I watched as a woman named Carrie had her child removed from her custody and placed in foster care. Procedurally, it happened in a relatively common way – it began with a terse call from the kid’s school …“you need to get here right away”… At the school, Carrie was confronted with a professionally courteous but firm child protection investigator …“who are you?…where is my child? The investigator gave her a brief explanation, punctuated by ominous legal terms like “imminent risk” and “potential danger”. I watched Carrie go through the stages of fear, bargaining, rage and shame that comes with the sinking realization that the government has taken YOUR child, and they are in absolute control of when you can get her back.
As an Attorney who handles a fair amount of child welfare/ dependency cases (child removal), the essentials and emotions of that scene were familiar and rang true. The factual particulars were, shall we say, a bit more exotic than usual. Carrie’s child was not removed for the usual kind of child neglect, or because she had been physically or sexually abused, or because she was forced to live in a roach infested dirty house with no electricity and tweakers for parents, or was found walking naked and unsupervised in a trailer park, Carrie’s child was removed because Carrie left her unsupervised with her seriously disabled friend, who just happens to be a former super assassin, a man who has been physically and psychologically damaged by the sarin he was exposed to whilst saving the free world from Muslim terrorists, and while he was acting as babysitter, just happened to get into blazing fire fight with the NYC SWAT team - which he might have won if Carrie had not tacked him from behind.
As you may have guessed, I didn’t watch this in person. The mother’s name is Carrie Mathison, who is the brilliant but bi-polar lead character in the Showtime television series Homeland, played by Claire Danes. She herself has saved Western Civilization several times, and it was interesting to see her laid low by a bureaucratic Child Protection Investigator. It was also interesting to see that Homeland got some of the procedures right, including a shelter hearing where a judge approved the removal and ordered Carrie to have supervised visits pending more proceedings, (presumably with a case pan including psychological evaluations and parenting classes.) It will be interesting to track the series portrayal of the dependency system. Who knows, maybe we will get to see how Carrie responds when the state gets around to terminating her parental rights
I am one of those loyal television viewers who will often stick with a series long after it has passed its prime, and occasionally I will muck around with diminishing entertainment returns even after the proverbial shark has been jumped. I’m not sure what it says about me when I admit I still will watch a show long after it begins to suck, but it would not be unfair to make this observation about my viewing habits. Homeland is a show that has arguably been on a shark-jumping trajectory since its brilliant and vaunted opening season, but I think Season six has renewed my interest. It is an added benefit that this season gives a sensitive and relatable to anyone who has daily exposure to child removal, parent’s rights.