Thursday, August 1, 2013

When courts decide your fate.

I understand what it means to have decisions about your life made by the courts. There is something terrible about not having control, not getting to do what you want, not having the last say. Even before I had personal experience, I had aversion to it. Yes, when someone commits a terrible crime they should be put in jail at least to keep the public safe, but what about all the other situations- when the crime is not so terrible or the circumstances were grey, or the defendant is innocent? There are so many extenuating circumstances. We have a system that works often and fails horribly sometimes.

I used to date an ex con who used to say that our justice system was the best in the world, but often it still came down to coin toss. You might get off or you might go down.

Have you ever seen footage of people doing life in prison? Some of them are so beautiful, shining with light. Some people change deep down inside, but don’t get paroled. I once talked to a man who killed someone. He was so profoundly changed. He glowed with love. He was reformed, it was obvious. Our justice system cannot always recognize inner transformation, it is not set up to look for that. Some people get away with stuff and some don’t, some are guilty and go free and some are innocent and do life or die.

What is really on my mind is Baby Veronica, the two year old who was taken from the only home she ever knew, a good home that she lived in since birth, a home with her adoptive parents, who were picked by her biological mother. She was taken from her parents in order to be placed with her biological father, a stranger she never knew. She was taken by an appellate court because of a loophole in the law. (You can read my article with all the details at

Then eighteen months later, with Veronica approaching four years old, the Supreme Court reversed the decision. This ruling did not necessarily mean that Veronica was going to go back to her adoptive parents, it just meant that they were concluding that the appellate courts verdict did not stand up, which was really just a grand legal victory, and a precedent setter for future cases hopefully.

Then, a South Carolina Supreme Court decided that baby Veronica should go back to her adoptive parents. I am thrilled beyond words for the adoptive parents, who were the only people to be there in everyway, unconditionally, for Veronica since her birth. They experienced the terrible injustice of having their family broken up by the courts and they fought the law and triumphed. And then they were granted back custody of their daughter. How wonderful.

Still, my heart aches for baby Veronica right now and I keep her and her family in my prayers as she goes through the (hopefully) final hurdle of this saga, her transition back to her adoptive parents. This little girl received the brunt of the injustice of this fiasco. Such a big burden for a little girl to handle. Now she is being uprooted again. I truly want her to be reunited with her unconditional parents, I just hate that she has to go through any more pain or separation.

This fiasco has hurt many people. I think about Veronica’s birth father, another person who wants to raise and love Veronica, someone who has also fought for her. I appreciate the depth of the pain he must be in right now as he is about to lose her. I am truly sorry that he is hurting. I do not however, think that he is a victim of injustice. He made a decision to give up his child up at birth, and as I have said before, we all have to live with our reproductive decisions.

The cool thing about life is that everything is fixable, healable, transformable. The biggest deepest pain can be mended. I write that from experience and believe it from the bottom of my heart. Love heals and one thing baby Veronica can know for sure is that she is loved.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Mmmh, I think you could use a dose of Indigenous perspective on this issue. Here's what I wrote. Check it out:

    Indian Child Welfare Act: Supreme Court ‘Saved Baby Veronica’ -- But From What?

    Baby Veronica and Indian Sovereignty 50 Years After the March on Washington