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Why Parents Lose Their Parental Rights In Court

Updated on June 9, 2012

By J.C. Delfino III

I remember clearly sitting in court the first time I saw a woman’s parental rights being revoked. She had tears running down the length of her face, which was downcast and partially hidden by the long blond locks she had. She was struggling with an addiction to the powerful drug Methamphetamine. Afterwards I heard one of the social workers comment on how Meth was constantly destroying families. I could flashback and see the anti-meth adds in the papers, billboards and T.V. ads. As terrible as those had been, this was much worse. Watching this woman quiver as she nodded in understanding with what the judge was proclaiming. She was forever losing her children, the children she had brought into this world, were being forcibly removed from her permanently. They were removed for one reason and only because she could not break the addiction of Meth that so tightly held her in its grip.

Addiction: drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or even gaming can and does destroy lives and it destroys families. We have all heard about the effect of drugs and alcohol on the mind and body, and how dependant the mind becomes when these chemicals become intertwined with the brain. David Myers stated it clearly in his book Psychology in Everyday Life “The user craves the substance despite possible unpleasant consequences.” (Myers, 325).

The woman I mentioned earlier had been told for months, really almost a year to get clean and stay clean, but she was unable to do so. Her hair follicle test had come back positive, along with her UI test. Positive for Meth, positive for losing her kids. She had known the consequences of continued drug use but she was unable to break the hold that drugs had on her mind and body.

I wish I could say that everyone who enters the legal system after having their kids removed from the home would receive their kids back. Not everyone does which is a sad but true fact. Although addiction is one of the main reasons why parents lose their children, the other key factor is that some parents tend to procrastinate by putting off working on their parental plan until it's too late, having done much too little, months into the separation from their children. It’s hard to imagine how a parent feels who knows, “I have to get this done to get my kids back.” It's harder to image that a parent would not do anything and everything in their power to gain their children back.

It blows my mind as I watch the judge warn the parents by telling them, “You are about out of time, too little is being done, I am thinking seriously about removing your rights as a parent.” I once heard a social worker say simply, “the kids are becoming attached to their foster parents and don’t even want to see their own parents.” I wish I could say this is impossible, but sadly I have worked with kids who feel exactly the same way. Too little too late. Once the damage is done and the kids see that there is a better life out there, one without drugs and neglect, and they see that their parents aren't working very hard to get them back they realize maybe being back with those parents is not the best option.

Simply put, I have encountered two reasons why parents lose: drugs and procrastination. There is no excuse for procrastination, drugs I can at least understand. Once hooked it is very hard for a fish to break free from a fishing line. They will usually end up in the bottom of a boat suffocating. Drugs are the same, sooner or later they will destroy the parent and unfortunately the family as well. Unless there is some way they can break that line and be free from the addiction. I have never found a fish in shallow water saying I will swim later when it is convenient. But if there are fish like this I can guarantee that sooner or later they too will end up in someone’s frying pan.

Tomorrow is too late to start caring about your kids. Parents need to look beyond their own selfishness, and get help for their addictions to keep their families intact. There are many resources for help available out there if they are just willing to reach out and try, and maybe one day they can break that line not only for themselves, but for their children and future generations as well.

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