Friday, September 9, 2011
Elodie is 10. I've known her for 7 years, since she's been my daughter's school mate ever since they started pre-school together. She's come to our house and my daughter has come to hers several times.
Elodie is an adorable little girl. She's got short hair and a cute baby face. She likes Barbies and Petshops, and taking dance class.
I've never met her parents. I only know her grand-parents who have been raising her since she was 11 months-old, along with her bigger brother and sister.
I've chatted with Elodie's grand-mother in front of the school every day. She's been there at every single school party, theater play, karate demonstration, parents' meeting. She is one of the most involved parents I've ever seen.
Yesterday morning, Elodie and her grand-parents learnt that was going to be sent to a foster family (une famille d'accueil), away from her grand-parents, away from her brother and her sister, away from Paris and her friends, closer to where her mother lives even though she barely knows her. This is what a judge decided without even meeting her grand-parents, without even asking Elodie how she felt. When she tried to say that she didn't want to leave, they told her that it was decided this way and that she has to accept it. She has to leave on Monday. No one knows when she will be able to come back to visit her grand-parents.
Today was her last day at school. Today was the only day she had to get ready to leave, to spend time with her friends and say goodbye.
She doesn't know the name of the family she is going to live with, neither do her grand-parents. They have no number, they never met these people, they won't even be able to take her there.
I can't stop thinking about her. I cried when shopping at the supermarket this morning while they were playing this song. I am in shock and I can't believe this is happening. In my country. In 2011. After decades of child psychology, after Françoise Dolto and her principles, and all the mountains of books that have been published about how you should always explain things to children, and how they should always be respected and heard.
My daughter wrote Elodie a little letter saying that everybody was sad that she was leaving. She said that she hopes she will have fun with her new parents, and that she hopes she will see her again. At 4:30, when the kids came out of school, everybody was crying, children, mothers, people from the school. Tears falling down Elodie's baby cheeks and I know I will never forget this moment.
And as I was turning around to go back home, after saying goodbye, we're with you, we won't let you down, we'll do all we can to have you back, you'll be alright, you're going to be a big girl and you'll be alright, as I was holding my baby who was crying too, I walked away and thought What a fucked up world.
On Monday night, Elodie will sleep in an unknown bed, in an unknown house, with an unknown family. I'm going to pray for her, pray that she'll be strong to get over it and make new friends at school and have a great teacher and people around to care for her. I'm going to keep Elodie in my heart and hope she will be alright, no matter what happens.
What a fucked up world.