Sunday, April 7, 2013

Social Services and Giving Children Back to Addict Parents

So, remember how I was talking about Demarquise Elkins and the problems with poverty and drugs, how I'm starting to think that the only solution is removing kids from these homes and placing them in normal, healthy homes where they can go to decent schools and thrive in a drug and violence-free environment?  Remember how that female relative of mine called me a racist because she assumed I meant black kids being taken from their families and placed in white homes?

My junkie sister-in-law was just given back her kids.

That would be my white junkie sister-in-law was just given back two of her three blond-haired, blue-eyed kids.  The oldest child, her only daughter, refused to return to her.  Smart girl.

This is so frustrating and so painful for us.  You see, in October of 2010, the junkie sister-in-law (heretofore known as JSIL) called us and asked if we would take the boys "just for a couple of hours."  Past experience had taught us that she would hold our entire day hostage, so we said, "Tell you what--we'll keep them for a sleepover, we'll bring them back to you tomorrow."  Now, we went to get the kids because JSIL wasn't allowed in our home.  In fact, she didn't even know our address.  

Hubby came home with the kids.  JSIL had packed them an overnight bag that included underwear too small for them, ONE sock, a pajama top, and a swimsuit.  All stinking like meth.  

We threw the clothes away, then took the boys to the store, bought them each a new outfit, some new socks, new underwear, and new pajamas. No, we couldn't afford it.

Next day rolled around, and no JSIL.  In fact, she wasn't answering her phone or returning calls/responding to messages at all.

Same thing the next day.  And the next.

We wound up working out a deal with hubby's GOOD sister, where she would take the boys from Monday morning through Friday afternoon (because their school was near her house, whereas we were in a different town), we would take them over the weekends and on holidays.  We bought the boys new clothes, new toys, etc.  Hubby's sister fed them, helped them with school work, took care of their doctor's appointments, etc.  We took them places (Living Planet Aquarium, the zoo, Air Force Museum, movies, holiday lights, etc.).  We had their sister over some weekends (the sister who now refuses to live with JSIL).  And, of course, we fed them, bathed them, entertained them, and helped them with their weekend homework.  

That last was hard, because, in addition to being seriously stunted, growth-wise, they're solidly behind academically and all three have pretty serious speech impediments.  Their junkie mother thinks that last is "adorable."  She thinks the whole Elmer Fudd/wild mispronunciations thing is so CUTE!

So here's the deal.  She ditched those kids for almost seven months.  No attempt to get them back, no asking to see them or talk to them, and never once, not even now, a "thank you."  After seven months, she took them back.  Social Services told us we couldn't refuse to hand them over because we couldn't establish abuse or neglect.  We couldn't do that, they said, because she HADN'T HAD THEM.  In other words, regardless of her drug addiction, their emaciated state when they came our way, their speech and academic issues, etc., we couldn't do anything UNTIL WE HANDED THEM OVER AND GAVE HER THE OPPORTUNITY TO NEGLECT AND ABUSE THEM AGAIN.  So it could be DOCUMENTED, of course.

It didn't take long.  JSIL began skipping from place to place, moving the kids from one school to another, exposing them to scary, scary people.  The boys started saying things like, "I don't like DJ, he hurts me."  JSIL was busted for selling food stamps for drugs and other things.  And, finally, Social Services stepped in and pulled the boys.

HAZMAT had to come in to clean the place out, the meth cooking was out of control.  And the boys?  All the toys, clothes, winter jackets, fancy Lands End snow boots--everything we'd gotten them had to be destroyed.  The boys tested positive for exposure to multiple drugs. They were, at the time, seven and five.

Since then, the boys, along with their older sister, have lived with hubby's GOOD sister.  But the JSIL?  After a few false starts, she has managed to pass her drug tests for the past year.  And so they gave the kids BACK.  Except, as I said, the daughter, who refused.

I should be jumping for joy, right?  Oh, success!  Isn't it just so wonderful?

