Redemption is a big thing with me. The idea that even the worst of us has some spark of good, that even the most hopeless cases can reform themselves, is an important part of my world view.
Maybe that’s why I’m pretty soft on some of the socialists who post on this blog-especially the younger ones.
While they may be walking on the “dark side of the street” now, most are merely misdirected and will change in time.
When my wife and I adopted our two children, we got to see first hand something of the NZ fostering system. Both our son and daughter were fostered by a lesbian couple “Jo” and “Jy”, before we could adopt them. Our son for several months, our daughter, his full sister, for a few days.
We visit the couple often. They have fostered dozens of children over the years and would dearly love to adopt, but cannot, because of course, they are not legally married.
About the time the couple were caring for our daughter, they were also asked by Child Youth and Family to take in a young “heroin baby”.
The little girl “S” was in a bad way. She was addicted to opiates and had to be weaned on methadone and milk for months until she was “clean”.
“S” nearly died twice. She would stop breathing without warning and would have to be jolted back to life.
“Jo” and “Jy” went through hell looking after her. They could hardly sleep for months as they lived in fear “S” would die in the night. They had at least three other young kids in the house during this time. Every time we visited it was clear they were under stress, but “S” was clearly making progress.
“Jo” and “Jy” were told by CYF that “S” was a “permanent placement”. She had been removed from her mother’s care and would never be returned.
Mum was a heavily tattooed, $1500 per day heroin addict. She had had another child removed by the authorities in another country before coming to NZ.
When “S” was nearly two, CYF dropped a bombshell. “S” mother was fighting to get her back. They were to begin trial “access” visits.
“Jo” and “Jy” complied and “S” was returned to her mother for short visits. CYF decided that the mother was doing well and that “S” would be returned permanently.
“Jo” and “Jy” were devastated. Visiting them became like visiting a funeral parlour. They were heartbroken at losing the little girl they thought they would raise to adulthood. They were worried sick about what might happen to “S” in her mother’s care.
Never mind, they handed “S” over to CYF and said their goodbyes.
“Jo” and “Jy” fretted for months. They saw and heard nothing of “S”.
About a year later, “Jy” was browsing through a second hand clothing shop with one of her other foster girls.
She ran into “S” and her mother. Once hostile and unfriendly, mum was a different person. She was bright and chatty. She was happy to let “Jy” talk to “S”.
She was off drugs. She was “clean”. “S” was well dressed and tidy. She was talking. She looked great.
“Jy” was just so happy.
I am not naive. Who knows how long the improvement may last.
The fact remains however that this hopeless case loved her daughter enough to kick a long term heroin habit. She fought her own demons, the legal system and CYF to get her child back against all the odds.
While “Jy” and “Jo” still miss their wee girl, they are so glad that her mum has turned her life around.
“S”s mum had a reason to redeem herself. She had a little girl to live for.
Redemption like any other positive process thrives on incentive.
We all “fall” from time to time. Most temporarily, some permanently.
We can all overcome our shortcomings, but more will succeed if the incentives are there.
Redemption is ultimately a spiritual process that may occur independently of the environment.
It is obvious however that more people will make more progress in an environment where freedom and responsibility are valued.
That is one reason why I fight for those values.