Posts tagged “foster care

Baby Killer

Although I had known of the guy for about two years, I had never seen him. That didn’t matter, though, when he walked into the room to sit before our foster-care review board. There was no one else he could be, and the fact that he was there was at once disgusting and disturbing. If he was here, that meant that he was out of jail. And if he was out of jail, after all this time, that meant that he must be out, as in released, and free. I was suddenly filled with revulsion. For these past two years, I had only known his name and the relationship that he had with other names, a couple of which did have faces. And now he has a face. My hatred could now become tangible, for it was no longer attached to a simple thought. It was something real, for the name, the idea that had, up until now, been the mere combination of letters, or symbols that were so aligned to cause me to understand that the entity was just, and only an entity, a notion, an idea, a concept, and now a thing. Literally, a thing. Not a person who was capable of human feelings of compassion, sadness, desire, love, tenderness, appreciation, consideration, or even respect – as it might apply to another being aside from his own. The murdering bastard was finally flesh. The evil something that I had only read about for the past two years, when considering what would be best for the murderer’s son, was now a breathing entity whose physical substance demanded consideration.

 

So, he entered the room following the case manager, approached the table, and following the case manager’s lead, pulled out one of the rolling chairs and sat down. The look of arrogance, real or defensive, was worthy of a slap in the face. The way he looked around the room like we were waiting for him, wanting to speak to him, or listen to him, was unsettling. How dare he present himself to our board? How dare he breath the air that moves freely about the atmosphere, take up any of the sun’s rays, be nourished by human concern or thoughts. How dare his heart beat. How dare he demand respect as a human being, in his appearing before us today. Goddamn and curse him into nonexistence! May he rot in the worm-ridden eternity of nothingness that is the most far below acknowledgement. He doesn’t deserve a thought.

 

Ernie, the man before us, murdered his stepson two years ago. That isn’t true. He murdered his girlfriend’s three-year-old baby. Again, the boyfriend murdered the girlfriend’s child. Are we so little removed from the wild that we have to wipe out the previous male’s genes so that ours can thrive? Is this yet another argument for the strong forces of nature that are still within our souls, our bodies, and our existence? Can this be? Can we forget that we have become civilized, ‘higher’ thinking…yes, thinking, aware, conscious organisms…can we forget that and revert to the animal that lurks inside us? Are we supposed to expect that what he did is ok just because he is, after-all just another animal? No!

 

Of course not. Of course not – it was criminal what he did. It was an abhorrent act. He should be strung up by his balls and stabbed with a screwdriver until he dies. I’d like to be the one who….

 

He walked into the room, as I said, following the case manager, and took a seat in front of us. He is about twenty-three or twenty-four, Hispanic, about 5’10”, maybe 165lbs, maybe more. His shiny, black hair is cut short on top and then combed back. The sides are shaved to a military closeness. Reddened acne-spots mar his otherwise pale skin. He has a slight mustache and goatee, slight because his age and breeding won’t allow it to come-in any fuller at present. His front teeth are slightly bucked so he has to consciously close his lips over their belligerent protrusion. He has very dark, brown eyes, possibly even nearing the color of black. His eyes never met mine so I can’t say for sure. And in saying that, I might add that the reason the meeting didn’t occur was not because my eyes were timid in their sockets, choosing to remain on his apparel or to flee to the corners of the ceiling whenever his might walk toward mine, hand out in greeting, while strolling across the plane between us. No, it wasn’t because of me. Maybe they didn’t meet because he felt the piercing darts that fired themselves from my unbelieving, hateful eyes, arch-like from across the table where eons of evolutionary time separated our souls. His eyes were haughty, though, and the eyebrows above them had that slight wrinkle that belied his feigned concern. That’s what I saw anyway.

Ernie was wearing a brown, crème, and rust colored acrylic sweater that had a gold zipper at the neck. The zipper head had a small chain with a loop at the end to facilitate in pulling the zipper up and down. The slightly baggy sleeves were cuffed in elastic that allowed them to catch at his wrists, where they could gracefully adorn the pale, olive skin which revealed blue veins and couldn’t, for a moment, distract the viewer with any amount of success from pulling their eyes away from his short, grease tainted fingernails. I don’t remember a ring, but I do recall that he had a gold bracelet of medium-sized links, with a typical slide-ring clasp, worn on his right hand.

