I've written about this now and again on Tumblr over the past few months, but I've never really taken to this blog to talk about it, so, long story short for those that don't already know:
Thanksgiving of last year, we got a call about the Elder Spawn having a half brother, Tiny Man. Tiny Man and Elder Spawn shared the same mom, who had gotten pregnant and kicked out of prison right at 36 weeks pregnant. (Whether this was because she had actually done enough time/good behavior or because DOC was looking for an excuse to kick her out before she delivered, we don't know, but Tiny Man could have had a very entry into the world had they waited three weeks.) Mom OD's on heroin once. Then twice. And at that point, they got Tiny Man out of there. Mom's rights were terminated and a warrant was issued for her arrest. She went radio silent for about a day and a half, two days and then turned up, tragically, dead- of an overdose.
So, then DHS is calling, because poor Tiny Man has no Mom. They don't know who Dad is and Tiny Man needs a safe place to go. They told us he'd be very adoptable and because he's the half brother of the Elder Spawn, that, to us, made him family, so we said yes. And then, in the space of about forty-eight hours, we had three kids.
The next few months were crazy, stressful, rewarding, wonderful, heart breaking and really, really, really hard. But we did it. We loved Tiny Man as much as we could and we got ourselves all the way to April, when it became clear to us that the between the courts and DHS, they were putting Tiny Man on course to be placed in the custody of his Bio Dad. And, as heart breaking a decision as that was for us, we felt that with Bio Dad being down in the Quad Cities and us being up here in Iowa City, the distance was becoming an impediment. So we made the request that Tiny Man be moved closer to his Bio Dad. If he was going back to Bio Dad, then he needed way more contact and way more face time than he was getting by staying with us. We had hoped that longer visits and eventually overnight visits would happen to ease Tiny Man into life with his family.
We didn't want to be selfish about it. Tiny Man has half brothers and sisters. He has aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents- a whole other family out there ready to love and care for him- who are we to deny him that? If he has a Bio Dad, shouldn't the Bio Dad get a fair shake? I won't speak for the Missus on this- she has her own feelings about it- but I just imagined that if Tiny Man stayed with us forever, that I'd have to sit him down and tell him that his Bio Dad was given every chance, every opportunity, to do right by him and just couldn't take care of him the way that he needed to be cared for. I wanted to be able to say that to him so bad.
But it turned out that none of our reasoning seems to have mattered a damn. Have there been longer visits? Yes. But no home visits. No overnight visits. Problems have mounted and have been documented and passed on to DHS, for all the good it seems to be doing, and although there was no decision today- so maybe I'll be wrong about this- I don't think it's going to matter.
I get that DHS is about keeping families together. And where they can do that, they should do that- but only within reason. At a certain point, the children themselves- especially ones so young who can't speak for themselves- have to matter more. What's best for them? What will give them the best chance at the best life possible?
Right now, in Iowa, everyone seems to be fixated on the tragic deaths of Natalie Finn and Sabrina Ray- but there's rot deeper in the system, at a fundamental level that needs to be fixed. Better pay, more funding, adequate staffing and a clear mandate to do right by families if they can, but to protect the children at all costs are needed. I know state Republicans right now aren't about spending money- especially since we're in an economic downturn, but if you mean what you say about your pro-life rhetoric, then increased funding for DHS is a moral necessity. You cannot deny poor people access to basic family planning and turn around and gut every government program designed to protect life and children in turn. You have to do both. If you're going to tell me that there's a 'genocide of the unborn' then you have a moral obligation of the highest order to do so.
And if you're unwilling to do that, then it's time for the pro-life movement and the social conservative wing of the Republican Party to just close up shop and go home. You're not helping. You're not particularly being good Christians. And you're sure as hell not pro-life.
I have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow- or the next day- or whenever the decision comes down. All I know is that situations like this are why nobody believes in the system any more. It's why nobody trusts the government. When there's only a thin veneer of competence seemingly being applied to the life of an innocent child, it makes me angry. And it makes me helpless. I second guess our choices over and over again and I don't know if the outcome will be different. I honestly don't know if the outcome is wrong- say Tiny Man does go home with his Bio Dad- isn't that right? Isn't that good? Isn't that what's supposed to happen?
Tonight, right now, I don't know the answer to any of those questions. But that's why my Monday sucks.