The following is an update from Mrs. Dorothy Dunning, the African American grandmother in Mississippi who is appealing a Minnesota decision that allowed a White Minnesota family to adopt her grandchildren. Much of her struggle involves bureaucratic negotiations between Minnesota and Mississippi human services agencies.
I have recently found out that due to the story [“Crying out for my grands: A grandmother fights to care for her own flesh and blood,” MSR, Jan. 9], people are thinking that I’m ”new to the scene.” I want the people to know that the perception that they have of me is wrong. I have received emails asking me why I waited so late in their lives to try and receive custody of [my grandchildren], when I have been trying to get my grandchildren since I knew of them. These are some things my lawyer wanted me to express to the public.
My last day of court in September 2011, I was told by the judge that I was only scheduled to have a two-hour visit with the girls. The judge issued this order in early December of 2011. During a dispute with the opposing attorney, my lawyer went to retrieve the visitation order. We (my lawyer and I) were told there was no order for visitation.
I was then visiting in Minnesota in April 27, 2012 when I received a call from my husband stating that my visitation order for the girls arrived to my home while I was away in Minneapolis. How would I then know the visitation requirements and visitation hours if I didn’t receive the order until six months later? I would like to express the real issues to the public so that they know what is really going on with this case.
My lawyer would like for the public to know that even after I was approved and went through every single step known to man, I was still denied. Is there a law stating that I cannot visit my biological grandkids?
I think everyone can attest to this when I say that this was just another bump in the road for me to get any closer to my grandkids. I’m over $70,000 in debt with this case, and I have paid over $18,000 out-of-pocket expenses in relation to this case. Both departments of human services are going back and forth blaming one another for the mistakes they both have made. I’m not big on pointing the finger, but I do feel as though these mistakes could have been avoided.
I think of my grandkids all day and all night. Just knowing that someone who isn’t me could possibly raise my grandchildren scares me. I don’t understand how someone could say they have a heart and they want to do what is in the best interest of the children but could stand in a courtroom and want to rip my grandkids from me.
It was stated in court that I was a non-Christian because I refused to give up and let them have my grandchildren. To me, this is totally out of line. This shouldn’t be about my religion. I’m not trying to make this a racial situation or a case where we focus more on going back and forth with each other over what my religion is or isn’t. I just want to have my grandchildren home with their grandmother and family. I am willing to sacrifice everything I have for the sake of my grandchildren.
I would also like for you to know that the Mississippi Department of Human Services informed me that they have not received any information stating that my case was closed. My case is still open. I was also informed by the department that they have not received any information from the Minnesota Department of Human Services with an update.
Could you please take the time to express my concerns with the people of Minnesota? I have a fund set up at the TCF Bank (Dorothy Dunning Benefit Fund) if anyone would like to make donations. I will not give up the fight for my grandkids. I was told by a human rights department worker that if we do not step up as a community and fight this case head-on that this will set a bad precedent among the Black community. If this case appeal is lost, this will definitely be devastating to me, my family and our community.