Earlier this week, we chronicled the concerns of Manuel and Kathleen Vargas, who want to continue to raise their 4-year-old great-grandson. Today, the childs mother tells her story, and explains why she deserves to have her child back.
By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Martha Jones is 21 years old and has three young children. She has them only because shes fought a battle to keep them and has proven to the court and Child Welfare Services that she has picked herself up from her troubles.
Her 4-year-old, the oldest of the three, has recently been the center of a struggle between Jones and her grandparents who have cared for the boy the last few years.
Though her son was never forcibly taken away from her home, she does admit her life has been fraught with mistakes and that she did need her grandparents help in raising the boy.
I was a young mother. And yeah, as a young mother, you do slip and you fall and not everyone gets back up, but I did, Jones said.
In the meantime, her grandparents, Kathleen and Manuel Vargas developed a parental attachment to their great-grandson, causing them to take their battle to court.
Jones won the right to keep her son, and now she says with the help and education shes received from Child Welfare Services and her parents, she will be a good mother.
Ive gone through the parenting programs, the drug and alcohol programs, domestic violence awareness programs, self-esteem enhancement and Ive given them clean drug tests for the last six months, Jones said, matter-of-factly.
Unfortunately, Jones and her mother Roberta Walters said the struggle over the boy has caused a rift between Jones and her grandparents.
That rift has had an effect on the 4-year-old, according to both the Vargases and Jones.
Manuel Vargas said the boy is depressed and Jones said since he has been home, he has had behavior problems.
Changes in the boys demeanor caused Vargas to question whether Child Welfare Services was fulfilling their duty in checking on the child after the move.
I worked hard to get my son and CWS has been behind me. Theyre out at my house five days a week. I have two social workers that are supportive more than anything, Jones said.
Trying to stay realistic about her abilities and challenges, Jones said she does have goals, but theyre more of the short-term variety.
Right now, Im just working on bettering myself. I went through some terrible things as a child and before you know it, you have your own family and you havent healed yourself yet, she said.
So, right now my goal is to heal myself so I can be a good example to my sons, she added.
Jones does have plans to take classes at College of the Redwoods this fall. CWS will pay for child care while she does, she said. Eventually, she said she would like to work with teen mothers to get them on their feet.
This week, Manuel Vargas was refused his planned supervised visits with the child by CWS, because of the contentious nature of the custody battle.
The Vargases initially got the boy while Jones experienced medical problems with another pregnancy, Jones said.
The stay extended as Jones was overwhelmed with the responsibility of two other young children, she said.
I was 16 when I had my first child. Here you are with a baby and youre just there not knowing what to do, said Jones.
Walters, her mother, pointed out that many Native American women come from a long line of struggling women a pattern difficult to break.
Its heartbreaking when something like this happens to a family. We have been on the other side of the law, too, but we make a conscious decision to change our lives, Walters said.
Now, were trying to make this next generation better, she added.