By Dorothy Dunning
I am Dorothy Dunning, the mother of three sons and grandmother of 10, ages one to nine years old. I reside in Gautier, Mississippi, with my husband Lawrence (Larry) Dunning.
We have been in legal procedures for over two years trying to obtain custody and adopt our two grandchildren who are in the foster care system in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
My life has taken a tremendous turn since I made that devastating phone call that day. I called the Department of Children’s Services and explained how I was concerned about my grandchildren’s well being. I knew that my son and the children’s mother were on drugs. I wanted my babies to be in a safer environment.
I then found out that my grandchildren were in the custody of foster parents, and now I find myself in a legal battle. I am so appreciative of the care of their foster parents, but I am the biological grandmother, and I am not giving up my rights for the belief that they belong with me.
As part of the legal procedures, the judge overruled the State of Minnesota and the Mississippi Welfare Department and allowed the foster parents to adopt the children — without any regards or concerns to the blood relationship that we have. I am the grandmother and will always be their grandmother.
This journey has not been easy. Every time there is a court date, I have to travel back and forth between Mississippi and Minnesota. On some occasions I was not even allowed to visit the children. As you can imagine, this is a very emotional process and it does take its toll.
On our last court date, November 17, 2011, during the disclosure, Judge Kathryn Quaintance stated several times that she was tired and wanted this to be over with so that she could go home and rest! Here I am trying to get my grandchildren, and the judge was more interested in going home and getting rest.
Was that ethically proper as far as my grandchildren or other children are concerned? This has truly troubled me. Is this judge not being paid to seek and endure that which is best for the welfare of the state’s children? Is this not a concern?
What about me? I want to see my grandchildren with me one way or another. If the judge is so tired, why not put my grandchildren with me, and then we can all rest? I am standing for justice to be done on behalf of my grandchildren.
I was even told by a social worker that the reason that I do not have my grandchildren is because it is a case of “the haves and the have-nots”! This was a real slap in my face!
Although the foster parents may have multiple degrees and earn more money than we do, I am a proud and hard worker, and so is my spouse. I’ve never turned to the government for any assistance.
I know that money does not give love, and I love my grandchildren and desire that they experience the love that both me and my family have for them. This is not and never has been about the finances. I know the Lord will provide!
The foster care system is a wonderful system in short-term emergency situations or in long-term situations when there are no options from the child’s biological family — but this is not the case here! My husband and I are pleading with the State of Minnesota to allow us the opportunity to love, care for, and raise our own, our flesh and blood, my two beautiful grandbabies. That’s all we want!
I am appealing across the communities of America and crying for your help. I want to be able to have my two grandkids join their cousins and get to know and love them as well. We are family and we all belong together.
Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide to me regarding this matter.
Dorothy Dunning can be reached at 228-218-6100.