Evelyn Jacobs’ son, Kevin, is autistic and has other physical and mental limitations that make caring for him a struggle, but Jacobs insists she’s up to the challenge.
A son’s place, she feels, is with his mama.
In this instance, though, Wake County Human Services, feels otherwise. Officials there think Kevin’s well being is being threatened by, among other things, bedbugs.
Evelyn, 58, agrees that the bedbugs – those darned bedbugs, she calls them – are a problem. “They’re eating through the wood on his bed,” she said.
While Kevin, 19, still lives with her in their two-bedroom apartment in South Raleigh, Wake County has assumed guardianship of him and started the process that will remove him from the home. All because of those darned bedbugs.
Question of origin
What has Evelyn mad enough to spit is the fact that she insists the bedbugs came as a result of a trip Kevin took with his social worker from the Pathways to People agency. They went to a birthday party in Goldsboro, the mother told me recently.
“I didn’t know until two weeks later that the place (he was taken) was infested with bedbugs, when I started seeing little marks and bloodstains on his sheets.”
Jacobs said that the staff member who took Kevin to the party explained to her that “her friend’s children had bedbugs.”
Larry D. Sampson, an instructor for Pathways, doubted that. “That’s all speculation,” he said. “There is no way she can pinpoint that that’s where the bedbugs came from. That’s what she wants to hold onto.”
Sampson said the woman from whose apartment Jacobs thinks the bedbugs came “actually took it upon herself to have her apartment checked out: She didn’t have bedbugs.”
He said the Department of Social Services and Adult Protective Services tried to help Jacobs “get the bedbug situation resolved,” but she didn’t take care of things that needed to be done – such as moving furniture and prepping rooms for exterminators.
Marcus Grant, of Wake County Human Services, and Sampson both said the more-effective heat treatment Jacobs wants and now needs for the bedbugs – those bad boys have apparently developed an immunity to the initial powder treatment – would cost nearly $2,600. “You know Wake County is not going to pay for that,” Grant said.
In addition to money for the bug treatment, Jacobs now needs furniture that isn’t infested and nibbled by bedbugs.
Blame is not the issue
You can’t blame the state for seeking to remove from an unhealthy situation a young man who is autistic and has cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy and heart problems, among other ailments.
You surely can’t blame a mother for not wanting to lose her son.
Properly ascribing blame or finding the source of the bedbugs is not possible. It wouldn’t do any good, anyway. As Grant said, “At this point, where they came from is irrelevant. We can’t let that boy stay in those conditions. He’s not able to speak for himself, and the court has appointed us as his guardians.”
Grant said proceedings to remove Kevin within the next 30 days are underway. Even if that happens, he said, “It’s not like we’d keep him for 50 years. We’ll probably put him in a group home, and when the bedbugs are gone, he can go back.”
Sampson said the county doesn’t want to see Evelyn Jacobs lose her son.
If the county takes Kevin from her, Jacobs said, “that would kill him. I don’t want to lose my baby. Nobody’s going to treat him like I do. I may have to end up burying him, because we cannot do without each other.”
They apparently won’t be able to do with each other, either – not as long as those bedbugs are there.