Thursday, 20 August 2015

A quick note

I know updates are few and far between right now.  That doesn't mean things aren't happening.

Things are before the courts.  Unfortunately, there are physical challenges for Sarah that are making it difficult for her to file.

There is another thing that makes it more difficult.  Due to years of domestic abuse, mostly severe psychological abuse, Sarah cannot be anywhere around the children's father without his triggering a physiological response.  She needs to medicate ahead of time before she can be in the same courtroom with him.  That, in turn, affects her ability to represent herself.  She desperately needs a lawyer, but of course, that costs money.  Right now, lack of legal representation has dragged this on for months.

If you are at all able to, please click on the donation button on the side to contribute. 

I have seen the children myself only once in more than a year.  The social worker had taken them from my home under false pretense, and I have learned she has since lied about me in other areas.  She also seems to have coerced the children into lying as well.  This person  has deliberately placed the children with an abusive father, and now seems to be trying to portray myself and their mother in a negative light to high her own incompetence. 

The one time I saw the girls in the spring, their personalities had changed completely, they both appeared drawn and ill.  Their very memories have been tampered with.  The level of psychological abuse required to achieve this is horrifying. 

When their dad found out I'd seen them, he filed a restraining order against me, on the basis that I talked to them.  The judge threw it out, which obviously infuriated him.  He has been engaging in slander and defamation against me through the courts, but in ways that prevented me from responding.

Their dad is clearly using them as a meal ticket and as a weapon against their mother, and now me, all while abusing the court system and our social support systems.

My heart breaks for those poor girls. 

No Face.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Years From a Devastated Mother to Her Amazing Supporters

Good evening, friends and a Very Merry New Years!, 

Last year's Christmas celebrations at A's 
home (their guardian and an awesome friend!)

I want to extend a warm thank you to everyone who has continued to offer their prayers and moral support for the outcome of my daughters’ situation. I haven’t been keeping this blog up to date and this isn’t fair to all of you waiting to hear news about what has been happening. For this reason, I encourage you to subscribe to my feed (courtesy of Feedburner) to get updated of any new posts I write, through your email. You do not have to worry about SPAM, your email is strictly used to let you know when I’ve written a new post.

I hope to start updating you this evening or in the next couple of days, as to what has occurred so far, about what has gone on over the past nine months; I want to tell you that everything is fine & dandy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Good things were happening, then CFS (Children & Family Services) stepped in and the proverbial sh#t hit the fan. It has now been around 9 months since I last saw or heard from them and what has happened since, will likely make your jaw hit the floor.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

An Update About my Daughters

My apologies for not updating you until now; so much has been going on lately that it’s taken its toll on both my health and sanity. 

To everyone who have been sending their messages and prayers of support for the well-being of my daughters, I thank you with all my heart; you are the ones whom have held me up and given me hope that things will work out. To those of you who still have faith in the Children Protective Services system, I am happy that your experiences have been so positive; in my case, this situation has come upon me and turned into a nightmare. My biggest mistake was ever giving them the benefit of the doubt. I will post this part of the story when the time is appropriate. Since so many aspects of this investigation are still open and active, I must refrain from discussing them.

My belief is that the CPS system is highly prejudiced. The same day the story was recorded, (but had not yet aired on Global News Edmonton, I was visited (suspiciously, given the timing) by two social workers from CFS. One worker was there to tell me what options were available to me where the girls’ care was concerned and the second social worker is an assessor whom I will refer to as “A,” in order to protect her privacy.

I invite you to please subscribe to this blog via the email box on the right as I am now in the process of writing about how the system is acting in the unilateral interest of one parent, instead of truly looking after what the children need. As I write this, I am not directly criticizing any one person; especially since the children’s assessor (herein known as “A”), has gone beyond her required call of duty to mediate this situation. However, instead of following through with all of the “help and support” they had offered and in a way, “promised” in order to buy time to properly examine the situation as to cause the least amount of trauma and stress on my daughters, all this support was suddenly pulled out from under our feet the instant their father (herein known as “H”), decided to come out of hiding and return to Edmonton. 

Based on the speed at which he was able to come return and judging by the offers that were made to bring my parents here to take the children while sorting things out, I believe (and not stating this as a fact in any way) that CFS paid to have him fly back to Canada. 

