Courtroom Reflection: Monsters
For many children, monsters can be very real. They live under the bed or lurk in the closet, waiting to strike when the lights go out. Of course, we know that these are all imaginary and a normal part of childhood. But for some children, monsters come in a very different form and are in fact, very real.
A big part of my job at Voices For Children is to cultivate relationships with donors. One of the ways we do this is by inviting them to observe dependency hearings at the Children’s Courthouse where they are able to see firsthand and begin to understand the dependency process. Here, they are often witness to the heartbreaking and emotional scenarios that help drive the need for their support. On one such day, a donor and I stepped onto an elevator on our way to the courtrooms. Inside the elevator was a petite, red-headed woman in a white dress with small pink flowers accompanied by two men in dark suits. I noticed her quiet demeanor and how out of place she seemed with these two men.
We arrived at our floor and everyone went their separate ways. As time passed and the donor and I began to make our way from courtroom to courtroom, we entered a hearing in session to which the judge quickly announced from the bench that the court was closed because it was a TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) hearing and that there should have been a sign outside the door. As we walked out apologetically, I glanced over at the defendant’s table and saw the same red-headed lady in the flowered dress. She was being terminated of her parental rights.
As a mother, I shuddered to imagine what circumstances could have possibly brought her to this day. For many, it would be easy to judge this woman and label her a monster. But very quickly I realized, that the real monster is the cycle of abuse and neglect. For all parties involved, that monster is living, breathing and wreaking havoc in their lives. Perhaps this monster has been lurking in their life for generations and somehow these individuals have not been able to break free. Regardless, there is a family that has been broken.
Voices For Children works to break the cycle of abuse and neglect. A Guardian ad Litem can be the person who gives these frightened children the feeling that someone is there to protect them. That alone has the potential to change the way they see the world and ultimately change their world entirely. Perhaps you could be that hero who chases the monster away in the life of a vulnerable child.