No, not really.  One, this woman has "gone clean" a half-dozen times, and it never holds.  Two, those kids' speech and academic performance NOSEDIVES after just a weekend with this creature.      And three?  She still talks to the same people, engages in the same behaviors (can't get or hold a decent job, counts on the parents to bail her out of troubles every time, etc.).  So none of this is anything but an invitation to more sadness for and danger to those boys.

I'm beside myself.  And all I can do is hope she screws it up early, but not so severely as to seriously endanger those boys.

If you're wondering where the father of these kids is, he's awaiting trial on charges of trying to sell meth to a cop at the local Home Depot.  Yes, he is that stupid.  But, unlike the JSIL, he KNOWS he's that stupid.  He offered to relinquish custody of the boys years ago.  It was the JSIL who refused.  And I can't help but think it's nothing more than her knowing that if she gives them up, she loses any chance at housing assistance, food stamps (yes, they're giving her those things again!), etc.  Maybe that's not fair, but that's what I perceive.

So, to my family member who accused me of being a racist because I think that children whose parents are junkies or gang members should be placed in better homes?  It's not about race, babe.  It's about child abuse and neglect.


Today is "try to pull the yard together" day.  Hoping to get the re-encroaching dead nettle under control and mow/weed eat so we can get some grass seed down.  Plus, Annie gave Lara and Me some daylily bulbs, and I'd like to get those down.  I wish we had the cash for potting soil this time out.  I don't think my wood sorrel/Iron Crosses are coming back.  Afraid my crocosmia isn't, either.    Maybe they'll surprise me, right?  Was thrilled to find a healthy patch of cilantro/coriander!  Every time my hand brushed across it the smell was heavenly.  The dead nettle is back with a vengeance, but the onions, parsley, and spinach-y stuff all lived over, and the lilac and azalea did well.  Pulled up some onions for salads, will put down some grass seed tomorrow.  Looking to fill the bird feeders in hopes of distracting them from the new grass seed.

Last summer--hoping for something like this, but with better grass coverage

It's also just about time for the hummingbird feeder to go up!  Last year, we put it up too late--got a lot of females, but no males (they come through earlier).  This year, I want to see some males, too!


Really quick, I want to talk about "sustainable farming" and "organic" and "supporting small businesses and farms" and "saving the planet/reducing carbon emissions."  Because sometimes?

Sometimes those things are utterly incompatible with each other.  Sometimes, you can reduce emissions OR you can support your small, local, sustainable vendor.  Why do I say this?

Because, per pound of produce (or per pound of whatever, really), mass production and mass shipping is markedly less carbon-intensive than small-time operation.  Why?

Because it takes a lot less, per pound, to ship a million pounds than it does to ship a hundred.  Less fuel, less emissions, less everything.  And if customers are then driving 40 or 50 miles to visit that small vendor rather than hitting up the local mega-mart with its .4 mile drive?  That's more emissions, more pollution.

I'm not dissing small vendors or local businesses, but I do recognize that often there is a trade-off--by shopping small and local, I'm polluting bigger.  No, this isn't always the case--if this small vendor grows all his or her own stuff right there on the spot (or buys the supplies for their wares at a big box store) and sells to a customer base that is very close in, that's the best of both worlds.  But if they're buying small bits of stuff from here and there, shipping it piecemeal in small quantities, with customers driving fifty or a hundred miles to shop, that's an emissions/carbon nightmare, and it's not, in any way, saving us from Monsanto, Walmart, or anything else.

Again, I'm not arguing against supporting small farms or businesses, but rather saying that, if you're driving 75 miles to get your organic meat or cage-free eggs because you think doing so somehow "saves the planet," think again.  What you're saving in pesticides and herbicides, you're making up for in petroleum and shipping-related damage to the world.


And that's all.  Spent my morning figuring out who in my graduating high school class is already in a Facebook group and who needs to be added.  I've unblocked all but one of the oogie people because I want the group to be able to communicate.  There are a couple I'm sure won't unblock me--never-was drama queens and no-talent wanna-be straight-to-video "stars," and I guess I'll just have to soldier through, huh?

Do not reprint without permission. © KAQ

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