root - Posted on 17 August 2000

Cosmo is a member of the Media inAction group: "POOR Parents Speak," a media organizing project of POOR Magazine. Dee is the co-editor of POOR Magazine and founder of the parents' advocacy group; COURTWATCH

by PNN Staff

Remember when life was young- little Suzy had so much fun- hoppin and boppin to the crocodile rock..

Little Noah's tiny diapered hips, emitting the light scent of powder and baby-ness swayed to the Oldies music as he held on to my legs - it was near bed-time and I was dancing my son, Noah, to bed after his night-time bath and gourmet meal of Gerbers© chicken and rice... suddenly; two large black boots lumbered toward us, shaking the earth as they came closer, a cold steel badge was pushed in my face "Police, Hand me the child, we're taking him in to custody"

"What are you doing? I screamed "Why are you taking my baby?

"What's going on here?" my wife shrieked.

"We're taking your child because you are unfit parents, you are being charged with neglect and emotional abuse, Mr Franklin. I am a worker from Child Protective Services." She handed me her card, grabbed Noah and walked out of the room with the police. The last sound I heard was Noah's screams.

I stood there motionless as my wife started crying. I looked over at my father who was standing on the other side of the room. It all came together. I am poor, I wasn't very good at holding down a job, I was living with my father, it was not a good situation. We did not get along, he wanted me out of his house.

That was three weeks ago - Noah was permanently removed from my care - the reasons were fuzzy- it was never determined what my wife or I really did wrong - they said we swore in front of the child, that I swung him around too fast, that maybe there was drug abuse, ( there was not) but the real reason was my wife and I were poor - my father was not, we didn't have a chance in the court- our extreme love and meticulous care of our very healthy seven month old was never considered, and when the court hearing convened, we watched them terminate our parental guardianship.

The decision to take our baby was part of an ever increasing trend to terminate the rights of parents solely based on the income, financial stability or joblessness of the parent. The implications are terrifying. Case in point; In New York Mayor Giuliani said last week that if you aren't working you won't be allowed to get shelter and if you don't have shelter in New York, you automatically have your children put in foster care.

In California a father was arrested for yelling at his 14 year old daughter when she refused to go to school.

href="column_16.html#1st_col">(go to story)

In Wisconsin they are deciding whether or not to incarcerate mothers who are on crack s they can control the conditions of the fetus.

Will orphan trains for poor children be next, or baby factories run by the state only allowing certain people to actually "raise children" The frightening thing is many people would agree with these civil rights abuses because they are theoretically done "in the best interests of the child."

Unfortunately the public is unaware how increasingly arbitrary the basis of "abuse" determined by Child Protective Services has become, and how equally impossible it is to meet their requirements for reunification, reminding me of the ancient fairytale of Rumplestiltskin who threatened to take the first born child of the princess unless she spun a roomful of straw into gold.

Two weeks later I was able to visit my little Noah - He was hoarse from crying for days on end, his body now reeked of adult male sweat ( his foster father's) his bright blue eyes were blood shot - He will eventually go to his grandfather's house and I will not see him again, he is my son and I loved him, cared for him and danced with him...

Remember when life was young, little suzy had so much fun...



Sign-up for POOR email!