02 June 2015

The Black Trash Bag

"I know it's the most practical way to do it but there's still something so sad about a child showing up with all their possessions in a trash bag. :-\ " - November 2014

Now that I've nearly caught up to real time I'm going to go back a bit to an image that sticks with me.

When a child is removed from their home the caseworker doesn't sit down with them and sort through their belongings picking out items to go and items to stay. Usually it's a very hurried situation, they have a bag, they grab what they can and they get the child out. There is no time for careful packing, there is no time (and probably not the resources) to pack a suitcase. The most practical thing to do is fill a trash bag (they hold a lot and are easy to get a hold of anywhere).

When our Bonus Kiddo was removed the second time his caseworker went afterward to where he was staying and grabbed everything she could see that looked like it was for him. Then she loaded it up into her trunk to bring to us.

A few days after Bonus Kiddo came back to us his caseworker came over with all his things. She parked in the driveway, came in for a moment, then went back, opened her trunk and pulled out a large black trash bag. My heart dropped into my stomach.

The first time I met his caseworker (and our Bonus Kiddo) she brought a few items for him that had been donated for kids in care. She brought them in a homemade, large, yellow and white drawstring bag. Someone had made and donated these bags specifically for carrying items for children in foster care. At the time I didn't think much of the handmade yellow bag. Now, watching her carry in every earthly thing that belonged to this little boy in a trash bag...I wished desperately that she was carrying anything else.

But whats the difference really? A bag is a bag. But there is something so heartbreaking, so demoralizing, something that carries such a sense of despair and defeat when you see everything belonging to a child being carried in a bag meant for trash, meant for things unwanted. Everything they have, everything tangible that sums up who they are as a person being carried in a cheap plastic bag meant to be thrown out, gotten rid of, handled carelessly and forgotten.

As soon as the caseworker left we poured all his things out onto our living room floor, separated clothes for laundry, toys for cleaning and odds and ends he couldn't use that would be stored away and saved. I wanted the black trash bag gone and for his things to be in their proper place, a family place. I wanted them cleaned and put away in places more permanent, containers and drawers that better showed their value to our little Bonus Kiddo and how valuable he was to us.

No comments:

Post a Comment