Seeing some of the things I’ve seen, I will never understand how so many judges come to the conclusion that all attempts must be made to keep kids with their biological parents.
When I was a freshman in high school, my family lived next door to a soldier who had a wife he’d met in Germany and four adopted kids. This family was generally very nice, but living next door to them, we learned quite a lot. Mom and dad believed that any consumption of any food that contained sugar or preservatives was a sin, and were able to quote passages from the bible that they felt justified their position. What made this so strange was that they would not allow their kids to eat anything not made in their home. I kid you not, these children were not allowed to eat anything at anyone else’s home, at church, or at school. They were frequently sent to school without lunches. I babysat them twice, and on both occasions every one of those kids displayed an amazing fear of their parents. Another neighbor was a teacher at their school, and she found all three of the school-aged kids with bruises that belied physical abuse.
Those kids were never removed from the home. The last I heard, dad had been transferred to another duty station and nothing had been done.
Fast forward to my adult years, and I became a youth corrections officer. I learned something very quickly there: many of the kids had parents who were either drug-abusing pieces of trash who had abused their kids (and in that group, the vast majority were single parents). There were boys in the facility I worked in who didn’t like to have anyone behind them because they’d been continually molested as small children. There were both boys and girls in other facilities whose parents would show up on visitation day either drunk or high (or both), even some who would smuggle narcotics in to the kids. One kid had learned to make hooch from his prison-bound father in a letter and had become quite proficient in making it himself. In many of these cases, if you looked deeper into a kids’ past you’d find that a judge somewhere had continued to insist on sending the kids home with mom or dad despite many incidents that proved the parents to be incapable of raising their kids.
I worked for a couple of different shelters after that and saw six-year-olds insisting on being called Tupac or Snoop Dogg, heard kids too young to understand profanity using some of the most creative curses I’d ever heard, and seeing other kids performing mock sex acts all the time because of the things they’d been exposed to. Those cases were especially difficult, because I knew most of these kids were going to eventually go home to the parents who damaged them so severely. I knew that many of them would wind up in the juvenile detention facilities that I’d worked in previously, and there was absolutely nothing that a peon like me could do about it.
Holding my niece, playing with her, and seeing her face light up when my brother or sister-in-law would smile at her gave me pause to wonder how in the hell any living, breathing, feeling human being could possibly cause so much harm to such a small, defenseless person. I sat down to play my guitar for Delaney and she just sat and listened; it was the only time she was so still and calm while she was awake. She learned to clap when I walked into the room after hearing her mom and dad clap when I got done playing. She isn’t a perfect kid, but she’s beautiful and an absolute joy to all of us. I cannot fathom any person wishing harm to something so innocent.
For some reason, the law largely sides with biological family in all cases involving abuse, neglect or molestation. Judges seem to think it’s more important to keep a child with at least one biological parent than it is to keep them safe and sound. When a CPS worker stands up in court and explains to a judge that mom is a raging alcoholic at 19 and has been arrested for DUI three times with her two kids in the vehicle and the judge sees fit to return those kids to mom yet again, there’s a major problem. While human imperfection dictates that we’ll never cure ourselves of the festering plague of child abusers any more than we will of any other criminal, we can at least make an attempt to stand up for the smallest and most innocent of all victims. Sometimes it seems it will never change.
Family ties should never be more important than what’s best for a child.