An Essay In Progress - Disenfranchised

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Upon dismissal from Vaccine "court," I am working to process and shape the experience so I can share the inner workings of this hellish kangaroo court.

Submitted: March 08, 2017

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Submitted: March 08, 2017

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Dear Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Special Master,

As you sit in your office at the console of your speakerphone, protected by the anonymity of electronic communication, behind a cordon of security devices and officers, inside the cozy four walls funded by Public tax dollars, deriding the vaccine injured and the few (very few) specialists willing to risk their very livelihood to stand beside the vaccine injured, against the Federal Government, do you ever take a moment to ponder why the cases you have in your very long queue exist? Do you consider where the funds from which you derive your living arise? Have you, even once, challenged yourself to step beyond the echo chamber of your peers, outside the box of industry sponsored spam, and into the shoes of the vaccine injured?

I ask these questions because, 78% of the time, your role completes the disenfranchisement of vaccine-injured infants and children.

As you protect the $3.5+ Billion stockpile in the Vaccine Injury Compensation fund (exclusive of the myriad transfers of fund assets), which arose as a result of excise charged on each and every vaccine administered in the USA, expressly to compensate those injured or killed by vaccines, do you consider the human impact of your dismissals?

In all, 2,845,946,873 vaccine shots (89,501,227 of these were oral doses) have been administered in a given 10 year window (1/1/2006 – 12/31/2015); in the last, approximately, 18 years, there have been a total of 17,935 petitions filed claiming vaccine injury or death; this representing a rate of injury of 0.00063%. The reality is that this fund was established, explicitly, because vaccines cannot be made safe for every patient; this is because each patient has unique genetics (HLA, methylation capacity, metabolism, & other predisposition to environmental harm), core health status, and pre-existing toxic load – there is no one-size-fits-all medicine dosage for both a four pound newborn and a 300 pound man. The intent of this program was to, both, protect the vaccine manufacturers from liability for the expected deaths and disabilities induced by their known unsafe vaccines and to assure the Public continued to consume the ever growing schedule of vaccines to “protect” Public health.

By outright dismissing cases (the majority, those of infant and young children); because the medical record is insufficient to “prove” the injury, you are leaving these children without the desperately needed support to live their lives in a safe environment that meets their most essential needs for safety, education, and meaningful medical treatment, beggaring their families, and assuring an institutional end to lives already decimated by brain, metabolic, and GI injury; childhoods destroyed, potential for independence eliminated. You are further disabling the disabled, adding insult to their vaccine injury.

Families do not choose to enter into the morass of Vaccine “court” because they want to win the Lotto and live the high life, they arrive at Vaccine “court” exhausted, broke, beaten down by the ignorance of mainstream medicine and the meanness of Public education, having emptied their retirement savings accounts, savings accounts, checking accounts, and having run-up every credit line they can obtain; they come because they tried everything within their power to fix the harm done to their child, but could not ameliorate the damage done. Families supported community immunity, sacrificing their own flesh and blood upon Pharma’s altar, for the good of the herd, and paid the ultimate price – they lost their child’s potential or even their child’s life.

 

These families were powerless from the day of vaccination because the Law says they are not entitled to fully informed consent; they had no idea vaccines are anything but safe and effective (though the Government, the manufacturers, and their doctors know vaccines can and do cause death, brain damage, and other organ and metabolic injuries). It gets no better, when their child commences a downward spiral, and the families seek help at the hospital or the pediatrician’s office; there is no rubric available to parents, let alone doctors, describing what a vaccine injury looks like in a newborn/infant/toddler, nor one offering a plan of care or diagnosis – is there a definitive way to diagnose Guillain Barre in a 3 month old baby? Encephalomyelitis? SSPE? Parents arrive at the emergency room with the VIS in-hand, and anxiously point to the line that states, if your child does this, go to the hospital – these panicked parents are told every symptom listed on the Vaccine Information Statement is “normal,” they should not worry, so they don’t worry. They go home with suppositional diagnosis’, usually involving prescriptions for more Tylenol/Ibuprofen and Amoxil – the lucky ones’ children do not suddenly die in the next week.

