Sometimes the “Impossible” Really is the Truth
Madeleine L’Engle (of A Wrinkle in Time fame) wrote in the book A Circle of Quiet about a woman who lived in Kenya for many years and often heard lions roar in the morning. On a visit to New York City, she was surprised to be awakened frequently by a lion’s roar. An alarmed friend thought she was going crazy and arranged for a psychiatric evaluation. Another friend heard the story and laughed. “Of course you hear a lion roaring. You are within a block of the Central Park Zoo.”
Why am I telling you this story? Because when it comes to CPS workers, police and medical personnel, I find that they are apt to jump to the conclusion that what the parent or caregiver says happened really didn’t. Like hearing a lion roar in New York City, it’s just “not possible.” Therefore, they look for and find an alternate explanation. One that more often than not puts the parent or caregiver under suspicion and in a very bad light. Yet, many times, the “impossible” explanation turns out to be the real truth.
I don’t know how many times I have seen doctors testify with certainty to their opinions, treating them as if they were fact. I also remember a number of times that those doctors turned out to be absolutely wrong. The medical science regarding child abuse keeps changing and evolving for exactly that reason. Doctors who carry the designation of “child abuse experts” tend to be zealots. Understandably then, they become an indispensable part of the process for the zealous prosecution of parents. The medical community is far more interested in competing ideas and scientific inquiry in fields that don’t involve allegations of child abuse.
In the hospital setting, parent explanations of injuries are typically rejected out of hand when they don’t support a doctor’s pre-formed belief regarding potentially abusive injuries. Police and CPS workers rarely challenge a doctor’s opinions. Instead, they treat the parent as if they are lying when the description of events does not meet the doctor’s expectations. Yet, what if those expectations are wrong?
Many Michigan families cannot afford an extensive and expensive legal battle. And yet saying the wrong thing to a close-minded doctor can land them in court where they face the loss of parental rights. Here is a simple truth that we all should be able to agree on: No parent should have to face the loss of their parental rights due to medical injuries without a competent attorney fighting for them.