Catch-22

Okay, I’m back. Or more accurately, I think I’m back. It’s been six months since I made a blog entry and I can’t believe that it has been that long. Where have I been?  Busy, of course.  What else could I say?

And what is it that has brought me back this morning? Boiling blood. That is, my blood is boiling. About what? The usual, the always, the ridiculous: bureaucrats and their nonsense.

I got a call last night from a young guy who aged out of the foster care system. He’s 24 now. Like so many of his aged out peers, he has not been doing well preparing for his adulthood. Like so many of them, for whatever reason, he has never learned to protect anything or anybody. He’s thrown away opportunity after opportunity. He blew college; he had his driver’s license snatched; he has no money; no career direction.

As we talked, he told me that he had gone back to a job that I know is not good for him. He knows it too. I asked him why the heck he was doing that. And his response is what made my blood boil – still this morning.

He told me that he had no choice.

Yeah right. What does that ever mean?

Well, it turns out that the only picture id he has – since 9/11 required by almost all jobs – was his license. Once it is an expired license, it doesn’t count as an id. So he needs his birth certificate to begin the process of getting his license back. He claims that he can’t even get a non-driver’s photo id because despite the fact that the DMV KNOWS who he is is – they gave him his license after all – it is bureaucratically irrelevant. His old license, which he only got because he once had the right paperwork and showed it to them, and they know it, is EXPIRED. His picture is on the damn expired license, keep in mind. He has his SS card; school records, etc.  But his evidence that he is himself is EXPIRED!

So, my boy contacted Dade County Florida (Vital Statistics Office) where he was born – in order to get a new copy of his birth certificate. And guess what? He must submit a photo ID to get the birth certificate.   He was on the phone with them for over an hour, he told me, and got nowhere.   And this is the CATCH-22 that drives me berserk.

I figured he was missing some vital detail in his story and there had to be a way to get the birth certificate, even without the picture id. So I tried every which way I could to get it this morning on-line.  And I could not get around the system. There was no way to deal with this not-so-unusual circumstance. Except one, right there on the form: a lawyer. Hire a lawyer. Just what every aged out foster kid can afford.

I did that this morning. I asked a long time friend of Family Focus, who is a lawyer, to take this young man on as a client and she has agreed to help. But where would this guy be if he didn’t know me or I wasn’t willing to help? Exactly where he is: working a job that he shouldn’t be doing with no hope of resolving this.

The kids aging out of foster care continue to have enough things stacked up against them. They don’t need the bureaucracy to make it all worse.

Some of these bureaucratic systems feed hopelessness and disempowerment.  And it’s not just poor folks either.  Have you heard about this medical insurance nonsense that some doctor who is not covered by your insurance can be called into the operating room while you are under, to help out. I’m sure we signed – under duress, of course – permissions for it before the operation.  And then folks are getting hit with medical bills from these non-covered doctors for tens of thousands of dollars.

Thieves and criminals are bad enough, but at least they don’t hide what they are doing under a cloak of reasonableness.  Bureaucrats do. These anti-human systems should be outlawed, dismantled, or drastically changed.  They are disgraceful, and even disgusting, in their disrespect for the person.

Taking away hope from people is very wrong – and very dangerous besides. We don’t get that.

I guess I’m back for real.

Jack

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5 Responses to Catch-22

  1. So many laws are designed to keep folks down and dependent, as is this one. So glad you had a friend willing to help this young man.
    Suggest to him that aft he (finally) gets his license, a month or so later he should report it lost and get a new one. Keep the month-old one for backup.

  2. He needs to contact the Department of Children’s Services through which he was placed in foster care. Since he was never legally adopted, he is entitled by law to his original birth certificate. They should have a copy in his file, if not the original.

  3. Nancy L-G says:

    Nice to have you back Jack.

