A Judge does not often have the opportunity to exercise his faith while doing his job, but I was blessed with the opportunity to put my faith into action within the past 18 months in a very special way in a child neglect case.
The Department of Social Services removed several children from a mother due to issues of neglect, dependency and abuse. The children's mother was alleged to have exposed her 6 children to violence in her relationship with a male partner, as well as generally being unable to provide for the children. There was violence alleged also involving her 15 year old daughter who was pregnant.
During a hearing regarding placement of the children, it was revealed that the 15 year old would be visiting a doctor in a few days to have her unborn child aborted. I inquired as to whose idea this was for the abortion to occur. Social Services had advised the child's mother of her right to decide whether her 15 year old child would have the baby. The person who would make the decision of whether the child would be born was the same woman Social Services was alleging had abused and neglected her 6 children. I was stunned.
"The State has custody now of this 15 year old, and she will not be going to the abortion doctor on the scheduled day, " I said.
I continued, "Before this decision is made, the Court shall hold a hearing to determine whether the mother of the 15 year old should have the right to make the decision. "
This hearing will take part one week from today, in order to give the parties' attorneys time to prepare for the hearing. In the meantime, the 15 year old and her mother are to go to the Union County Crisis Pregnancy Center and receive counseling on what services are available to assist new mothers with children."
They will tell you of services such as adoption if she decides to have the child, and of what items they have such as cribs, formula and clothing to assist new mothers,. They will also assist you in seeking services available through private industry and the government to help care for this infant."
One week later the parties returned and told the Court that there was no need for a hearing. "We are gonna have that baby!" cried the grandmother to be.
A few months later, the 15 year old delivered a healthy baby. The mother and child are doing well, and currently are both living in foster care.
It was a proud moment. A life had been spared, and I felt like I was right where I needed to be.
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