Dear Lady Who Called CPS on Me,
On July 3rd, 2014 you called CPS on me for locking my children in a hot car at Subs N Jean out side of my studio.
According to your statement, my children were locked in my vehicle on a hot day with the vehicle turned off. You weren't actually close enough to get my license plate number but apparently could make out my business logo on my side windows. You had time to look up my website; check out my about page to make sure my picture matched the person "abusing" their children; look up CPS; and give them a call to inform them that I was in a restaurant for over 10 minutes without my two daughters while they were alone in a hot car. You apologized in your statement multiple times to CPS that you couldn't get the license number. Your statement to also makes it sound like I drove up, ordered and just left my little ones in the heat alone while inside waiting for my food.
What you don't know about me is that my children are my world and had you taken a moment to actually assess the situation, you would have viewed that I was doing everything I could to keep my children safe. I don't generally air my dirty laundry out online but I feel like this all needs to be addressed. I only hope that you continue to check out my site to see if anything happened with my case.
Here is what actually happened that day:
I was at my studio with my two daughters most of the morning where they were "helping me out" instead of going to a sitter. This usually involves making forts from my props and tearing the place apart while I try to get half of the work done that I would complete if they weren't there. I promised them that day if they were good we would go to the bookstore next to the restaurant and they could each pick out a book. Afterwards we would get the chicken & rice they love from Subs N Jean. My 4 year old picked out a book on bats that has become on of her favorites and my 2.5 year old picked out a pop-up book on the 3 Little Pigs. After we purchased the books, I took both girls in to Subs N Jeans to order. It was about 1:45 which was bordering on our nap time.
You must not have noticed us in there while you were eating your lunch and we were ordering ours. My two tired hungry girls started getting a little crazy running circles and kept stealing the chop sticks off the empty tables while begging me to read their new books. I thought they were disturbing others so after a few minutes of them doing this I decided it was in everyone's best interest to go out to my car parked directly in front of the door to Subs N Jean (see image below.)
I buckled my daughters into their car seats, handed them their books, and turned my car on with this awesome piece of technology called a "remote start" that allows the air to be on without the keys in the ignition. With their safety in mind, I made sure that my children were not in a hot car and that my car wasn't operational. Next, I joined my children in the car sitting in the front seat talking with them about their new books. You must not have noticed this while you were eating your lunch either. I waited a few minutes, got out, locked the car with the keys and stepped inside the store to check out our food. I was no more than 10 feet away, I wasn't in there more than a minute or two and re-joined my children. I did this a few times. One of the times I went out and noticed that the restaurant had a bowl of taffy by the door. My older daughter had been asking me what taffy was so I grabbed us each a piece and went and stood with them in the door of my air conditioned car while they all ate it. I waited until they were finished chewing it before I even left their sides fearing they would choke. Overall I went into the place maybe 3 times, I wasn't in there for more than a few minutes, I never had my eye off of my children, I wasn't more than 10ft from my car, the keys were not in the ignition, my vehicle was not able to be driven, it was locked if I was not in it with them, and my air conditioner was on. My social worked, the one who investigated me for abusing my children said that I didn't do anything that any other parent would have done.
Finally after over 5 months of having this over my head and worrying about what would happen with the case, I can officially say that my case was unfounded. Thankfully it never got to the point of having to hire a lawyer. I am not guilty of abusing my children. I knew this all along but having someone indicate that I might be was a huge stress in my life. My husband works in corrections, he volunteers as a Guardian Ad Litem, someday we want foster kids, we are involved in sports with our daughter, and I photograph other people's children on a regular basis. I was really stressing for awhile that this was going to be something that would affect the future of our family and my business.
The one thing that I don't understand from all of this is that if you really think a kid is in danger, say something or at least check it out, don't just call in anonymously while sitting there silently judging someone and let a family get swept up in an already over crowded system. Had there actually been a situation, having a social worker come to my house 3 days later would have been too late. You took the time to look up my business name, look me up online, get my info and call it all in. You clearly were not close enough to actually determine if my children were in danger, or see my license plate, and didn't bother to get up from your lunch and find out. The details of your statement do not accurately reflect what was going on. Somehow you missed the fact that my daughters were in the restaurant with me at first and that they were safe, secure & cool in my car afterwards where I was sitting with them most of the 10-15 minutes we were waiting on our food.
Just to be clear this is the definition of child abuse neglect:
RCW 26-44-020 defines abuse and neglect as injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by any person under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, welfare, and safety is harmed. Abuse and neglect does NOT include the physical discipline of a child as defined in RCW 9A.16.100.
None of that occurred, it was quite the opposite considering I took every step to ensure the safety of my children.
I have read horror stories online similar to mine and didn't even think it would happen to me. Most of these stories involved people actually leaving their kids unattended in a car for long periods of time. I don't do that. Since this whole ordeal, we notice it happening all the time: parents at a Red Box dropping off a movie, leaving kids in the car to pay for gas, at the grocery store putting up the cart after loading the car, etc. I would love to challenge any parent to actually say they have not done this at some point.
I'm sure there are going to be people that say well kids are left in hot cars or car thieves take off in running cars all the time with a kid in the back. Those are completely different situations and without assumptions anyone sitting there watching my car for any length of time would have realized this if they were close enough to see what was going on.
It still just baffles me that this even happened. I am super thankful for all of the support and encouragement I have received through all of this from those who knew what was going on. Even though I didn't do anything wrong it still has a social stigma and shame attached and I was a little worried about the whole situation. I think that's why I wanted to get this out there so that people could see that this can happen to anyone.
In the future if you feel the need to call someone in for child abuse, please make sure that you have your facts straight. If you feel like a child is in danger please do something that would actually help that child.
I am so glad this is all finally over. I am very thankful for everyone who knew what was going on a offered me their support through all of this. If you have any questions or if you would like to speak to me directly, I would love to hear from you.
Owner - Jones Custom Photography
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