  4. vsf says:

    Jack your experiences help me feel sane and give me hope. It is very, very nice to have you back. Here is my rant. I spend all my time trying to keep these same related agencies in Massachusetts from disempowering our son and us. He has a complex history (adopted at 18 months from an orphanage) and we have continuously worked to help him ever since we became a family. Ever so slowing we were achieving success. Then, a doctor told us we were next to nuts for not giving him medication to help him with his anxiety. We listened to this doctor. Our hard working, kind and good son had an allergic response to the medication – he became hypomanic. He was sick from the medication. While the medication was washing out of him he was arrested. Since this all started about a year ago my husband and I spend all our time (he works to support my full-time support of our son and our family) learning how to protect our son from the negative impact that our legal system, medical establishment, and social agencies has had on his life. If we stick with this, and we will, we might save our son. Hopefully, we can help him understand that the emotional scaring was done to him and is separate who he is. He isn’t the “problem”. He did nothing “wrong”. All these systems treat him as if he has. Oh, yeah! – our son wanted to have an allergic reaction to a drug given to them by an irresponsible psychiatrist who didn’t have the human empathy or professional courtesy to call us back when we left him a message that our son was being hospitalized for “activation” due to the SSRI? Our son was hospitalized 5 times because the SSRI discontinuation process is not well understood by psychiatric “industry” and protocols for discontinuance care would mean a level of accountability most psychiatrists would rather not get involved with. Maybe that is why the prescribing psychiatrist from one of the best in Boston didn’t call us back.

    A “good” psychiatrist explained this to us: adolescents will resolve this emotionally turbulent time marked by the absence of medication in different ways, each according to their pre-existing emotional stability, or lack thereof. As a family we were beset by a bundle of new influences on our lives. Our insurance provider of course would limit the number of days in the hospital. He was discharged home before he was stable. The psychiatrist agreed he was not ready for discharge. Her experience with appeals always ended without success. So, the cycle began: Discharge before ready. Re-hospitalize. Discharge. Re-hospitalize. In between hospitalization 2 and 3 he is still behaviorally “activated’. He is in a hypomanic state. We call the police whom in our previous experiences understood that he has emotional challenges (we had never needed the police before he was on/off medication) and a officer not familiar with our family arrests him. He committed no crime. He was emotionally elevated and verbally saying crazy things. At the hearing the judge determined that we could not have sole custody. Many lawyers were added. And, he “has to be held in DYS” because he has mental illness and can’t be trusted. The “good” psychiatrist got him back into the hospital but it took a 7 days to get it accomplished. Then the court orders him to go to residential treatment which is where he is now. So we have new problems. They are marginalizing the family he has that loves and supports him. They nod and say “yes, we work with the family”. How could they when they don’t read through the paperwork to understand how all of this started? So, my husband and I learn, advocate and fail. We keep repeating this cycle with the hope that at some place we are able to help our son. A large part of me feels like I have lost my son. The social and legal agencies are viewed as “just”, “right” and “expert at what they do” when they are not.

    For our son not to blame himself and define himself by what has happened to him (cuffed and shackled) could take years, if ever. He deserves better than what we give him. More heart-breaking is another truth: our son is white and has white parents. I cannot imagine the pain, suffering and loss our sons and daughters of color experience when their lives intersect with the judgmental and dehumanizing agencies and the negative influence they wield. BTW: after 6 months we might finally go to trial for the assault charges made against our son. His lawyer is reasonable certain that the charges will be dismissed. So, let’s say he is found innocent. During this time of his “presumed innocence” his experiences in the juvenile justice system and family agencies convicted him ‘guilty’ because he was treated as such. Most ‘helpers’ had no background on how he got in front of them. Or, if they did it was flat out wrong. For 8 days he lived in a maximum security DYS facility that housed felons before he was transferred. In our regular communication with the staff they reported to us that he didn’t belong where he was. Yeah, we know, but we had no power over the situation. We are reasonably certain that our son was transferred to a less restrictive setting because they knew it was the right thing to do. When we met him at his new residence he had already embodied the persona of a gang member and a tough kid with problems. His identity before the medication was a work in progress. Now, things have been set into him that have a powerful negative influence on how he sees himself.

    Fact: he never assaulted us on the day of his arrest; he never assaulted us before his arrest; and, he has never assaulted us since all this began in April. My husband and I spent 12 hours writing a “respectfully submitted” correction to the error-filled police report. We were told it would have little influence in court. Just in case you get wind of this tidbit from the police report: we didn’t and have never locked our son in his room. A physical examination of our home and his room would make this evident. Or, you could just ask him. He will tell you the truth.

