Family Ties

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.


8 thoughts on “Family Ties

  1. Is Foster Care really that bad? It can’t be worse than have abusive parents.

    I know Foster Care is not perfect.

    BTW, these children do not have any relative period who can step in and take them in?

    If I had to take my nephew in, then I’d do it. It would be a major change to my life. I’d have to put the ducks in a different row. But, I would do it.

  2. It’s not, that’s the thing. Foster care is there specifically to take care of the kids whose parents can’t do it. Despite the fact that there are plenty of people out there willing to be foster parents, judges still send the kids back to their inept parents.

  3. One of my friends manages a trust fund. The beneficiary of this trust fund was a meth head with a five year son. In 2002 the CPS took her son.

    The social worker called my friend and asked him if the trust could pay for drug rehab? The trust was allowed to do that.

    My friend asked me my professional spin. I told him if she doesn’t want to go to rehab then rehab won’t work. Being forced by the court is not the best of reasons to enter rehab.

    I told him to let the mother die on the streets becuase when the kid ages out of foster care he’ll get what’s left of the trust and he’ll be set to start a new life.

    My friend thought I was cold, mean, and cruel.

    I told him drug addicts only get help when they want it and this kid may end up in foster care again. But if he does then there may not be any trust money left.

    Well this woman did clean her life up. She got her son back. The trust money is gone because she reached the age out year. So, the trust paid out the remainder to her. She managed to blow $500K in less than two years.

    Well…at least that kid has his mama.

  4. There’s another side to this, though. Our family has had a run in with social services because our teenage daughter decided to do the “no one understands me!” routine. And once Social Services is called, there is no putting that cat back int he bag.

    On the other hand, in our area there was a little girl who was murdered by her step mom. The step-mom claimed she had “fallen down the stairs”, but that was quickly disproved as there were no stairs in the house. When the 4 year old child died, she weighed less than 30 pounds. Social Services had been called multiple times, but each time they did nothing.

    I can only conclude that for some Social Workers, they’d prefer the fight over a middle class family, one they can be assured will try to comply and have a clean house when they visit. The compliance thing – it must be a power trip, right?

    Anyway, the whole situation is horrifying.

    Oh – and specific to the Arizona area: my brother and his wife tried to adopt there and were turned down because they are a military family. Obviously Social Services has many, many issues that need to be resolved.

  5. My priest and his partner attempted to adopt through the government adoption machine. Hercules had it easier with his mythical labors.
    There weren’t enough scissors and chain saws on Earth to cut through the red tape.

    They opted out and adopted a baby through private adoption. They adopted a baby in less than 4 months.

  6. Oh, God knows we can’t let gay couples adopt kids. I almost forgot about one of the few issues in conservative beliefs that raises the hair on the back of my neck!

  7. ‘Oh, God knows we can’t let gay couples adopt kids. I almost forgot about one of the few issues in conservative beliefs that raises the hair on the back of my neck!”

    The gay aspect was not an issue to the Child Welfare People. They do get credit for that.

    The Child Welfare people are so fearful of placing a child in a bad home they tend to be too careful. This dilligence knocks many good parents out of the mix due to frustration with the system.

    You have to take some risk. No one can predict for certain why type of parent a person will be.

    A straight couple in my church adopted a baby girl. They adopted her in Ohio. Every I was dotted and every T was crossed except for one issue. The baby was part Native American. So the whole thing was put on the back burner for weeks until the Native American tribe could decide if they wanted her or not.

    So when I saw the baby I was expecting to see someone part Native American and part whatever other races she was.

    This baby was as white as a polar bear’s fur. Part Native American? Which part? Her spleen? Her left back lower molar? Oh please.

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