Never in her wildest dreams did Monica Fenton, 58, believe she would become a mother again. Since September, 2003, when she was falsely accused by DC Public Schools of administering corporal punishment and dismissed from her duties, she never expected to be raising three little boys in addition to mentoring students and being involved with her grandchildren.

Fenton’s children were adults with nice careers raising their own families in Virginia. Known for her benevolence, Fenton already helped to raise two nephews. While she continued to pursue her grievance against DCPS, she said she believed God led her on a different journey.

In 2008, Fenton traveled to Nashville, Tenn. to help a younger sister, Devita Glenn, 48, who was dying from heart failure and who had guardianship of eight grandchildren. One mother was on drugs, incapacitated and HIV-positive. The other was mentally unstable and unable to care for her children without supervision.

By April 2008, the children became wards of the state because of the deteriorating condition of their grandmother. In July of that year, Glenn died. For the next two summers, Fenton would go back to Nashville to help with the children.

“I am no different from other aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters or other family members taking care of children affected by the drug epidemic,” Fenton said. Her sister, Renita Robinson, 52, obtained legal custody of three of the siblings, while her daughters, Kenya and Nakia, each accepted one child. “We fought hard to keep our family together.”

Several of the siblings were severely beaten while in foster care. Fenton returned in February 2011, to seek custody of the children. Fenton ended up with three of the siblings – DaJuantez, 12, and his 10-year-old twin brothers, Trevaun and Treshaun Glenn. She rented an apartment from a church around the corner from her sister’s home.

“I thought we worked great as a team. Without Monica, I would have given up a long time ago. These children had multiple learning behaviors. We must constantly instill in them that they can be somebody great despite their circumstances,” said Robinson.

The negative behavior of their older siblings and missing her own family led Fenton to relocate to the Washington Metropolitan area to be closer to her grandchildren. “I wanted to share with her grandnephews the great opportunities up north. I didn’t want their mother out of their lives. I just wanted a wholesome environment to raise and nurture them,” Fenton said. “I felt that my grandchildren who were honor roll students were better examples.”

When Fenton returned to Washington with her great-nephews in tow, she was astonished to find out she had become a victim of identity theft by a career criminal. Faced with the reality of raising three children and needing all the resources she could get, she vigorously fought to take action against the thief.

“This woman acquired $23,000 worth of goods in my name, a bank account and other stuff in less than a year. She was having a good time until she got caught,” Fenton said.

The woman who stole Fenton’s identity was recently sentenced in Virginia and Maryland.

Fenton is raising the three boys on her benefits with no monetary help from the state of Virginia, health benefits or food stamps.

“Tennessee provided notification that I had one of the children but has not given any indication that I have the twins although it is fully aware that I have guardianship,” said Fenton.

The delay has caused the boys to miss necessary medications, which has affected their school performance. Fenton said she needs the paper work to be done expeditiously to assist.

“How is that we have all this technology and Tennessee and Virginia can’t seem to connect paperwork electronically through the systems?” she asked. “These children are suffering.”

Tennessee authorities claim they had no responsibility once the children left and were no longer wards of the state.

“DHS does not transfer cases between two states. It is a hard stop in Tennessee and a redetermination of eligibility in the following state,” said Valisa Thompson, public information officer of the Department of Human Services of Nashville.

“Additionally, our website directs other state agencies/departments to fax their request for case closure to the Family Assistance Service Center on their department’s letterhead.”

Fenton said since the Afro inquiries, things have been looking better. Virginia authorities contacted Fenton to process the papers for services.

“All I want to do is help and to get the help and mental therapy that my grand nephews need.”

Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO