Skip to main content

Triggered By a Master's Degree

I've mentioned before that I'm in Grad School.  I'm working on a masters in Health Care Law.  (Not to brag but I have a 4.0 at law school. I think my undergraduate GPA was like a 2.7 and not because I was out partying either.  Its not a fake island based law school either.  Its a well known brick and mortar Catholic university with a campus and dorms and everything. (I will admit I picked this one because I can actually walk graduation in cap and gown and ceremony like that is important to me.))

My program is on-line and so I have yet to actually go to campus. We have a fancy cloud based classroom where teachers give live lecture and all of your homework is on-line.  I'm not going to lie.  This whole working mother thing has made juggling all of this very hard at times and tonight I had class and then was able to get everyone in bed in time for me to sit down and do some of my reading.

I had to read the following Supreme Court case from 1989 ( I give you my two second overview below if you don't want to read the legal mumbo jumbo):

DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services (No. 87-154)

DSS in Wisconsin became aware of a child who was being abused by his father, failed to remove him from his abusive father, who despite being visited by DSS (who was documenting the suspicious marks) continued to beat him until he was beaten so badly he suffered traumatic brain injury and was left severely retarded.

The mother (non-custodial parent) sued the state for violating her son's Due Process Rights to life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. The Supreme Court had to decide if the lower courts properly decided if Wisconsin denied the child those rights.  The answer was no - they did not violate his Due Process rights because the constitution does not mandate that the state protect citizens from private harm. And because the state did not remove him, they did not contribute to his situation being more worse than if he had never been on their radar in the first place.

Two Supreme Court judges disagreed with the ruling.  Both found that because DSS was involved and DSS is the end all be all of child protection in the state (making decisions, being notified, investigating), their failure to remove him was just like failing to give a prisoner reasonable medical treatment, thus violating Due Process.  I have to say I agree 100% with the dissenting judges.

It totally derailed my studying for the night. It triggered all of my feelings about protecting my kids and protecting Solana from the same experiences that Sarah has had. The court cases swirling at the Texas and New York State levels calling for kids to be moved out of the system in a reasonable time frame because it is denying their rights to safely and permanency. And how ridiculous is it that we live in a country that doesn't seem to get that kids need stable, safe, loving homes.  That our laws are written in such a manner that a man beat his child so severely that he ends up institutionalized and the state that was aware had no responsibility to that kid. The fact that the judges compared this case to the landmark cases about the care of prisoners, tells us something. 

Let that sink in.  To determine if what the state did was right or not, the facts were compared to the case about the mistreatment of a prisoner.

This boy, could have been my kids.  The case was from 1989 but it seems, not much has changed.  Sure my children weren't physically abused but they were neglected. Neglected so severely that they had no idea how to form basic relationships or trust adults. They had no idea how to be apart of a family.  Incident after incident and they kept returning my kids to their Mom.  Made me think of Cherub Mamma's kiddos.  Daisy who is still bouncing around the system with her sister and the adorable Russell who was abused so badly that Cherub Mamma is undergoing an investigation because he re-fractured a previous break at her home. And the state finally steps in to remove these kids and still, does nothing to move them along into stable, permanent homes, even when they are in an adoptive home, within a reasonable timeframe.  Stella has been bouncing around for 11 years now.  I think 11 years is long enough.

This particular week's lesson is on Public Policy vs the Rights of individuals.  I have a feeling this is going to be a tough thing for me to separate.


