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.