“I truly believe that
individuals can make a difference in society. Since periods of change
such as the present one come so rarely in human history, it is up to
each of us to make the best use of our time to help create a happier
world.” – Dalai Lama
Matthew is tall, but thin, for his age. A star football player regardless of his lack of weight, he can tussle with the best of them on any field. His height and weight coupled with the footwork required to run around bigger guys on the field, also lend themselves well to his dancing ability. Of course, this could also be the fact that he is half Latino on his fathers side. He can pick up the latest dance moves quite easily and is not at all ashamed to show them to you. No macho football player here. He is comfortable with his manhood and that is evident when he begins to “crank dat soulja boy”. Of his many strong features, his multi colored eyes clearly rise above the rest. Green with flecks of gold and brown, they strike you immediately upon meeting him. It is as if another world exists beyond his corneas.
His fraternal twin sister, Delia, looks nothing like him yet in her own way she exhibits the same strength and talent. Delia is an artist of epic proportions. Give Delia a brown paper bag and a glue stick and she will disappear for a while. She will return with a multidimensional piece of art that defies explanation. She once made a playground with fully functioning swing set out of cardboard and paper bags. Physically, Delia’s Hispanic parentage is more obvious than her twin. She has dark brown curly hair, enormous brown eyes and olive skin. Upon meeting her you might expect her to display the outgoing, frenetic personality often seen in Hispanic women. You would be wrong. Delia is quiet and has an ethereal quality about her. She can float into a room and observe a conversation without being noticed. At some point in a conversation, Delia will pop up with a soft voice and a completely random question. You will struggle with both her soft voice and her unusual timing for random questions. Much like her talented brother, she is gifted in music. Not only is she an artist but she has the voice of angel. Often asked to perform incredible solo pieces in her school choir, she seems to lose her shyness when she is able to express herself through her angelic voice or her imaginative artwork.
Matthew and Delia are my 11 year old nephew and niece. I almost never knew them.
At the time of their birth, their mother was suffering from a substance abuse problem. Matthew and Delia were born with drugs in their system and the hospital reported this fact to the DCFS. Within relatively short order, Matthew and Delia were removed from their mother’s custody and placed into foster care.
Certain parties may have thought my sister deserved to be punished. Others would have worked hard to remove the children from her permanently. And still others would have seen the value of the mother child bond and would work tirelessly to maintain it.
Fortunately for my sister and more importantly for Matthew and Delia, she was met with a caseworker who believed strongly in family preservation. She was not met with a caseworker who saw dollar signs on the heads of her newborn children. One could argue this was because they were bi racial and born to a drug addicted mother and would likely not fetch much money at the adoption market. That could be true but one could also argue that while this may be true, it can be equally true that an ethical, hardworking caseworker saw the value in helping the mother and thereby truly helping the children.
I have struggled with this story throughout much of my Matthew and Delias life time. Why did my sister have help to keep her children? Why does a mother who clearly had questionable judgement during her pregnancy and before get the help to keep her children and educate herself and I, an honor student President of Student government, get my child taken from me by grey market brokers?
Was one of us more worthy? Did she deserve her children and I did not? Does a troubled mother suffering from substance abuse deserve a second chance at parenting but a 17 yo college student does not deserve her first chance?
Of course not. All of these questions and more are preposterous.
The difference between my sisters situation and mine is that she had support around her. She had people around her who saw the value of the mother and child bond. She had a caseworker who felt it was more important for her to be with her children than for her to be punished for her alleged sins. She had a network of professionals who helped her though a rough time and in the end placed two toddlers back into their mamas arms forever.
I had a caseworker anxious to take the child from my bloody womb and leaking breast and sell her to one of their wealthy clients.
I agree with a friend who recently stated that there will always be young mothers that have crisis pregnancies. I also believe there will always be the need for others to care for the children born to another. I don’t believe that adoption the way it currently exists is the answer.
I firmly believe that a few of the many reasons babies are available for the infertile couples to purchase is due to lack of education of social workers, a money hungry industry that profits off of the sale of babies and a society that fails to work towards, or see any value in, family preservation.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Matthew and Delia can attest to that.