 

Ernie is the biological father of Christian. Christian is also the son of Jane – a Philippina/Hispanic looking, very skinny, tall twenty-three year-old woman. Her affect is as flat as the boardroom table that separates us from Ernie. “I know she’s on something,” John said, those two years ago. “She is too out of it not to be.” But then again, her responses to our questions were also flat, which made us wonder how far her elevator went up to begin with. Jane’s sister, Angela, who is a couple years older, resembles her physically, but differs from her greatly in that she has a personality. Even in the simplest answers and statements, her tone and face are animated enough to reveal to us that there is a person inside the body.

Christian, Jane, and Angela are not here today. It’s only Ernie and the case manager, and by telephone – his newly appointed counsel from the public defender’s office in one of the tall, multi-storied, brownstones downtown. Gail, Angela, Chuck, and I occupy my side of the table. Alexander had to leave for an appointment somewhere. He missed Ernie. He didn’t get to look at the empty eyes of the person who caused the death of Christian’s older brother. He didn’t get to look at the hands that must have viciously grabbed the tiny arm, and squeezed the tender, baby skin against the soft muscles as he threw him against the wall, or smashed his little head against the edge of the table, causing the terrible damage that made his brain and heart stop working. Alexander didn’t get to see Ernie’s nervous, murdering fingers twitching and rolling and rubbing and flicking one another as he sat there, haughtily expecting our attention, waiting for us to ask him a question or tell him what we were going to do for him so he could get his son back. Alexander, a twenty-six year veteran of the police department, didn’t get to look into the eyes of another rotten-scumbag-mother-fucking baby killer.

 


I know my name is Timothy

The little boy with too-long hair and hazel and brown streaked eyes and two little girls, with their mom, are sitting half-way back in the theater, staring transfixed at the screen as Bambi and his mother are nibbling the spring grass after the long winter.  Bambi and his mom are in the open snow-covered and foggy meadow.  Slow, somber music is stepping from the speakers in a near marching cadence as Bambi’s mom suddenly raises her head and looks about, one direction and then the next, her ears twitching as her head turns and her eyes searching for what her soul knows is nearby.  “Bambi, quick, to the thicket!”  Bambi and his mom spring away, near flying to the edge of the meadow as the music’s tempo increases with horn blasts and smart drums and strings…Bambi approaches and jumps the stream as his mom follows…with a bullet ricocheting off some tree or forest boulder….  “Faster, faster, Bambi!” his mom desperately pleads as he approaches and enters the first snow-rounded bushes skirting the meadow’s edge.  “Don’t look back, keep running!”  The music is frantic with strings and horns, screeching and marching as the baby and mommy deer flee through the snow, kicking-up little storms of white clouds in their passing.  As Bambi makes it through the snow covered bushes and rounds the corner, his mom pleads one last time “Keep running!” and then a deep and terrible gunshot rings out as the music reaches its peak, drops, and then begins to slow, the march gone, and now the strings lessen their intensity as Bambi makes it into their deep thicket home.

 

“We made it!  We made it, Mother!”  Bambi says as he pants and looks expectantly at the thicket opening.  “Wait…Mother?”  Bambi approaches the opening and looks out, then steps out of the thicket and into the now falling snow.  “Mother?!  Mother?!”  A choir of angelic voices begin to hum and ‘ooh’ in the background as Bambi starts to walk further out into the darkening woods.  Snow is falling and the trees and bushes exist in shadow form, shades of gray and white and black forming, outlining, blurring, and accentuating the hushed frames.  “Mother, where are you?!”  Bambi is running and walking this way and that and angelic choir voices continue oohing and the snow is falling thicker as Bambi is calling “Mother?!  Mother?!”  Slowly, as Bambi keeps running and walking through the snowy woods, his calling for his mother becomes weaker, weaker… “Mother….”  Oh, where can you be?  Bambi is standing in the falling snow with his ears laid back against his head, his tail down, and his little legs close together feeling the weight of the unknown falling on him in the thickening snow.  “Mother” now comes with a sob, a little boy sob as his chest shakes, walking, ears and head down.  He suddenly stops, gasps, and looks up to see his mighty, antlered father in a silhouette against the falling snow and gray black of the night.  His father’s deep, calm voice says, “Your mother can’t be with you anymore.”  Bambi slowly lowers his head and closes his eyes as the little boy with hazel and brown streaked eyes sitting next to those two little girls and their mom suddenly bursts into tears, crying inconsolably as his tender heart rips open with that un-named sadness…soul tears and sobs and baby anguish as Bambi learns that his mother is gone…and he, himself, understands maybe for the first time that his mother, too, is gone…echoes of “Your mother can’t be with you anymore” resound in his little boy mind and aching heart…wondering….