It was as though the children’s guardian and I instantly no longer existed. The moment they heard he was back in town, most of the arrangements that had already started gaining momentum were dropped, despite the fact that those arrangements are/were still required even if he did show up--if they really wanted what was best for the girls.

I had put off writing this post until now, because I've been wading through a sea of bureaucracy and utter confusion. What was once a quest to place my girls in a safe home has now turned into a custody battle which was initiated through the caring attention of CFS. Then, when both the children’s guardian, or I approach them about the matter of their father breaching the parenting order, they tell me, or the guardian that this particular aspect is no longer their problem because they apparently don’t get involved with custody situations—yet a significant amount of tax-payers’ money has now gone to support the very parent who has abused and neglected those girls since they were born. No, they were not constantly beaten up or given bruises (though there have been alleged cases of physical abuse that the children slowly revealed to third parties over the summer and through the fall); the abuse they were forced to endure was much worse: psychological and verbal abuse that doesn't leave visible scratches or broken bones, but affects their very souls and senses of selves as children.

So very-long-story-made-short, despite there being a court order in place regarding visitation three times per week and daily phone access, I have only seen my daughters three times since March 7: the day their father returned. This is only because “A” did the girls and I a tremendous favour by facilitating these visits. The last time I saw or heard from them was on March 29.

There are many circumstances involved, but “H” is using the fact that I requested a restraining order against him (due to legitimate fears for my own safety and mental health from his constant abuse) as an excuse not to bring them to see their mother. There are many ways around this, yet having been presented with at least six-or-so workable options which I passed on to him via CFS, he refused all of them without stating valid reasons for ruling them out. The onus is on him to transport the children to me, so however he chooses to do it, he now needs to figure it out for himself. I’d suggest he get a friend or acquaintance to help him with bringing the girls here, but like most paranoid people, he has no friends or support system to speak of.

The last time I saw my daughters, I couldn't believe the change that had occurred in them in only a few short weeks. It took all my remaining mental energy not to appear upset or to cry in front of them. My older daughter kept telling me over and over again, as though a mantra, how she “couldn't feel anything,” a very strong indicator of depression. The worker who came to pick them up then refused to drive their favorite game 200 meters away to where their father would be waiting, so until this day, they have been unable to play chess. Sadly, the best comparison as to how the girls have changed would be that of a person who just joined a cult. They are no longer the happy and energetic children that were portrayed in the news, they have turned into quasi-zombies who have forgotten how to play or behave as children should behave: carefree and happy.

The common piece of advice constantly offered to me is that I need a lawyer, but unfortunately, despite AISH (disability benefits) being my only current source of income, Legal-Aid has turned me down stating I earned too much money. It seems as though I'm up the proverbial creek without a paddle or a boat.

Thank you once again for all your ongoing prayers and support; the last six weeks have been one nightmare after another. My apologies if this post seems somewhat disjointed; concentration has not been one of my strong points these days.

**Addendum: Please share this post with as many people as you know. Perhaps there is a lawyer out there willing to take on this case pro-bono. If so, the "contact me" box on the left does indeed work, or send me a comment with your email. Don't worry about your email's privacy, I can simply delete the comment, then email you directly. Thanks**

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

So much for being under their watch

I don't know if I should even be making this post, as we know so little right now.

I visited Sarah today.  She was supposed to have the kids.  They weren't there.

She had called their school.  They are registered for a 1 day a week, home school supplemental program.  Last week, the social worker had taken them in.

They didn't come to school yesterday.

The school isn't talking to her.  She just knows the girls didn't show up yesterday.  That's it.

Now, I can't blame the school too much.  They're stuck in the middle of something they shouldn't have to deal with at all.

Sarah hasn't seen nor heard from the girls since Thursday.  It's now Tuesday.

She got through to the social worker.  The social worker first tried to dismiss things as not their responsibility, since it's between the dad and Sarah, however under the circumstances and because of actions taken previously, they inadvertently took on the responsibility.  That's an issue for lawyers, though.

Right now, the dad is with the girls in a fully furnished Children's Services apartment (free housing for him, courtesy of taxpayer dollars).  We don't know where it is, but it's a place that C/S has access to 24/7 - that fact is one of the things they have repeatedly used to assure us that the children are under their watchful eye - and apparently there's an area with lots of toys and stuff for the kids that live in this facility.  It's not just some apartment somewhere.  It's a C/S run facility.

