Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Dark Side of Motherhood

 For the last week I’ve ruminated on the sacrifices we make for our children . . . career, time, money, SLEEP, and our lives figuratively and literally. Can’t imagine doing it any other way. Can’t imagine anyone else doing it any other way?

Yesterday, I went to court for a hearing, as a CASA, where I witnessed a young mother giving up her child because she couldn’t conquer the demons that led to her drug addiction. She sacrificed her child for drugs. Shocking, yes, but also very, very common. The Juvenile Justice dockets are full of cases just like that one. Anyone who watches the news knows that not all mothers love and care for their children like we do. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s what I want to make my life’s work.

I am a trained Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) for GA, and will become a GAL in TN once I obtain a TN Bar license. Guardians Ad Litem advocate for the best interests of children in court. We are not “child attorneys” where the child is our client and the duty is to advocate for the client’s wishes. The difference is subtle, but significant and beyond the scope of this piece.

Many have said, “I couldn’t do that. It would be too sad.” It is sad, but my response is “SOMEONE has to look out for the children.”  It’s not only abuse and neglect cases that I will take, although they are the most common. Aside from assisting with paperwork, as a GAL is the only way I will participate in a divorce case. Think it’s shocking that parents sacrifice their children for drugs? I’m shocked at how many parents sacrifice their children to extract revenge on a spouse or co-parent. I assisted a few clients with divorces, child support and fielded some custody questions, and decided quickly, that I didn’t have the stomach for it. All full-service family law cases are referred to my fearless colleague Miechia Gulley, Esq.

I understand that sometimes divorce is necessary, especially when abuse is present, but when anger is front and center and eclipses all common sense is where my sympathy ends. It’s why many other lawyers are getting out of family law, and those that remain are so expensive.

Although many, in my closest social and professional circles, can’t imagine not thinking of the best interests of our children, too many of us don’t. Children get lost in the shuffle all around us, and we never have a clue. As a CASA, and a GAL I will help to fill in the gaps for some of those children. It is hard and it’s darn heartbreaking, but “SOMEONE has to look out for the children!”

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