It was the Monday right after my birthday and Father’s Day. I had been staying in a domestic violence shelter at the time. As difficult as that sounds, the previous few weeks had been amongst the best weeks of my entire life. I was finally free from the confines of my abusive marriage. My son was with me, he and I were safe. The city was going to fight for our right to be together, to live a life free from the control and abuse of my abuser.
The original recommendations of the department were to remove my child from the father’s custody and place him in my sole custody.
For so long, I had prayed for this day to come. My struggles to break free were finally coming to an end. …..or so I thought….
On that sordid morning, in that palatial courthouse- which I would soon come to know all too intimately- in the city of San Francisco, which I had come to call home over the past decade… I learned for the first time what true pain and suffering and injustice is.
My son was removed from my custody and placed in foster care due to “failure to protect” laws which re-victimize children by removing them from the safe parent. I had no idea how to prepare for such devastation. It felt to me as if my soul had been ripped straight out of my body. I no longer existed. I was invisible. An invisible mother, my needs irrelevant. No longer could I keep my son safe or advocate for his rights or needs.
Falling into the child protection system was like falling into a different world. It is where and how I learned that we, as Americans, do not live in a free country.
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