July 28, 2004

O wud some power the giftie gie us / to see oursels as others see us

Submitted written closing argument today for a termination trial I did a few weeks ago, and met another CP mom at the office who wanted to hear some good news on her pending termination appeal. Murders will disrupt your sleep patterns, rapes and L&L's will leave you queasy, even if (maybe especially if) you win, but if you really truly want to get your heart broken as a P.D., over and over again, specialize in termination of parental rights cases. Child Protection or Dependency, whatever your state calls them, these cases set you against not just the court system and the prosecutor, but the bureaucracy, the Helping Professionals, and a client's lifetime of bad breaks and bad choices. They come to a bad end, 9 times out of 10.


My poor clients. CP's and terminations are where you really see the injuries that hardscrabble poverty, isolation, and ignorance are inflicting on my neighbors, accelerated for this generation by the methamphetamine that blankets everything out here now. The predominant denomination around here has a saying, "Families are Forever." I hope so, but what the deprivation and the drugs start for my clients, more often than not the helping professionals are finishing off. And the back-of-the mind question for a P.D. working in this area is that, more than once in a while, these poor babies and children are better off for it.