So, little Carl's trial was yesterday afternoon. More of a formality than anything else, or it was supposed to be, so that DCFS would have full rights to turn him over to us for foster parenting.

I wasn't there, but my wife was. So this is technically all hearsay, but it still makes the mind reel.

From what we've been told, Carl was born two months premature with marijuana in his system. The two events aren't necessarily causal, from what I've read so far--although marijuana is linked to reduced growth in the baby if smoked regularly during pregnancy.

No, Carl's problems were entirely related to being born preemie at all, namely respiratory problems and a heart valve problem that required surgery and is now fixed. But he's on a portable monitor to watch his breathing and heart, and make sure neither stops working. (My wife and I got a review of infant CPR before we were allowed to take him, but we still need to be certified.) He was also having trouble with his salt/water balance, so he's been put on two prescriptions for that.

According to testimony at his trial, Carl was taken because he wasn't being cared for regarding any of these things. An investigator said he was seen at the apartment on the floor, bottle propped up in his mouth, apnea monitor being completely ignored, cockroaches running around the place. Nic found out later on in the day that his prescriptions from the hospital were never picked up last month at all.

Now, there's no good excuse for this because the mom is on welfare, and the reason she's on welfare is because she's about 24 years old herself and unmarried, plus she has two more kids. They are 1 and 6 years old; you do the math on when they were conceived. They're all by different fathers. Carl is the only one with health problems (big ones, anyways, the kind hospitals would know about), so the older kids didn't suffer from their mother's negligence the way Carl did.

Once I made the connection between welfare income, marijuana use, and criminal neglect, I was reeling. My wife said his mother was basically accepting of the situation when she had to hand Carl back over to us, but started crying when she learned the other two kids were being taken as well. (Apparently, the government reps had some disagreement about whether this was necessary, since the older kids were still physically healthy.)

But what could she have been thinking? How can someone get pregnant three times, get financial aid from the state to raise them and care for herself, and just ignore common sense? She put three kids in danger, probably for years, so she could get more dope and shut it all out.

I have no idea why she didn't try to find family or friends to help her, and I really don't care. One unwanted baby to a teenage mom is a tragedy; three is more like stupidity. ("Free state-sponsored abortions?" the radical liberal who lives in my forebrain offers up. Please. She couldn't even be bothered to pick up the free state-sponsored prescriptions or free state-sponsored condoms.)

I hope she uses this time to get her act together, but somehow I doubt she will. Maybe she will be able to get her older two kids back, but probably not Carl, at least not as long as he needs medicine and monitors.

There's a long list of people in this world I want to smack upside the head and demand, "What were you thinking?" Not this one. I can't even imagine what the answer could be. You can't just pretend for six years that the problem will go away if you ignore it. Her sense of responsibility should have kicked in a long time ago, but she wasn't interested.

Thank God Carl's too young to know what he's missing. The other two will be missing their mom once they're moved, guaranteed. It's a bizarre quirk of the human species: kids will always bond to their parents no matter how much they may hate what they've done to them. But Carl has probably gotten more attention from our family in the past three days than his mother gave him in three months. For his sake, I hope he stays with us.

I want to keep the name "Carl" if and when we adopt him. He looks like a Carl to me. My wife says it'll probably grow on her.