It is Monday, September 21, 2015. On this day, six years ago, my children were taken from my home for the final time, and it was not for something I did wrong in parenting them. The social workers even admitted that, but they took them just the same.
Like this year, the 21st also fell on a Monday then. We had been battling lice in our house that month. First with our younger son, and that weekend, with our older daughter. It was not fun, but when you have children in the school system, lice is something that happens.
We felt it was unfair when, at the beginning of the school year, after a summer spent in their daycare, our son’s daycare left us a message on our phone that our son had lice. None of our other children had it, and that was the only other place he went, but they blamed us as if the cause were in our parenting.
We were driving to the airport that day to drop my mom off, after having spent several weeks in our home helping out with the children. We do not have cell phones, and so were not able to answer the call. We were just (at the insistence of the ministry) switching respite providers, so our emergency contact at the daycare was wrong.
It really seems like poor judgment on the part of the daycare – or perhaps cruelty, it is hard to tell. I wouldn’t think that the children’s ministry should be called for a matter of a child having lice on the first day of school. That is what they did, however. Not being able to reach us, and not having an emergency contact number that was in use, they called the social workers to report to them that our son had lice.
We treated him, and all of his bedding and toys, as well as everything he might have come into contact with. I shaved his hair, and treated his head, and he was back to school the next day. We checked all of our other children, as well as each other, but none of the rest of us had any signs of having lice.
Every night and every morning, I french braided both of my daughter’s hair. If they had this issue, we would have been pretty quick to find out. As it was, it was about 2 weeks later before my older daughter was found to have any.
We treated her, and everyone and everything in the house that weekend. We got out all the lice, but missed a few eggs, and her school refused to take her that morning.
As was our routine, we dropped our younger son off at school that morning, expecting to see him again after daycare that afternoon. As my husband went into the school to talk to our older daughter’s teacher to see if she could attend that day, I played on the playground with my baby. At nearly 4 ½ years old, she was very excited about birthdays, and mine was coming up at the end of the week.
On the playground, she pretended to make me birthday cakes, and had me blow out the candles. I wasn’t feeling good that morning, and wish now that I had been more involved in her game – but I did my best, and she seemed to enjoy herself.
My husband came back with our daughter, and we took our baby down to preschool, expecting to pick her up just before lunch a couple of hours later. She asked for a hug before she left that morning, and I didn’t give her one. I think I will regret that decision for the rest of my life. I was sick, and was staying in the van with our other daughter. I was also frustrated about the lice issue, and didn’t want to lean through the van to reach my baby. There was always later, I thought, but later never came.
We had an appointment that morning with the ministry, and called ahead to see if we could have someone watch our daughter while we were in the meeting. They said, no, and so we brought along our older son.
When we got there, we gave her her lunch so that she could have snacks if she wanted. For whatever reason, they wouldn’t allow our son to go in to the room to watch her during our meeting, so he sat awkwardly waiting in the waiting room.
They spoke a lot of words that meant very little, and finally came down to them saying they had decided to (suddenly, without reason) take our children. They promised they wouldn’t, but promises mean little to social workers.
I said, “but we did everything you asked us to, and we haven’t hurt our children at all” and they responded, “we know.” They took them anyway, and there was nothing we could do.
We left all three of our children with full expectation that we would be seeing them in a few hours. I never would have done that to my kids – broke an unspoken promise to be there for them – I never would have left them expecting us to show up, and then suddenly have them taken by someone else. I never for the world would have hurt them that way – but the ministry did, and we had no options.
I got my son from the waiting room, and we left. We left, and the three of us went home to cry alone.
Six years. Six years and it still hurts as much as it did that day every time I think of it. They took my kids. The ministry might not have thought of them as our children, but when I think of them – no matter how hard I try to change that, to lessen the pain, it remains. They took my children, and there was nothing I could do to stop them.
September 21st. Four days before my birthday, and it has now become the hardest day of the year for me.