 

There is a certain loneliness or remove from those in his company.  The girls are nice and then not, or ok, but girls, and he remembers them from a few years ago, his sisters new, ones who opened their rooms and toy-boxes to him, shared their blankets and sheets with him, and even moved one of the dining room chairs over to allow his to scoot that much closer and up next to the dark, smooth surface of the table…chin up to the plastic cereal bowl or flower-printed plates that held his and their dinners….  They used to share a house and mom and dad, now there were miles and time separating them and their ‘visits’ were regular, but not as frequent as either of them would prefer.  This caused them to have to get to know one another all over again, to figure out the right approaches, the things to say or not say, which things to take or not….  “She’s my mommy,” one would say to the other as little elbows and knees struggled to find that other someone off of that mommy’s lap.  The separation of miles and time were wrought by emotionally uninvolved people in offices in tall buildings in a downtown that was as cold and uncaring as the winter wind that blew across the farmland where he now lived with another sister, other brothers and a different mom and dad…these were good people, just like the lady and the two girls and their dad at home, but they are nearer to his birth-mom and are the last of four families in 18 months or so and now resembled what might be stability…a stability that was foreign, yet welcome, strange, yet necessary…and temporary, if not known to the little boy as such, it was understood by the other mom and dad and brothers and sister…it was temporary, again, another stopping or resting place on the journey of his little life.

 

The little boy with hazel and brown streaked eyes names his first memories as those of being in a basement somewhere, walking down wooden stairs to a cold cement floor and sitting next to a water heater that ticked and hummed as the pilot light kicked the flame on and warmed the water that would go upstairs to the sinks and tubs where he remembers seeing syringe tubes and dirt and soiled underwear and socks…other memories of sitting behind the door in a mobile home or trailer in some part of the world that has no name or form…his little body tucked away and wondering at the strange people who populated his existence…a tall man with olive skin and dark hair who was sometimes there, the one who might have contributed to his life, laying the seed in the very light-skinned woman with stringy yellow brown hair and freckles and pimples and greasy skin and picking fingers, the one who washed her face and her son’s with a sour washcloth that had been wadded into a ball and sat alongside the kitchen sink that was full of clotted utensils and matted food and scum and waste…and other people who didn’t have faces or names or forms other than larger-than-me and scary, sometimes tender hands and sometimes rough kicks and shoves…life sucked-ass and vomited its bilious shit and vileness onto the tender skin and rat’s nest hair of the little boy with hazel and brown streaked eyes…sad eyes that questioned other eyes’ meeting his, waited for rising voices and strange cars, moving, transplanting, uprooting momentary threads of what could be and not……and traveled again to another place with that cold downtown building where people viewed others’ lives in black and white as they appeared on papers and papers and in folders and file-drawers, tucked away inside satchels, briefcases, purses and later appeared on court dockets and in attorneys’ offices.

 

