When Terrorism is Personal

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We were shocked again today, as incomprehensible violence was unleashed upon Paris. While the newscaster reported as gently as possible that we still did not know the extent of the casualties, my daughter pointed out that forty-three people in Beirut were also killed today, and wondered why that didn’t seem to matter. I said: Because we expect it in Beirut, not in Paris, but that to the people involved I’m sure it didn’t matter where they were.

I wondered about what to write today for Flip The Script on National Adoption Month, when everything else seemed to pale in comparison. If those forty-three in Beirut don’t matter, then speaking out against unethical adoption seems little more than whining.

But I thought again of what I said to my daughter – that to those involved it matters greatly. So I am writing this for them. As we (rightfully) grieve over terrorism in the city of lights, there are thousands of children in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere who have been unjustly ripped from their families, and who are living – right now – in fear. To them, Paris must seem very far away. They are experiencing their own personal terrorism, but we don’t see it.

Children who have been taken by CPS (or whatever equivalent of that you may have) are at far greater risk to suffer abuse of every kind under their “care” – physical, sexual, medical, and psychological – than with their own family. Putting children into foster care is too often the beginning of the nightmare, not the end. Considering that the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) recently calculated that for every one truly abused child that is rescued by CPS, there are seventeen who never should have been removed at all, one might wonder why this happening.

The answer is simple: Money. Kids are a cash crop. Adoption and foster care are a huge industry. And since women and girls are not so easily shamed into relinquishing their children nowadays, the baby brokers had to think of another way to keep those little orphans coming down the pipeline. Their jobs depend on it.

So now children are taken for these reasons:

  • Poverty, or, just not having as much money as the prospective adoptive family
  • Asking for a second opinion after a medical diagnosis is made regarding your child
  • Being Native American
  • Being short
  • Considering adoption then deciding against it
  • Going to the ER for any reason
  • Using medical marijuana
  • Being a single parent
  • Disagreeing with anything a teacher or other authority figure says about your child
  • Not adhering strictly to the recommended vaccine schedule
  • Being exceptionally attractive
  • Not putting your child into preschool
  • Allowing your child to play in your own yard
  • Having an unusual birthmark
  • Your neighbor or some awful relative just wants to hurt you
  • CPS needing to meet their “children in care” quotas
  • And I’ll say it again, because this is the #1 reason: You don’t have the money to fight back.

Remember Veronica Brown? Kidnapper-mommy Melanie Capobianco said, when asked by a judge why she and her husband should have the child over the natural father: “We love her more.” They loved her so much, they were okay with tearing her crying and screaming from the perfectly capable family of which she was an integral part. The Supreme Court of the United States agreed. As did lower courts and the governors of two states, as well as many lesser players who earn a paycheck off the misery of others.

You may look at Veronica now, and think, “She looks fine to me. She’s not suffering.” And I certainly hope it is true that she is not being physically abused. But I am certain she is being systematically terrorized in lesser ways. Daily micro-aggressions – the little digs made about her original family, the stipend the wealthy Capobiancos collect for Veronica’s non-existent “special needs”, the primal memory of her father who loved her, of her mother who didn’t, of her sister and grandparents and countless others who are considered unworthy because she’s Matt and Melanie’s plaything now.

We compare the Capobiancos with the Browns and make judgements on which are the better parents, when that never should have been an issue. There should have been no legal battle. There should have been no contest after her father said, “I want to raise her.” That should have been the end of it. But because children are thought of things instead of people, and because the Capobiancos had the money to fight, little Veronica was awarded to them just as if she was a trophy.

We compare and judge and divide. We tear down and blame. We think it can’t happen to us, and that there must have been a reason we don’t know about when it’s our neighbor. And when the threat is thrown into our face, like it was today, we think either that it’s them, meaning “not us” as victims, or it’s them, meaning “anyone who isn’t like us” as perpetrators. The truth is, there is no us and them. It’s all us. We are us. They are us.

Meanwhile, children are carrying another trash bag of their meager belongings to yet another foster home. They are meeting strangers who are their new parental stand-ins, wondering what they did wrong, wondering if they will be abused here like the last place, wondering if they will be separated from their siblings too, wondering if they will ever see their parents or their pets again. They are being conditioned to accept whatever happens to them, like good hostages, hoping that will win their freedom. Their native language will eventually be squelched, as will their faith, and their memories. They are not people, they are children and therefore commodities. They are living in their own personal hell, while we reassure ourselves that at least bombs are not dropping on them.

Elle Cuardaigh is author of The Tangled Red Thread and contributor of The Adoptee Survival Guide 

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