Language Barrier at Child Protective Services

For the first year, Baby Raymond lived happily with his family. Then the agency took him away and even though his Chinese-American family fought to get him back, they couldn't find the right words

Lawyers for the Youngs and CPS objected after nearly every answer she gave, because she could not limit herself to "yes" or "no." She did not understand that, once her lawyer asked her questions, she would have the opportunity to elaborate. Maybe she never watched enough courtroom dramas. She seemed to think that every answer might be her last. At one point, the judge had to explain this to her. He patiently explained the rules to her, because, he said, he really didn't want to have to hold her in contempt.

By the time your mother's case went to trial, it really ceased to be about the truth and about what was best for Raymond Liu. It was purely adversarial. It was about using your family's lack of English and lack of legal sophistication against them. And it worked. Sure, it was also about pointing the finger at CPS. And you can make up your own mind about that.

But one thing you need to know, that in the conversations I've had with your Aunt Connie, she was crumbling. She worries so much about your mother, who she feels she has to protect, because no one else will. She was very concerned that I wanted to meet your mother, because she was afraid Sally would snap at me like she did CPS caseworkers, and that I would think she's a terrible woman and write nasty things about her. She feels she has to be strong for your grandmother and for your Aunt Ling, who each depend on her for translation. She told me she became very sick and depressed during and after the trial. She could hardly eat. She blames herself for deferring to your grandmother and not trying to adopt you right away. I wonder if you'll blame her, too, or if you'll have an awareness of that part of Chinese culture that eludes me and seems to have eluded those who were supposedly looking after your best interest.

Raymond was constantly surrounded by family. Here with his cousin, Diana Diep.
Raymond was constantly surrounded by family. Here with his cousin, Diana Diep.
...with Grandmother Situ.
...with Grandmother Situ.

This is an extremely long-winded way of saying you have to believe this: Your Aunt Connie loves you. She fought hard for you. She and your Aunt Ling were there for the first year of your life. They had such respect for your grandmother, who they always wanted you to be with, so she could care for you like she cared for them. And you have to believe this: You were happy.

craig.malisow@houstonpress.com

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