Saturday, August 16, 2014
Child Trafficking By Any Other Name Smells Equally Bad
Over a year ago, I posted several pieces (e.g. http://childmyths.blogspot.com/2013/01/kafka-again-more-on-capture-of-child.html ) describing the situation of a woman I called Eve Innocenti. (She has told me it’s all right to use her real name, but I am not going to because I’m concerned about unforeseen consequences of disclosing.) Eve has two sons who are in the custody of a Colorado county following more or less accidental proceedings years ago, coupled with the involvement of the biological father of one (yes, one ) of the boys and the father’s wife. It does not really matter how this all came about, except for the fact that there was never any abuse or neglect of the children on Eve’s part, and retrospective attempts to claim that there was some have been completely unsuccessful. (For example, there was a claim that one child showed signs of fetal alcohol effects, therefore Eve must have drunk alcohol while pregnant, therefore she was by definition abusive; however, when after examination the child was clearly stated NOT to show any such signs, that whole structure fell to the ground.)
Well, it’s all still going on. One child (B.) is with his father and stepmother and is not allowed contact with Eve. The other boy (K., as in Kafka) is in a placement managed by the Institute for Attachment and Child Development ( the quondam Attachment Center at Evergreen, Colorado), whose director, Forrest Lien, is well-known as a proponent of the alternative psychological theories and treatments associated with Attachment Therapy. K. has unsurprisingly been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder among other things and is on heavy medications as well as receiving unspecified psychotherapy, and being denied contact with his mother. Eve’s efforts to work through her lawyer and the children’s law guardian have been fruitless. She wrote recently, “I’m at a serious loss here. I have done everything I can and nothing has worked. Laws don’t mean anything, rules and regulations don’t matter, the county can get away with everything and no one will stop any of it. I am now convinced that I will never see [K.] again. [B., the older boy] will make his way home, something I am sure of, but poor [K.] has never stood a chance.”
Why is Eve so particularly discouraged at this juncture? There is in fact something new happening. Although her parental rights with respect to K. have not been terminated, and although she is still required to pay the county for his support, she is told that a search is on for adoptive homes for him. This is happening in spite of the fact that adoption cannot occur unless parental rights are first terminated, but of all the possible reasons for termination, as described at https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/groundtermin.cfm, Eve’s case presents only one, and that one has occurred against her wishes-- her involuntary failure to see the children for many months.
As the statutes about termination of parental rights show, it’s assumed that it is in the interests of as state and its citizens not to terminate rights unless it is clearly necessary for the protection of a child. Maintaining family relationships, and reuniting separated parents and children, are goals secondary only to keeping a child safe. The stress on family reunification is so strong that there has been more than one incident in which children who have been placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect (remember, this was not what occurred in Eve’s case) were mistakenly reunited with parents who are not safe, and there were tragic consequences. Why, then, do we see a case where a mother who has never been neglectful or abusive, who is not indigent, and who wants the children--- is nevertheless apparently en route to termination of her parental rights with respect to at least one child?
I don’t know why, of course. But I do have some suspicious thoughts about this situation, and they have to do with the hurry to make adoption arrangements. Children are a commodity in the eyes of some people nowadays, and we pay for our commodities when we must. Commodities brokers are also paid by those who want the items they supply. Who is going to benefit financially from the adoption of K.? Is money or other benefits going to change hands-- indeed, have they already done so?
If this is the case, and caseworkers or other county employees are already arranging a transfer of “ownership” for which they will be paid, I would say that there is a name for what they are doing. It is child trafficking. Most commonly, this term is used to describe purchase of children for sexual use, but it does not necessarily mean this (although that definition cannot be ruled out, I am very distressed to say). People can traffic children as slave workers, or as adoptees for those desperate for parenthood for any of a number of reasons. Once a judge follows the recommendation of a caseworker to give legal custody to a purchaser (and someone who gives a kickback to a caseworker is a purchaser), a child may have no way to call society’s attention to his plight until he reaches adulthood.
I don’t say that this is what is happening to K. I don’t know. But I think readers will agree that the scenario I have presented is not an impossible explanation of events without any other obvious rationale.