Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Representing Aliyah

I recently received a check from the Franklin County Auditor for my representation of Aliyah, one of the more sympathetic clients I’ve ever had. I was her guardian ad litem. I was assigned to represent her a few days after Christmas, 2007. She had been born just four days previously and the doctors at Children’s Hospital couldn’t help but notice that she’d been born with heroin in her bloodstream. Welcome to the world, kid. Hope you can handle going through heroin withdrawal.

A few months later, I met biomom and biodad (two people just out of their teens), along with both grandmothers. I also told them that they had, no doubt, gotten the “straighten up and fly right” speech from their parents a few hundred times, but they were only going to hear it from me once. I told the two biological parents that they had screwed up big time, and that under the laws of the State of Ohio, they were entitled to a second chance. I told them not to even ask me for a third chance. I told them they had to make a choice: do heroin or be parents, but they couldn’t be both. If they failed even a single drug screen, I would write a report to the magistrate recommending that he terminate their parental rights.

I guess I would classify Aliyah as one of the luckiest of the unlucky. Unlucky because she had to go through methodone withdrawal in the first days of her life, but lucky because the criminal justice system got wise to her parents so quickly. I got to visit Aliyah with her foster parents and got to bounce the kidster on my knee. I very much appreciated having a client who didn’t call me everything under the sun but a precious child of God.

Aliyah’s case turned out to be another good news/ bad news situation. Aliyah’s parents failed several drug tests, continuing to use heroin and adding cocaine to the mix. There are times when I admire the justice system of Singapore, in which drug abusers are simply lined against a wall. Fortunately for Aliyah, her paternal grandparents stepped up to the plate and are giving Aliyah an excellent home. I fervently hope that Aliyah will turn out better than either of her biological parents.

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