Sunday, March 23, 2014

An Open Letter to Shanesha Taylor of Arizona

Dear Shanesha Taylor,

I recently came across a news report stating that you are responsible for leaving your children alone, in a vehicle, for about forty five minutes while you went on an interview. While I do not condone what it is that you did, I can relate because I made the mistake of leaving my daughter alone as well.

Like you, I am a single mother who knows what it's like to be homeless and have to deal with the frustration of not having reliable childcare. Back in May of 2012, I was forced to return back to NYS or lose custody of my daughter to my abuser and his family and possibly the foster care system.

I reluctantly came back only to end up homeless like yourself. I had no real support and no reliable to watch my daughter. I felt the same way you were feeling leading up to the days before you lost your children. Tired and just wanting to give your babies a better life. Desperation.

A woman a few doors down that resided in the same shelter as myself offered to watch my daughter. She called and as I stood there speaking to her over the phone I thought to myself  "My little one is asleep, I should take her." "No, I need to let her sleep. I'll leave the cartoons on with the volume low, secure her and lock the door. I won't be gone long." I leaned over and kissed my sleeping daughter. I was gone for maybe 15 minutes or so Shanesha. When I returned she was still asleep in the same exact spot and position.

My family court judge had already ordered CPS into the picture because the CPS worker came up with her own version of what happened in MY childhood. I had no choice but to try my best to comply. But then when they found out that my daughter was alone for a few minutes, they flipped.

Shanesha, the reason I am writing this letter to you is because I honestly do not believe you deliberately left your children alone to harm them or hurt them. I believe that in that moment, like myself, you struggled with the decision to leave them alone or not. But due to the lack of help available and offered, you left them alone out of desperation to land the job and hopefully provide a better life for them. Maybe you thought the interview wouldn't last that long and that you'd be be back in time before anyone had noticed. It saddens me that they have made the decision to take your children away from you and file charges against you.

I feel that instead of automatically taking your children away and jailing you, they should have sat you down and spoke with you to find out why you left the children alone. Then, they should have offered you a referral or something towards childcare until you got on your feet. And who's to say that you aren't seeking higher education? Maybe that could have helped your situation as well. If it were me, and I'm sure so many others who feel your pain, we would have tried to help you and your family before assuming the worst.

I believe that what you really need is a strong support system and people who are able to help you. I believe you need people who are going to do more than treat you like the typical single mother. I just want you to know that I can relate to your situation and ask of you to be strong for your babies. Please do not give up hope on ever seeing them again. It's ok to cry and even scream if you need to. But once that's over and you have gotten the hurt out of your system, for the time being, hug yourself. I know you probably think I'm nuts for saying that but you need to start doing this Now.

Hug yourself now because there are going to be court dates ahead and they may get to you. I know this from personal experience. Out of four years in court, only two people accompanied me to court. I had to learn to be prepared for the unexpected flood of emotions and frustration. You Will get through this and I believe that you will get your children back in your arms where they belong.

Whenever you feel like giving up, whenever you feel like your words and cries are falling on deaf ears, just remember that you are not alone. There are people out there that are going to feel your pain because you represent what they have had to endure and they will either pray or rise up and fight for you...

Your Sista

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