 

Comments

  1. I am also getting my master's degree through an online program (USC), in Public Health, and I find that many of our topics seem to relate to foster care. So many of the examples about health disparities remind me of my kids' moms, who just plain don't understand what doctors are telling them. It's sad that "the system" doesn't address the underlying issues that brings kids into foster care, and only manages emergencies. Permanency and prevention are not the priorities at all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Crazy stuff. Good luck studying and good for you getting your master's degree! Interesting stuff. It's crazy how being a foster parent colors everything we see, know or learn. It has fundamentally changed my world view. But, sending support.! oh btw I have a blog too and read all the above blogs. http://misseshall.blogspot.com/ you all are awesome!!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

She Never Cried

Sheila called to wish Sarah Happy Birthday and she shared a story with her that as a baby she never cried. Not when she was hungry, not when she was tired, never. She never cried.
A little later Sarah said to me:
"Mom, my Mom said I never cried. I don't really believe that. That can't be true can it? Don't all babies cry sometimes?"
Oh my sweet girl. The red flag went up for her too. As I listened to Sheila share this story fondly, I felt sad. That was a sign of her RAD. That was because she couldn't count on adults. That was because she cried and no one came so she learned not to cry.
"It doesn't sound right to you, does it?"
"No."
"I know your Mom shared that story because she thinks it's cute you never cried. It made me sad. You are right babies cry so adults take care of them. You know how you had a lot of different adults that were supposed to take care of you as a baby?"
"Yeah, like 10 foster parents."
"Well …

Minimum Parenting Standards - Monday's Post

I can't figure out Blogger's time zone and I may not have time to write Monday evening so here is Monday's post.

This week we are having another "team" meeting. This time to discuss the "minimum parenting standards" that the kid's Mom has to meet in order to be "good enough" to parent them.

Now I have all kids of issues with this entire exercise. The first being that these kids deserve better than the minimum. The second, that good enough isn't going to cut it with their issues. The hardest part though is being asked to write down a guide to being their parent FOR their parent. Putting my commitment to first reunify a family to the test. It is one thing to suggest ways in which she can be a better parent and to support the goal by not bad mouthing her and encouraging the kids to share their true feelings. It is an entirely different thing to sit down and write a guide for a woman who has yet to grasp the basics after two years.

It wa…

Reader Question: Did You change their names?

Yes we did. We actually started using their new names shortly after their good bye visit with Sheila last August. So the only name that really changed this week was their last name (kind of, one of them actually had our last name). We had started using them so we wouldn't have to try to do a name change mid-school year. Plus the kids had only been in the school the last 1/2 of the year so they didn't know everyone yet. The school was great about going with the new first names.
At some point Simon spontaneously asked his teacher if he could change his name tag on his desk to our last name. He was tired of waiting on the legal stuff. He started to write Simon Almost Last Name on his papers. So we asked all the kids and they asked for the same update. Their report cards and benchmarks still had their legal names. 
The name change was a bit cumbersome at first. We sounded like owls because someone would ask for a person by their birth name and we would all answer "Who?". W…

FAQs

I had some questions asked of me recently that I thought I would answer here:

1) How do you keep doing this after so much crap?
I actually had two different foster moms ask me this. One dealing with a false allegation and one in a kinship case with a pregnant, unstable bio mom.

I'm not sure I have an eloquent answer to this question. I think I've reached a point where I see the bigger picture - the kids.  That's not to say this stuff doesn't drive me nuts or make me emotional. I would be spitting fire if we had to deal with a false allegation. I'm really upset about the potential of having to make a decision about another baby. But if not me, who? We are good at this. There are kids that need me. And I probably need them. I am a caretaker by nature.  What would I be doing with myself if I didn't have 15 different obligations all at once? I have no idea because I've always been this way. And right now all of the current drama is related to my children. I s…

It is a process

It's a physical ache. A pain in the middle of my chest.  And it causes hot tears, the kind that sting my eyes.  It settled over me today and I couldn't shake it.

It started with news that more people in our lives are expecting and today, I just couldn't muster the happiness.  I heard complaints of not feeling well and my ability to plaster the smile on my face just vanished from my body. I left the house to "run an errand" but really I just needed an escape.

All week I've been able to communicate and tell people about Solana leaving without any trouble.  I probably sounded like a PSA for "How to be the role model foster parent".

People were asking:

So will you get to adopt the little one? Is she staying?

Well no, actually.  She is going home in a few weeks. That's the goal of foster care. We are really happy for her dad. He really gets it. We've built a relationship. I'm so glad she doesn't have to go through the pain of adoption or …