Friday, October 12, 2007

Another Horror Story of Forced Separation:- That Breaks Our Hearts

Barbara Morris, October 1, 2007

My parents have been stolen from our family. They are being held ‘hostage’, against their will, in assisted living.

Many laws has been violated in stripping my elderly parents of their freedom and their basic human rights. For over a year, my 87 year, old, mother was forced to stay in an assisted living facility, separated from her husband, her family and her home.

She was emotionally devastated by the separation. Visitation rights with family, were systematically and strategically, taken to a bare minimum to, further, isolate her from her family.

The stress of the separation from my mother, also, devastated my 91 year, old, father. His health plummeted downward. A little over a year ago, he was still driving; now, he needs help to walk. In July, he was placed in the facility with my mother. In a recent conversation my father, said, “Bring a gun and shoot me”. He said if he cannot be with his family, he doesn’t want to be alive. My mother was in the background saying, “I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home.” Without intervention, the only end in sight is this misery, until death.

Unbelievably, this is taking place in Howard County, Maryland, less than 40 miles from our nation’s capitol. And, it is all at the hands of the Howard County Office on Aging, Adult Protective Services, a court appointed attorney and the ‘Honorable’ Judge Louis Becker in the Howard County Circuit Court.

These are the very people who are to protect the frail in our society. The owner of Bryant Woods Inn Assisted Living, in Columbia, Maryland, supported them, as well, so that she could keep the ‘cash cow’ at $3800 a month. She began a ‘campaign of hostility’ against the family, especially against me, as I am the only daughter and a viable caretaker for my mother. I had moved back to Maryland after 35 years, to take care of my parents, so I was the, primary one, to defame and dis credit.

I had returned to Maryland to take care of my mother, and my mother was devastated. I wanted to take my mother and father for a weekend to visit relatives. My parents had been living apart for four months and they, also, needed to be together.

“My mother is not going to stabilize because she knows she is not with her family and she needs to be with her family. The assisted living and all of the caretakers are strangers to her.” My mother was a ward of the court and the Howard County Office on Aging. And, my knowledge of my mother, her health care needs, her emotional needs, none of that, seem to have mattered!

Over the coming months, the struggle continued to get worse. The owner of the assisted living facility came up with a different set of rules for me. Not only did she try to limit my visiting hours, but she kept me from taking my mother for a walk, for weeks on end. When, I, finally, was allowed to take my mother for a walk, one of the poignant comments from my mother was, “There are people in that house that have strings on me and I don’t like it!” I believe the reason for restrictions on my visitation time, and privacy with my mother, was for ‘damage control’. As a day progressed, my mother’s begging to ‘go home’ and ‘where is Daddy?’ would increase.

Many health, safety, and nutritional needs presented themselves and I addressed these to the ‘guardian’. As she had been adversarial from the start, I, quickly, communicated in writing via email so that it was documented. She only returned several of my phone calls, and never replied to any of my emails. My mother’s needs were not being met.

There was an, important, legal issue. After the original filing for guardianship, the court ‘appointed’ an attorney to represent my mother. The courts choose this person, regularly, for these assignments. The catch is that court appointed attorneys are not paid by the State of Maryland they are paid by the Estate of the disabled person, whether or not the best interest of the disabled person is served.

This was the problem. The court appointed attorney came to the September hearing without having seen my mother. My mother had only been at this facility for two weeks, but this attorney told the judge that my mother was ‘stable’.

For more than two months, my mother had kept caretakers awake, until late at night, and had been moved from the previous facility, because of it. I tried, diligently, before the hearing, to reach the court appointed attorney, as it was important for her to know this. My mother was not ‘stable’. The attorney made this statement while family members were in the back of the courtroom, and not able to respond.

The owner of Bryant Woods Inn Assisted Living had waged a campaign of hostility against me and the Office on Aging and the court appointed attorney had agendas that did not meet my mother’s needs.

All of the testimony was against the family and should have been obvious to the judge. Most of the testimony against me was lacking substance. Even if it had been true, there was no solid foundation for keeping me from being my mother’s caretaker. The ‘guardian’ stated she did not believe that any of the siblings had their mother’s best interest at heart, but there was no supporting documentation.

