It will only take a day in Family Court (well really only a few minutes) for you realize that, for the most part, we live compartmentalized little lives. We live in neighborhoods with people like us, we work with people like us, and we shop with people like us. We all do. That is why I think Reality TV is so popular now. People are able to watch someone else’s life that is so different from their own, and watch the train wreck in progress. The next day their coworkers will opine on the injustice of the latest episode and make bold predictions or give confident advice for the next episode.
The problem with all of this, is that we tend to forget that people that have lives radically different from our own, really do exist. When Beautiful and I first attended Family Court 7 years ago with our first Foster Case, we were shocked. I mean chin on the floor, close my jaw with my free hand kind of shocked. We thought Jerry Springer was all staged (and it might be)! We could not believe that there were real people who lived like this.
Here is a sampler from family court to give you an idea what I am talking about:
- The first case involved a 17-year-old in foster care that was desiring to be released. The complication here is that she was also in foster care with her infant daughter. Digest that for a bit.
- The second case involved a young man who was approximately 12. There was joy here because they were making plans to reunify him with his mother. The joy was dampened when I realized that this young man was well acquainted with the courts, and he was not yet a teenager.
- The third case involved two children (not present) where the parents were informed of the future dates in which a Termination of Parental Rights hearing would be held. Essentially, this means that their case plan for reunification has failed and the parents are unwilling to accept that they are not getting their lives together. The parents displayed no emotion as the dates were discussed and seemed more relieved to simply leave.
- The fourth case involved a young mother of an infant (her second son). All parties agreed on the circumstances that cased her baby to come into care. If that were not humbling enough for the young mother, she also endured a paternity discussion in which one potential father (not her long-time boyfriend) denied he was the father and claimed he was not the only option.
Again, this is just a sample, and these cases are real. Real people with real problems. I am convinced, if the people who watch Reality TV spent a day in the Family Court gallery instead, our country, would be a very different place. Reality TV artificializes people’s problems. It is time we recognize that real people with real problems, need real solutions that frankly, our government cannot offer.