A Way Without the Will

Corruption and Greed

 

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.

Rips, Tears and Lullabies

Look at us, there, sitting pretty – all smiles;

photo after photo, flipping through untruth;

the blurry colors in the background,

have fuzzed the edges around me and you.

So much time tossed away seeking the simple;

something I shouldn’t have to choke free from you;

no matter what I want to believe or deny –

I can’t ignore the stabbing in my womb.

You’ve made your decisions, just like I made my own;

Back when life was a highway and my lead foot was down,

When the words between your mouth and mine

might have held meaning as they hung around.

Believe me when I howl at the waxen, pock-marked Lady –

That my intentions only run pure for yours,

That the scars on my skin can only barely begin

To ever describe the horrors.

I’m following tiny footprints down the spiral towards the drain;

In such a disillusioned, unwilling mind frame,

Piles and piles of lies and goodbyes, rips and tears and lullabies;

My teardrops obscure my perceptions abroad,

In a room full of people who only seem to smile or nod;

The fakeness: tangible, as the bills in a fold,

Tucked away, out of sight in a tomb of fool’s gold.

If You’re Reading This, Maybe Today’s the Day You Understand…

 

…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.

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p style=”text-align:center;”>If you’re reading this, don’t ever read it again.

 

 

Messy Soot

 

Thinking back on all the times we’ve had…

to the present moment, everything’s so fuckin bad;

My very existence has turned upside-down…

The road that I was on got sucked underground.

 

I know that so much of your anger and misery…

are associated directly with thoughts of me;

and there’s nothing I can do to take that away…

but you will see things for yourself, someday.

 

It used to seem possible, that you’d come back “home”…

but I woke up one day and I’m all alone;

and during the years that have slipped right on by…

The enemy has become your own perceived ally.

 

Professional schemes to mask the bottom line…

that they could’ve cared less about you – all this time;

I still fight for and against your honor, from years ago…

While you drift away from the only family you know.

 

I have tried tirelessly to win justice for you…

while The Department takes credit for what’s not real or true;

after years separated, days each spent half alive…

so much life still shines through those beautiful eyes.

 

A handful of years thrown away – that we won’t get back…

no amount of money in the world could make up for that;

I want you know that I carry a pain that is quite real…

it’s the only thing left that I’m able to feel.

 

It fills in the void of my resigned, bitter mind…

with memories and thoughts of a much brighter time;

So for a moment, you’re “home” with me again…

the windows are open, and the sunshine pours in.

 

What was inside my heart that left with you…

it takes away the sense of falling completely through;

It reminds me of those long-forgotten, better days…

when I could reach out my hand and touch your sweet face.

 

As temporary as it is- gone from this place and time…

without those moments, I’d surely lose my mind;

When I open my eyes, the fog has returned…

and I’m buried beneath all of the bridges you’ve burned.

 

The curtains drawn closed, the rain pours drown…

and the gurgling of my spirit becomes the only sound;

I wonder if you know that I never wanted it this way…

Where I’m eternally hoping to see you alive again someday;

 

A circumstance captivated and cultivated through sheer stupidity…

A situation of manipulation in which everyone wins but you or me;

I can’t tell you to forgive the forsaken things you perceive…

I can only tell you how wrong I am been to still believe.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire.

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?

….to be continued

The Blues

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Yesterday, I saw a lone bluebird high in the pomegranate tree, apparently eating her own emptied nest. Upon seeing this, I immediately felt a kinship with the little, winged creature. It almost gave me the inclination to go inside and start taking bites out of my own reminders of my former life as a mom – to somehow find my own way to gobble up the residual evidence of my daughter’s days at home. I envied the bird for being able to erase the pain of such a life-altering flight; she must have been so proud and disappointed all at once to see the small, blue blur of motion as it fluttered into the distant sky on its own – finally after so much effort and concern; the mother bird must have been so torn on that day, the day that she later consumed the very twigs and fibers that her small family had been living in since September.

I watched…out of nothing more than my own curious and empathic nature, I continued to observe this odd avian ritual. Eventually, the bird poked and picked at the bunch of sticks until the few remaining in design simply collapsed and appeared to dissolve into the air below her. She bleated out strange and un-birdly sounds then, looking all around in a seemingly obvious desperation to understand why she ate her home; I couldn’t watch any more after that and went inside, getting myself lost in other varying household chore projects for the next few hours.

I’ve noticed since then, that the beautiful bluebird has not vacated the pomegranate tree since the demolition of her own nest; instead, she has taken to the very tips of a sturdy branch that juts out among the furthest reaches of the tree’s skeletal form – unnaturally exposed, but wanting to be apparent to her children should they happen to pass by in the frenzied high of flight. My heart sinks today as I watched her – droplets beading around and down iridescent, azure feathers slicked to her stubborn shape perched in the rainy grey world – cold and alone and rapidly losing hope of ever being anyone’s mom again. I guess “human” nature does not stop at the perimeter of our species’ existence at all…

Beckoning Strength

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My entire existence feels quite strained and stretched past its own ability; my thoughts and feelings have been going through a change that’s so unprecedented and foreign to me, and my objectives in life have seemed to alter themselves as a result. I am going to once more, try to explain, try to describe, to convey in accuracy, my current state of being – without the fear of what someone else might think about it…because the need that I harbor for support and guidance always outweighs the shame and embarrassment….my desire for sanity balances out my habit for unhealthiness.

 

My only child, my daughter, age 16.5, has returned again as of late last night; she was picked up by the local police and then taken to the Emergency Room, as usual – from which, her tragic pattern has proven, she will leave once more and return to the world of Roulette, where she has chosen to live an insane life on her own.

It’s happened – finally…my heart and soul has gone cold and totally robotic towards her now…from so many years of preparing myself to lose her in a horrible, murderous way to some psychopath she’s willingly running around with; all of my tears, enough to fill the driest basin – for naught in the end. She has been dead to me for a short time now, I recognize – hence my current mourning period and the loss that I feel in every ounce of who I ever was. A genetic loss, a loss deeper than anything possible. A beautiful, delicate legacy, lost to the darkness of drug addiction and exploitation, trafficking and human madness.

So many many instances in which I have been the captive – a hostage to the absolutely appalling decisions made by others. It’s time for me to write this out loud, after all these years of chaos, of chasing a normalcy that was elusive, of fighting tooth and nail against the puppets staged to fight me – all while the invisible opponent slashed and cut at my heart from my womb. 

How many times did I save you? How many of your “wolf!” cries did I answer and walk you out of safely? Each time, only to be spat on by you in the end, when you grew bored of normalcy and made the sale. You continue to cry “wolf!” so regularly, even still…unable to see that the effectiveness of its meaning has long left the repetitive noise it creates. Ineffectiveness is a state that is lost on time and effort; and it is a concept that has sadly and tragically come to define our relationship. 

 

I can’t keep swinging back and forth like this – it will drive me as insane as the retched people my daughter lives amongst in the Nether-wastelands she seems to love so much.

Its as if, after helplessly watching her drown, unable to save her, and then, after finally accepting the defeat of losing her – I’m walking away to grieve her loss, only to be shocked by her sudden resurface and renewed plea for my help – help that she doesn’t really want at all. So goes the gut-wrenching cycle that no sooner is she is fitfully dragged to shore and renewed breath, the girl unfailingly belly-crawls herself back into the depths and sinks without a fight. Over and over and over and over.

My own brothers tell me to let her sink and move on…my own brothers!…

my therapist tells me the same thing! A therapist!

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p style=”text-align:center;”>My heart tells me I can’t win, and that I am better just mourning the loss as if its real, because it is.