There is a disturbing phenomenon happening in America: you can conceive a child, have it, take that child home, and yet have your parenthood come into question by questioning outsiders, usually healthcare professionals and end up childless, all in the name of welfare checks. While the idea of them seems plausible and preventative, the outcome is an increase in black families being targeted by a slew of armed law enforcement officers, as soon as someone has deemed your ability to be a parent as flawed or incomplete.
While all of this remains fair assessment points for healthcare professionals and while I will maintain that they should continue to monitor all aspects of health for the patient, I am horrified to know that these checks usually result in armed law enforcement officers accosting unsuspecting African-American families in their homes, and while there is no current data on the rate at which different races experience this type of interaction, it is not likely that enduring American prejudices are able to sidestep these occurrences, and as such, it is such occurrences amongst two black families that I am aware of that causes me to bring this issue to the forefront today.
In both instances, both of these families questioned the validity and the fairness of these checks, and rightfully so.
It is hard to feel cared for with armed men pointing guns and rifles at you, and the most precious things to you, your newborn babe and your spouse, and the audacity of healthcare professionals to use this as a necessary tool is beyond my scope of understanding.
In one instance, the professional was lancing concerns of welfare of the babe due to the mothers 'undue' healthcare concerns for her baby; apparently, she was worried and thought that the child was having a condition that the medical personnel disclaimed, and given that the mother continued to press the issue, she was seen as a possible Munchausen's candidate.
However, this illness was unfounded, yet she had her child taken away from her, until she could fulfill certain requirements. By the time the story aired, she had not yet reobtained custody of the child, and the terrors experienced by this new mother was palpable and unjustified, in my view.
The second instance was a similar occurrence, as the newborn and its parents were greeted by AR rifles and a cadre of menacing officers, which is an absurd phenomenon, all in the name of "I know better."
As a mental health professional, I find it extremely wholesome and necessary for my fellow professionals to take good care that their judgement is nonbiased, substantiated and the best course of action for the child--which means that preserving the family is the most important outcome to consider--which is often eerily absent in my view.
Past and current mental health practices have been to focus on the needs of the helpless child and have everyone else around be met to meet those needs in their rightful professions, and in so doing, they have almost stripped parents of their rights and power--behaving as if the child is first beholden to the state.
The hardest part about these checks is that the families are usually blindsided, which indicates to me that they are not getting a full communication from the healthcare provider, who has probably concealed their concerns from the family in the name of protecting their own outcomes.
Why this is problematic is that it creates an us versus them arena, and it pits the family against the more powerful professional, often setting them up for a loss and/or an uphill battle.
The worse part of this is that it is done right at a time when families expect to be able to enjoy their newfound comfort in each other, so the level of victimization that families feel afterwards is profound.
Indeed, if the family did not struggle with health and/or mental health conditions before this ordeal, they surely will suffer from some of them during and after, as they try to grapple with the sense of helplessness, loss, anger and resentment that they would feel.
Each of these stories recognize the dangers that the public is in, when the police become involved and it is time that healthcare professionals recognize the limits of the police force when purporting to be concerned about the welfare of a child.
Many city, state and private agencies rely on the police as a go between, but when there is proven systematic biases, it is time for a strict reconsidering of our values.
I am at a loss as to why armed officers are necessary to secure the wellness of a child that is not in immediate danger and I am unsure as to why removal from the home becomes the very next step.
Children are the pride and joy of their families, and the unfair and unjust loss of a child is too much to bear, in my opinion.
A progressive approach to wellness concerns would be to voice them right away, so that families are not blindsided by efforts to secure the welfare of the child if they end up to be necessary.
Also, social workers are the ideal personnel in my opinion, and they should be heavily relied upon rather than armed personnel.
Otherwise, we are left with a system of mercenaries, whereas the reward is the fulfilment of the power of the system that has been designed to separate black families, even from birth and these days, for no reason at all.