The “community agency” in charge of my case wants to adopt out my daughters. They tried, last month in court. But by the end of two hours, when it became clear that they had mislead the court about their efforts to reunify our family (their literal job), and downplayed or straight up excluded evidence of my own efforts to remain compliant, even their own attorney would not join in that request. In an unexpectedly fair twist, all the attorneys, including the state and the guardian ad litem, asked for my case to be extended on a reunification track, and the judge granted the extension through the end of August. That’s the time I have to try to change everyone’s mind about me.
I celebrated by taking my girls, and their grandma, to see Frozen on Ice. Their faces glowed with genuine wonder and delight when those princesses came skating out. Anabelle told me it was the best surprise ever. The heartsong of their voices have been ringing inside of me since then, bouncing bittersweet between my ribcages like pinballs. I miss them. It’s been almost a year of this forced separation, this supervised nonsense. I don’t deserve this, and they deserve it even less. I miss them. They miss me. I want them, and they want home too.
Termination of parental rights, or forced adoption, has been termed the civil death penalty. It is the worst action that can be taken against a parent who loves her children. Perhaps even more disturbing, it is the worst action that can be taken against a child who loves her parent. Equating this action to the death penalty is not hyperbole. In fact, I’d argue that it’s not a strong enough comparison. As far as I can tell, the dead don’t wander among the living, constantly inundated with images of the lives and experiences they don’t get to have. As far as we know, the dead don’t miss themselves, don’t mourn their lives; the dead don’t remember the aspirations they never achieved. The dead are, if not at peace, then at least null. Mothers without their babies are neither at peace nor null. Mothers without their babies are Hungry Ghosts–but they are the Hungry Ghosts of the social workers’ karma, not their own. Which is so much worse…a lifetime of being tormented by another human’s deranged karma.
Happy February! I am excited that I can now publicly announce that, for the next six months at minimum, I will be working with the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls to research and reveal the use of analytics and artificial intelligence in the child welfare sector. I am one of the 2019 Reimagining Communities fellows!