The little boy’s maternal grandmother, his mom’s mom, called the police to check on him as he was living in the cab of a pick-up truck…sometimes parked behind the restrooms at a city park and sometimes tucked-away in the rear of the parking lot of the club where the mom sometimes danced or worked or found people to give her money for things or things…the grandmother called the authorities on the mom…the grandmother knew something was wrong…and the little boy was taken away from that mom…taken away from that mom….  The police found that little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes in the cab of the pick-up truck, along with the things and stuff of his life…shirts and pants and socks and a blue and gray jacket and a baby-bottle of soda, a baby-bottle of soda, and an unopened bottle of antibiotics that a doctor had given the mom for the little boy’s double ear infection…a bottle that had a prescription dated two weeks earlier than the day the police found him…two weeks earlier than the day the police found him…it was unopened…the police took that little boy to the community hospital where doctors examined him and found both of his ears still infected and bleeding, found bald spots on his head where handfuls of his too-long brown hair had been ripped-out in clumps, found damaged and swollen and bleeding kidneys, found signs suggesting that he had been shaken violently, found nickel and dime shaped bruises on his little chest and back and stomach that were supposedly caused by ‘the ski poles falling out of the closet…’ on that little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes…and he stayed in the hospital for two weeks while strangers came to look at him and draw diagrams and pictures of what they saw…police reports and doctors’ reports and social-workers’ reports and judges thought about the reports and the little boy and signed papers and sent orders and people to do his deeds for him…to take him away and keep him away…in the hospital for two weeks to heal and find something inside of his three year old self…and then go to a medical receiving-home with caretakers for a couple days until they could find someone to take care of him on a more permanent but temporary basis…and a social-worker called that lady with the two little girls and asked her if she was ready for another child, she and her husband and her two little girls, asked her if she was ready for that little boy with the too-long brown hair and the hazel and brown streaked eyes and that lady said ‘yes.’ 

 

That lady said ‘yes’ and told her husband and her two little girls that they were going to have a son and a brother and didn’t know how long it was going to be for, but it would be good for that little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes and they would make it good for them, too.  The girls shared their Princess-Pony bedspread and Barbie toys and wondered why he didn’t want to play with the He-man toys and teddy bears…they wondered why.  For six months that little boy lived in the home with his new mom and dad and two sisters and he came to know stability and evenness and life and have expectations met and consistency and warm arms and gentle hands and medicine when he needed it and dogs…and he laughed and played with those two little girls, one older and one younger than he, and fit right in…for six months.  He had to visit his mom in the office buildings in that cold downtown and would have sad hazel and brown streaked eyes or nothing on his face when the visits were done…little hands grasping a teddy-bear by the leg and walking where he was led and so.

 

The six months were the beginning of an eternity for that little boy and were a moment’s time for the lady and man and the two little girls.  It was a moment’s time and then gone as the little boy’s mom moved an hour and more away to a larger city where something or someone was waiting for her or things would just be better or who knows why but she did it anyway and ripped the little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes out of the hearts and life of that lady and man and the two little girls and ripped that little boy out of his new life and then.  And there was one home and another and another and more and one last one…and some of the people took care of him because they wanted to help and some took care of him because they wanted the money and some took care of him because they wanted another child of their own but their own family fell apart and they could no longer take care of him because they couldn’t take care of themselves and that woman cried and the little boy cried and silent tears marked his face in their passing from so-sad hazel and brown streaked eyes and empty and wanting and.

 

And he would visit his mom in the tall office buildings in that farther-away and larger city with the cold downtown and then visit his mom in his mom’s apartment or at Burger King or a park or wherever and the mom’s boyfriend would be there when things had gone well enough for the mom to have unsupervised visits and then that little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes got stabbed in the hand and thrown down a staircase by his mom’s fucking boyfriend and the visits stopped again and we wonder if the little boy would wonder at his life and himself and trust and love and what things might be like somewhere else.

 

Finally, that little boy went to that home on the farmland where the cold winter wind blows and it seemed that he would be there for a long time through spring and summer and maybe preschool in the fall and then.  He thought that he might be or would be, but the mom and dad and sister and brothers knew that they were only taking care of him for a while…they were just taking care of him for a some kind of a while…his brothers and sister came to love him and did love him and the parents were good people but they knew the little boy with the hazel and browns streaked eyes would be leaving again sometime maybe soon and maybe not, but they didn’t love him like they would have if they thought he wouldn’t be leaving soon or maybe not…they were good people and they took care of him for someone else…they did take care of him for someone else.

