Judge Taking a Chance on Birth Dad Changed His Life

A birth dad was depicted giving up his child and then viewers watched as a judge gave him a second chance. Here is a view on how support can change someone’s future:

I love this scene of a judge giving a parent a second chance. I was immediately reminded of watching it play out in real life as parents stood quietly in a courtroom, their sins laid bare for all to inspect, and the decision of whether or not to reunite with their children hanging in the balance. A charge similar to that of the TV birth father was given in a strange mix of compassion and no-nonsense as the judge gave her ruling.

That is where real-life begins to deviate from the made-for-TV story. As important as a good judge may be, as inspirational or convicting as their brief courtroom dialogue may prove, their’s is not usually the face that comes to mind when a parent is at a crossroads- it’s the face of someone in their lives that has loved and invested in them.

I remember sitting with Karlie in a McDonalds getting ready for our first one on one session. Karlie’s children had been removed for neglect as they had continually shown up to school covered in bug bites and she didn’t have stable housing for her children.

She was unemployed and survived by moving her children in with friends. As we began talking through her goals for the next six months, I was met with a blank stare. She wasn’t paying attention to me. She started texting.

As she excused herself to go to the bathroom, an older woman sat down with me and explained that she had driven Karlie to the appointment. She was Karlie’s neighbor growing up and was like a grandmother to the children. As she returned, Karlie introduced me to her neighbor and explained that she was the only family she had.

I asked Karlie if she would let her neighbor in on what we were talking about and she seemed happy to do so. As we began laying out her plans to properly care for her children, it was obvious that my prodding wouldn’t carry her through… her neighbor’s would. For the next 32 weeks we met regularly and she made significant changes. She pursued writing, she rented an apartment near her old neighborhood, and even applied for a scholarship.  She did it because her neighbor was there every step of the way…her champion.

These are the faces that provoke change… champions not with a single admonishment, but with a consistent presence. Case workers, sponsors, foster parents, counselors, neighbors, employers, landlords, family, and friends… these are the ones who push parents to believe in themselves when they have come so close to giving up.

These champions hold the power to step into the story of the most disappointed man or woman and change it to make them into one of the luckiest…because someone stepped into their story and believed in something greater than the man or woman standing in front of them.

Joe Mason hosts a podcast for champions devoted to supporting birth parents in the foster care system.


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