Balancing Acts

A working single mom attending law school

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Posts Tagged ‘foster care’

RAD and the law

Posted by newlawmom on April 9, 2009

Well, I still don’t have it all figured out. But I do find myself continuing to peruse message boards and blogs that relate to attachment disorder, foster care and adoption. Less so boards that relate to childhood mental health problems in the absence of trauma. I think of my son nearly every day. I wish I could picture him living happily and successfully, just as though nothing bad ever happened to him at all. I think every mother would wish that for her child, just to be able to fix all the problems. I couldn’t fix them so now I just like to dream that the problems just magically disappeared for him once I stepped out of the picture. But in my heart I know that is an illusion. Last night I almost signed up on a message board for people who have experienced disrupted adoptions. But I stopped because I figure most of those people had infants who they wanted and never got rather than mothers like me who voluntarily (and necessarily) gave up a child and returned him to the custody of the state. It nearly killed me. But the damage done to him, to me, and particularly to my other children would have been much more substantial if I had continued down an impossible path. I was way out of my league. Sadly, I don’t think there is a league that is prepared to deal with the serious disturbances that can result when a human being is tortured for the first few years of life. If there was, I surely would have found it. The struggle now is to figure out how the law can benefit these children, or better yet, how it can be applied to protect them in the first place. I think the basis for this needs to be found in the constitution.  I will be working with a professor over the summer on establishing a network within the school for training to be a court appointed special advocate (CASA) and guardian ad litem (GAL) for children in state placement. That is good. But it is not the solution to the underlying problem, which is my focus and ultimate goal. The children in this country must have certain rights, and when those rights are violated, they must have access to justice and appropriate restitution, including appropriate physical, mental, and emotional health care. And I need to either locate or perform research that will establish that these children DO NOT recover from their substantial injury. I suspect that is the case more often than not, despite the happy face people want to put on the situation. It is not enough to promote foster care and adoption. That does not put these children into a position where they are made whole.  I am not anti-foster care. I am Pro-child. Every child, including the invisible ones. So…at the end of my first year of law school, I remain committed to the children, even if I have needed to devote my energy to legal subjects that seem to have nothing to do with child welfare at all.


Posted in 1L, child welfare, Child Welfare Issues, ethics, foster care, law school, Parenthood, Purpose, trauma | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by newlawmom on February 9, 2009

Hurt children, adoption, mental health, law school, and sanity? It occurs to me that I am attempting to blend things that do not go well together and I have yet to figure out how I’m going to make it all work. Today’s search terms for the blog:  Threatening adopted child with foster care.  Attachment Disorder Single Mom. Law school scholarships. Older Law Student.  How to make it work – that is the question. To all you parents out there who are finding my blog, welcome.  To other law students, I’m probably not your average student and you may want to disregard most of what I say. I am a woman on a mission. I just don’t know exactly how to go about it. For today, I am applying for some paid internships that have more to do with public health than they do with the law. Did I choose the wrong degree? I don’t think so. I stopped into career services and they are supportive of the internship and gave helpful advice. Beyond that, I am clueless.  I don’t want to just volunteer my time over the summer to causes that I care about but that do not help me achieve my goals. I want to make progress. I want to see how it all fits together. And as usual, everything will happen exactly as God intends it to happen regardless of my well laid plans. As though I have any of those, right? Children are being harmed, families are suffering, mental health systems are contributing to the problem, educators fail to understand, and most of the world is ignorant. And I am arrogant enough to suppose I might be able to help? Yeah. The other half of the time I want to go blind, lose my memory, feign ignorance and go earn some money. The real problem is I do need to earn money because without that I can’t do anything for anyone, including myself. All the knowledge in the world does not pay my bills. But I will thank you parents of kids with RAD for reminding me that I got here from a place, and that place still exists for too many. Not only that, my son with RAD is only 15 and needs to live in this world despite his life. Not only does he need to live here, but all of society needs to share the world with him and live with the consequences. So….law school. Con Law, Property, Civ Pro, Contracts, and Legal Writing and Research call me now. I will master these subjects, make no mistake about it.

Posted in 1L, child welfare, foster care, law school, Parenthood, Purpose | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wednesday 1/21/09

Posted by newlawmom on January 21, 2009

Week 3 of the second semester of the first year of law school. How sweet. The problem is I am very far from being transformed into an attorney. I can’t even picture myself working as an attorney. When I look around my classroom I can’t picture most of them working as lawyers either. Contemplating summer work is difficult. I think my inability to believe the idea is interfering with my ability to get resumes in the mail. Tonight on the ride home I was sort of contemplating the places I might like to work. And law firms are not the answer. I think I would like to work in the legal department of a hospital, or more particularly, a mental health hospital. I wonder if they even have legal departments. If they don’t, they should. But I haven’t even inquired. So that is the task I am assigning to myself for this week: create my own list of ideal legal experiences and try to make one of them happen for this summer. While the idea of “trying out different things” that I talked about a few weeks ago makes some sense, it is not me. I have always devoted myself to the disabled and this is no time to stop.  A revelation for today. We shall see how long it lasts or where this road actually leads to. Guardian ad litem training is off for the time being due to events outside my control. I realize how much I was looking forward to that and need to find something to replace it with. The purpose of attending law school is to use my skills to help others – that is my purpose. I will not lose it along the way. Neither will I lose my desire to finish at the top of my class. On that note, I have met with two prof’s re: my exams and have a third appointment set up. Not to whine – just to understand and use this experience to improve next time.

