Thursday, July 20, 2006

I Forgot About State Abductions

I misspoke in my post about abductions when I said I never knew any abductees. I had repressed the fact that I had been complicit in thousands of abductions perpetrated by my employer, the State of Florida. The agency I represented abducted children every day, often on the flimsiest basis, in order to protect them from their parents.

All it would take was an anonymous tip to a hotline about some inappropriate fondling, and a poorly trained, often incompetent case worker would come to your house and take your children away. They’d be placed with a foster family in emergency shelter. This would traumatize the children, of course, far more than being fondled (even assuming fondling had occurred). You’d get to appear before a judge who would inevitably find probable cause for the state to keep your kids long enough to have them interrogated by an “expert” in sexual abuse. If the interrogation is done properly (or improperly as I believed), the state can get the kid to say anything and even to start to believe that fondling had happened whether it really did or not. Then, if you were the spouse of the alleged fondler, you would have to renounce your spouse if you ever wanted to see your children again. If you were the alleged fondler, you’d have to prove your innocence, an impossible burden, and you might even be subjected to the penile plethysmograph, known in our circles as the “pecker checker”, to test how turned on you got when exposed to images of children.

The state would hold your kids in foster care for several years while you jumped through a set of impossible hoops to get “rehabilitated”. When you failed, we’d petition to terminate your parental rights and put your kids up for adoption. By then, the kids would be a little too old and a little too messed up by their experiences in the foster care system ever to be adopted by anyone except an absolute saint (and there weren’t many of these). The state made it super hard to qualify to adopt and didn’t really even try with most of the less marketable kids. They’d grow up in foster care and group homes or the awful “Boys Ranch” and eventually end up in the penal system.

If you were a noncustodial father, the state would do little to find you and let you know that it had your kids. You’d just be “out of the picture”, and if you showed up you’d have to go through hell to prove your fitness as a parent to get your kids.

In some cases, parents really were dangerous or egregiously neglectful, but we had so many marginal cases and frame ups that we had limited resources to deal with the real hard core abusers or neglecters and their victims. Then again, the more cases we had, the more resources and power we got. It was in the agency’s interests to have a very low threshold for abduction.

1 comment:

Scott Horton said...

Didn't Fla. lose all the foster kids?