Call me stupid, but I thought this meant the girls had been taking into care.

Today, Sarah was informed that the children are not in care, and never have been.  Therefore, they have no responsibility for a number of things.

This adds a whole 'nother layer of "wrong" to their being taken from me in the first place.

So, we were assured that the children being in this C/S apartment, with 24 hour access by Children's Services, meant that they were under C/S's eyes and, therefore, safe - yet they are *not* considered in care....

And the social worker had no idea the children didn't make it into school yesterday.

Not only do we not know where the girls are, unless things have changed in the last hour, neither does the social worker.  She certainly had no idea at the time Sarah called.

Now, it could be that they are just stuck in the apartment with their dad, because he didn't want to make the effort to take them to school himself.  And with an EPO in place, he certainly wasn't going to arrange for someone else to take the girls to see Sarah, since he has no one else but social services.

A big problem with this is that the bulk of the damage the girls suffered under his care was due to neglect and isolation.  Children's Services knows this.  If he is back to isolating them, then that abuse is continuing, right under their 'watchful eyes.' Unfortunately, that's just a guess.  We have no idea what has actually happened.  We don't know where they are or what's happening to them.

And the social worker continues to make excuses and justifications, though at one point, Sarah's questions left the social worker speechless, unable to answer. When I left Sarah, she was in tears and trying to keep herself calm.

So what do we do now?
     ~ No Face

Updated: While there is a great deal to update since this post was written, one thing can be updated here.

The day the girls were supposed to be in school, they were seen at the Law Courts with their biological father.  The witness saw them get out of a vehicle, then saw bio-dad grab Emily, possibly by the coat, and drag her with him when she did not move fast enough for him.

When told of this, Children's Services did nothing. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

You've Got to be Kidding...

With all that's been going on in my family lately, I was only briefly able to talk to Sarah on Friday and didn't get to actually catch up with her until Sunday (today).

On Friday, she gave me a bit of a heart attack when she said the police couldn't find the girls' father.  My initial thought was that he'd found a way to slip out of the country with them.  What she meant was, they didn't have the address to serve him with the EPO and Restraining Order.  They had called the social worker and left messages, but no response.

The social worker was supposed to show up to talk to Sarah that day, but hadn't shown up.  So Sarah called the number and, rather than leave a message, pressed 0.  After telling the C/S operator why she needed to get through to the social worker, she was told "I think she's there" and was promptly transferred.

Sarah had the phone on speaker, of course - it's rather awkward for her to hold a phone for any length of time - which meant I could hear and talk, too.  On being told the police had been trying to call her, the social worker first responded by saying she hadn't received any calls.  Sarah told her that they had left messages, at which point the social worker backtracked and said she hadn't been to the office yet and hadn't check her messages.  She then said she would do so, but Sarah gave her a name and number to call instead.

At this point, I still do not know if he has been served with the EPO and Restraining Order.

The social worker never did show up to talk to Sarah. 

Before the dad returned, Sarah had been offered all sorts of support in regards to herself and the girls.  She was even told they might be able to offer a nanny, if she could find accommodation, so that the girls could live with her.  Then the dad showed up and, like the promises of only supervised visits, investigations and evaluations, Sarah has been pretty much dropped and is now being treated as if she is the threat. 

I realise the dad would have made allegations against her, but she's a quad in long term care, constantly surrounded by people. WTH do they think she can do?

I, meanwhile, have become persona non grata.  I know the father has demanded the children have no contact with me, but Sarah, of course, has not.  It's not social services job to obey his demands, any more than it was theirs to turn the children over to him rather than make him use the legal process, as they should have done.  After all, as they have told me repeatedly, they're not in the business of enforcing court orders.  More sign that he's got them dancing to his tune.


I got more details about the incident that led to Sarah getting her EPO, where he lost control and threatened her in front of C/S witnesses. It turns out that, when Sarah finally had to leave and the social worker caught up with her outside, the social worker actually defended him.

That's right.  He just had an outburst of threats and intimidation, and she defended him.  He's just angry, Sarah was told, as it was the first time he'd seen her since his return.

