By: Michelle Chan, founder and director of Parents Against CPS Corruption
Mama. Maa Maaa. Mom. Mummeee.
I was my son’s first dozen words. I was the first scent he smelled. The first sound he heard. The first embrace he knew. First in my belly and later in my arms, he was safe with me. I love my son more than any boy has ever been loved before. He is a part of me but also different than me. He is better than me, destined to better things and to live a better life….
The day he was taken from me, it felt as if someone had ripped my heart straight out of my chest. It was the greatest pain I had ever endured (and this is in a life filled with pain). The pain triggered on that day when Judge Nancy L. Davis’s gavel sealed my son’s fate in foster care remains with me today, all these years later.
For the sake of ALL the children, for all the mothers and fathers and grandparents and aunties and uncles- I fought the good fight. I stood up to injustice at a time when no one else would. For this, I paid the price. I have aged a century in the past 8 years. My soul is old and hardened. I am wiser, but this wisdom has come at the price of relinquishing the pure joy that once lived somewhere deep inside.
I was about a year into my juvenile dependency case when I first picked up the CEB juvenile dependency law book. What I learned shattered my entire world. As it turned out, that knot in the pit of my stomach that told me something had been wrong since the very onset of the case- was right. Much of what happened in my case had been unlawful and my son’s removal had been questionable at best. Nothing had ever happened to my son, and as a domestic violence victim, the fact that I had made signifiant efforts to remove myself from the situations, was in therapy, and had willingly entered into substance abuse treatment programs- should have been more than enough for the department to allow my case to remain as an in-home case.
Instead, my son was torn from me and placed in the whirlwind of a system that could not care less about his well-being and best interests.
My ability to effectively parent my son and his intense love for me was never at issue. Even the social workers who hated me had to admit that I was a good mother and my son loved me. Why then, did the system not only make NO EFFORT to allow us to remain together? Moreover, for a long tine I was a model client. Every step of the way, I was two steps ahead of CPS- engaging in services before they were even ordered of me in an effort to show that I would do anything for my son.
Back then, I had no idea that the federal government creates perverse incentives to destroy families and adopt children out. Back then, I had no way of knowing that the courts are biased against mothers, especially destitute and traumatized domestic violence victims that have no way of fighting back. Back then, I had no way of knowing that the system loves to re-victimize victims and prey on the vulnerable.
There came a point where I decided I would no longer allow my self to be abused by society. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I realized that what was happening to me was also happening to others just like me. The common denominator? It the weak, the vulnerable, and those without strong support networks that were being targeted- the true “have-nots”. We were targeted for the pure and simple fact that we were nobodies with nothing, and as such easily bullied. It made me sick to the stomach.
But all the while, I knew something about myself that my bullies did not know. I knew that within me lay a sleeping dragon. I was a diamond in the rough- talented, intelligent, and insightful far beyond anyone’s ability to truly grasp. Although I held no college degrees, had no professional or even employment history to show for myself, had no money or family/social connections- as a child I easily and consistently tested in the 99th percentile overall in citywide standardized testing, was labeled “gifted”, and subsequently placed in gifted and talented education (GATE) programs from the 4th grade onwards. I was different from all the other students in my programs. There were some students that stood out as being uniquely intelligent and some that stood out as being especially “good” students (good attitudes, hard-working, well-liked, intrinsically-motivated to do well). I was neither, in fact, far from it. There was this feeling I got from my teachers that they could not understand how or why I was even in the GATE programs. I never paid attention in class, never did my homework, showed little interest in learning or applying myself during class, on the exterior did not seem exceptional in any overt way. And yet, time after time after time, I outscored my peers on standardized testing that measured overall aptitude. Even in high school, while attending a school with a 3% acceptance rating and being truant for most of my junior year- even then, I outscored my high-performing peers on an SAT exam that the rest of the lot had diligently studied all year for, without even trying or caring.
I am talking about this now because this knowledge of myself was something I clung to, something that guided me in the early days before this movement existed- a little ray of hope when all seemed so hopeless. In so many ways, I had so little going for me… and yet this idea that I could take a stand against an all powerful system that was violating my rights, the rights of my peers, and our chidlren’s rights- was one I was unwilling and unable to let go. I may have been a nobody with nothing, we the abused children and families, we may have appeared weak and without any means to lift ourselves out of our circumstances… But I truly believed that I possessed within me the ability to lead parents out of darkness and into the light. I believed that the system had made a mistake in underestimating parents and underestimating me.
I would find a way to bring my own son home by restoring justice to all parents and all children that had been bullied by a deeply misguided and corrupt system.
It was from this brazen belief that Parents Against CPS Corruption was created. When people told me I was crazy, when I got the middle-finger and flyers crumpled up and thrown at me, and was called a drug-addict child abuser by passers-by absolutely unwilling to listen to me…. I sucked it all in and kept going.
I know a lot of people look at our early successes and see a group of parents throwing rocks at windows until enough of those rocks chipped away at the glass castle that held our children hostage… But it wasn’t quite like that. Things were calculated and intentional. Our unbelievable wins were won because of sheer brainpower, not brawn, not by chance.
And today, I want the whole world to know that the fight I started back in January 2017 is not over yet. I won my fight and those early fights, but the evil and corruption I sought to expose and eradicate has rebuilt its forces and now lays in wait, ready once again to trample on the rights and well-being of children and families all across California and beyond.
Join us as Parents Against CPS Corruption rises once again. Like a pheonix, we rise from ash ever stronger, mythical beings drawing strength from the pain and suffering of our children. Like a wolfpack, we draw strength from loyalty and honor.
WEATHER PERMITTING: This coming Thursday, 3/9, at 11am, we will have out opening Da #PACC is BACK protest in Sacramento at the CPS office and also William Ridgeway Courthouse. First stop: 3331 Power Inn Road, Sacramento. Second stop: 3341 Power Inn Road.
*I WILL CONFIRM ON WEDNESDAY WHETHER THE PROTEST IS A “GO” VIA OUR TEXT ALERT LIST AND ALSO ON THE #PACC FACEBOOK PAGE. http://www.facebook.com/parentsagainstcpscorruption. To be added to our text alert list, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, cell number, email, and the county you are located in.
Leave a Reply