Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tragedy

With great sadness, I yet again read about a baby in Milwaukee who is found dead. In fact, there were two stories this week. One mother drank a few beers, decided to sleep with her baby...and, well, I guess you know what happened.

The second is one that is making my blood boil just thinking about it. A 15 year old has a baby. No husband, no mother or father in this young mother's life. She lives with her aunt in what the paper is calling "a cottage". It has no heat. They use 3 space heaters to bring the inside temperatures to 40 degrees. The toilet is broken. The sink leaks. There are knives in every room. This is a known drug user hang-out.

Sounds like a safe place for a 15 year old girl to raise a baby, right?

Oh, wait, it gets better. On Christmas night, the mom decided, at midnight, that she needed to go out. She leaves her beautiful baby girl, 6 months old, with two guys. These two guys had spent the day robbing people in order to buy some crack laced pot. The guys had been doing drugs and drinking beer when the mom leaves them with her baby.

Two hours later, the baby is stuffed between a box spring and a mattress.

Child Protection Services of WI knew about this "family". They had made visits to the cottage. They decided to let the 15 year old keep this baby! What? They decided this cottage was a safe place for a baby to live, sleep and crawl around.
Are you kidding me?

I have started getting involved with the foster care system in Wisconsin. I have been asking some tough questions of my case worker. What I keep coming back to is that the "system" wants to do everything it can to keep biological families together, even if that means saying no to a healthy, stable family who wants to adopt a child. This baby is a perfect example! There are thousands of families who want a baby and can't have one. Where does common sense come in and say that a 15 year old living with known drug dealers in a "cottage" that doesn't even have heat might not be the best scenario for this child?

I know, we go down a very dangerous road when a system is deciding who is a fit parent and who is not. This entry is not meant to stir this debate up. But, I am angry that this is NOT the first or only story of a child, known in the system, that has been killed because they were kept with their biological family.

Foster care needs more loving, stable homes to take kids. Joe and I have talked about what impact it may have on a child to have one week, one month, one year with a Christian family. Suddenly, that child has a picture of a thriving, healthy family in his/her mind. A child hears the name of Jesus and is treated with mercy, love and forgiveness. In Milwaukee county, the county where the system really seems to be broken, there are 2,800 kids in the system. There are 700 licenced foster care families. 3 children are added to the system a day. So, if you do the math, each foster family would need to take 40 kids into their homes to make a difference!

What causes Joe and I to hesitate is the system itself. The system does everything it can to keep kids with their biological families first. That may take years and it may take being moved from family member to family member to family member. In the meantime, what is happening to that child?

There are no easy answers - this is difficult stuff! I don't know what the answer is for Milwaukee County. All I know is that I am tired of opening up the paper and seeing the story of another child dead.

1 comment:

Rbarrow said...

This issue is really close to home for me, as we have friends who have been dealing with just this same issue for almost 4 years now!!! They started out just acting as foster parents for this baby, and seeing the MESS that his life would be with his birth mother, they decided to adopt him....3 1/2 years later, after many scary times, tears and utter stress, the "system" finally WOKE up and they are going to adopt him within the next couple of months! PRAISE GOD!! We really need to be praying for these children....UGH! I totally feel your frustration and desperation!!