On the homefront: sonny boy’s new fish had babies and ate them. This is not cool. We went out tonight and bought a “baby-saver” for the fish tank. I am learning more about fish than I ever needed to know. We also picked up five neons to go with the three mollies in the tank. PETCO promises if I can save the babies they will take them and adopt them out. This is encouraging.  I realize lately that the term adoption is not really meant to be interpreted as broadly as we apply it. If human babies are “adopted” and this is a lovely and beautiful thing that is meaningful and the equivalent of belonging to a family as if born there, we really need to think of a different term for cats and dogs and fish. Ditto for the words “foster home”. We need to afford a bit more dignity to our children than we do to our animals. And make no mistake – I am an animal lover. Children are not animals, and what works for the animals may not be adequate for the human beings we distribute to new homes without blinking. This is a problem.  Something needs to be done about it.  On the other hand, we shouldn’t be so quick to give up animals either. They are not objects. Just a thought.  If only the law was a solution – so far, it doesn’t look that easy. For the fish? Well, a trip to PETCO and a new tank beats being eaten by a big fish or flushed down the drain. So I guess adoption for fish is a positive outcome. I’ll try to remember that. I hope my readers have a lovely day. I can promise you that if a state worker showed up at your door and told you they had a new, safe, happy home for you  it wouldn’t be a happy day.

Posted in 1L, child welfare, foster care, law school, Law School Life, Parenthood, Purpose, trauma | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oh October

Posted by newlawmom on October 2, 2008

It deserves a song all its own. My life is about to change again. School demands time. More time. The semester is officially half over already. I need to step it up. This week I have been engaged with the national political news. It has consumed me. In addition my lovely child/teenager who made me so proud a few months ago by overcoming the odds and finding a job is sitting in jail tonight. It is a disgusting mess. A social worker called me from the hospital side of the jail. I’m not even sure how she got involved. Anyway…he’s in jail. And I’m not bailing him out. But add him to the list of children who we have failed repeatedly via the foster and adoptive system in this country.  First homeless, now in jail. Go figure. We let this happen. There is no money to help this kid or others like him. No services, no money, and no one cares. I don’t suppose I need to tell anyone here that this bailout plan for the banks doesn’t do a damn thing for my homeless mentally retarded foster child/adopted immigrant/needy kid who will never own a home or stock either. He’s not my kid. He has nobody in this world and no blood relative in this country. So who is it that is going to step up and care about that? So…in the face of this I move on to torts and contracts. I hope all my readers have a lovely day. A purposeful week. And please, call your representatives regarding this bailout. Either support it or don’t. But let it be the voice of the people that decides, not the voice of money. Thank you.

Posted in Child Welfare Issues, Law School Life, Purpose | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Child Psych treatment

Posted by newlawmom on August 11, 2008

So who are the children who are being locked up in a child psychiatric facility in Connecticut? Why they are state wards. Virtually the only way to get into the state run hospital is to be under the care of the state, either voluntarily or otherwise. And what does the state do for these children? Well, it spends over $800,000 per year to expose the children to excessive levels of physical and chemical restraints. They still use rubber rooms for seclusion purposes. Does this solve the problem? Apparently not, because the state also pays out over $2 million per year to pay wokers compensation costs for employees who are injured by these out of control children. Does anyone want to turn their child rearing duties over to the state of Connecticut and take their chances? On any given day 70+ children are in that hospital. How many children visit over the course of a year? Unknown.

Ready for the scary part? These children have no say. They have no legal representation. They have no avenue to escape their situation. Sure – if they were doing what they needed to do, they never would have ended up there, right? Well, that would be right if all these children were seriously mentally disturbed. The problem is that many children are EMOTIONALLY disturbed. And the reason they are emotionally disturbed is because they have been abused, neglected, abandoned, or otherwise traumatized. We fail to treat them. Fail to acknowledge their serious emotional needs. And then wonder why they are violent and aggressive. Locking them up, placing them into locked rubber rooms, strapping them in to beds, and injecting them with fast acting sedatives is probably not the best answer. I don’t think it is going to contribute their overall physical, mental, and emotional development into model citizens. This is how we treat the 17 and under set. Hmmm. Someone had better do something.  Want to go see Riverview? It sounds like such a beautiful place. Serene. Myself, I’m choosing law school. And praying that I figure out what a law degree enables me to do about it.

Posted in Child Welfare Issues, Purpose | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Unexpected interruptions

Posted by newlawmom on August 6, 2008

Why I would call anything unexpected is a mystery to me. I should know by now that nothing ever goes exactly according to plan, or, life goes as it will regardless of my plans. Today I had two of these things happen. One in the morning, one at night. One good, one bad. One old man, one young man. And I jumped for both of them, which I should learn to stop doing.

