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Is this the best we can do?

Dark-Haired Daughter is in juvenile detention, where she's been for about 9 weeks.  (It's a long story, and if you're really curious, I'll tell you, but it isn't really germane to this piece.)  It was only supposed to be a 2 week stay, as the court ordered her into a treatment program.  (She suffers from mental illness, and a whole host of "alphabet soup" diagnoses, plus she functions at about a 4th grade level intellectually.)

I've spent most of the last three weeks trying to get her moved.  It was a combination of a baby social worker (why, in the name of all that is good, did they assign OUR family a baby social worker????), a legion of red tape, and several government agencies where no one answers their phone nor has a clear grasp of what their agency is allowed/supposed to do.   It looks like it is finally going to happen in the next week or so.

Anyway, if you've got a kid in juvenile detention, you can go and visit twice a week, for an hour each, at designated times.  You sit in plastic lawn chairs, in a big brick room, and wait for your kid to be brought to you.  You can't bring anything with you - no pictures, magazines, etc.  Only parents can visit - no cousins, siblings, grandparents, etc.

On one recent visit, there were only two girls with visitors.  I said to my daughter,  "How many girls are in here  right now?"  and she said she thought about 16 or 17.  I said,  "Wow, and only two of you have visitors today."  She said,  "Mom, only two of us have parents."

My heart broke.

It broke because every kid should have a mom and a dad.  It broke for all those girls who had to sit in their rooms while two of their cohorts got a visit they would never get.  It broke because I knew that 15 of those girls were not orphans - it just meant that a lot of people had given up on a lot of kids and said,  "Nope, Not gonna do this anymore.  The system can have 'em."

It broke because I knew how hard I had to work to get my daughter the help she needs.  Phone calls, internet searches, lawyers, letters from psychologists and psychiatrists, appointments, being belligerent and bullying, wheedling and whining, just plain not giving up.  And there were 15 girls who did not have that advocacy.

Is this the best we can do for our children?  Warehouse kids and hope a spot in a foster home opens  up?  And then hope that the foster home is really a decent place?  (Lots of horror stories out there - ask any one who works in the courts.)  Shuffle kids through the system until they are 18 and then kick 'em out into the world, crossing our fingers that they'll stay out of trouble?  Is this the best we can do?

My experience is that I have to make about 7 phone calls to people in the state government to get one phone answered/returned.  When I do talk to an actual human being, I am likely to be shuffled about, told "That's not really my job, you need to talk to....." and the phone call string begins again.  Instead of getting help, you get frustration and a headache.

I am blessed that I have a job where I can spend two hours on the phone doing this.  I know how to research and dig through piles of government "information" to get names and phone numbers.  What about the parents that don't have this? 

Is this the best we can do?  Are our children so disposable that we just don't care?  Is our society so callous?  Is this REALLY the best we can do?

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I saw you
today
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
and
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
and
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.