I had to do one of my least favorite things in the world this week – go to our county social services office. Since I am Corey’s legal guardian (he is Native American and his tribe will not agree to an adoption – although they don’t want him either), I have to check in with social services every six months. They like to know that Corey is doing well and that he is still in school (I have to produce his report card each time). Plus, he gets to keep his Medicaid if I make the appointments.
The waiting room at the social services office is usually not a happy place. Many of the folks there are asking for monetary benefits and if things don’t turn out as they expect, they can get really angry. And they don’t mind sharing that anger with everyone within earshot.
I also usually see some young teenage girls – often very young – who are pregnant. I assume they are also there searching for benefits, but it saddens me to see them there alone, and then to imagine what their life and the life of their child will be like.
But my visit this week took the cake. The room was packed. My social worker told me later it has been that way ever since the economy took a nosedive. Into the crowded room walks a late twenty something woman, talking on her cell phone and yelling at the young child trailing behind her. She spots two seats, grabs the child (no more than a year old) by his arm and yanks him into a seat. She takes the other seat, and never once slows her cell phone conversation.
The baby is active – seemingly a typical one year old. He wants to explore – he wants a drink – he wants to be held. He communicates all this by whining through his pacifier and tugging on his mother. She alternates between ignoring him and hitting him.
He has a doughnut hole in his hand that he doesn’t seem to want. He drops it on the floor. The mother swoops it up and stuffs it in his mouth. A one year old….
She yells at him to stop whining. She tells the person on the other end of her phone call that the baby is ‘gonna get a whippin’.
Just as I can’t take anymore, a social worker calls the woman back into the office. The woman again yanks the baby by his arm and drags him along. She isn’t with the social worker more than five minutes, and then I see them leaving – the mother with her phone call reestablished, and the baby trailing behind.
It’s then time for my appointment. I share my observations with the social worker. She shakes her head, and I am left to wonder if anything will be done. I doubt it.
Part 2 tomorrow….
Today I am thankful that I had several wonderful mentors when I first became a mother.