So…the old man in the morning. My mother’s companion who I am responsible for this week decides to call the police at 6:30 AM because the staff person who was working didn’t respond when he called their name. Of course the thing to assume is….’the staff person must be dead then…I should call the police and report a possible murder in my house’. When the staff walked into his bedroom a few (as in two or three) minutes later he calmly told them the police were on their way. Sure enough they showed up. Un-be-liev-able. He will see the doctor tomorrow to be evaluated for paranoia and delusions. And because I know its coming I took it upon myself to get the applications for long-term care today instead of next week when my mother is back. Might as well set my sister up with everything she will need when this becomes her baby in two weeks.  I will not be carrying a cell phone with me at school because I need to avoid these types of issues. My mother will limit emergency calls to legitimate emergencies.

So I took care of the old man.  Came home to work on my house and the move. Today I focused on organizing photographs so they aren’t damaged along the way. Set a few more things aside for a tag sale on Saturday. And failed to get my carpets shampooed which was actually my top priority. That has been moved to Friday. I did quite a bit of work today, spent time with my kids, etc. and had just settled down for the night when my phone rang at 10PM with a strange number.

I was so happy to hear from this kid and he is doing so well for himself. A 19 year old kid that I have known since he was 11. He’s had a disaster of a life. Orphaned in a foreign nation as an infant. Adopted by American saviors at age 7. Abused by adoptive parents, landed in foster care at age 11, institutionalized for a year, diagnosed as MR…the story goes on. He showed up on my doorstep in June begging for help fighting the system. I helped him get an attorney and stuck to my decision to never allow any other children to live in my home. For a brief time, that left him homeless. But…..he prevails. He called tonight for a ride HOME from Work! Yes. He has a job, an apartment of his own, and he is enrolled in the local community college for the fall semester. How sweet is that? He is doing fine. He is so proud of himself. His attorney has successfully prevented the state from confining him and medicating him, which was their intention. They like control. And it seems to me that it is easier to declare someone mentally ill or unfit than it is to accept genuine emotions. This issue interferes with people getting proper services. This child was angry, unhappy, and determined to escape what he viewed as a bad situation. Everything he did and said was turned around on him and seemed to provide evidence that he was “not making good decisions” and “emotionally unstable”. So I am thrilled that he has managed to secure his freedom. I am proud of him, and when he goes back to court in a few weeks, holding a job, having an apartment, and being enrolled in higher education should work in his favor. Resilience is possible. Not guaranteed, but possible just the same. Now for the other thousands of teenagers in foster care….what will happen to them? I’m not sure. Tomorrow I am going to the amusement park where I will successfully ignore all the problems of the world and just enjoy my own three.

I hope my readers have a splendid day. Pick a cause and apply yourself to it. Contribute to the world in whatever positive way you are capable of. And remember that you only live once.

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Sad crimes and my life

Posted by newlawmom on July 23, 2008

I got a lot done today. I am off to law school and committed to living every day of my life to the fullest, realizing I could die any day, same as the rest of you. There is usually no forewarning. But certain things can be predicted. I predict that if we continue to abuse and neglect our own children and fail to recognize that simply giving a child a new family does not solve their problems, we will continue to see some of these children commit crimes as adults. Two different crime anniversaries have been in the news this week, and both cases involve adults adopted as children. 

Edwin Hall kidnapped, raped, and murdered an 18-year old Kansas girl just over one year ago. Today he pleaded guilty and offered that he thought the girl was twelve and had nice legs. This man was removed from his adoptive home as a teenager after threatening harm to his adopted sister.  Why? Because there is a mental and emotional disconnect. If a person is unable to connect with their mother and father, unable to feel connected to other people in the world, there is no sense of decency necessary. There is no understanding of decency. Learning the standard expectations of society is like learning a foreign language without having any expectation of needing to use it in the future. Even if the individual is able to recite the rules of appropriate language, there is no internalization behind it. Considering my son was removed from my home after threatening to murder our entire family, and considering a few years before that he pulled a knife on his social worker and attempted to feed my two-year-old a large assortment of his own medications, I think I have a right to be concerned about it. This could be my kid in the news ten or fewer years from now. It is my greatest fear.

In the second case, the home invasion in Cheshire, CT happened exactly one year ago today. A mother and her two innocent daughters were raped and murdered while the husband was severely beaten and left for dead in the basement while his house was set on fire. It was a terrible crime committed by two men. One of those men was adopted as a child, and his parents claim that he was always “distant” and “unconnected”. The word for this is Reactive Attachment Disorder. It is the pre-cursor to sociopathic behavior. It is real, and it has a preventable cause. If there is one study I would like to do during my lifetime, it would be to research how many of our jailed criminals had a history of being placed into foster care, adoption, or other situations where they were separated from their biological parents.  These criminals were not necessarily born bad or even born different. It is their life circumstances that have contributed to their behavior. And it is our society that allows those life circumstances to exist.

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