Where to start? I guess the beginning is the best place. Everyone who has read my blog a long time knows that my sister Lynn died in a car accident in February 2010. She was separated from her husband Alfonso at the time and was planning on a divorce after she finished nursing school the following December. After her death, he took on the responsibility of raising their 2 sons alone. On Thanksgiving Day, the unimaginable happened. Alfonso went out drinking Wednesday night and when he returned after the bar closed he managed to park the car inside the garage, close the garage door, and then passed out inside the car. What he didn't manage to do is shut the car off.
Around 8 o'clock in the morning, my 13-year-old nephew Andrew was awakened by the carbon monoxide detector inside the home. Recently a new detector was bought at my nephew's insistence. Andrew is the most responsible and wise 13-year-old I have ever known. The first thing he did was open the windows of the house. Then he went down to the garage and found his father. When he couldn't arouse his dad, he called 911. The police and ambulance arrived but it was too late. The police called my other sister who lives in the same town. Within 2 years, my nephews have lost both parents.
My nephews are orphans and decisions must be made. Here are the choices and non-choices:
1. Live with family in the Dominican Republic. All of his family live there except one brother in New York who is not in this country legally. The children have never met the brother and they are not going to live in the Dominican Republic, a place where they've only been to once to meet their father's family. Living with Alfonso's family is not a choice.
2. Foster care. Nope. Not even going to rationalize why this isn't a choice.
3. Maternal grandparents that live in Texas. There are several reasons why this is not a good idea. My nephews have already changed schools after the death of their mother. Uprooting them to Texas is too much for them to handle. I believe Iowa is a better place to raise children than South Texas. Alex is only 7 years old and by the time he graduates from high school my father will be 90 years old. Choice #3 is better than #1 and #2, but we all agree, grandparents included, that it would be too difficult for them to raise young children.
4. My sister Deana who lives in the same city as my nephews. They could remain in the same schools. My sister has a big enough house. But my sister is a nurse in a hospital and she works rotating days and nights plus weekends. My brother-in-law also works rotating shifts of days, nights, and weekends. Their own 2 children are in high school and very active. Plus my sister was recently diagnosed with a chronic illness and has not yet gotten it under control.
After much discussion, my sister and I have decided to ask the court to grant us joint custody of our nephews. I will move from Texas to care for my nephews full time. We are unsure of a lot of things right now. Tomorrow my sister and I will be visiting the schools and meeting teachers. We need to find out how to petition the court for custody. We need to find a family lawyer. We have no idea if my nephews will be able to remain in their home with me living there to care for them. We need to find out how to become an executor of Alfonso's estate. We need to contact Social Security (Alfonso was already receiving monthly checks after my sister's death). So much to do. Too overwhelming.
We will take it one day at a time.
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