The brothers, from out of town, both, supported me as my mother’s guardian. One of these brothers gave supporting testimony as he had, repeatedly, witnessed my ability to, calm my mother. He, also, knew that I had been on top of my mother’s meds, since this had started. Also, I had a recording from a few weeks, earlier, of my mother begging me to spend the night and be with her. However, the judge supported the Office on Aging and gave them full guardianship. This is what I believed, from the beginning, was the agenda.

I was trying to get proper care for my mother, not be placed in a battle for it. Also, when the invoice from the court appointed guardian was distributed at this hearing, she listed 12 hours in one day for ‘witness preparation’. If witnesses intend to tell the truth, why was this necessary? That she was in meetings for 12 hours in one day was, also, questionable.

In the June ‘review hearing’, more lies were told, especially, against me. The ‘guardian’ accused me of having written threatening emails, without producing evidence, and she made other claims of harassment against me.

The judge mandated that I am not to communicate with the Office on The owner of the assisted living, also, testified that I upset my mother. This was not true, but, if so, would have been hearsay. I asked if any caretakers had told her of the times I calmed my mother and tucked her in for the night, before I left. If she had been told this, she wouldn’t admit it. Sure enough, the judge mandated restricted visiting hours between 1-4 in the afternoon. This was for all of the siblings, as well.

At the January hearing the judge had ignored incompetence by the guardian and my good care of my mother. But, at the June hearing, as I expressed concern about my mother’s nutritional needs, the judge, also, mandated that I am to not to ‘interfere’ with her care.

In the July hearing, expedited to take my father, several of the attorneys were threatening family members with criminal charges, including that family members, now, had power of attorney for my father. My father’s original appointee for guardian of his person and power of attorney had been intimidated into resigning the position, by someone from the Office on Aging, or on their behalf. This was a part of their efforts to have my father declared incompetent so they could take total control. The judge annulled the new power of attorney and gave ‘temporary guardianship’ of my father to the Office on Aging.

Under the control of the Office on Aging, my mother has been deprived of the holistic health lifestyle that for decades has been her choice. She has been deprived of what was stability for her. She has been deprived of the contentment of knowing that she is with her family. She has been deprived of her choices of how she planned to live out her last years.

Even worse, she has been over medicated in the effort to control her emotional state and make her ‘conform’ to assisted living. In both June and July, of this summer, my mother was taken to the hospital because the staff could not get a pulse. My mother has a history of high blood pressure, so for her to be over medicated, to the other extreme, is only due to incompetent supervision of her health needs.

My father was so stressed by the separation from my mother he ended up in the hospital in November (2006). He has, often, told me he is so stressed he can’t ‘think straight’. Both of my parents have fallen and required stitches, while in assisted living and under the care of, supposed, ‘superior’ caretakers. The ‘guardian’ has ignored that all of our family have begged for our mother, and, now, father, be moved from Bryant Woods Inn to a ‘family friendly’ environment. She continues to be rigid and insists that my mother is staying ‘right where she is’.

The isolation from the family is cruel and inhumane, both for my parents and for the siblings. The basic human and civil rights of the entire family have been violated. My parents’ bank accounts are empty, the credit cards are at $40,000, the $100,000 John Hancock is gone and the only resource left is the equity in their small home.

Most of the laws on guardianship, as well as, the codes of conduct for lawyers and judges, have been ignored. I have submitted, numerous motions, addressing these issues, and, most, recently, have requested a change of jurisdiction due to the bias of the judge.

We need judicial accountability.

Barbara Morris

Silence is Complicity" ~ Please, We Need Your Help!
If it can happen to The Barbara Morris Family it can happen to anyone!
Makes your voices heard, ask for an investigation, the family deserves it and every Elder deserves it. Please let Barbara know she is not alone in her efforts to reunite her family and spend whatever time they have left as a family and E mail them now!

"I am concerned about society's moral and civic duty in protecting our most vulnerable Elderly and I am concerned that the authorities develop a coherent policy to keep families together
We would also like to ask that the allegations that Barbara Morris parents belong at home with their children, especially in the absence of any wrongdoing on their part.
We ask that the Morris case be fully investigated and the "Rule of Law" be equally enforced towards everyone regardless of position in government, position socially, of financial wealth or other indication of status or position.

It is time that Elders that want to spend out their days in their homes care for by their family be allowed to do so , with the dignity and respect they deserve.

We ask that action be taken now and that you start by investigating the separation of the Morris family and that you do everything in your power to allow them the dignity to die at home surrounded by family as per their desires/directives.

Please write to: Gail Bates =>

ABC News =>

Washington Post =>

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