All But Forgotten: Do Something
I sat in on a few court proceedings today. There were a few criminal cases. Then there was a significant one in family court. It involved a mother of three children who is an addict. The children are six, two, and the youngest is one month old. Heart wrenching is an understatement, to say the least.
Aside from the judge, there were three attorneys, two CPS workers, two CASA advocates, and members from each of these children's families. The mother and fathers were not present. This confused me. Sadly each child has a different father.
What struck me was that of all the people in the room who had a stake in the decision being made in these children's best interest, no decision was made. This despite everyone being on exactly the same page (except the mother's attorney of course). It was deferred for another three months. Mind you, it's already been over a year that the two oldest children have remained in limbo. In this year the mother and two of the fathers have been abusing heroin, meth, prescription pain killers, etc. Baby number 3 tested positive for many of these substances. This baby's father has refused on multiple occasions to submit for drug testing.
So my question is this...when is enough enough? I am all for reunification. I realize that many parents fall on hard times. We all, as parents, make mistakes. However, when we, ourselves, become detrimental to our children, it's clearly time to cut the cord.
To be fair, this judge has the burden of making this enormous decision and I understand the position she is in. We could go round and round about the "what ifs." What if this mother or the fathers clean themselves up? What if these children feel abandoned by their biological parents? What if waiting will bring about some miraculous change? Miracles happen every day. Right?
BUT what if more and more time goes by and these children remain in foster care. What if their parents are using and get behind the wheel with them in the back seat? The mother has had unsupervised visits (even he judge was appalled by this). What if she OD's and her children are there to witness it? What if she's too high to sense danger and the unthinkable happens? Why is it that it's the children who must suffer awaiting the time when their parents do what other parents do every single day in putting their kid's needs before their own? It is an inherent right for a child to come into this world and be taken care of, loved unconditionally, made to feel secure, fed, clothed, and kept safe. If only it were that easy. Actually it is. If you have a child put them first.
These children are young enough to move past much of what has occurred in their lives. If put into a safe, loving, and structured environment with a family who will meet their needs, where they have the security of never having to be moved again, they stand a fighting chance. They deserve this. Every child deserves this.
I have had the privilege of working with kids in the foster care system. These kids are in their teen years...an age when kids are already struggling with finding their identity, peer pressure, bullying, and the bombardment of hyper sexualized influences from television, music, and social media. Most of these kids have been in foster care for years. Some more than a decade. Most have lived in multiple foster homes and/or juvenile detention. Many of these children have endured heinous acts against them by at least one adult they trusted...physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect just to name just a few.
I have cried myself to sleep on more occasions than I can count after my shifts have ended. It is impossible to leave work at work. I continue to struggle with how to answer their questions of "why" when I can't comprehend the "why" myself. I also struggle with the impulse to not just take them home with me...especially when they ask.
Not surprisingly, many of these kids have deep seeded hurt. They are scarred. Some have anger issues. Most have trust issues. Some can be violent. But I know that it is those who are screaming the loudest who are in need of the most love. It took time, but I realized that most of the time the words they were screaming had nothing to do with what they were truly feeling. They were begging to be understood, begging for their pain to cease, begging for a voice in the decisions being made on their behalf, begging for love. When a child is "raised" with no love, no boundaries, without even their basic needs being met, their reactions are completely understandable. Many of these kids have raised themselves and taken care of their siblings and even their parents. Many were deprived of their childhood. This is hard for me to wrap my head and heart around. In spite of their hardships I have had the pleasure of really getting to know these kids. We've laughed. We've cried. We've had heart to heart talks and been silly. They have taught me more than I could ever teach them about courage, strength, resilience, and love. In the moments when they were just able to be kids I've watched them blossom.
Last week Seb had a friend over. They were helping me with some things around the house. This young man cussed in passing. When Seb admonished him for speaking that way in front of his mom he apologized saying, I'm sorry. I wasn't raised..." I waited for the rest of the sentence. There wasn't one. He wasn't raised. He doesn't know this, but I get tears in my eyes even now thinking about that and about him. He is such a lovely young man with a beautiful soul. I hope he can see this about himself. I hope he knows that God created him with a purpose for his life and that he is loved. That we are not defined by our upbringing or lack there of.
There are so many couples and families who want children. Until a few years ago I had no idea that fostering to adopt was so affordable. Couples who adopt internationally pay upwards of $10,000. Even adopting domestically can be much more than families can afford. The foster to adopt programs costs a few hundred dollars and in certain cases it is free. I wish I would have known this a lot sooner. I would have acted quicker. But it's all in the Lord's timing.
I am a single mother. I am not rich. Yet I am qualified. According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, there are 397,122 children in the foster care system and of that number 101,666 are eligible for adoption. That is 397,122 souls who just want to feel loved and wanted.
My decision to adopt has been decades in the making. I will write more about it in a later post. There is a beautiful story behind it.
There is a song by Matthew West called "Do Something." I'll wrap this up with my favorite part of the song...
I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how'd we ever get so far down
How's it ever going to turn around
So I turned my eyes toward Heaven
I thought, "God, why don't you do something?"
Well, I just couldn't bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, "God, why don't you do something?"
He said, "I did. I created you"