“It is said that a frog will jump out of a pot of boiling water; however, if one places it in a pot and turns the water up a little at a time, the frog will stay until it is boiled to death…We frogs understand this.” ~ Deb Caletti
This quote is a painfully true statement in my personal case; and, has always stuck with me since I first read the words on a fellow speaker’s pamphlet at a DV seminar that I was speaking at. She had such a powerful message that we became instant allies in the fight against Domestic Violence and Child Abuse. The “boiling point” comparison has always hit right at home with me because I used to be burned with scalding water regularly during my captivity/marriage; and the metaphor is dead on because the effect of this one of two things:
it shocks you in totality
it creates physical numbness
My dear sister survivor Avalanche once wrote about the “boiling point” also – nailing it to perfectly described element of the truths surrounding domestic violence and captivity. We frogs do, indeed, understand this all too well.
“I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.” – John Keats
I cannot blog about my current state of ‘scarcely kicking’ as of yet – because of legal constraints – but let’s just say that a trial is FINALLY underway now, and Boo is to be on a plane to fly home for six hours to testify on behalf of not only herself, but for the rest of his victims, also. This is because Boo is officially documented as “Janey Doe #1” – his first legally acknowledged victim in a long string of them who came after she tried to tell everyone about what he is. I am surprised as Hell that they haven’t found a way to disallow her testimony because of the horrid implications that her truth screams behind the broken ass child welfare system.
Boo didn’t ask to be sexually preyed upon by a man who was her “counselor” at the “treatment facility” to which she was court ordered to reside; she never asked to be steamrolled and labeled as a liar for telling on him – way back in 2009; Boo didn’t look to become the cynical, dissociated, unruly and self-loathing creature that she has been molded into because of these very things, either…so, Boo definitely struggles with the notion of her burden to testify now, after all this time and all the lies and bullshit that she has been force-fed in the time between then and now. Boo comes and goes as she pleases – physically and mentally. THAT is how she has evolved herself in order to SURVIVE.
Each time it comes up (which is often, and always has been), she shrugs it off and says stuff like, “I don’t even want to think about it after all this time, let them [by ‘them’, she means the subsequent line of girls younger than she, who fell victim to her abuser as well, after she tried to tell everyone what he’d done to her] deal with it.” We have gone round and round about this element of the bigger picture…a debate that I argue passionately from either side – depending on either one of our mind states at the time.
On the one hand, I feel it is intrinsically necessary that Boo testify in summation and on behalf of ALL of his victims; she is ferociously honest and raw when it comes to shock value, she enjoys triggering people – she feeds off of the collective stunned reactions, it’s the only form of reaffirmation that she’s ever been able to scrape up off the fucking floor from these despicable “professionals” charged with her “care”. I am of the opinion that with Boo on the stand, his justice will be served much more unanimously and without further delay (for lack of a better description, as there is no such thing as justice in this circumstance at all).
On the other hand, I agree with Boo when she says, (verbatim):
“Mom…it’s been like five years…I just want to forget about all that already, he’s not even my biggest problem anymore…”
And she means that – she has grown up quickly since she was preyed upon by the man on trial now…she has been involved in much more dangerous and lastingly traumatic situations since age thirteen, She is currently also a “star witness” in TWO additional court cases as well…one of which is EXTREMELY HIGH PROFILE and has caused me to start sleeping with a loaded pistol nearby because she witnessed a fucking murder/robbery and the men in question are out on bail with my contact information – thanks to the courts. Boo has bigger fish to fry…which is a sad thing in itself. Tick tick tick….next week shall be the climatic catch to the cliffhanger in regard to Boo’s decision to testify or not.
And, if she flies out here to testify, she will likely take off afterward and be missing again…thing is: as much as Boo hurts me and as much as I brood over her well-being and safety when she disappears, it’s not very different from the ways I worry when she is locked away to rot in a different state without her Mommy, she’s being fucked up either way…I keep hoping one of these days, instead of running away to the cesspools again to hide and feel safe, she’ll just come home and let me hide her instead. Yeah, I might end up in jail again, so what? I’d do it. I’d do it to send a message to Boo, that she’s safe with me despite her lack of ability to feel safe anywhere. Criminal charges added to my file for protecting my own kid…done it before, I’ll do it over and over again. That’s what a Mom is for.
Throughout history, the Juvenile Dependency Courts have gradually evolved to become the convoluted and destructive corner in the Superior Courts; at least, one has to believe that the Dependency/ Child Welfare Courts that now span nationwide, at first originated with the real and true Best Interests of the Child at heart. That is most certainly NOT what drives the Department of Family & Children’s Services today, despite the fact that this agency is only in existence as a means of executing and following through with the orders handed down by the Juvenile Dependency Proceedings.
