Please help kids get home!

WE'RE IN A TOUGH SITUATION AND I FINALLY HAVE TO ASK FOR HELP!

As many of you know, I have been raising four grandchildren ages 8, 9, 10 and 13. Two of the children have lived with me full time for more than 6 years, and I have adopted them. The two other children's mother, my daughter, died two years ago. Her two girls have lived with me full time for three years. I made a commitment to these children because it was the right thing to do and there was no other candidate to care for them. I have put all my past experience and money into helping these children thrive and they have, in spite of all they have had to endure.

Fortunately, we live in a GREAT town - Belfast, Maine! Most everything we need is within a half mile from our home. This allows me to get them back and forth to their activities, community events, etc. and because Belfast is a small town it is common for the children to know and interact with other children and adults every where the go. It also has enabled them to have full lives that they LOVE! Belfast is HOME to all four children!

Because of the generosity of this community, scholarships have enabled the children to participate in a wide variety of activities.

The three oldest children have completed four years on the Blue Fish Swim Team. The youngest just completed her first year on the swim team last year with her cousins and older sister. She was excited to finally have made it herself!

The 8 and 9 year old have been in daisy/ brownie scouts going on the third year together. They have a very active troop with very dedicated leaders making flower boxes for the school grounds, community/ spring clean up, packing Thanksgiving boxes etc. The boy who is now 10 is also in scouts. This is his third year.

They all do a weekly hip hop class and in between seasons, they have participated in the theater program.

The oldest is in the Leadership program at our “Y.” She has been singled out to be a mentor for her peers as she has proven herself a “ model” citizen. She had started her fourth year in theater this September. Knowing the family's hardship, her theater instructor Mary involved her in supporting the theater program by having her help with the younger theater students, selling tickets at the door and baked goods. The two have bonded and are very close.

The four children participate in summer camp. Last summer they attended two weeks of “Y” day camp and each had a week at Tanglewood summer camp in Lincolnville, Me. We also did family camping in a local campground.

They have attended on a regular bases The Unitarian Universal Church, have participated in the youth choir and the oldest has been involved in their “ religious exploration” program.

Though this looks like a lot of activity to some, I want to mention not all programs go year round and as I am almost 60 I feel it necessary to support their personal development and foster confidence and independence in a hurry!

Home life is important too! They help each other with homework and household duties like kitchen clean up and laundry (they have actually gotten pretty good at it!).

In September of this year, I filed for guardianship and child support from the father of the oldest and youngest girls.  Shortly after I filed with the Belfast Probate Court, their father showed up unannounced and took them from school against their will to Florida where he now lives. The day they left the girls were so upset the airline did not allow them to board the plane. I was called by the Bangor Police to come help the girls calm down. When I arrived the oldest made me promise I would fight for them to come back home. He rented a car a forced them to leave.

Since their father has legal custody, he has done nothing illegal. However, the trauma they are experiencing due to his disregard for their emotional and psychological needs is astounding! Because the oldest girl has put up such a fuss about coming back to Maine her father has stated “she needs to be corrected!” He has cut them off from their family and friends. The oldest girl (13 years old) had been reaching out to me on a school web site. She has written a letter to the judge begging to come home and also a poem that she titled “ Home” which is posted at the end of this letter. All this in addition to losing their mother and now losing the only mother figure they have. Their father lives alone and in the military often deployed for months at a time.  The girls have not been raised in his native country's culture or the military culture. This is ALL foreign to them! Recently he found out about the e-mail communication and has stopped it.

The girls are missing all Holiday family time, best friend and family birthdays etc. Their father has stated they have too much here, need reality and are dropped off at a military daycare daily.

  I am appalled that we do not yet have in place a law that would protect children from being ripped from their family, friends and community! We have child labor laws, but nothing in place that protects children from being treated like objects. It comes down to “ownership!”

I have been working hard to provide stability, security, physical and mental well being for the last 3 years to bring them back from earlier traumatic events. The manner of which they were taken and removed from their loving, secure community has undermined and will continue to undermine their stability.

The GOOD news is that the judge has ordered a guardian ad litem be assigned to this case to make recommendations to the court as to what would be in the children’s best interest. It will be the guardian ad litems responsibility to review the entire situation objectively. However, the guardian ad litem is located in Florida and I am in Maine. This means I will have to travel there.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS FUNDING! I have cashed in my 401K to provide a home for the four children. With all that is required to keep things going the situation is becoming a true hardship. To establish an adequate house and vehicle I have to bear significant mortgage and vehicle payments by myself. Now facing sizable attorney fees, a trip to Florida and funding childcare for the two at home while I am away, I find it necessary to ask for help. An account is set up on the “Go Fund Me” web site. As humbling as this is for me, I am asking for your help. Prayers, sharing the story, and support with funding as you can find it within your means and heart will be greatly appreciated. If you know the two children at home and can provide childcare in RSU 20 please let me know. 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Dale Tempesta

                                                       Home

I wanna go home, I wanna go home!
Away from my dad, Straight up to Maine (home)
I wanna go home, I wanna go home!
I hate it here, Where there is pain
I wanna go home, I wanna go home!
My friends are waiting for you to send me home
I wanna go home, I wanna go home!
Please take me back home where I belong
I wanna go home. I wanna go home
My dad says “NO!” to going back home
But I keep praying he’ll send me home
So I will no longer be all alone
I wanna go home, I really do!
For if you can’t, Bring me home
I’ll surely die here
All Alone!
Please Send Me Back Home
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Organizer

Dale Tempesta 
Organizer
Belfast, ME
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