If you're an investment bank or an insurance company that deals in many millions and billions of dollars, you are too big to fail. Screw up, and the government will toss you a couple of billion more until you're back on your feet and back to business as usual.
But if you're an impoverished 37 year old single mother of fifteen--twelve of them minor children--who are by all accounts well adjusted kids, it's a different story.
The story of Angel Adams has been raging through the Tampa Tribune and right wing blogs for about a week. The commentary on this woman is often pure venom. She's currently unemployed. She has a "bad attitude." She has fifteen kids, fathered by three different men. In the latest installment of Ms. Adams' saga, what is probably every mother's worst nightmare has become her reality. Her kids have been taken from her-- by the state, because she refused to reveal in court whether or not she is pregnant and refused to name the father of her alleged unborn child. This, despite all evidence that she has been a good mother, a loving mother, and her kids love her. And this, despite all evidence that children generally are better off with their biological parents and siblings. And this, despite all the recent horror stories of kids victimized in and/or by the foster care system.
Angel Adams once worked in a linen factory, and says that now her kids are her "work." There's no disputing that raising kids is work. It is the most important work there is. Pile on that with the need to persist at a full time job-- that might not pay a living wage, the need to keep a roof overhead, food on the table, a car to get to work, insurance for that car, and maybe,--just to be able to afford all this--a second job, insufficient sleep..and there's not a lot of time left, or energy for the really important stuff. Any worn out single working parent knows exactly what I'm talking about. It's like running on a hamster wheel, like swimming furiously in a rip tide in a struggle to reach land.
It's not at all surprising, the outpouring of anger at Angel Adams, the Lady Madonna with twelve dependent kids, no job, and no husband. Maybe Angel Adams just has a different perspective. Maybe she knows--without needing to experience it-- that she can't provide for her kids by working for $7, 8, or even $9 an hour. Which, realistically is probably the best pay she will find in this economy. Who will watch the kids while she's at work? The oldest child still living with her is 11 years old. She said she's been "railroaded" by the system, apparently referring to the fact her kids were taken from her because of the neglect allegations, and were later returned. It's not clear from the media coverage what prompted the "neglect" allegations, which were allegations. Could the neglected needs of the family have been remedied by a bailout for the impoverished mother? Cash buys food, shelter and clothing. If Angel Adams had money, would she have even been scrutinized by the system? We are all familiar with news accounts of a husband and wife in California who kept a kidnapped girl imprisoned in their back yard for years. The girl was repeatedly raped and gave birth to her kidnapper/rapist's children. No one noticed, and no one entered the private property because the kidnapper/rapist had enough money to buy privacy. Angel Adams has no such right to privacy. If you're poor and live in rented rooms, the state seizes your kids. To get any help, the poor forfeit their privacy rights. If you have resources and own land and a house, you can steal other people's kids, and get away with it for a long time.
What is it that really enrages people about Angel Adams? Is it because she gave birth without a marriage license, and refuses to wear a scarlet letter A? Is it that she refuses to name the alleged father of her alleged unborn baby, choosing not to pull him into the morass of trouble that surrounds her? Is it "contempt" that keeps her silent, or is it protectiveness? Is it possible she fears the state will seize her infant as soon as it is born? The haters insist she shouldn't reproduce and some advocate forced sterilization. They criticize her for not using birth control. How do they know she didn't--were they in her bedroom? No form of birth control is 100% effective. Angel Adams says it's nobody's business; it's her body. Maybe what really pisses the haters off is that Angel Adams insists she has sovereignty over her own body. An uppity woman, she is. In another country, she might be stoned. Here, she's stoned with words.
In all the news stories I've read about Ms. Adams the past week, it's always the same recycled fuel dumped on the mainstream media fire, as predictable as a Jerry Springer episode. I want to know more:
How far did Angel go in school?What are her kids' names, and how are they doing in school? What are their interests, their hopes and dreams and what are/were Angel's? Who are her parents, and what are they saying about all this? Who are the kids' fathers--all of them,and what's their story. The state said they paid $6000 in back rent on Ms. Adams' behalf. I am very interested in knowing where and how she incurred $6,000 in rent debt. In Florida, tenants can be evicted in 15 days for non payment of rent. I've read about allegations of "neglect." What exactly was the basis for the neglect allegations? Why doesn't the reporter covering her story talk with Angel Adams or her children?
The right wing rants call Ms. Adams a "socialist woman," and point to her as evidence of its failure. There's no socialism here. If there was, people would not be walking in traffic selling bottled water to raise money for a loved one's bone marrow transplant. The basics would be covered, according to the family's need. No more moving around, no more evictions, no more having all your possessions thrown into the street, no more wondering how to get the children to school, and which school they'll attend. What would happen if Angel and her kids had the stability of a basic house in a safe neighborhood, and she had adequate income for food, clothing and transportation. Where would Angel and family go from there? Let's find out.
Last I heard, Bernie Madoff owned a house--one of several-- in Florida. Why not put Angel Adams and her kids in it. Bernie won't need it.
What if she had decided to abort? Would she be harassed and stalked outside the clinic by haters screaming choose life? Would her doctor be killed by one of those same "choose life" shooters?
She insists she was "wronged" by the state, and the state now "owes" her. From her perspective, as one who regards all her kids as "gifts from God," she was wronged when her children were taken from her, based on "allegations" of neglect. She didn't abuse her kids. She didn't have any money, so she asked her government for help, and her government put all kinds of conditions on her.
Maybe Angel Adams' biggest crime was just being poor and fertile.