A Childs Right to Speak sign now

Hello! My name is Kimberly and I am writing on behalf of my sister Candice Cunningham and her 15 year old daughter Whitley Cunningham. First I would like to share my disgust with our court system regarding child custody. I do not believe that this state is for the well being of the child!!! The reason I say this is because my sister Candy, her daughter Whitley, and I were in court yesterday (March 8, 2005) regarding change of custody. My sister Candy had her children taken away from her when they were babies, (Candy also has a son Justin age 13). My sister was living in low income housing infested with bugs trying to raise her children the best she could
and soon got depressed and turned to drugs. This is when her ex-husband Scott got custody of the children. For the next few years my sister has gotten off drugs, she has re-habilitated herself through programs and has been through counseling. My sister has completely changed her life around and does nothing but live for her children. I have seen my sister cry desperately for her children and for the courts to have mercy and give her a second chance. I think she has suffered enough, the court systems have come up with every excuse for her to not get her children. First time she didn't have her own residence, second time she worked night shift, third time she she met all the requirements, she has her own place, she works first shift and still denied change of custody.

The reason for the court hearing yesterday is because Whitley has been wanting to live with her mother (Candy) for several years now. Well about one year ago Scott dropped Whitley off on Candy's door step and said "Here you take her, I cant do anything with her". Whitley got to live with her mother. Up until Scott decided he wanted Whitley to come back and live with him because of a bad report card she had received. Granted, this was Whitley's fault but I don't feel like it has anything to do with my sisters ability to raise her daughter. Whitley was devastated when she heard the news that her dad was coming to get her. She threatened to run away, kill herself, etc... she was in a terrible depression the two days prior to her father picking her up. Candy and I were worried about her well-being and what might happen to her. The next day her father came and picked her up and took her back with him. For a couple of hours that night Scott and his wife (Wendy) scolded this child and told her she wasn't running away that was for punks, your a brat, quit crying you baby, your not living with your mom get over it, putting Candy down in front of Whitley. When it was time for her to go to bed she had to sleep on the old couch that the dog sleeps on. This child had no furniture.

Whitley has a very bad home environment with her father. I know because I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears and been around for the last fifteen years of this childs life. What is it going to take to get this child out of the home she is in? The child has a right to speak and decide for herself. She is at the age where she needs her mother.
Why does the court system insist on putting her back there? What does my sister have to do to get her kids back? Why wont the courts hear my side and what I know?
Is it going to take running away? Is it going to take this child killing herself to free herself of this hurt? Is it going to lead this child into taking drugs?

Is it worth waiting around to find out? Are you willing to help or will we be ignored like the courts?

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Elvira FloresBy:
FoodIn:
Petition target:
state of tennessee - senator, govenor, congressman

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