The Civil Death Penalty Makes Hungry Ghosts of Mothers and Children

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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.

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Reimagining Communities With The National Council

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!

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If You Care About Sexual Assault Survivors, You Should Care About My CPS Case

Help me.

I walked into the courtroom a mother, and I walked out neutered.

Before the hearing, I was playing with my two young daughters and another child. A little girl, who had wandered away from her mother to come play with us. The mom was talking to another adult. This was a familiar dynamic. I’m not the best with adults; I’m awkward, anxious, and defensive. But I’m great with kids. Kids don’t make me nervous. Kids are sparky little humans who, most of the time, just need a little more love, attention, or food. Before the hearing where my daughters would be forever taken away from me, I held their hands and the hands of another child, a stranger’s child, the child of a mother who wasn’t paying attention, and skipped in a circle singing “ring around the rosy.” I colored with them, using the paper and crayons I had stashed away in my bag because I was the mom who always thought ahead. I sang with them. And then I walked into a courtroom and had them taken away by a magistrate who had seen none of that, and who knew nothing about me except that I went to methadone treatment for heroin addiction four years earlier.

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