Ok, I promise I won't fill this blog with "Open letters to..." but I do have one more to write this morning before the babies who are staying with us wake up in our house for the last time.
The kids who were removed from their home by CPS two weeks ago will be returning to their home tonight and tomorrow morning. They will be staying with their grandmother who has come down from Chicago to stay indefinitely. Just like she did last time.
In this situation, I have learned several things - my new appreciation for mothers of multiples being just one. But what I've learned most, what has made me incredibly angry this week, along with passive aggressive, and prone to swear and cry in the same moment, is that the system is incredibly broken and children are not protected.
Dear Child Protective Services,
My first encounter with you was several weeks ago when I called, as one more neighbor, to report the neglect and suspected abuse of seven children living in a filthy apartment with a mentally ill mother refusing to take her medicine and refusing to send her kids to school.
You did nothing but knock on a door and swallow the mother's refusal to answer with a big glass of 'it's her prerogative'.
Although you were obligated to interview the children, recorded via tape or video, you did not.
You did show up weeks later, after the police had broken down the door and handcuffed the mother, removed the children. You were frazzled and disorganized and your first question to the children was, "Hey, guys, ya'll having a good day?"
They were not. They were having an incredibly crappy day.
You were obligated to file a court case. You did not.
You placed the children in the temporary custody of Mercy Street and did not call any of us for two weeks. When we finally called you, we were told you were placing the children in the care of their grandmother who, although she was saying she wanted the children, had not called them or come by to see them in the 7 days since she'd arrived in Dallas.
Grandmother was called months ago when we saw this coming on. She did nothing. She was here the last time her daughter broke down and when she left her daughter to care for seven children, aware of the mental instability she battled, the children were in no better shape than when she arrived.
We know because we saw them every. single. day.
In the weeks these children have been in our homes, you have still neither interviewed them or ordered medical or psychological exams.
Our opinions, our insight, our recommendations have mattered nothing to you because, although we know them better than anyone, we see the anger, the rage, the wandering around the neighborhood well past dark in the cold, the bedwetting of children well beyond a typical age, and their thriving in environments full of routine, and love, and boundries, we are not blood.
You told me that, "Unless the children might die, they must be placed with a blood relative."
And as I sat down with Hakeem (10) this morning, telling him he was going home, he said, "until it happens again?"
"We're praying hard that it doesn't but, yes, baby, until it happens again."
I told him I loved him, I wanted him and his brothers, and I fought for him.
I'm not sure I did. I called you, yelled at you, begged you to reconsider, to HEAR us.
Still, I doubt I fought as hard as I could have. I felt like I was beating my head against a wall.
What I do know, I'm certain of to my core, though, is that you did not.
You did not fight for him - for any of them.
And that is your job.
Lord, I do not know your plan, I cannot see what will happen tomorrow, let alone the end of this story you are writing, but I know you. I know you keep your promises. I know you fight for the afflicted. I know you give strength to the weary. I know a bruised reed you will not break.
I know You are good
And that is enough.