Case workers have an amazingly hard job. It is not always easy to decide what constitutes abuse and neglect and when children should be removed. I think it is important for those of us involved in the world of adoption, however, to recognize that sometimes they make mistakes, and the results are tragic.
Alycia Jones, a South Carolina mom of two and 3 months pregnant, was in an abusive relationship. Her live-in boyfriend had abused her in the past, but this time he also kicked her 5 year old daughter in the face. He took her car keys and cell phone and held her hostage that night. The next day she snuck her cell phone and called police as soon as he left the house. He was convicted of assault and is in jail.
Jones thought her nightmare was over, but it was just beginning. Social services took her children away from her for failing to protect her children and for not seeking medical help for Layla’s bruised and bloody face the night she was kicked, even though she was being held against her will be her abuser and contacted authorities as soon as she could safely do so. (Records show social service workers also did not seek any medical help for Layla the morning they took her into protective custody.)
It took her 9 months to regain custody.
Becky Callaham, executive director of Safe Harbor, a doemstice violence shelter, used Jones case to reveal how insensitive actions by the Department of Social Services re-victimize domestic violence survivors and contribute to their reluctance to seek help leaving their abusers.
She accused social service workers of taking Jones’ children away as a means “to teach a domestic violence victim a lesson not to stay in an abusive relationship….[T]his is not an isolated incident. Unfortunately it’s a classic example.”
It is so easy to demonize parents who lose their children to foster care, but when we do so, we miss the bigger picture.