My daughter, Jerelynn, passed away from medical complications about two years ago. She was only 29 years-old, fighting for her life at the hospital, when my husband and our granddaughter, Tamia, saw her for the last time. Tamia was only 4 years-old and she saw everything – the doctors trying to revive her mother. It was horrible.
We were worried about what would happen to Tamia. I was in prayer all the time and could not eat, sleep, or think, because I was so afraid that someone was going to come and get the baby. I had a family friend who suggested that I call the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii to ask about guardianship and adoption for Tamia.
I was so relieved when I met Mr. Russ, our Legal Aid attorney, for the first time. He was patient, honest, and knowledgeable. He told us straight that this would be a long process because of some of the issues we were facing, and he really helped us to understand how the court system worked. If it weren’t for Legal Aid, there’s no way we could have afforded to hire an attorney to adopt Tamia.
Tamia is doing much better today. She is not crying anymore. When we visit her mother’s grave on Sundays after church, Tamia plans what kind of flowers she wants to bring and looks forward to packing a suitcase of things to show her mom. She loves to draw and writes little notes for her mom, too.
We do our best to continue what Jerelynn wanted for Tamia. Education was important to Jerelynn and she enrolled Tamia at Kamehameha Schools for preschool. Tamia is now in kindergarten and loves school. Jerelynn was such a hard-working, loving, and caring single mother. We want to do exactly what she did for her baby. It’s that memory of her that keeps us going.
I want people to know that Legal Aid gave us a chance and fought for us, they felt our pain and walked this journey with us. They’re for real, down to earth, knowledgeable people, who helped us to keep our family together when everything felt like it was falling apart.
- Tammy Lee Pii