Let me begin by telling you that an inside source at the courthouse told me my column had been read and thoroughly discussed by certain staff. It just so happens that I sent my Facebook friend Janet Mills, the attorney general, a copy of my column Wednesday afternoon detailing what was going on.
Robin met first with an assistant attorney general with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. He tried to exclude me from the meeting, but Robin dug in and wouldn’t budge and I was offered a chair at the table.
He bent over backward to keep Robin out of court. Robin argued and lectured and objected. I should have no tongue left after multiple bitings to keep myself quiet. Robin said he would provide the required paperwork but objected to probation hanging over his head. It made no sense to me as he already was on probation.
He finally agreed to go into court and settle before the judge. She came in and greeted Robin, saying “I remember you from last time,” and she nodded to me and said, “I also remember your support person.” (How very tactful!)
(Also, you should know: Robin wore his flashiest nail polish!) (Also, the assistant attorney general had a folder with several copies of The Lincoln County News, showing my column with photos of Robin.)
She asked him if was he agreeable to the arrangement and he said yes, except the part about probation hanging over his head. OMG. Here we went again. The judge spent many minutes counseling Robin from the bench. She encouraged him to hire a lawyer to represent him in the Social Security Disability appeal. She allowed that she had represented a client herself and it was tedious, tricky, very complicated, and he shouldn’t try to do it himself. She also said: “I am going to text Pine Tree Legal Assistance and ask them to take your case.”
She was continuing her very welcomed assistance when a court deputy came in and asked the judge to please step into her office for a moment. She did so and the deputy turned to me and said: “I want you to get him to make up his mind right now! We have to be out of here.” I agreed, he opened the judge’s door, she came out and sat down, we finished quickly, she banged the gavel, and we left. Now what do you think of that?
Sharing time: I am having trouble with my memory bank. I see folks I know and can’t for the life of me put a name to the face. This is bad when you have known the person for years. I also am having trouble with my balance, which makes going to the Yellowfront interesting. I also am rapidly losing the feeling in my fingers, which makes it an adventure to touch-type. I do best when I get going and my fingers automatically type correctly and quickly. But it is getting harder and harder to type when I can’t feel the keys.
I just got a copy of The Erskine Connector, my high school paper, and it put me in one of those “What the hell have I done with my life?” moods. I have a clock with a presentation plaque that says: “thank you for your dedication to children.” It is from Community Care Systems of Maine, for whom I operated my home as a therapeutic alternative to residential treatment. It says May 1996.
To show you how the Lord works: for this position I attended hours and hours of highly specialized training learning about the common ailments of highly abused children. One of the first things to learn: most of the damage never shows itself, it is suffered quietly and daily by those who were abused by the ones who were supposed to love and protect them. I learned about oppositional defiance disorder, about reactive attachment disorders, abysmal self-esteem, and on and on. That was 20 years ago. I went on to work with Southern Maine Alternative to Residential Treatment, or SMART.
I have always attracted and been attracted to the defiant kids and the love-starved. They find me like bees to honey. I have a long list, private of course, of young men and boys who have lived with me providing they continued school. Though single, with no kids of my own, you have no idea how many hours I have spent in school meetings, court hearings, social worker conferences, and on and on. I have done my share of parenting.
I put up on Facebook today that it has been 20 years since I changed agencies. I immediately got back a comment from a fellow foster parent, Elaine Webb, who said: “We SMART parents were quite a crew, weren’t we? It was a time of my life that I felt my work really mattered for something. We helped a lot of kids and those we couldn’t, we helped them find a way. It’s true, Doug, you can’t go back, only onward and upward! I am happy for you, Doug.”
See? The Lord speaks through our friends. Need to learn that, folks!
(Doug Wright lives over Head Tide Hill in Whitefield. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.)