I grieve with the parents and families of Boston, Newtown, Aurora, Tucson and Virginia Tech as they look for ways to find meaning in such senseless tragedies. I am familiar with their pain and understand their search for a mission to make the loss of their child just the slightest bit more bearable.
In April 2009 I gave birth to my first son, Liam. After developing an umbilical cord infection, Liam suddenly and tragically passed away. He was 17 days old. Contrary to what some think or say, having a child in your life for such a short period of time does not lessen a parent's pain or reduce a mother's anguish to a lower category of loss.
Like the parents from those other cities, I felt I had to do something meaningful, something that might save one child's life, save one parent from the grief that had almost overwhelmed me. I had to do something for Liam.
Two months after Liam's death, I left a private law practice and went to work for the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. I began in the Juvenile Division prosecuting offenders charged with truancy, incorrigibility and delinquency. I thought if I could turn one kid around it would be worth it. I did, and it was.
Later, I was promoted to a felony prosecutor and took a special interest in crimes against children. Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Gordon and I became aware of the growing number of cases in our area involving child pornography. We requested that all child pornography cases be assigned to us. We realized that in child pornography cases these innocent, young kids have no voice.
They are seen as only images traded throughout the world over and over again, being revictimized each time their photo or video is viewed. It has been our mission to educate judges, lawyers and the community that these are not merely pictures being shared. They are crime scene photographs and the children are the victims. Our goal is to protect and bring justice and a voice to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
One of the most rewarding experiences of my new career is being on the Kanawha County Juvenile Drug Court Treatment Team. We give the tools, resources and support to kids and their parents or guardians to stay drug free, strengthen their familial ties and keep them in school. I am seldom prouder than when one of our kids comes before the judge and the team at their drug court graduation. The applause is long; the tears many.
Most come with supportive and loving parents. Others are completely by themselves. But none stands alone. We are all there next to them. Now and forever.
I have also become involved in the Kanawha County Domestic Violence Court pilot project. As a prosecutor, I focus not only on stopping the cycle of violence, but also on protecting the children who are so often caught in the middle of the abuse and are truly victims themselves just by witnessing one parent batter another. In less than a year, I think the project has made significant progress in changing the culture of violence that exits in far too many of our homes. Certainly, victims are now getting more help and batterers are being held more accountable than ever before.
More than being a lawyer, I always wanted to be a mother.
I have another son now, Gavin. Because of Liam and Gavin, I have made it my singular focus to protect and give a voice to the children of this community. It has become my life's work.
The grief of losing Liam has not gone away, but I have been able to channel it into a raw determination to protect, honor and cherish our kids.
As I think of those other parents and their pain that will also not go away, I pray that they find and achieve their mission and take similar comfort that through their actions their children live on.
Lord is an assistant prosecutor in Kanawha County.