A psychologist who evaluates the fitness of parents for the courts finds herself reassessing her own mothering when her son falls victim to the opiate crisis.
Psychologist and expert witness Sharon Lamb takes children away from their parents. A trained forensic evaluator for child welfare services, she is as qualified as anybody could be to do so. But when her son’s struggle with opioid addiction comes to light, she starts to doubt her right to make judgments about other mothers.
Lamb introduces readers to the forensic evaluation of parenting, particularly in high stakes cases on termination of parental rights. She details for us the tools of her trade, including tests and observation techniques. She describes vividly the plight of parents--largely single women--struggling to make stable homes for their kids amidst economic and emotional turmoil, as well as an epidemic of opioids. In her field work and in child custody court, we meet the parents waiting anxiously for Lamb’s verdict: are they good enough? Lamb turns that question on herself as she comes to terms with her son’s disease. Powerless in the face of addiction in her own family, Lamb confronts her power to cut other families apart and bring new ones together. With millions of Americans affected by economic hardships, job loss, and the opioid epidemic Dr. Lamb’s book gives voice to the impossible standards we attach to the concept of motherhood.