. Quite simply, Juan’s mother convinced him that he was unfit to parent.
Minor Guardianship Granted to Juan’s Mother
Juan was intimidated by his mother such that he told Tiffany he would have to leave her unless she agreed to his mother’s demands. Tiffany did not agree but she did not contest the decision in court. Neither she nor Juan attended the court hearing, and so guardianship was awarded to Juan’s mother based solely on her testimony.
Two more tumultuous years elapsed during which Juan and Tiffany were granted little time to spend with their children. Finally, Juan and Tiffany decided to petition the probate court for visitation, but Juan’s mother hired a lawyer, while Juan and Tiffany had no opportunity for legal representation.
With the helpful guidance of a peer supporter knowledgeable about kinship care, regular visitation began and the families situation improves.
Meanwhile, Juan and Tiffany’s third child was born. By then Juan was getting disability support and, with Tiffany working fulltime, was doing a terrific job as primary caretaker for the baby. The family’s situation had improved greatly, and so Juan and Tiffany again petitioned the court for visitation with their two older children. With the helpful guidance of a peer supporter knowledgeable about kinship care, regular visitation began. Then Juan’s mother falsely accused Juan and Tiffany of exposing their children to a pedophile. That is when Juan heard about our services and called.
Family Reunified on Christmas Day!
After eight months of court actions and hearings, thanks to the legal representation, the social work assistance, and the invaluable peer encouragement they received, experts prepared to testify that Juan and Tiffany were perfectly able to care for all three of their children. The result: the children were gradually transitioned back to their parents’ care. On Christmas Day, the children were reunified, and they have been safely and happily living with their parents ever since—a testimony to what social justice can accomplish.