(Tim)On January 2nd we received a text message from Amanda's ex husband to come pick up their kids. We have spent the last five years fighting him in court in MS for the children to be returned to us as we have legal custody. He lives in MS and we live in NY. We have spent almost $20k in legal fees to date and have had no contact at all for the last 2 years with the children. We called and texted requesting to speak to them daily, sent letters initially every week and recently every month to them, we regularly sent post cards and sent presents on their birthdays and holidays. They received and were notified of none of it. Their father told them we had abandoned them and run off.
On the 2nd we received the aforementioned text to come grab the kids. Amanda called and was allowed to speak to them for the first time in years, the kids were in tears and upset but we had no real idea what was going on yet. I called into work for the next few days and we immediately packed the van and started on a road trip for Mississippi. Upon arriving we were immediately threatened with police to get off the property and left to stand on the side of the road while the kids got their stuff ready.
The kids got all of their stuff ready while we waited and brought it out to the car. Everything the kids owned fit inside my 7 passenger minivan with room to spare. Myself, Amanda, our 1 year old and 3 additional children along with everything they owned and everything we brought with us(primarily for the toddler) fit comfortably. They weren't cramped, they didn't require holding anything in their laps, nothing. The oldest didn't have shoes, she had one pair of pants and a pair of pajamas, the middle child was wearing shoes that he received from someone else that were 3.5 sizes too large and the youngest was the only one with anything that fit. They had no coats, virtually no clothes and almost no possessions to speak of.
We have learned the kids suffered extensive physical and mental abuse during their duration with their father. The oldest at one point was made to live out in their shed and not allowed in the house at all. None of the kids were allowed to speak to each other at all, to the point they ate meals in shifts to avoid contact amongst them. If they did something that was considered misbehaving by too much they had an much larger 16 year old cousin that was brought over to threaten and beat them so that charges couldn't be pressed for abuse. This isn't even the worst of what has been done to them but all I am comfortable posting publicly. We are pursuing all legal options for what to do about it and have learned that their are multiple cases and charges already in motion against the family. When we heard from their case worker in MS they informed us that within 5 minutes of the kids exiting the property they had been called and charges requested to be dropped since the children no longer lived there.
We have spent more than $2k in the past 10 days between the trip and getting the kids basic necessities but we are sorely lacking in two things. My house is two bedroom and less than 900 sq. ft. We do not have remotely enough space for everyone. With my two sons, our daughter, and Amanda's three we have 8 people living here. We need a 4-5 bedroom house immediately. We also don't have a car large enough to transport everyone.
We are cashing out our retirements to date along with taking the money we had set aside to put as a down payment on a house. We still need around another $5000 though to get to where we can afford the mortgage/escrow that will come with it. Any additional money past that will go toward a second car so that we can transport everyone. Anything raised past getting a second used car will then go toward legal fees. We are going to pursue to the fullest extent of the law all our options. These children will need years of therapy in all likelihood to deal with the trauma they have suffered.
For now they are happy, they get to play like children, and socialize amongst themselves for the first time in years. Please if you can help do and if you can't I just ask that you spread the message and get our plea out there.
Tim and Amanda
- Carolina Arango-Vargas
- Colin Fleming-Stumpf
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