Thursday, February 20, 2014

Two Jasons

I indulged my appetite for trash TV this afternoon watching Steve Wilkos.  The title of the program was The World's Worst Mother.  This woman had six children, all of whom Children's Protective Services had removed from her care.  Her youngest had a fractured arm, with no medical attention for three days.  She took a lie detector test to "clear her name" of allegations that she actively abused the children, and also neglected them.  The administrator found "extreme deception indicated" during her test.
As I watched the show, I agreed that she was a terrible mother.  And the father was no better.  He had the opportunity to take custody of the children, but he chose to stay with the mother.  But this woman was not the worst mother ever, not by a long shot.
When I worked in Wayne County Juvenile Court representing children, I had two very similar cases of extreme child abuse.  Both perpetrators were mothers of the children.  Both fathers stayed with the mothers.
Both Jasons came into ER with numerous fractures, all over their young bodies. Arms, legs, ribs, some new, some old and healing with no evidence of treatment.  Both were about four months old at the time they medical staff reported them to CPS.  One Jason was left with permanent impairment.
The cases took way too long to wend their way through the court system.  But finally, both sets of parents had their rights completely terminated so that the boys could be placed for adoption.  Jason One's parents had another child while Jason One's case was pending.  At the time of the termination hearing,  this little girl had been removed due to a broken arm.  The mother did not even bother to deny that she broke the child's arm.  She tried to justify it by describing what a bad child her daughter was.  The dad approached me in the hallway at one of the breaks from testimony.  He said he did not blame me for fighting to take his kid away.  I said, "Good, because I'm not doing anything wrong".
Jason Two's mother never admitted to anything.  It turned out that her husband was not the father of Jason Two.  Mom was abandoned by the biological father.  Her husband was a former boyfriend.  I believe she married him out of desperation.  Jason Two's "dad" was a teacher for the Detroit Public Schools.  He was in complete denial about the source and severity of Jason Two's injuries.  During his testimony at the termination hearing, he complained that the Henry Ford Hospital staff  treated them terribly.  He indignantly complained that the doctor came out and told him, "Your baby's brain is smashed!"  They called a bunch of his co-workers, and people from their church, to tell the judge what wonderful people they were.  My only question on cross-examination was, "Do you know why Jason was in the hospital at age four months?"  None of them had any detailed knowledge of Jason's injuries.
I don't know where Jason One went after he became available for adoption.  He had a very good chance at being adopted since he was still young and did not have any permanent injury as far as I know.  Jason Two was adopted by his foster family, which was a wonderful thing for him.  His foster mother dedicated herself completely to maximizing Jason Two's capacities.  She told me at one point that one of the doctors said his injuries caused problems similar to cerebral palsy.  She she went to the library and checked out every book she could find on cerebral palsy, she learned how to do physical and learning exercises.  She even created some special exercises of her specifically for Jason Two's disabilities.  It was a great outcome under the circumstances.