For those whose child survives, at home, they find themselves dealing with a child who is no longer sleeping, eating, or interacting, who is developing severe constipation or diarrhea, eczema/cradle cap, asthma, ear infection, hypotonia, who spends 85% of the day and night shrieking but no longer wants to be held. This, in turn, leads to “well child” visits where the child is no longer well; families list their concerns to harried high school-aged medical assistants, who are busy measuring head circumference (failing to note the child has gone from the 50% to the 95% in two months), length, weight, and preparing and administering up to six shots, but less conscientious in noting concerns when there is no item to check-off on their pre-printed forms. The pediatrician breezes in for the requisite three minutes of face time, during which there is a cursory look at baby, quick checklist review, possibly a nicety, and approximately 20 seconds allotted to the parent’s voice, which is mostly ignored as the doctor completes the visit paperwork and signs-off the forms; the parent believes the physician has understood what they told the assistant and repeated in short form to him/her, and assume their child is fine because the pediatrician is apparently not concerned. Not only is the pediatrician unconcerned, s/he does not see fit to make notes beyond the minimum in the medical record; this will help seal the family’s fate when they reach Vaccine “court.”

Eventually, even the most checked-out parent begins to realize there is something really wrong. Generally, it starts with an inkling as developmental comparisons begin - why can’t my five month old sit up without pillows, when her three month old playmate is able to do this? And then the parents realize their elaborate routines to avoid violent, protracted screaming episodes are not close to normal (neither is their child’s bowel habit). Next they realize their child’s loss of eye contact is not a “phase,” nor are not wanting to be touched/held, not sleeping, and more. Suggestions pour in from friends and the family tries every one; by now, baby is approaching a year of age, and the decline is blatantly evident to all; the family reaches out to Early Intervention themselves, because the pediatrician tells them everything is “normal,” but the family can now see things are very wrong.

There is a three month waitlist to have an evaluation, so the family waits, and gets more vaccines, and the child’s downward spiral accelerates. By now, the parents are essentially suffering PTSD, they haven’t slept more than 2 hours in a row since the previous year; their baby is covered in oozing rash, streaming foul smelling, putrid, mucus and blood filled, diarrhea up to ten times daily, screaming incessantly, and essentially non-verbal. They do their best to get through each day and try to soothe and calm their baby who mostly doesn’t acknowledge their existence; they do not go out in public because people are rude and mean toward their baby – it is easier, all around, to just keep baby home. The family no longer has recreation or social opportunities because their child is so disruptive.

Eventually the evaluation date arrives, the family learns they are one check-box shy of qualifying for therapeutic services; not to worry, in three months, the bar is higher, it is likely she will qualify then. The family chooses to pay out of pocket, because they hope having words might reduce their baby’s behaviors. Therapy begins, and they have another visit to the pediatrician, and get more shots. At the next evaluation, the evaluation team notes baby has lost the ability to use the few words she had at the last evaluation, despite weekly speech therapy sessions, now baby is toe walking and drooling uncontrollably.- great news, baby qualifies for all Early Intervention services, now.

Despite Speech, Occupational, Physical, and eventually, Behavioral therapies multiple days each week, the baby is not able to overcome the accumulated insults of her vaccines. By the time she is 2, she is diagnosed with “Severe Autism.” This will be another brick in the wall barring her from compensation in Vaccine “court.” “Autism” is not a disease, one cannot get a blood or urine test to obtain a diagnosis; “Autism” is a diagnosis of convenience, it means an individual has manifested a number of non-mainstream behaviors. “Autism” does not question the physiological, metabolic, or biochemical root cause of the behaviors. In the case of many children, “Autism” is simply the behavioral manifestation of vaccine-induced permanent brain damage, GI mucosal injury, organ injury, and/or autoimmunity. “Autism” is the golden ticket to therapeutic and educational services, but the bar across the threshold of recovery in Vaccine “court.”

Some families look back through their baby’s troubled infancy and recognize a pattern of decline, they put together the picture of pediatrician visits, vaccines, and their diary of daily life, and realize their child seems to suffer mightily after each round of vaccines, then decline in many domains; they learn there is a place to get help, known as Vaccine “court.” Some of these families realize their road to recovery is going to be much longer and more expensive than they can afford, so they seek an attorney and begin their Vaccine “court” odyssey.