Just angry?  Yeah. That's because he's a !@#$%!$ wife abuser.  This was his normal behaviour.

As if that weren't bad enough, it seems as if they don't even recognise his threats as threats.

Don't, or won't?

Sarah suggested it might be due to cultural ignorance, due to his references to what happens in Egypt.  It makes me wonder; cultural ignorance?  Or fear of being branded racist or Islamophobic?  Lord knows, he's quick to play the victim and discrimination card.

Whatever the reason, it simply blows my mind that, after all the emails, plus witnessing an outburst, the social worker is *still* advocating on his behalf.

I know that social workers have a difficult job.  They see people at their worst.  It's a job that needs to be done, and there are some really good social workers out there.

Like all careers, there are people who are good at their jobs, and those that are bad at their jobs.  There are people who do things right, and those who screw up.  Meanwhile, it's human nature, on discovering one has done something wrong, to become defensive. That sometimes extends to management protecting their employees.  I know this, I understand this.

Having said that, when people screw up, they need to be held accountable for their errors.  Especially given the nature of the work Children's Services does.  It's not like some company where, if an employee screws up, they might lose a bunch of money, or someone might lose their job.  When social workers screw up, especially in cases involving children, people get seriously harmed and can even wind up dead.

It is because the job they do is so important and necessary that I feel it is even more essential to hold workers responsible for their errors, not shield them.

I've had a few people dismiss what's happening as just a custody issue.  I've had people tell me I should just drop it, because I am not a custodial parent.  I should just let it go.

I can't.

While issues of custody complicate the matter, what is happening here is far, far more extensive.

There's the "social justice" angle.  On learning of the abuse, the court order should have been amended.  That process was begun, but never happened, ultimately because of Sarah's disability.  Her being in a wheelchair prevented her from going to the Legal Aid lawyers office, which led to her file being re-assessed rather than transferred, which led to it being turned down.  We now know that she should have been offered assistance (you can't ask for what you don't know exists), and certain actions should have been taken to get her and her lawyer together in areas that were accessible to her. So we have a failure of the system, due to her disability.  That was even before winter set in and the condition of side-walks prevented her from going out (reminder to my fellow Edmontonians: shovel your $%!@#$%! sidewalks!!)

On top of that is lack of accessible housing with independent living care services. Sarah went into long term care because there were no vacancies of independent living units.  Not a one in the entire city.  I happen to live in a co-op that came into existence through a long, difficult battle by people in Sarah's position; they wanted to have independent lives, outside of institutions, where their care needs could still be met.  By sharing the costs as a group, not only is the care affordable for them, it lowers the costs to our health care system.  A win-win situation, if ever there was one.  There aren't enough places like this, and because of this, the girls ended up in the care of their father.

Then there's the political angle.  And unions.  Politics and union restrictions are why Sarah is still in long term care.

After a long time on a waiting list, Sarah's membership application for an accessible unit with independent living care was accepted.  Her care plan was accepted by the staff.  An apartment was ready and waiting for her to move in.  If things had gone as intended, she would have her own apartment right now, and we'd be well into transitioning the girls to live with her full time.

All she was waiting for was the approval of Alberta Health (AHS).  We were so sure she would get it, the apartment set aside for her was kept vacant for more than a month. AHS turned her down. 

Care staff is severely restricted by both union and AHS rules as to what they can or cannot to.  While anyone can buy themselves a glucometer and measure their own blood sugars or inject their own insulin according to prescription, when it comes to care staff, this can only be done by an LPN - and there aren't enough of those.  Anyone can buy a blood pressure meter and test themselves, but when it comes to care staff, only an LPN can do it.  Meanwhile, if someone in a wheelchair drops a piece of paper on the floor, care staff can't pick it up.  If they are to be with a client for 1 hour, as soon as that hour is up, they had to leave, even if they're in the middle of helping the client eat a meal.

So how is this a political problem?

Well, last year, the Redford government was looking into privatising contracts for this sort of care.  It was all set and ready to be transitioned over, but so many people objected to having health care provided for by *gasp* private companies, the Redford government capitulated.

Now, all people who live in facilities like the co-op I am in, who require care staff, are being reassessed by AHS, and many people are being turned down for independent living and forced into long term care.

