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Dec 7, 2007

More System Stuff

I read this story by way of Jess. About a boy caught in the system. A system that, at least at first glance, is screwing the kid, again.

When I worked in residential treatment we would read these cases. These terrible cases of abuse and poverty, drugs, rapes, children being molested, hurt, over and over again. Children who were moved between relatives, friends, strangers, foster parents, shuffled about like dice being rolled across the table. And then, surprise, they would need to live in a residential facility, because no one could handle them.

There was a little girl who came to us a week after she turned five,(yes, 5). She had been so mistreated by her birth mother and then moved so frequently in the system that no one knew what to do with her. She was molesting other children- at the age of five! Not playing doctor, no. She would trap a child in a room and molest them. Was she devious? No. Really, mostly she was innocent. She only was doing what had been done to her. Isn't that what our kids do? They do what they have been shown, what has been done to them. What they know.

That was one little girl. There were others, many others. Some so twisted up inside there was nothing we could do. We would try all available resources, therapies... all to nothing.

And with some of them, we would joke about how we would read about them someday making history. In the papers, famous. Infamous, really. Because what we would be referring to is the inevitability of these kids growing up to be monsters. Rapists, child abusers, domestic violence perpetrators, and victims (because some would remain victims). And while this sounds like we were a bunch of insensitive assholes. It was not true.

Because, like any other job, these children and their stories become normal, everyday, for those who work with them. For a doctor, using medical terms is commonplace. To discuss transmissions among mechanics? Piece of cake. It's all what you get used to.

For the longest time I was not comfortable with letting "regular" elementary aged children out of my sight on the playground. When I purchased the new play structure for our elementary school, a tunnel slide was not an option I would consider. Kids could hide in there. Be out of sight. And for the kids I used to take care of, that was not an option- they were always within eyesight. And jump ropes? Yeah, no. They would tie each other up... All what you get used to.

The point is (before I digress more into those residential years). I sincerely believe that Gabriel is a name on a case. A case that the social workers and judges have seen many times before. Something political is happening about Mexico...perhaps the bigger story is that some of Mexico's kids are being raised in the states in non-traditional Mexican homes, to no fault of the distant relative who wants them. Some flags have been raised and this little boy is being made a victim. A victim of a system that is doing the best it can- but it's not good enough.

It is my understanding from reading the article that Gabriel has been in one foster home. He has not met his grandmother and his birth parents are not, and have not been for sometime in the picture. He has foster parents who love him and want to adopt him. And the most important factor here is that Gabriel is attached to them. He is attached to them.

How is it good for Gabriel to disrupt that attachment and placement to move him anywhere- relative or not?

It's not.

Could the state of Oregon, the foster parents and grandma provide a successful transition. Somewhat, yes. But, why? What purpose? Could Gabriel grow up to be a successful man in Mexico? Yes. But does he need to be moved? Should he be moved?

No. Easy, for me.

1 comment:

TruLove said...

I agree with you completely. I don't understand it. I really don't.