THIS family spent fifteen years waiting for a chance to share their vaccine-injury with the “court.”. They went through a number of attorneys because the “court” told the attorneys they would not be paid if they continued to represent the family, at one point the family could not find representation and was forced to proceed pro se. The family was forced to pursue expert after expert, as the “court,” not only, disagreed with esteemed members of the medical community who are successfully improving outcomes of their vaccine-injured patients, but actually denigrated, bullied, harassed, and sometimes even assisted in destroying the careers of these doctors, who dared to stand up for the vaccine-injured children in vaccine-injury cases. This family spent thousands of hours just trying to recruit and retain experts and attorneys, while also having to arrange and attend daily therapies, special education, prepare special diets, maintain a pharmacy of myriad treatments, attend specialists’ appointments, work, and raise their three children. Their baby has gone from toddlerhood to adult, waiting for justice.

For most families, like this one, there is and will be no justice; not because their child did not suffer vaccine injury, because their child was their main concern. This family did not demand to see what was being written by the doctors(pediatrician/hospital), into the medical record; rather, they pleaded for help for their injured child and got the least the medical-pharmaceutical complex could offer – antibiotics and fever reducers; no brain scan, no EEG, no CSF draw, no expanded blood panel to look for autoimmunity. This family was unaware of the first rule of Vaccine “court –“If it’s not in the medical record, it never happened. Frankly, why would the family have been aware or concerned with this? What new parent is cognizant enough to pursue legal documentation at the moment their child is in extreme distress?

Because the family is not preparing to go to battle in court when they follow-up with the pediatrician as directed by the hospital, they do not write, “I disagree with the hospital’s diagnosis” on their pediatrician’s sign-in. The family does, however, explain to the pediatrician, they brought the VIS to the emergency room, and the doctor would not listen (actually crumpled it into a ball and threw it away). They explain the baby is even worse since starting the Amoxil, and that the baby had not been touching her ears at all before, during, or after the hospital visit. They ask to stop the Amoxil. The pediatrician agrees there seems to be no sign of ear infection, but insists the family should complete the very long course of antibiotics. Later, the family will learn that the hospital and the pediatrician even reference different ears in their notes. Again, the family doesn’t understand there is a need to assure everything they state is noted by the doctor – though the family, mistakenly, assumes the doctor is noting their concerns. Too late, the family will learn that every visit to this pediatrician, from this point on is like a game of intrigue or misdirection, the message the family relays is never the message found in the pediatrician’s record.


Eventually, this child accumulated many diagnoses, including: frontal and temporal partial complex epilepsy, hippocampal sclerosis, possible electrographic seizures, bi-frontal focal brain lesions, carnitine deficiency, biotin deficiency, autoimmunity to her myelin, brain endothelial cells, and folate receptors, hypotonia, encephalopathy, cerebellar ataxia, global developmental delay, GI dysfunction, mental retardation, MTHFR methylation limitations, at-risk HLA phenotype, allergies to dairy, egg, tween (and more), mitochondrial insufficiency secondary to metabolic deficits, double vision, motor planning dysfunction, apraxia; just to name some. While she accumulated diagnoses, years were passing by. She underwent over 18,000 hours of 1:1 ABA therapy using PBS, VB, and DTT, on top of full time school and therapies; this treatment and intensity continues still, as she ages into adulthood – it is the only way she is able to learn new facts.

Beyond the day-to-day struggle with disability and all the additional tasks, responsibilities, and worries attendant to having a child with a severe disability, the human cost mounts. The toll of waiting and hoping, the idea that, in the end, maybe, your child will at least be safe and provided for when you are no longer physically able to provide care, the day-after-day-after-week-after-week-after-month-after-month-after-year-after-year stress is nearly unbearable (especially realizing that with each passing timespan more families are joining your painful struggle). Our child lost her health, her childhood, her ability to think properly, and her independent future to her vaccines, starting when she was just 14 weeks old; no amount of money can fix the harm done, nor compensate her for these insults and injuries. Her siblings lost so many opportunities to develop because the money is spent on their sister, they lost getting to have normal consortium, they lost having parents available for all of the little things and most of the big ones, they will lose the freedom to go out into the world unencumbered, they will not have financial support as they go off to college, and will have to shoulder the burden of their sister’s care as she ages. Her parents have lost their retirements, their health, their sleep, their sanity, their peace in knowing their children are well and truly equipped to make their way in the world, mostly they lost the opportunity to know the person their daughter was meant to be. The entire family has paid the price for Pharma’s freedom from liability for the harm their products are known to inflict; every day, for the last 16 years, this family has suffered, meanwhile, Pharma has made ever more profit from their unsafe ineffective products, freed from even having to consider the harm they cause or contemplate making their products safer for their guaranteed market of infants and children.

