I quit Child Protective Services (CPS) the Monday after I removed a beautiful, healthy, articulate six-year-old from her mother. Though she was beautiful and healthy, she was also still in diapers and taking a bottle. I’d spent the better of part of my previous Friday with this family of two trying to get their story. It had taken me two weeks to find them and arrange that interview. As I sat watching this tender little mixed race child, skinny with kinky blond hair and a knack for charming people, I was eyeballing her mother.
Her mother was covered in cellulitis sores—all along her arms, spreading from between her toes, and God knows where else. She said she had them everywhere. Cellulitis is a skin bacterial infection and appears as red sores that spread out to cover an infected area. Though cellulitis can happen to anyone, in these places it is a likely sign of intravenous drug use. This mother was addicted to heroin and she had been given many chances by the drug court in our county by her own admission. A call had come into our hotline after this mother went to a local hospital and bragged about having custody of her child even though she wasn’t supposed to. An eavesdropping nurse had heard her and called in the report. I’d been unable to locate them at the address she’d given the hospital since I’d gotten the on-call report.
When I started the marathon half-day interview, I did not know how imperiled this child was. I only knew that the allegations involved yet another case of neglect due to opioid addiction and that more than half of all the reports I received were unfounded. Walking in I figured I had a 50/50 chance of substantiating on neglect and removal. I hoped for the best.Continue reading “Moxie’s* Story”