Half a Notion

DJ Won

by Midge Houghtaling

Last month, I wrote two commentaries following the tragic loss of my daughter-in-law’s brother, Jaryn Stevens. Some of you may recall that Jaryn was a single father raising his 2-year-old son, DJ.

DJ’s parents split when he was just nine months old. At that time his mother showed no interest in raising him and told Jaryn to take the baby. He and the baby moved back home with his parents and lived there for several months, until he was financially stable and able to maintain his own place. In the eighteen months that followed, DJ’s mother made no attempt to gain custody, nor did she make any effort to see the child or obtain visitation.

Following the tragic and unexpected death of his father, DJ’s mother suddenly decides that she wants to be a mother. Suddenly she loves and misses her child. Suddenly she is willing to go to court and fight for custody. Her actions beg the question: Why? Why the sudden interest?

Could the money that she would stand to gain in social security benefits be a motivator? What an awful thought! Nobody wants to believe that there is such a thing as a mother who doesn’t love her child… a mother who doesn’t want her child in her life unless, of course, the child could in some way benefit her. A recent case in Orange County, Florida, the remains of little Caylee Anthony found lying in a putrid swamp have clearly demonstrated to most of the world, that unfortunately there is such a thing.

Fortunately, there are also grandparents who care, policemen who get involved and judges who have a brain. You might also be happy to hear that somewhere in America common sense is alive and well. Yes, I am happy to say that it’s true. Without home studies, psychological evaluations, case studies and reports, a judge in Michigan gave full custody of DJ to his paternal grandparents.

Last week, I went to Michigan to help out. My grand-daughter, Kloie, had just had her tonsils out and my daughter-in-law, Kristy, was juggling doctor appointments, a new baby (Ayrelle Grace) and of course, DJ’s custody hearing.

So, I had the pleasure of being there. On the hottest day of the year—Mark and I were stuffed in the living room of a small trailer with three kids. A blanket blocked the entrance to the kitchen as a small, overburdened air conditioner cooled the room to a whopping 89 degrees.

After DJ accidently tripped over his baby cousin, we decided she would be happier and safer in the playpen. While I fixed lunch in the hot kitchen DJ took great delight in blasting through the blanket to say, “Hi Gamma” then quickly retreating to the much cooler living room. (For those of you who I may have confused, I’m not DJ’s grandmother. He heard Kloie calling me “Gramma” and so it followed. We saw no reason to correct him.)

And then came the much awaited call from Kristy’s cell phone. I repeated the news that the judge had granted Kristy’s parents permanent full custody. Mark and I hugged each other and jumped for joy. DJ jumped too but he was happy, only because we were happy. Uncle Mark gave him a high five and then I scooped him up just to say: “Congratulations, DJ… you won!”

Postscript – In addition to legal fees, Kristy’s parents are still making payments to the funeral home for their son’s headstone. If anyone wishes to contribute, donations may be made directly to: Allen Funeral Home, 9136 East Davison Road, Davison MI 48423. Please include a note stating that you are making a contribution on behalf of the family of Jaryn Stevens. The phone number of Allen Funeral Home is (810) 653-2171.

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