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I Can Take These Children

Some years ago, my wife and I were expecting twins that resulted in a high risk pregnancy. My wife went into labor prematurely and was rushed to the University of Maryland Hospital. My twin girl died at birth while my son survived.

I don’t believe that the staff there believed that we were married and she was treated like she was a single parent-meaning that whenever possible, they tried to exclude me from all consultations, plans, etc unless I was in the room. If I went to the waiting area or the bathroom, I would have to watch for them to into her room and join them. They never looked for me even though my wife was still drowsy and not quite alert.

When it was time for her to be discharged-without my son- the hospital staff decided that we needed “parenting classes.” We declined because at that time we already had 5 kids and felt that classes weren’t needed. I never found out exactly what the hospital reported to the Harford County Department of Social Services but shortly after we returned home,  a social worker showed up at our door.

Her immediate words were “I can take these children!” She barely introduced herself. She seemed quite proud to say that to us. My oldest daughter was home from school sick that day and immediately burst into tears and started sobbing that she was going to be taken away. My wife started crying too. The worker gave no thought to a grieving family-my wife was still hurt at the death of our baby girl, having to leave our baby son in the hospital, having to pump breast mild daily to deposit at the hospital and hormones still upside down from just delivering twins.

Of all times, our washer quit and we had 2  garbage bags full of clothes to take to my mother’s to wash and the worker reported that we had bags of trash in the living room! Our rug was worn down to the bare lining and she reported that we had feces on the floor! She never looked in the bags or asked us about them.

Because my house wasn’t up to her standards-Harford County should take our kids? For a sink full of dirty dishes and a house that was disarrayed-they should take my kids?

Although they didn’t find anything Harford County still kept the case open for 60 day before admitting that there was no case. But in those 60 days we still had to go visit a sick baby every day, maintain a household, help with homework and just love on our 5 kids that were at home - while agonizing over a baseless charge of whatever it was that Harford County Department of Social Services decided that they didn’t like about our family. The hardest part was reassuring our children that they were not being take away from us-their Mommy and Daddy. We will never forget the agony that DSS put us through.

Why not display an attitude of helping rather than we were bad parents who needed fixing? Why not help us pay to have the washer fixed or replaced? Why not asks if we needed help with the daily tolls or parking fees when we visited the hospital each day so that we could bond with our son and my wife could deliver breast milk?

There are so many ways that Harford County Department of Social Services could have helped rather than present as an enemy.

Submitted by LB

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