If not for the belief of long-gone “good” to hold on to, the entire child welfare system would undoubtedly bellow the cries of an all-consuming face of evil, ready to swallow everything that dared cross its path. If I was to allow myself to accept the idea that the Child Welfare League of America (as CPS’ national collective was called in its earliest days of existence) opened its books and doors with the motivation of anything besides protecting children in danger or need, my heart burned flavor tongue might finally spontaneously combust by accident while visiting the social services building one day; my brain would likely just snap in half right inside of my skull, leaving me to dance around in a zombie-like confusion momentarily before unloading an entire clip of .223 into anyone who happen upon me. It’s hard to say for sure what I might do if I failed to keep myself convinced that the Federal Foster Care System at least began for the right reasons, and not as the perversely motivated industry that it has become today.
Public Child Welfare has undergone a dramatic shift over the past decade. In 1998, 560,000 children lived in out-of-home foster care; by the end of 2009 the numbers had dropped to 424,000, according to the ACF. In the eight years leading up to 2010 the number of California children in foster care fell from more than 90,000 to 60,198.
In Los Angeles County, as the Times itself reports, where there were 57,000 children in care in 1997 there are 18,800 today.
The challenge came in federal financing, which re-reimburses state and county child welfare administrations per child. This creates what many in the field call a “perverse incentive,” in which departments lose money as they engage in the research-backed practice of re-uniting children with biological families, adoption and guardianship with family or another loving adult as opposed to conventional out-of-home foster care.
In evidence-based practice across the country, innovative administrations had proven that in many cases keeping children with families and supporting programs that help families do that resulted in better outcomes for children. The problem was that administrations, while successfully keeping children out of foster care, were working themselves out of their federal funding; and social workers, the people best equipped to solve the complicated family issues that lead to foster care in the first place, had dwindling resources with which to do just that. The Failed “Solution”: to replace social workers who had the knowledge, skills and cultural abilities to properly function as such- with non-social workers with less educational background or experience. In many cases, the caseworkers now employed by the DFCS do not even speak the same language as those that they aim to serve.
These shortcomings have, in large part, driven a movement for federal foster care finance reform.
In 1994 the ACF offered state and county administrations the option of a Title IV-E Waiver as a demonstration of alternative ways to fund child welfare administrations. IVE refers to the federal funding stream dedicated to foster children, and the waiver refers to increased flexibility for counties and states that take on the agreement.
In 2007, Los Angeles County was among a score of counties and states that had opted into the Waiver. In exchange for flexibility in spending, the county agreed to a cap on available federal funding.
By accepting the cap, critics like L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky, and apparently the Los Angeles Times, argue that the DFCS now has a reverse perverse incentive to push children back into family homes.
Yaroslavsky questioned whether the department’s drive to reduce the number of children removed from their families and placed in foster care has led it to leave too many children in unsafe conditions,” the Times reported on October 18 of 2012.
This assertion was followed with an analysis of the Title IV-E waiver’s impact on children, stating that:
“Others who have studied the waiver program say that earlier indicators were already suggesting problems.”
Above, you will see the plain example of how the DFCS and CPS and Juvenile Courts refuse to accept the responsibility of being the vultures that they actually are. There is always another agency to point the proverbial finger at in a time of crisis; and the details of any birth parents’ legal right to demand answers are the epitome of obscure. While the juvenile courts bask in the privileges of “legal immunity” for all social workers and staff of the DFCS in regard to what happens to the kids in its care, thousands of children are alienated from those who love them, lied to about the reasons why, and most importantly: ruined in spirit and self-worth permanently.
…that I went over the edge of madness today; after so many years of trying to hold it together and make sense out of the life that’s been deemed fitting for this huge heart and old soul of mine; if you’re reading this, it’s because the trail has led you back here to this piece- to this note of chalked lines of vengeance declared and scores settled into stone…
If you’ve found this, it’s because I have decided to act, in place of the pathetic, seething stagnancy that has grown so familiar with each new morning in my life – it’s because I’ve been driven over the edge and have been unsuccessful at retrieving my sanity in time to stop the laws of gravity from executing the proverbial drop in the bucket…if you’re reading this, Kiddo – it’s because I love you.
I realize now that I will never be able to change this, to finagle what’s been ignored and overlooked into a different scenario and outcome for you; and to be perfectly honest, that realization is slowly killing me these days, I think.
