Mudcat Café message #534464 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #38108   Message #534464
Posted By: catspaw49
24-Aug-01 - 11:07 AM
Thread Name: BS: Child of the System.....Ramblings
Subject: Child of the System.....Ramblings
When Rod was born, he was the 4th child and within the first year of his life and older sister disappeared. The parents said she had gone to live with other relatives and the authorities made just one call verifying this.........but she has never been seen since.

The family moved back to Ohio, again to Michigan, and again back to Ohio. Three more children were born and the police in both states responded to reports of domestic violence. Nothing could be done because no one was willing to file charges, especially Mom.

Mom and Dad were both heavy drinkers, below average intelligence, dirt poor, and from similar families themselves. Dad had a series of jobs but never had one for more than a few months at a time. When he was sober he was fun for the kids. They went to the lake and on picnics, but when he was drunk he was a terror. Mom just stayed drunk and took the beatings and watched as her kids took them too. Rod took his share. They all did. In Michigan another child went missing, never to be seen again and yet still nothing happened. Relatives "stood by their own." In this case a child was produced but no one now or then could be sure it was the missing one.

It's now 1992 and Rod is 12 years old. All of his life has been a long series of violent events and attempted interventions by Child Welfare and the police. I won't go into the laws that protect parents even when they're abusive, but until someone is willing to stand up and file charges, virtually nothing can happen if the parents know how the system works......and these parents knew the system well. There are now 8 living kids ranging from 17 to a 1 year old infant. On several occasions Mom called Children's Services, but always backed out at the last moment. She made it to a shelter one night with all the kids, but left within an hour and returned home. That night she took one of her worst beatings.

About a month later the three year old was sick and cried all night. The family lived in a trailer on the outskirts of a small town in what can best be described as a garbage dump. Late at night Mom boiled a tub of water at Dad's request and the three year old was put in this..........I can't tell this story...........

For three days the little guy cried and screamed and on the third day he died. Mom buried him under the trailer but Dad decided to do something different. He built a fire and burned the body.....and the other kids roasted hot dogs.......they didn't know.

At this point, Children's Services had a file on this family over two inches thick. Interventions had been attempted and everything within the law had been done, but the system has legal holes and the casework supervisor was constantly trying new tacks, but to no avail. The caseworker was beside herself and had lightened her caseload in an attempt to do more for and about this family. The parents had done everything legally mandated and had attended all the requisite classes and clinics. The system was providing many things to give the kids food, clothing, and a roof........everything but the protection they really needed. Why not? No easy answer but again, within the law, they could do no more.

So here's Rod at 12 and he has become as violent as his Dad and indeed looked up to him with envy. The caseworker and supervisor responded to a complaint of a child screaming and this time found that the missing child could not be accounted for and Bob (Casework Supervisor) was not about to let this happen again. Bob spent two days fighting with the attorney and the Sheriff's department until he got a warrant to inspect the home and talk to all the kids. The story finally came together and thanks to Bob, the parents went to jail and the kids came into Foster Care. I won't run on about the rest of the kids. We had one of them for five years until he turned 18 and though he has had many serious problems, at 20, he is now at least holding his own and doing pretty well. Rod spent a lot of time with us too as he went through a series of homes. We were like the base he could always return too, but even Rod knew that his presence was harmful to his brother so he never pushed staying. I have a long list of Rod tales with us, but again, this is already too long.

Rod spent a lot of time in treatment centers for alcholism (he started drinking at 6) and violent behavior. After his Dad had been sent to prison for 25 to life, Rod often expressed the desire to "be right there with him." We used to go to the prison together and after years of sobriety and in a prison environment, Dad was a reasonable man believe it or not. The messages he gave to his kids were the best that any foster parent could hope for.........but Rod never got them and actually began to believe that his Dad had somehow "sold out."

Rod spent his final months in foster care with us and left on his birthday with a handshake and a thank you........and then commenced to go get good and drunk and high, a condition he pretty much remained in when he could. He was arrested on numerous occasions for violent acts and robbery, but at least no one died. There had been one of those perverted but true jokes running among the agency and foster folks that we had a pool on when Rod would either be found dead or kill someone. I know that's cruel, but the truth of it was plain, sadly enough.....and we all knew it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2001........ Rod was drinking with two other people he knew from the shelter in which he was staying. They were sitting on the side of a barge by a river and for some reason Rod went into the water and never came up. They found the body last night. At 22, he lived longer than anyone expected and the only plus here is that no one else died. Was there ever a chance for him? Possibly. Are the laws a problem? Certainly, although some changes have taken place within the past five years.

There's no moral here. There is little sense to be made of any of it. Trying to "break the cycle" is never easy and rarely successful even under the best of conditions. If you think that more should have been done, you're right. But when? Again, the earlier the better, but if you believe that domestic violence is a subject we should pussyfoot around, a situation best handled with tact and diplomacy, then tonight, in your thoughts and prayers, you need to remember two missing children, probably dead, a toddler screaming from burns for three days until he died with never any attempt a treatment, and remember his brothers and sister too.

Now, for Rod, it's finally over ........