Monday, December 21, 2009

Why I hate the Child Welfare Policy

My niece died yesterday morning. She was my connection home. She wrote me and kept me in her heart, she called me Aunty. Last month she sent me an e-mail to say that she had been in hospital and was saddened because nobody except her mom and dad visited her. All I could do was send a pathetic e-mail...I never heard from her again.

I am an adoptee - it's hard to stay in touch with biological family. We're like strangers but Kelly would not let me forget that I am family - her family. We live thousands of miles from each other separated by geography, age, and policy but she wouldn’t give up. Family is family she said.

Kelly’s mom Kim is my sister but we’ve hardly ever spoken and I don’t know what her phone number is. I wonder if our mother will go to the funeral, I wonder how Kim is holding up. Our family is like fragments of glass. A walk through our family history can’t fail to open wounds and deepen scars than never seem to heal.

I don’t know who to turn to or how to express the sorrow and loss I feel. It’s more than the loss of a family member it’s like the loss of hope too. A realization that some wrongs can never be made right and that I am angry. Very angry.

I’m angry that we continue to advocate for a policy that is so destructive to our families. Angry that we honour, praise, and heap awards on individuals who advocate and implement these same policies. Angry that despite years of advocacy work and recommendations from former researchers, writers, artists, judges, and leaders most with first-hand experience of the child welfare system, that those voices can be ignored and the work of “experts” can plunder on. Angry because I am powerless. I’m angry because when someone in my family dies nobody thinks of me because ...I was raised in another family. I’m angry because I wasn’t there and because I’m not there. I’m angry because I don’t know how to fix how I feel. And I’m angry because I am just so friggen sad. And I’m sad because I am alone with my sorrow – a policy stole me from my family at birth. And now, forty-odd years later we are still separated – the geographical miles don’t matter anymore. I’m angry because I never developed a relationship with my niece or cousins or brothers or sisters. I’m angry because everyone will expect time to heal the sorrow. And I will smile and I will get on with my life but inside I’ll know that some wounds don’t heal and some distances can’t be crossed.

This is just one of the outcomes of our illustrious Child Welfare policy – and why I will never support or advocate for a policy that rips and tears so violently at the souls of the people who it touches.


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