 

The people in the tall buildings in that cold downtown contacted the lady and man with the two little girls and said that they could have the little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes again because his mom’s legal rights were going to be severed soon and the little boy would need a permanent and real family and home and did they still want him?  The lady and the man and the two little girls did want him and thought it would be wonderful to have him back again.  They began making visits to that farther-away place and met the lady and the man and the boys and the girl with whom the little boy was living out on that farm-land and learned that they were good people…and the courts and the laws and time dragged by in their papers and appearances and dates and rescheduling and motions and hearings and lawyers and social-workers and interested-parties and paperwork and attorney’s fees and you can’t say anything but you can be there and you need to be there so the judge can see you and the little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes at the same time and when do we get to see him again and his birthday is coming up soon and we’ll make the long drive and bring him that present of a big yellow car.

 

Time and time continued to slip through the glass as moments and days and months have done and do and the lady and her husband and the two little girls moved out of state because it was their time to move and to start or continue in a new life they had chosen…and they gave their address to the people in that building in the cold downtown and those people talked to other people in buildings in a very warm downtown in the new and larger city where they lived with their two little girls and things were in motion to bring the little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes down to their new warm city.  More studies and reports were done on the family for the family of the lady and her husband and the two little girls and social-workers and supervisors and attorneys and clerks and judges looked at those reports and decided that it was time to send that little boy back to that family and that is what happened.  The lady left her husband and two little girls one day and flew up to that other colder city with a social worker from the state of her warm city and the two of them met the little boy again with the hazel and brown streaked eyes and brought him home with them…he came to join the lady and her husband and their two little girls again to live together and be a family again and laugh and share the new dining room table and his own new bed with the Transformers heroes on his own new bedspread and curtains and pillows and then.  He still had the brown hair and the hazel and brown streaked eyes and a scar on his hand that he remembered getting…and his hazel and brown streaked eyes were sometimes sad but more often happy and one can still wonder at what was going on, what is going on in that little boy’s heart and mind…what memories beat with the pulse of his heart, what loneliness clings to his soul’s deepest chambers and yearns for a love that is pure and unmarked and he still wonders at trust and love and who is there for good and who does he need to push away to see if they will still love him and not leave him and go away forever as he rounds the snowy bushes along the meadow and makes it into the safety of his own thicket home and turns around and cries “Mother?!”  The things taken and gone and left behind and not known and never known and who, he wonders at these and those things and doesn’t know.  He goes to bed at night in his new room, in his new room with his new family thinking about those things that he doesn’t know and wonders at what he does know, and wonders at what he does know…and the measure of his seven years of life and the seven years of life of that little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes might be summed-up in his thoughts, “I know my name is Timothy.”

 

The day finally came after months and years of waiting and then in cold cities and warm for the judge to make his ultimate decision and order that the little boy with the short brown hair and hazel and brown streaked eyes be named as belonging to the lady and her husband and the two little girls.  When the lady and her husband had asked the little boy what name he would choose if he could choose any possible name from any that existed in the whole world that was known to that little boy with the hazel and brown streaked eyes, he said “Why Timothy, of course!”  And on that special day the judge so ordered and declared and decreed and made known to all and to him that he would be and is named Timothy Wayne with his ‘new’ and final family’s last name…and so it is and was and will be and then.

 

And today, October 6, 2009, that little boy with the short brown hair and hazel and brown streaked eyes turns 28 years-old at 9:58 a.m. and knows that he is and has been and will be loved and cherished by that lady and her husband and those two grown little girls for many years and yesterdays of the past and the moments and days of today and for the many tomorrows and years to come and he knows more of himself and his life than he could say those many times past when the only thing he knew was that his name is and was and will be Timothy.

 

If you think you know Timothy, you might; if you are certain that you know him, you couldn’t possibly, because that little boy with the short brown hair and the hazel and brown streaked eyes is the combination of the many little boys and girls who exist as names on papers and papers and in folders and file-drawers, tucked away inside satchels, briefcases, purses and later appeared on court dockets and in attorneys’ offices and…he is nobody and everyone and somebody and then.  He is that one little someone inside every foster and adopted child who used to be someone else and is now who they are, the measure of who they have become in the process and system that defines and decides and makes judgments and rulings and decrees about little lives and girls and boys who used to belong to somebody and now belong to somebody else and then…he is the totality of those other little Someones who lost everything they had and were and only know for a certainty that their name was and is and will be theirs, so please don’t change it for if you change it who did they used to be and are and who will they be if they can no longer say that they know their name is…?