A Special Master is well aware that human cost is, ultimately, not a factor in Vaccine “court.” In the loss of life, settlement is capped at $250,000.00 and there are limited and strict guidelines for settlement of injuries that do not end in death; primarily, the bulk of any settlement (should a petitioner be lucky enough to win their case) is placed into an annuity, and in order to assign a value for the annuity, a family lucky enough to “win” their case must fight tooth and nail for each and every line item in their child’s Care Plan. Your Government does not want you using Huggies when Equate diapers are available. Who needs a linen service for an incontinent child, when he can simply sleep on rubber sheets (they are much less expensive, don’t you know?). You should be able to change your adult child’s poopy diaper with only two wipes; four wipes is an unheard of extravagance! And, your child can make due with a cheaper G-tube feed, too. Frankly, even such miserable sniping would be welcome for most families who were dismissed or even entirely denied their opportunity for a hearing in Vaccine “court.” This is, sadly, the spirit and doctrine of Vaccine “court.”

Enough wondering if a Special Master has any concept of our reality, here it is…Inexorably, time marched on for our family, in Vaccine “court.” Until today. Fifteen years after filing our claim with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, we unexpectedly had our final day in vaccine “court.” The conference was scheduled electronically – there was no Order, there was no invitation for the family to attend, there was no indicator the meeting was anything other than a status conference to plan the next steps in this very long case. The attorneys were told to call-in, in a strange twist of fate, I called the Clerk and she advised I was permitted to listen-in to the conference, though she advised I was not allowed to be told what the subject of the conference would be (unless my attorney provided this information – since he was not provided this, either, he could not tell me). So without much concern, I was dialed-in to the conference to listen and learn.

There was no courtroom, there was no opportunity to state our case. There was only a Special Master who dominated a phone call while safely ensconced in her office, behind guarded doors, behind her speakerphone, who unceremoniously dismissed our case with much prejudice, declaring she found her own expert’s (inaccurate, misleading, and blatantly erroneous) report eminently credible and persuasive, and so, was dismissing our expert’s report in its entirety because, in some other cases, other Special Masters found his testimony inadequate. We should understand, the Vaccine “court” has “adjudicated” many, many, many Autism claims (as in, DISMISSED ~4,800 and compensated ~9), so wasting resources to take this case to a hearing would be an unreasonable waste of the “court’s” time and money. Further, we should understand – the attorneys will not be paid, in the event they are willing to proceed. You see, both experts have appeared in other cases, for other families, with other genetic, metabolic, physiologic predispositions and different test results, brain scans, and EEGs, before, so there is no need for them to appear in our case – the Special Master explained, their live appearance would not be useful. Apparently, the child who was injured and her family, and those who witnessed the child’s abrupt and shocking decline first-hand, when she was 14 weeks old, are superfluous – the “court” has already made its decision regarding our case.

In this case, like in the other 4,800+ dismissed cases, the child simply has “Autism,” she was perfectly fine until after she was between 12 and 18 months of age, then she followed a predictable developmental trajectory. Families of vaccine-injured infants and babies live in the Twilight Zone, where everyday life is hell, but the medical record is sparkles and rainbows, until the day the parents come to the pediatrician with a diagnosis from a specialist; then, magically, the child turns Autistic in that moment. Never mind that there is no such disease as Autism – just drink the Kool-Aid and go home.

The irony of this dismissal, was that this family wanted to request a Factual Hearing (and also an Evidentiary Hearing) to allow introduction of first-hand witnesses to and pictures of the child’s decline, which commenced when she was 14 weeks old. The family wanted these hearings, because the “court’s” expert did not present the facts of this child’s history, rather cherry picked pieces and parts, assigning their order and date of appearance, to best support his suppositions. However, because the Special Master announced she was holding a Rule 5 Conference, asked if anyone objected (as if anyone could), and launched into her logic, essentially ending with, You have “failed to establish a basis for entitlement – to pursue this any further lacks a reasonable basis…Using resources to take this case to hearing would not be reasonable…” She declared she would allow 30 days for this family’s attorney to close-out the case. She hung the weight of her authority on the poor quality report provided to her by her own expert, and declared she would be issuing an Order to dismiss the case, what could be done?

