This year I’ve come to a very sick realization that our system truly is broken. Apparently, it is okay to continue arguing against a family, even after favorable evidence surfaces. It’s okay to diminish said favorable evidence. It’s okay to fabricate lies and SMILE while testifying to said lies. Last Wednesday, I saw a “professional” take the stand, disregard ethics, and SMILE while claiming a family was broken beyond repair. How appalled I was.
Why do we as a society stand for such injustice? Why do we allow the children who need intervention to slip through the cracks, only surfacing in the news when their grizzly deaths demand our attention? Why do we allow an agency absolute power — and the ability to abuse said power? Child Protective Services is no longer serving our babies. It is now serving the highest bidder. It is now serving the agenda of people who cherry pick children and families to prey upon. One of my children has been held captive in foster care for nearly 11 months now. He is currently in his third foster home, fearing the day he gets “mad” there and gets kicked out once again — instead of being returned home to the family that loves him. My other two children have been crying for their daddy and big brother to come home. We have been fighting valiantly, adhering to whatever guidelines and requirements these people set before us. We have made it known throughout our community that we love our children and will continue to fight. Instead of recognizing that we are caring parents, the Walker County Department of Family and Children Services continues to argue against reunifying our family every time we set foot inside the courthouse. On paper, it appears to the Georgia Department of Human Resources that this county wants to reunify our family — well, I refuse to allow this injustice to continue without speaking out.
I have contacted several media outlets, receiving no responses to my pleas for help. I am downright frustrated. I know what’s best for my family — for my babies. Right now, I have been rendered nearly incapable of protecting them from the harm that Walker County DFCS continues to inflict upon them. They have caused much more harm to all three of my children, as evidenced by the psychological evaluation performed on my oldest. Not only did the psychologist validate my son’s psychiatrist’s diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, but he also validated our efforts — right down to pursuing extra-curricular activities to help develop our son’s social skills. Yes, our son played baseball last year. He was a star player on the team, attracting a fan-base that showed up cheering for our little number 95. Our son has been denied that privilege this year. He has been denied his wish to return home.
I will not stop fighting. I will not allow a rogue agency to continue hurting my babies. If I have to sacrifice my career as an English consultant just to save my family, I will gladly be the sacrificial lamb. I fought hard for my family in the past. I once paid $225 for permission to birth our youngest son naturally — since his two older siblings were c-section babies. I once calmly told a doctor that I understood the risks and benefits of a VBAC and that I would be leaving his hospital against his advice because I had no intention of allowing him to slice me open and expose myself and my daughter to a subpar institution. I have spoken out for my oldest to receive extra accommodations to succeed in the classroom. I have helped advocate for other women to choose the birth experiences they desired. Seriously, I am a woman who started advocating for animal rights when I was merely eleven years old, creating a silly little “patrol group” with a childhood best friend! I do not suffer fools lightly, nor do I suffer injustice. I will fight, and I will win. Take heed, Walker County, Georgia: my name is Meredith Shadwill, and I’m not going to give up. Ever. I will not lose.