Shredded Lives

June 26, 2008

I stood at the shredder tonight feeding its always hungry mouth.  It’s a bittersweet moment.  I celebrate having finished writing another Child Life History.  It’s what I do as a paying job.  When a child has been in foster care to the point that the state starts the process of terminating a parent’s rights, I get assigned to write a history of the child.  I read a mountain of files and write all about the child, the parents, and the process.  This history will be read by prospective adoptive parents. 

It is an involved process that I’m always happy to come to the end of, but it’s hard to do the happy dance at the shredder.  I stand there and shred all the personal information from the hundreds of pages of files I have read.  I shred the case notes that show how many times a mother relapsed in her struggle to get off meth.  Or the notes that show her struggle with mental illness. Or just with the bad breaks that life hands us, the ones that are so much harder without any support system. 

Oh, I’ve read the files that cause me to celebrate that a parent’s rights are terminated.  I can’t speak the details.  Confidentiality binds me.  But trust me, there are those parents whose history I read that cause me to understand that I’m not there in seeing all of us as beloved of God.  I struggle with that too. 

But it’s not one of those cases tonight.  Tonight I see a mother that struggled with an appalling childhood.  With a drug addiction that started with her mother as her supplier.  With mental illness that required understanding and support.  A mother who loves her child and is willing to consider giving up her rights to provide a better life for that child.  One who could have had a different outcome with a support system to turn to for help.

No. This is not an indictment of DFCS or its workers.  I routinely see and hear the caring in their voices.  Read what they did for the mothers on their caseload.  I see when it breaks their heart to file for termination.  Do I know of an organization that could help this mother before they file?  I’ve been asked this several times. 

Well, I do know of an organization, a body.  It’s called the Church.  And it rends my heart to know that we as a body aren’t where we need to be.  For so long, we have allowed the state to do the “welfare” work.  The work of the church.  We, the body of Christ, have ceded our rightful place in society to government.  And so, a young mother contemplates giving up a child she loves because she has no support outside of her case manager. 

I stand at the shredder tonight and get weepy.  I’m not sure what the answer is or even how I should be a part of it.  I just know that, right now, nationwide, we, the Body, are not it.  So, I shred.  And weep.

I John 3: 16-18

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.


One Response to “Shredded Lives”

  1. Barbara Says:

    So many children out there…it is a big stain on the fabric of our society, and I think our nations’ greatest shame, these children taken from families for whatever reason, to wait in limbo for a place to call home again. If every church rose up, and moved their congregation to help just one child stay home, or adopt a child that couldn’t return there, we wouldn’t have so many languishing in care. Debbie, I speak from personal experience – you make a difference. Thank you for helping us give our little one a forever home. You truly do God’s work.

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