Well, according to the “Guidelines for Practice Under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program,” she has taken what was supposed to be an opportunity for rebuttal and instead used it as an opportunity to further disenfranchise this family. Below is what was supposed to happen at a Rule 5 conference:

VI. “RULE 5 CONFERENCE”: INFORMAL REVIEW BY THE SPECIAL MASTER Under the Program, claim resolution will be more expeditious and less formal than under traditional litigation. To this end, Vaccine Rule 5 sets forth a procedure that should speed and simplify the decision-making process. Under the Rule, the special master, after reviewing the petition and respondent’s report, conducts an informal conference (either in person or by telephone) at which the special master (1) gives each party an opportunity to address the other’s position, (2) states a tentative view as to the merits of the case, and (3) establishes with the parties what issues remain to be addressed and the most efficient means for deciding those issues.

The success of the “Rule 5 conference” depends upon the completeness of the petition and respondent’s report. For that reason, it is essential that each party develop fully its case before filing the petition or report, and set forth fully and completely the substance of its case therein. Information cannot be withheld or acquired later to be supplied at subsequent stages of the proceedings. The benefits from this early, full discussion of the case’s substance include:

• early notice of any deficiencies in the case in time to rectify such deficiencies;
• a third party’s view of the merits of the case, possibly fostering settlement;
• if settlement is not possible, an opportunity to narrow the issues through stipulation;
• if further proceedings are necessary, a discussion of the nature and timing of such proceedings; and
• where appropriate, a final decision.

11 Please note, however, that any tentative conclusions noted by the special master at the Rule 5 conference are just that – tentative, as well as “off the record.” The special master’s comments will not have any official status and cannot be “relied upon” in any formal sense. Additional evidence, argument, or further consideration by the special master may change the special master’s view of the case

Given this information, it seems this fight is not quite over, as I am unwilling to concede simply because our Special Master wants to “save time –“ we waited 15 years, and NOW she wants to “save time and resources?! If I must move forward pro se, I must. I did not come all of this distance, only to give up without a fight. It is my fervent hope that each and every Special master will step back from their ivory tower, and join families like mine where we live, walk a few miles in our shoes, and come to understand how they are not only failing to help the (very tiny) percentage people who suffer severe adverse events from vaccination, and truly need financial support; but that, in using an impossibly high standard, demanding families have contemporaneous medical documentation, they are barring cases that, with a little closer inspection could handily be documented through parental narrative and first-hand witness affidavit or deposition. Finally, their insistence on leaving vaccine-injured families with no compensation is going to drive those families into the Public domain with their stories; although some readers might scoff and run to their next vaccine appointment, many families will choose the welfare of their children over community immunity or the welfare of the herd; especially in a climate where there is known risk, and no meaningful mitigation of that risk being offered.

 

We have spent well over $2M in treatment and therapy for our child in the last 16 years. She will have a normal life expectancy, and should have the right to achieve as much independence as her injured brain and body will allow. She gave up her health and her future to protect the herd; when is the herd going to thank her for her sacrifice and provide for her needs, as the law establishing the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program intended? Especially, given the recent confession of Senior CDC scientist William Thompson, that the CDC produced fraudulent science to “prove” vaccines don’t’ cause Autism. And, given the CDC hired a “researcher” from Denmark, Poul Thorsen, to produce a number of studies to support the CDC’s fraudulent work, which have since been shown to be fraudulent, AND that this man has been found guilty of fraud and embezzlement with regard to his putative research, AND is a wanted fugitive to the Office of the Inspector General. And given, even more CDC Scientists have come forward as, Scientists Preserving Integrity, Diligence and Ethics in Research (CDC SPIDER), declaring they are concerned the CDC has been corrupted by Industry influence. And recognizing that as far back as 1999, the CDC was working to obfuscate and cover-up the link between thimerosal and neurological vaccine injuries, see Simpsonwood transcripts, and the original, undiluted, work of Dr. Thomas Verstraeten indicating there was significantly increased risk of Autism and other neurologic sequelae in children who received thimerosal containing vaccines. And given there is zero long term safety or  efficacy research of the vaccine schedule as it is actually administered to American children, nor is there a single study evaluating the life/death, and long-term overall health outcomes of fully vaccinated versus entirely unvaccinated individuals born between 1990 and 2010, let alone a study demonstrating the fully vaccinated fare better. Further, understanding the Government (Secretary) has failed its mandate to “(1) promote the development of childhood vaccines that result in fewer and less serious adverse reactions than those vaccines on the market on December 22, 1987, and promote the refinement of such vaccines,” and has further failed to “(2) make or assure improvements in, and otherwise use the authorities of the Secretary with respect to, the licensing, manufacturing, processing, testing, labeling, warning, use instructions, distribution, storage, administration, field surveillance, adverse reaction reporting, and recall of reactogenic lots or batches, of vaccines, and research on vaccines, in order to reduce the risks of adverse reactions to vaccines.” (per 42 U.S.C., “§300aa–27. Mandate for safer childhood vaccines”) – just for the vaccines administered to my child in February of 2000 were the same vaccines as were available on December 22, 1987, all three of the lot batches resulted in multiple reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (while I recognize this is not the most reliable system, because only between 1% and 10% of adverse events are reported (additionally, because manufacturers refuse to disclose lot sizes, it is impossible to know how many doses were in a given lot, and since there is no way to know what was inside of any of the vials administered to my child – just recently we learned crushed glass was in some vaccines long since administered), numerous reports have strikingly similar symptoms to what my daughter suffered:

467012: 10 reports
1478J: 4 reports
P0998/PO998: 24 reports

Additionally, the manufacturer’s Physician’s Prescribing Information for the shots my daughter received state the adverse events I reported as possible adverse events for the products she received:
 

Acel-Imune: from the Diptheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Adsorbed, Acel-Imune PI, Infant Indication, Multi-Dose 1800-31, Dated 12/27/1996:

“UP and ACIP criteria as absolute contraindications or precautions to firther pertussis

immunization and occurring within 72 hours following the imtnunizations were: persktent or

unusual cry (1.14 for DTaP, 4.75 for DTP): fever 240.5”C ( 0.06 for DTaP, 0.18 for DTP),

seizures, all of which were febrile (0.06 for DTaP, 0.1 S for DTP) and hypotonichyporesponsive

episode (0 for DTaP and 0.06 for DTP). When the total clinical trial

experience with ACEL-IMMUNE is considered (25,899 immunizations), rates per 1000 doses

of ACEL-IMJNE were: persistent or unusual cry (1.27), fever 240.5% (O-OS), seizure

(O.M), possible sekure (O.O4), and hypotonic-hyporesponsive episode (0 04).”
 

Comvax: from the COMVAX® [HAEMOPHILUS b CONJUGATE (MENINGOCOCCAL PROTEIN CONJUGATE) and HEPATITIS B (RECOMBINANT) VACCINE] listing of Adverse Reactions:

Given the manufacturers’ own printed recognition of the dangers presented by their products, and my child’s symptoms, with the additional weight of our expert witnesses’ reports, the fact that the science the “court” relies upon is disclosed, by the researcher, to be fraudulent, the fact there is no way for a petitioner to know exactly what was injected (vaccines tested for purity this year were found to be contaminated with human or animal red blood cells, animal virus DNA, glyphosate, aggregates of organic debris, and metals including lead, tungsten, gold, zinc, stainless steel and chromium – this is in addition to the known neurotoxins, poisons, carcinogens, teratogens, mutagens, virus’, and bacteria!), it is extraordinarily problematic – how can you prove the mechanism of your injury when you have no idea exactly what was injected past all of your natural defenses? Further, why, given the unavoidably unsafe nature of vaccines, is this even a requirement in Vaccine “court?”

 

This family played by the rules, we were kicked out, put into a class, our class leader was quietly compensated and the rest of the similar cases were summarily dismissed, we moved out of the Omnibus, we lost attorneys and struggled to find new ones, we submitted Expert reports, only to be told the “court” would not accept them. For 15 years, this family has been standing on the precipice with one foot dangling in empty space, a sick feeling roiling our guts, a terror creeping across the landscape of our hearts, waiting, with a tiny balloon of hope floating, just there. Waiting. Waiting to be heard. We still stand in this pose, but now we are watching the tiny sliver of hope floating away toward the far horizon, across the gorge, tripping its way up and out across the outcroppings of red tape and scraping upward through convoluted administration, feeling stunned, dizzy and disoriented, wondering whether we might simply tumble in, never to be safe again,

 


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