Ah, the far-fetched ideas that we cling to fiercely in times of desperation…
I guess the bottom line here is that I am crushed, squeezed by the knowledge that you have repeatedly chosen to leave a world of love and support and the closest thing to true acceptance that you’ll ever find – it’s like a marching band has ripped suddenly out of unrecognized scenery props all around me and taken to a heavily footed performance across the wastelands of my heart each time that I allow my thoughts to touch upon this reality. I can’t help but to allow my logical self to try and deduce the situation into basic terms; and this characteristic of mine only shines additional beams of artificial light down at you – skewing my view of your beloved face even further, likening you to a beast, bearing teeth.
What could possibly draw you to that place, that Hell on Earth you’ve voluntarily embedded yourself within? Is it even possible that I managed to raise you so horribly and unsuccessfully that you hold yourself to such dilapidated standards at age sixteen? It can’t be possible, Kiddo – I just don’t see how it happened, when it happened…and how I failed you like I have – so very totally and completely. As much as I can comprehend the reflection cast on me by your actions, I remain unable to connect the dots.
I am so deeply sorry and ashamed of myself for failing you so badly to have cultivated such self-demolition in you; and if you’re reading this, it’s because you must already have figured this out on your own. The depths of my misery and failure as your Mom are increasingly more crippling as time goes by; as you get worse in your drug addiction, self-destruction and alienation, I get worse in my collective state of mind.
If you’re reading this, it’s because the camel is down – back is broken – and I have passed the point of ever returning again – of having any interest in returning again. If you’re reading this, it’s finally going to be simple enough for you to decipher and comprehend. Maybe it will finally register in your burned out brain that you had things all wrong; that you’ve been manipulated and brainwashed and lied to and pawned by the very same people who allowed a pedophile to assault you and then called you a liar when you accidentally told on him…you were just a kid…you were under court order to be there for “treatment”…everything slipped from my grasp back then, when that predator ruined you; when nobody with the power to help you even took you seriously, when you were locked away in another state and swept beneath the Department’s carpet for years while the pedophile continued to hurt more little girls just he’d done to you. How many of you did it take for the fucks in charge to take you seriously? I forget…was it eleven of you? Four years later? Yeah, that was it. Sick bastards…
If you’re reading this, Boo…its because they’re all finally gonna get theirs for that heinousness, despite thinking they got away with ruining your life permanently and exploiting and victimizing and degrading you like have. I have always told you that life is not always swift in its recourse, and that I believe that what goes around comes back around without fail; I have sold my soul to the Devil in order to show you that this is true – in order to give you the most basic of justices due.
p style=”text-align:center;”>If you’re reading this, don’t ever read it again.
Even now, despite the plethora of deceit and heinousness that has compiled on top of one another, born of the procedures thrown together in a book of law, I somehow find it difficult to actually accept the true nature of the Child Welfare System in America.
What once was imagined as becoming a safe haven of legal protections for the victims of child abuse and neglect, has evolved into a dreadfully offensive and irreparably damaging entity; an entity with complete control and power over the children in the community. This notion wouldn’t bother me so much if the entity in question was even half interested in doing its job, if it was able to collectively give a fuck about the children it claims to offer protection to.
Sadly, the reality is that this dark corner of the justice system has become nothing more than an industrial vacuum; its suction has caused, and continues to create the likes of Living Hell for thousands of children and parents, alike. I know this to be true, I am one of them – and I exist in the Hell that the Department of Family & Children’s Services cultivated and turned into my daily life of mental strain and anguish, constantly teetering on insanity from being pushed so far into that realm of existence and expected to survive and remain as “functional”. This life that the county government, with its bullshit policies and procedures, the façade of an “ombudsperson”, the fucking mockery of the term JUSTICE.
The DFCS has gradually overturned my rule within my own future and its course; rendering me helpless and hopeless in the dust of my own travels towards Hell. The Department, with its sickening number of non-English speaking employees who seem to have undergone a heart removal surgery of some kind, operates under the safety of legal immunity and procedural safeguards for its employees; while the parents of children stolen, alienated manipulated to play along, are strung up from a tree and whipped publicly for perceived wrong-doings in the very same eyes that operate such a failing system. We (the stripped-down parents) exist in a wasteland of former hopes and dreams and laughter, with only the ghosts of our pasts to hold conversations with…is it any surprise that we’d eventually talk those ghosts into taking hostages and getting shit done? The alternative for us is a life void of any quality, our children gone and our souls hollowed to the point of exquisite pain that only worsens over time.
Perversity in the system is bad enough; but an ENTIRE industry created by the courts and child protection agencies who don’t give a shit about any of the kids or their individual safety – I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE. The system is designed to maintain perverse incentives to keep families apart and adopt kids into new families as a means of keeping certain stipends and funding measures flowing to the local governments??? Really??? What about the kids that need protection or support or structure? Forget about them, right?