Had these contracts been awarded to private companies, they would have had more flexibility to provide appropriate care needs to their clients.  Now, because of politics and people's fear of the dreaded capitalists, more people are going into long term care institutions instead of having their own homes and independent lives.

This is even an immigration issue.  We're dealing with a person who has come to Canada, gotten citizenship and, rather than try and become a productive member of his adopted country, has expressed nothing but contempt for Canada.  He's been on social assistance almost the entire time he's been in Canada, unable to keep employment and blaming everything but himself; even his having a beard (though shaving it didn't help any).  He told me himself that Canada wasn't "good for immigrants" and that we have "no culture."  He turned down jobs because they were beneath him and was open about his belief that Canada not only owed him a job, now that he was a citizen, but that Canada owed him the job of his choice (even though he didn't have the certificates required).  Until then, he was entitled to collecting social assistance - in or out of Canada!  There was a time when people coming to Canada had to be sponsored, with assurances that new immigrants would not become a burden to the system.  That was in place when my parents came to Canada, and there were none of the services available to new immigrants that exist today.  My parents went on to become productive members of society, proud of their own culture, but even more proud of their new country.  The idea that they were in any way entitled to anything didn't even exist.  And this guy has the nerve to tell me that Canada isn't good for immigrants?  He is an example of how our immigration rules have become far too lax and accommodating.

What is happening to Sarah now is so much more than 2 little girls who need a stable and loving home.  It's more than a custody issue.

It's a failure of our system.

And those two little girls are caught in the middle.
                 ~ No Face

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Turn of events

To begin, I am not Sarah.  I am the children's interim guardian.   Given current events, Sarah has given me permission to post, as the situation has made things difficult for her to update right now.  Any posts I make will be under the tag of No Face, as I have no face to maintain in this current disaster.

As a bit of background, the children have been living with me and my family for over 9 months.

There is a long and sordid soap opera in the tale, but in a nutshell, Sarah asked me to take in the girls while their dad left the country for family reasons.  He agreed, mostly because he had no one else, under less than positive circumstances.  His attempts to control us began immediately.  I won't go into the rest of the sordid details, but at first we did manage to have somewhat cordial communications.

Shortly after they moved in with us, we saw signs of abuse in the girls  As they slowly began to reveal what life had been like with their dad, children's services became involved.  Our communications with him deteriorated to the point of police involvement, as his threats, accusations, demands and attempts at intimidation escalated.  I won't go into detail, but eventually all communication was cut off between us.  He then turned to sending threatening emails to Sarah every month or so.  The children themselves no longer wanted direct communication with him, and our attempts to compromise through indirect means just resulted in more abuse from him, so they no longer wanted to do even that much.

Once they were free of their father, the children's journey of healing sped up incredibly.  They went from being developmentally delayed and intellectually stagnated, to learning how to think for themselves, develop their own interests and develop social lives.   They even learnt how to play creatively again, and were mostly able to overcome speech impediments they'd developed..  Two very bright children emerged from a scarred and battered cocoon.  They still needed help, though, and as time went on and other things changed in our lives, I realised I could no longer provide that help on a level they needed.  With our own private issues to deal with, Sarah began taking steps, with the help of social services, to try and find another family who would be willing to take the children.  After a spectacular failure, roadblocks and delays, Sarah finally took the drastic step of turning to the media for help.

As she wrote previously, two things resulted.

First, there was an outpouring of support, offers and - as expected - nutbars.  The process was begun to sort through it all, and there was great hope and success.

Then there was the second part.

Their dad.

Thanks to a social worker who made a series of errors (I have filed letters of complaint, and we are looking at our legal options), the dad was contacted and things went downhill from there.  The same person who previously demanded Sarah remove the children from our care (nothing about where he expected them to go) was now demanding they stay in our care until his imminent return. 

On Friday, almost a week ago, he was back. 

Funny how a man with no income can suddenly come up with the money for short notice, international travel.  Kinda like how he managed to pay for a ticket out of the country, while living on social assistance.  Amazing, that.

I am not going to address the mistakes the social worker and children's services made here, but while I was at the Law Courts, trying to get an EPO on their behalf, the social worker took the children from my home.  They were taken first to see Sarah and, then to their dad.  That evening, I got an email informing me that they had been turned over to him, while Sarah got a voice mail saying they were being left with him at his hotel for the weekend.

