Tuesday, August 15, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending August 15, 2023

● Remember that movie The Blind Side? (It's the supposedly true story about the rich white saviors who adopt Michael Oher a poor Black teenager and turn him into a football star.)  According to The New York Times, there are some big questions about who really got blindsided. 

The Imprint adds some important context.  From their story:

There had been growing signs of Oher’s dissatisfaction. In books and interviews in the years since “The Blind Side” was released, Oher, 37, has attempted to correct what he describes as the film’s inaccurate and stereotypical portrayal of him. His character is depicted as a low-IQ, monosyllabic Black teenager rescued from obscurity and taught football basics by a white Christian family — even though, he has argued, he had reading, writing and football skills well before entering the Tuohy home. ...

Adoptees on social media and group chats have expressed disbelief, hurt and disappointment at the news — which they say reveals a deeper dysfunction in the nation’s adoption practices. 

Transracial adoptee April Dinwoodie, a writer, podcaster and consultant, expressed solidarity with Oher in a TikTok post, noting that the film “never quite sat right” with her. 

“A lot of movies that have these narratives of Black children being saved by white people in any way, shape or form just always rubbed me the wrong way,” she said. “And what was even worse though, was how much the public ate it up, and eat it up, and just go crazy over these narratives. I think the big question now is, how are white adoptive parents feeling about this new plot twist, and Michael’s realities that are being shared in his voice?”

● Last week I highlighted a story in The Imprint about how the New York State Court System retaliated against Angela Burton for speaking out about racism in, among other places, the New York State Court System.  Now, in this post to LinkedIn, a retired New York City Family Court explains why Burton is right. 

● In a testament to the awful breadth of laws that allow people to report child abuse anonymously, in New Jersey someone accused of filing a false anonymous report to harass his ex-girlfriend actually claimed as a defense that, even if he made the call (which he denies), there is no such thing as a harassing call to the family police in New Jersey – because that state’s law gives immunity from liability to anyone who makes such a call.  (Some states require the call to be in “good faith,” New Jersey, apparently, does not.  Fortunately, a judge decided that common sense should prevail. 

But there are two other interesting aspects to this case: 

--It’s another example of how someone allegedly got caught making a false anonymous report only because he did a poor job covering his tracks. So the only real answer is to replace anonymous reporting with confidential reporting – as Texas has done, though too late to prevent a tragedy. 

--All the caller – whoever it was – had to say to trigger an investigation was that the woman smoked marijuana in front of her child – even though marijuana is legal in New Jersey.  I guess she wasn’t rich enough to proudly declare herself a “cannamom” as wealthy suburbanites do in Massachusetts. 

● We think of the horrific institutions where Native American children were tortured, and that’s not too strong a word, as part of our distant past.  But it is recent enough that some survivors are still alive.  The Washington Post tells some of their stories. 

● In the other Washington, an online news site discovers the terror and trauma of false reports of child abuse – well, sort of.  The discovery was somewhat selective.  I have a blog post about it. 

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which broke the story that is the subject of the Netflix documentary Take Care of Maya, reports on what the hospital accused of doing the child so much harm is up to now.  For those unfamiliar with the case, this trailer will bring you up to speed on some of it.

In this week’s edition of The Horror Stories Go in All Directions: 

KPIX-TV reports that the mayor of the town where Alameda County warehouses foster youth in a parking-place “shelter” is suing the county.  You’ll never guess why: 

The center is supposed to act as a sort of safe house for children but in recent months, the mayor claims it has become a hotbed for serious criminal activity including sex trafficking. ... 

Rebecca Edwards -- the co-founder of Braid Mission, an organization that supports and mentors foster youth -- says incidents like what the mayor is describing are sadly all too common. 

"You know people who are pimps and drug dealers, who are recruiting for gangs, know exactly where to find these youth who are vulnerable and who are desperate for somewhere to belong," explained Edwards.

In other words, predators go where the prey is.  Which raises the obvious question: Why are you using a place like this in the first place?  

Unfortunately, the lawsuit does not raise this question. 

● In Hawaii, Honolulu Civil Beat reports, 

The estate of a 6-year-old Waimanalo girl who died from alleged abuse in perhaps the most notorious child welfare cases in recent Hawaii history is suing her adoptive parents and the state for gross negligence. 

The civil lawsuit claims both the Department of Human Services and Catholic Charities Hawaii — a nonprofit that periodically reviews foster homes — failed to investigate and intervene in child abuse allegations that caused Isabella Kalua’s wrongful death. 

Her adoptive parents, Isaac and Lehua Kalua, have been charged with murder. They are alleged to have kept Isabella in a dog cage to keep her from seeking food at night because they didn’t feed her enough and covering her mouth with duct tape. 

● And in Massachusetts four former foster and adopted children reached a $7 million settlement in a suit they filed against the Massachusetts family police agency.  WFXT-TV reports that: 

The lawsuit, filed in Middlesex Superior Court, says the children were locked in dog crates, forced to perform sex acts, submerged in ice paths to the point of drowning and threatened with death while under the care of the [foster parents]. The plaintiffs also allege that DCF, then known as the Department of Social Services, ignored 14 reports of abuse and was “deliberately indifferent to the ongoing abuse.” 

And The Boston Globe reports, not all of the former foster children lived to see the settlement: 

The plaintiff who died, Kristine Blouin, was placed in the Blouin home when she was just 2 weeks old; for the rest of her life, memories from there tormented her, a woman who acted as her surrogate mother has said. Kristine Blouin overdosed in 2022, and left behind two children who [Attorney Erica] Brody said would benefit from the settlement amount.