Real World Advocacy – Guardianship Abuse

Many online places I frequent have people saying that I’m doing nothing because I have been rather quiet in online advocacy as of late. I have been in the online world of advocacy, and that’s because the local world got a little to close to home and now I’ve been concentrating on advocacy in the real world.  Frankly as many of you know I’ve been in a relationship for a few years with a lovely lady named Katelyn.  Its been a hard relationship, mainly because of some outside influences.  Frankly those influences really tried to not only destroy our relationship, but make life much more of a turmoil for our daughter and her adoptive family.

And for those that love to say we had our daughter taken away, we did not.  We voluntarily gave her up for adoption – an adoption that may quite well end up nullified because of the illegal activity of Katelyn’s caregivers, parents, guardian, and the adoption agency.

Illegal?  How about Illegal, Unethical and Immoral!

Now that Kate and I are able to compare notes I am quite a bit more saddened by the illegal, immoral, unethical and down right hateful things people do ‘in order to help someone with a disability’.  There are three main tiers to the problem of helping people with disabilities live productive, happy and meaningful lives – and its my opinion that anyone can live a very productive life.

  • The Parents:
    While this does not happen all the time, and there are great parents out there many parents will over protect their child to the point of not allowing them to grow up frankly just disabling them even more.  Parents will go as far as to sabotage their child’s successes, lie to them about their health and abilities, and not teach them important things in life because they don’t want them going out on their own.
  • The System:
    By the system I mean the agencies, court systems, care givers, guardians, etc put in place to help and protect the individuals.  Many of these systems are not really caring about the person and doing very poor doing the exact minimum to make it look like they are doing their job.  Other parts of the system go over zealous often breaking laws putting restrictions on the people there to protect and threaten them on a regular basis.
  • The Disabled People:
    Sadly the problem exists here as well, many in the disabled community have given up on living a productive, meaningful live or standing up for their rights because one of the above problems.  They live an institutionalized mindset where they are happy with the status quo, which are often deplorable conditions afraid of what is much better because they don’t know better.  Much like a prisoner who is about to get out of prison after a long prison sentence.

Everyone is probably wondering where I’m going to point the finger here, and frankly I don’t have enough fingers to point because if your reading this you are in one way part of the problem, just like I in one way are part of the problem, frankly everyone is part of the problem.  And about right now I have probably offended most of the readers, but please give me a chance to explain.

Are You Part of the Problem

Have you ever saw someone with a disability being treated poorly by someone and not stand up for them?  Have you ever seen someone with a disability being taken advantage of and not said anything?  Have you ever seen caregivers doing illegal, neglectful or abusive things and not say anything?  Have you ever heard about a bill that would hinder thousands of people with disabilities nationwide and not wrote your lawmakers?  If so your part of the problem.

Society often has this little unwritten rule that if it does not effect you directly, than its none of your business.  People often turn a blind eye to huge atrocities because they don’t have 5 minutes to write a letter to investigators, or place a simple phone call.  Sometimes people are also afraid of loosing their job – which was the issue with Kate and my circumstance.

Your and Katelyn’s Circumstances

Katelyn and my circumstances were quite atrocious, and to many that first hear about it unbelievable until they look into it.  Long story short Katelyn ended up pregnant and her father who is the former mayor of a local town abused his political connections with judges and police to attempt to force our relationship to end.  They used lies and over exaggerations to apply for emergency guardianship and used the police the threaten me every step of the way.  For a few minutes it did not work in a court room out of their county when a judge told Katelyn’s mother to shut up and go sit in the back.  Katelyn’s mother still to this day attempts to manipulate and belittle Katelyn, and Katelyn finally having enough has blocked her parents on facebook and has decided to no longer have contact with them.

But it gets much worse – Katelyn’s guardian Lori Mills of Sentry Services Inc in Otsego, MI illegally (yes its been investigates and proven) blocked contact between Katelyn and I along with several friends for a period of two years.  Lori Mills of Sentry Services Inc also heavily restricted Katelyn’s access to the community (investigated and proven).  Lori Mills of Sentry Services Inc in Otsego, MI also threatened me with legal action for returning Katelyn’s phone calls (under investigation still), threatened to call child protective services if we decided to keep the child to get them to take it away (currently under investigation, and highly illegal).

It gets better, Lori Mills of Sentry Services Inc threatened and lied to the local chapters of The Arc when they stepped in to advocate for Katelyn, made false promises to Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service just to do the exact opposite after there meetings with her.  Lori Mills of Sentry Services Inc has no formal training on helping with people on disabilities,  and is not accredited by any of the major guardianship organizations.  Sadly I’m leaning this is quite common in guardianships.

Than Kate’s Supports Coordinator, Allison Brown of Allegan Community Mental Health the person she was to go to for help in getting independent would do the exact same things as her guardian illegally.  Allison Brown of Allegan Community Mental Health often used the police the threaten me when I would stand up for Katelyn – this is currently under investigation however.

Kate Does Not Need A Guardian

Kate does not need a guardian, nor does she meet the legal criteria for having a guardian forced upon her.  Kate’s IQ is 84 which is in itself not low enough for a guardian.  Almost any professional I have talked to, and who has also talked to Katelyn says she does not need a guardian.  Her current guardian is offering to help Katelyn go through the court process to nullify the guardianship, because she does not think Kate needs a guardian either.  Sadly the process of ridding yourself of a guardian is much more difficult then getting a guardian appointed.

She had a guardian because she had unprotected sex and embarrassed her mother who is an extremely conservative Christian.  Her ending up pregnant embarrassed her mother and her parents used their political connections to force the guardianship on Katelyn.  Yes we were stupid and had unprotected sex – but that does not qualify one for a guardianship.

The Mess Thats Left

Frankly Kate’s former guardian Lori Mills of Sentry Service Inc left a land mine for Kate to clear up when she ran away from her former placement due to her abuse.  She shut off her SSI and food stamps to try and force her to come back, and they are just turning back on after six months, Lori Mills of Sentry Services Inc called family members and friends of Katelyn lying saying there was an arrest warrant out for me and Katelyn to try and threaten us to come back.  Lori Mills of Sentry Services Inc and Allison Brown of Allegan Community Mental Health have mentally abused Katelyn so much to the point she is often scared to seek help for things she needs help on, or stand up for her needs.

They Didn’t Help

Many people along the way of Katelyn’s past two years saw these abuses, whether there police offers who did not understand the Michigan Mental Health Code, or Katelyn’s day to day care staff who were threatened with their jobs if the stood up to Sentry Services Inc about the abuse happening.  It took Katelyn running away to open the eyes of the investigators to what was really happening.  So next time you see someone that’s being abused, neglected or otherwise treated poorly by the system – do something.  It often takes less than 15 minutes to make a phone call to start an investigation, and it can be done so anonymously.

Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about the local advocacy efforts I have taken on to help stop these types of things and also improve the lives of people with disabilities in general.   People with disabilities should be treated with dignity and respect, included in society and have the opportunities to be healthy and happy like everyone else.