They had nothing but the clothes on their backs and the contents of their backpacks.

The screw ups that led to this are so bad, it's mind boggling.  They were taken from a safe, stable home and left with someone with no home, no income, and under investigation for abusing them, and suddenly Sarah and I were being treated as if we where the risk.  I assume their father made allegations against me in particular, as he had before, but he'd never been considered at all credible before, given the history he already had with the system.

I still don't know where the children are, other than in a taxpayer funded apartment (yeah, he's got free housing now, but at least there is a measure of supervision).  Sarah has finally been allowed to see them.  I was able to see them briefly as well.  Alarmingly, after just a few days, I was already seeing signs of regression in them, and red flags for non-physical abuse.

The children were still left with him.

I brought some of their clothes for them.  Though their dad had bought them pyjamas, they'd apparently been wearing the same clothes for about 4 days.  The guy who could afford plane tickets and hotels, and in his email informing me of his arrival, told me he would pay the expenses of moving the children to his apartment (he doesn't have one), suddenly can't buy his own children clothes.

As Sarah mentioned before, the dad isn't exactly stable, and he's already had an episode serious enough to warrant an emergency protection order for Sarah - in front of the social workers, no less - and I now have a restraining order.  He seems to have become radicalized while in Egypt, or at least more fanatical, and I truly believe he is a danger to them, for more reasons that I can adequately list here.

And the children are still with him.

All of this is having its effects on Sarah's health, which is part of what has prevented her from being able to update here. 

I wish I could give more positive news.

These poor kids are so messed up right now.

For all of you who have offered your support and prayers, and especially those special angels who have stood by us and the girls through the current storm, I thank you on behalf of Sarah and myself.  I don't know what we would do without you all.  Thank you.

                 ~ No Face


Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: a weekend update--Part II

Part II--the Good

Now on to the Good! It looks like I may have found a family! This started before dad decided to finally reveal his whereabouts and I'm praying that in the long run, this will work out for all parties concerned.

To help you understand, I want to offer an analogy. Is there a hobby that you love so much, that you live for it? It's on your mind day and night and you can't get your mind off of it. If you're unable to work on it 24/7, then you're looking up pictures or information online about that hobby, or boring your family to death for the umpteenth time about some stone you found while hiking in the mountains? This is how things came about for this family.

First of all, I have to admire their tenacity and creativity as to how they got my attention. Knowing that they'd be one among many people trying to get my attention, they took rather creative measures to get my attention. I had a short-list of about four or five families and, at that point, I barely read 5-10% of the total correspondence sent to me. 

This family's email came to me via a slightly different route and while they were among three families I passed on to the social worker, their email was constantly on my mind and I couldn't stop thinking about them. Finally on Friday, I emailed them, asking if they would be willing to meet with me to discuss the situation further and get the chance to fill them in on some information that isn't in the news--including the then-situation with the girls' father.

Our talk lasted close to 2 1/2 hours and I was happy to learn about their family dynamics and and how my daughters would be integrated into their family. They were able to give me the magic answers (in my own mind) in regards to certain questions regarding my daughters and from then on, I was sold.
What I really appreciate (among many other things), is that they realize the importance of the girls having access to their mother and their willingness to make changes around the girls, even if it means making small sacrifices here and there in order to work with their best interests at heart.

We ended our visit on a positive note and made arrangements so that they (and their children) could meet my daughters on Sunday.

Sunday came along and they finally had the opportunity to meet with the girls. We chatted some more while their children and mine played together at a nearby table. We were able to ask question we missed on Friday and after about an hour, I suggested we join the kids at the table.

Their own children, whom had wanted other siblings for ages seemed to be sold on the idea, as were my daughters. They then got to truly meet my daughters and show them pictures of their home and share with them what their family life was like. They discussed each others likes and dislikes, as well as what types of activities each liked to do.

Overall, it was a very positive experience and I'm praying that they are still willing to accept the girls along with the potential dirty laundry that may soon follow. There are several other backup families, but with my wanting them located in a week, I hope that the social workers involved can hurry up and touch base with each other in order to make this happen.

Everything runs on God's time, I guess... Please keep your prayers open, that these girls may be protected from any potential harm, as well af finding the happiness and stability they really need.

God Bless everyone for your continued prayers and support!