Women United
Justice, Community and Family


Welfare Mother Knows About Responsibility

By Krisha L. Gore

Personal responsibility is when you have to be the female gender in our society, having the God-given responsibility to carry a child for nine months in your belly, swollen and cramped and awkward to hold; to spend 39 hours in hard labor to deliver, or make such difficult decisions as abortion or to place an innocent infant in the arms of strange adoptive parents, because of the pressure put on us by a society in fear of living in an overpopulated world with needy women and children that overburden it.

Personal responsibility is when you have to call an ambulance to carry you and your baby to the hospital to deliver your second child - because your family has disowned you and the husband you cherished and loved and obeyed has deserted all of you, and all you can do is operate like a machine, giving birth to a beautiful and innocent baby.

Your body is in such disarray from carrying the two pregnancies to term that it delivers its own uterus, leaving you to bleed to death. While the doctor is preparing for an emergency lifesaving hysterectomy, you have a nurse shouting at you because she has no one to call to come fetch your other baby in the next room and that she will have no choice but to call child protective services.

Personal responsibility is when you, admitting to yourself that you are less than superhuman, decide to place your beautiful baby girl in the arms of adoptive parents, so that she can be cared for financially.

Personal responsibility is when you spend the first few years of your son's life moving from one homeless shelter to another trying to cling to whatever hope you may scavenge up, instead of leaving the baby, who loves and depends on and trusts you for everything, on a doorstep or just anywhere!

Personal responsibility is when you lower your pride and go to your local Social Services Department to ask for food stamps and financial subsidies because your minimum-wage job is hanging on you like a heavy anchor, and there is no one else you can count on or turn to. So you struggle for way too many years on welfare and its training services, hoping and believing that you will one day have the resources through earned income and owed child support to once again live an independent life. You try to give your child some stability and normalcy despite the rhetoric and slander that comes your way because of your using the "System" or being a "single, poor mother."

Personal responsibility is when you spend 10 years fighting for child support that is owed to your son and spending hours of your own time being a detective to do the job of child support enforcement because the "system" that was set up to help, doesn't.

Personal responsibility is when you beg, borrow or steal to clothe and provide the extra things your child needs that welfare doesn't help with. Personal responsibility is when you fight your way into a government hospital for treatment of his various childhood illnesses or diseases because they won't let you in without medical insurance, and "unfortunately you have no money either!"

After all this you get to turn on your TV or radio or read a newspaper and see that you and your children are the sole reason for the terrible deficits and the hardships being faced in the world!

Dereliction of duties (deadbeats for short) are people who walk out on the mother or father of their own children, left to fend for themselves, and never bother to offer any support that isn't fought for and coincidentally forget the birthdays of their own child.

"Deadbeat" is when the government sits back and allows a person to get away with that, even when it knows, and wants you to cooperate in finding him in order to even receive the welfare check they provide in place of his neglect and desertion. They push around papers for years waiting for him to relocate so they will have a legitimate excuse for or reason for not being able to hold the absent parent "personally responsible" for the child they have left behind.

Personal responsibility is when you finally get fed up and you decide to pool your resources with others in your community, because you refuse to tolerate it any longer and you are willing to commit to speaking out about the injustice so everyone will know and hear you and others in your same situation. I know about personal responsibility because I am the one who has demonstrated it for the past 10 years while my son's father let me and society pull his weight and fulfill his discarded parental duties.

If you are fed up with the injustice you have received as a poor, single or divorced mother and would like to get involved in restoring decency and humanity and self-respect in the lives of less fortunate, low-income women and children, and if you would like to be a part of a wonderful group of women, you are invited to join us at our weekly meetings on Thursday nights.

Contact me or Michelle at (303) 682-2753 or 786-1760. We need all the help we can get. Your voice counts and you are an important part of this society that deserves to be heard!
(Krisha L. Gore of Longmont is a member of the Boulder Welfare Rights Action Group.)

SOURCE: Boulder Daily Camera, date unknown

Spanish translation by Leah Furumo

Women United
Boulder, Colorado