There are many different ways in which the Coronavirus pandemic affects society and it is only natural that we concentrate our concerns specifically on the things that affect us. For instance, those working in nursing homes will be acutely aware of the isolation their residents are facing and how vulnerable they are. Furthermore, those working in hospitals will be hypersensitive to those who say this is just a seasonal flu, due to them being in contact with the worst case scenarios. This behaviour is completely understandable and I'm 100% sure I have overlooked many different viewpoints. So, for this reason it pays us to listen to those who are willing to open a door that takes us into a different reality.
The reality I would like to shine a light on is one that many children and parents are dealing with all over the world at this time. This is a reality where the virus itself is of little significance when compared to the restrictions that the virus has brought into existence.
The reason I have mentioned it again is because this is not an isolated incident and I wanted to give you just one example of how an innocent family can fall into the grasps of an evil industry.
But let's overlook the fact that the authorities lie, cheat, conspire and deceive thousands of families, in order to serve their clients(Independent Foster care agencies ran for profit) with fresh produce year after year. Yes, let's just overlook that for now and concentrate, instead, on the aftermath of such a horrendous trade and the poor souls who languish, indeterminately, in unfamiliar homes with unfamiliar people...
In my sister's case all access has been removed, due to the closure of the contact centres. Because of this, the social services have recommended that my sister send video messages and recorded bedtime stories, plus the odd phone-call. This is as good as it gets for many families in this type of situation, but there is another dimension to this that needs to be explained. My niece has been placed in the care of the paternal grandmother on the instruction of the family courts and recommended by the SS. This arrangement is far from perfect due to the nature of the accusations aimed at the child's father. As you might imagine, my sister and the rest of the family on our side do not see eye-to-eye with the grandmother. To make matters worse she has constantly lied about the child's wellbeing and made wild accusations against my sister to tarnish her reputation. In the beginning, my sister had contact with her daughter at the grandmothers house, as did the father(which had obvious concerns). While she visited the grandmother's house she was met with hostility and often left unsupervised, all of which goes against the family court stipulations and therefore places my sister in a dangerous position. After a few visits the contact arrangement broke down and a new arrangement was put in place to have contact at a neutral venue. This was a positive step but the carer's ability to affect the contact between mother and daughter wasn't nullified. Due to the lockdown my sister is only permitted to contact her daughter via recorded video messages, but due to the ill-will of the carer this has been obstructed. According to grandmother, this video contact upsets the child and she has requested to the SS that all video/phone contact be stopped. Fortunately, the SS have not agreed to these terms but there is only so much they can do, because if the carers phone doesn't pick-up then contact doesn't go ahead.
So, while the lockdown is in place we are at the will of the carer and this, again, will be happening to many families in this kind of situation. For the mother this is understandably devastating, but for the child, however, this is just plain devastating. The child is forever in the dark and god only knows what explanations are being given to them about the loss of contact. The government have only allowed essential services to carry on and sadly they do not consider the contact between a parent and their child as essential...
For parents facing this kind of dilemma the only hope is for the next court hearing to come along so progress can be made for the child to be returned home. But family courts have been disrupted by the lockdown and many hearing have been postponed. There have been some changes to this situation and hearings are now going ahead via video-link but this is still has its faults due to the nature of the people involved. It is well documented that agents representing the authorities lie in court and when this procedure is happening via video-link I assume that the temptation to bend the truth is even stronger. Admittedly, this is just an assumption but, nevertheless, it is yet another issue to add distress to a desperate parent being dragged through this horrible event.
While families have been restricted when it comes to these kind of hearings, it has not affected the social workers ability when it comes to obtaining court orders to enable a child to be taken into care, for this the courts have remained in fully operational. This issue is being echoed around the world and various outlets are reporting on the subject. This passage taken from "The Marshall Project" explains how family courts and SS are operating during the Corona crisis...
Children are still being removed from households where child abuse or neglect is alleged. But with courts nationwide closing their doors and indefinitely extending many legal deadlines, parents are left with no sense of when they will be able to fight back against their children being taken away. (Moreover, much of what mothers and fathers must do to prove they are ready to get their children back, from parenting classes to drug treatment, is also being canceled.)“They’re saying the only thing that’s enough of an emergency to leave court open for is to remove children from their families,” said Anya Mukarji-Connolly, supervising attorney of the Brooklyn Defender Service’s Family Defense Practice. “But returning children home and to their loved ones is also an emergency, yet many of those hearings have now been adjourned for months.”
As you can now imagine, this is a bad situation made even worse by current events. Worse still, this crisis has been used to the advantage of those who feel they need to tighten their grip, while the ones who are already powerless find themselves even weaker.
Whatever your opinion is about this pandemic and its social consequences, I hope this post helps to broaden your perspective on the effects it has on those who rely, more than most, on actual social contact. For people like my sister and her child this lockdown is much more than an inconvenience, in fact, it is more like a broken bridge across a crocodile infested swamp.
I hope with all my heart that these restriction are removed as soon as possible and I ask you to give a thought to all the children in care who aren't allowed to be in contact with the ones they love. Because, really, what is more essential than this?