Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tajanay's Story


WARNING: THE FOLLOWING STORY INCLUDES INFORMATION ABOUT THE ABUSE AND DEATH OF A CHILD. IF YOU ARE IN A SITUATION WHERE READING THIS STORY MAY CAUSE YOU TO BECOME OVERWHELMINGLY UPSET, PLEASE STOP READING!

Many people have already heard the story of little Tajanay Bailey, but I'll tell it on this blog again. She deserves to have her name known and remembered by as many people as possible.
TaJanay's story begins more than three years ago, when Tajanay was born to a single teenage mother. Tajanay's mother, Charity Bailey, had had a turbulent life of her own, including running away from home, dropping out of school, and spending time in juvenile detention. Being a young parent turned out to be too overwhelming for Charity. By the time Tajanay was only a few months old, she was in the care of Indiana's department of Child Protective Services because of having been abused, already, at that early stage of her life.
Tajanay was raised mostly by foster parents, including a foster mother named Janice Springfield. Tajanay's mother eventually ragained custody of Tajanay. But Tajanay's foster mother had grown close to the child, and continued to provide occasional respite care for Tajanay.
At one point in 2006, Janice agreed to care for Tajanay for a week. When Tajanay got to her house, Janice noticed abnormal bruises and rashes on Tajanay's torso, arms, legs and neck. The little girl was also throwing up and having trouble breathing. Janice took Tajanay to the emergency room, where doctors felt that the bruises and rashes were probably caused by abuse. Again, Tajanay was put in foster care.
Charity began to have supervised visits with Tajanay, while also taking parenting classes and trying to fulfill other requirements in order to regain custody of the little girl. After a while, Charity's boyfriend, Lawrence Green, became involved in the visits and custody requirements as well.
But Lawrence's paternal efforts didn't last long. Lawrence began abusive to Charity, to the point where she told social workers she feared for her life. Charity also disclosed that the bruises that had been found on Tajanay (a year had since past) had been caused by abuse by Lawrence. Officials told Charity that, if she wanted to get Tajanay back, she'd have to find a place to live without Lawrence.
But by then, Charity was pregnant, and Lawrence was the father of that child. So even when Charity did find her own place to live, Lawrence was still very much in her life. Because Lawrence appeared to be cleaning up his act and participating in the efforts to get Charity and Tajanay reunited with each other, officials decided to move on with efforts to reunite the family, even though they'd previously forbid Charity from living with Lawrence.
Tajanay started going on unsupervised visits at the home of Charity and Lawrence. The visits would last longer and longer, eventually leading to a 30-day stay for Tajanay. If all went well during that 30 days, the court would probably allow Charity to have permanent custody of Tajanay.
On October 31, the important 30-day stay began. But it did not last 30 days.
You see, on November 27 (ironically, the same day that the family was scheduled to appear in court to help determine Tajanay's fate) three-year-old Tajanay died. She had been beaten to death for wetting her pants. Allegedy the beating went on for an entire weekend, and included Tajanay's being hung on a hook by her T-shirt, punched in the chest, whipped with a belt, and kneed in the head, by both her mother and psuedo-stepfather.
The concept of family reunification is a tender one, all over the USA. Child Protective systems have to make decisions that effect every aspect of a child's life. Should they take a risk and send a child back to the parents who originally put him in danger? Or should they terminate a parent's rights forever? Children can languish in foster care for years, while courts and social workers try to decide how to handle the situation. In Tajanay's case, the system failed. It makes me wonder, though, why do people like this even try to get their children back? There are some children in foster care whose parents truly put in effort and do everything they can to try to repair their families. But there also seem to be many, many children whose parents either mess up time and time again while their children sit in foster care limbo, or who do manage to get their children back and then go right back to their old ways of living, putting their children in danger once again. For parents who fall into that second category, the humane thing would be to just let the children go... give them the chance to find safe, loving permanent homes with relatives or adoptive parents. If parents are not willing to change their lifestyles, then they should just live those lifestyles without their children.
Tajanay's younger brother, now six months old, has been put in foster care. Hopefully, his parents will never get the chance to hurt him again.

1 comment:

Khristal said...

Is there anything that we can do as a community to push some sort of repurcussions on the system. They should never have put this child bach in the hands of her abuser.