  5. Virginia Field says:

    Jack your experiences help me feel sane and give me hope. It is very, very nice to have you back. Here is my rant. I spend all my time trying to keep these same related agencies in Massachusetts from disempowering our son and us. He has a complex history (adopted at 18 months from an orphanage) and we have continuously worked to help him ever since we became a family. Ever so slowing we were achieving success. Then, a doctor told us we were next to nuts for not giving him medication to help him with his anxiety. We listened to this doctor. Our hard working, kind and good son had an allergic response to the medication – he became hypomanic. He was sick from the medication. While the medication was washing out of him he was arrested. Since this all started about a year ago my husband and I spend all our time (he works to support my full-time support of our son and our family) learning how to protect our son from the negative impact that our legal system, medical establishment, and social agencies has had on his life. If we stick with this, and we will, we might save our son. Hopefully, we can help him understand that the emotional scaring was done to him and is separate who he is. He isn’t the “problem”. He did nothing “wrong”. All these systems treat him as if he has. Oh, yeah! – our son wanted to have an allergic reaction to a drug given to them by an irresponsible psychiatrist who didn’t have the human empathy or professional courtesy to call us back when we left him a message that our son was being hospitalized for “activation” due to the SSRI? Our son was hospitalized 5 times because the SSRI discontinuation process is not well understood by psychiatric “industry” and protocols for discontinuance care would mean a level of accountability most psychiatrists would rather not get involved with. Maybe that is why the prescribing psychiatrist from one of the best in Boston didn’t call us back.

    A “good” psychiatrist explained this to us: adolescents will resolve this emotionally turbulent time marked by the absence of medication in different ways, each according to their pre-existing emotional stability, or lack thereof. As a family we were beset by a bundle of new influences on our lives. Our insurance provider of course would limit the number of days in the hospital. He was discharged home before he was stable. The psychiatrist agreed he was not ready for discharge. Her experience with appeals always ended without success. So, the cycle began: Discharge before ready. Re-hospitalize. Discharge. Re-hospitalize. In between hospitalization 2 and 3 he is still behaviorally “activated’. He is in a hypomanic state. We call the police whom in our previous experiences understood that he has emotional challenges (we had never needed the police before he was on/off medication) and a officer not familiar with our family arrests him. He committed no crime. He was emotionally elevated and verbally saying crazy things. At the hearing the judge determined that we could not have sole custody. Many lawyers were added. And, he “has to be held in DYS” because he has mental illness and can’t be trusted. The “good” psychiatrist got him back into the hospital but it took a 7 days to get it accomplished. Then the court orders him to go to residential treatment which is where he is now. So we have new problems. They are marginalizing the family he has that loves and supports him. They nod and say “yes, we work with the family”. How could they when they don’t read through the paperwork to understand how all of this started? So, my husband and I learn, advocate and fail. We keep repeating this cycle with the hope that at some place we are able to help our son. A large part of me feels like I have lost my son. The social and legal agencies are viewed as “just”, “right” and “expert at what they do” when they are not.

    For our son not to blame himself and define himself by what has happened to him (cuffed and shackled) could take years, if ever. He deserves better than what we give him. More heart-breaking is another truth: our son is white and has white parents. I cannot imagine the pain, suffering and loss our sons and daughters of color experience when their lives intersect with the judgmental and dehumanizing agencies and the negative influence they wield. BTW: after 6 months we might finally go to trial for the assault charges made against our son. His lawyer is reasonable certain that the charges will be dismissed. So, let’s say he is found innocent. During this time of his “presumed innocence” his experiences in the juvenile justice system and family agencies convicted him ‘guilty’ because he was treated as such. Most ‘helpers’ had no background on how he got in front of them. Or, if they did it was flat out wrong. For 8 days he lived in a maximum security DYS facility that housed felons before he was transferred. In our regular communication with the staff they reported to us that he didn’t belong where he was. Yeah, we know, but we had no power over the situation. We are reasonably certain that our son was transferred to a less restrictive setting because they knew it was the right thing to do. When we met him at his new residence he had already embodied the persona of a gang member and a tough kid with problems. His identity before the medication was a work in progress. Now, things have been set into him that have a powerful negative influence on how he sees himself.

    Fact: he never assaulted us on the day of his arrest; he never assaulted us before his arrest; and, he has never assaulted us since all this began in April. My husband and I spent 12 hours writing a “respectfully submitted” correction to the error-filled police report. We were told it would have little influence in court. Just in case you get wind of this tidbit from the police report: we didn’t and have never locked our son in his room. A physical examination of our home and his room would make this evident. Or, you could just ask him. He will tell you the truth.

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