Saturday, March 31, 2012

From Bad to Worse...

That’s where this case is going. We went to court for the Princess on March 20th . DHS and counseling were asking for the judge to agree to start transitioning the Princess back into the home through unsupervised visits. My husband and I wrote up every one of our concerns, (financial, mental, judgment, etc.) and gave it to the Princess guardian ad litem (her lawyer). Her lawyer told us that if we would sign it that he would submit it to the court. Of course we signed it. As court progressed I could tell the way things were headed…DHS was painting the judge yet another perfect picture of bio mom…mom of the year. Didn’t you know that’s why you get your kids taken away? The DA began to question the Princess’ caseworker at which point she was caught in so many lies it was unreal! The DA asked the caseworker, “Have you discussed the plan of transitioning the child home with the foster parents?” She replied, “Yes.”. True. The DA then asked her, “Do the foster parents have any reservations or concerns about this plan for the child to transition back into the home?” Sit down and prepare yourself….”NO, they have no reservations or concerns.” For a few seconds I just sat there in shock…ANGER…and disbelief. The Princess’ lawyer turned around and looked at us and laughed and responded, “The foster parents have no concerns or reservations?” This was her chance to possibly redeem herself with the truth. “NO, they don’t.” The Princess lawyer responded with, “I have a two page letter of concerns signed by the foster parents in my hand.” I would like to say this was one of several lies she told under oath….she has also not talked to us since. No in home visits (she sent someone in her place), no phone calls for updates (we never get these anyway), no calls to check and see how things are going (these are few and far between as well). The Princess’ lawyer continued to question the court about our concerns and then came and sat by us. He told us that he had the same concerns as us about the visits being unsupervised, but he was pretty sure the judge was going to approve it. He said that if anything bad happened…she had a hard time with it…or anything came up to call him and he was pretty sure he could end them. It’s nice to hear…but we have little faith in anyone in the legal system at this point. Empty promises is all they give you. But we are desperate and so we cling to any glimmer of hope shown to us. Court wrapped up and the judge said that the bio mom had made significant progress (my definition of progress and his are apparently very different…she has a place to live and works a few hours a week) and that she “deserved the chance to prove that she could parent her child”. I’m sorry, but I thought she had that at birth…I though she had that again after her child was sent home last March and then returned in 8 days. Nope. She deserves another chance. The judge approved DHS’ recommendation. What does this mean for the Princess and us? On Tuesday mornings we leave our house at 8:15 to drop her off. She is then with her mom all day unsupervised and her mom brings her to speech and then she comes home at 5:30. Wednesday evening at 3:00 DHS arrives at our house to take the Princess to the DHS office where her mom comes to pick her up and the Princess stays the night with her. Thursday morning they wake up and go to speech again and counseling and hang out until she comes back to us at 5:30. Basically, she is gone for 3 days and when she comes home she is asleep and exhausted!! The day visits and overnight visits are supposed to prove whether or not she can provide for her child. Did you know if you can bring your child to town for two meetings it proves you can properly care for your child? I thought caring for a child meant keeping them safe, loving them,
proper hygiene, feeding them, etc. My mistake. So are we. The first Thursday was uneventful. I asked bio mom Monday evening if I should send snacks and she said that would probably be a good idea. Just say you don’t have food! I didn’t make that mistake again and do NOT send food anymore. The next Tuesday we found out something very big that I can’t share on here…don’t worry DHS said it wasn’t a big deal at all…even though it was something she was required to have and doesn’t…no big deal they say. Wednesday rolls around and the Princess’ caseworker still hasn’t called to tell us what time she will be at our house. I knew what time she was coming only because bio mom told me. They told her but not us. I think it would be the people with whom she resides you should inform what time you will be picking her up. It’s 40 minutes past the time they were supposed to be there to get her to her mom on the scheduled time and nobody has called. I text bio mom and she is walking in DHS office and asked about it. They tell her someone is on their way and is running late. Would have been courteous to have called us to let us know. Whatever. They show up almost an hour late and I was ticked. I was ticked I had to send her to her mom’s…ticked that we have a lazy, apathetic, unprofessional caseworker and I took it out on the caseworker who showed up. It wasn’t OUR caseworker..she sent someone in her place. No shock there. The caseworker walks in and I wasted no time…I told her that a call the day before or even the morning of to tell us what time they would be there would be the professional thing to do and would have been appreciated. I told her that we do have other things to do in our life besides wait for DHS to call us and tell us the next thing they need us to do and that the next time they decide to just show up at their convenience we may not be here! I calmed down a smidge to finally tell her it wasn’t her fault..that it was our caseworker’s and asked her to pass on the message. Was I out of line or does anyone else see this as unprofessional?? I am so tired of the bio mom knowing what’s going on but we are left in the dark. She knows what time court is but we are there hours early because nobody told us it was changed. SO SICK of being used and called a “resource”. Yes, we knew we were going to have to see kids get sent home and yes we knew we were a “resource” but I had no idea we would just be babysitters to be used at their whim. I had no idea when they told us in classes that we would be the children’s advocates and had to fight for them how empty those words were. How do you fight for kids against them?? The very ones who are supposed to be working on the kids’ behalf but instead work to give the parents countless chances to prove what we already know…they can’t change. Yet, they deem them fit. They tell you to fight but tie your hands behind your back…if you go against what they say they resent you and won’t work with you or listen to you…if you hire a lawyer they take the kids from you. They tell you “document everything”. For what??? I document and turn it into the caseworker, the guardian ad litem, the judge…and FOR WHAT??? For them to say that we have gotten so attached to the child that we want to sabotage her chances to get her back. They make you feel really good about being a foster parent in the classes…the kids need you and you are going to love them and let them know what it is to be loved unconditionally, safe and protected, cherished and that they are worth so much and that this isn’t their fault and LET THEM BE A KID! You get your license and you are so ready to be a part of changing a kid’s life…just to be slapped in the face and told you are too attached to the child and biased towards the mom. I distinctly remember a gentleman asking the leader of the class about attachment and how attached we should let ourselves become and what do we do if they WANT to call us mom and dad ( you aren’t allowed to require this of the child). They responded with, “Treat them as if they were your own and it will break your heart but you just have to do it. You have to get attached and fall in love with them because they need that bond. If they choose to call you mom and dad, let them. Don’t correct.” Yet, the child is getting in trouble because she chose to call us mom and dad from the second day she was with us…we are getting treated poorly because we fell in love with the child. The horror stories they told us about if a child throws your T.V. down the stairs and smashes it you shouldn’t get on to them…those things caused an uproar in the class and made us scared. How will these kids behave? Will that really happen? Will the kids really behave this way and be so our of control and angry? We have YET to get a child who was anything BUT sweet, courteous, well mannered, beautiful, intelligent, loving…In a system built to protect kids and take them from harmful situations and place them in loving family while their family gets their life together..and if they don’t the child is placed with an adoptive family…we have NOT seen this. We have seen a system that wants the child back home regardless of the situation and will overlook anything to get this done…even the most obvious of things. I will say this, it’s not like this in EVERY county. We have worked with three counties…one was pretty good, one is EXCELLENT, and one is TERRIBLY INCOMPETENT. The princess is in the latter one unfortunately. I cannot give you details but if you knew all of the things that have been turned in, all of the things mom has admitted, all of the things that are so OBVIOUS that DHS is overlooking in order to get this child sent home you would be appalled. I digress……

Wednesday night the Princess stays with her bio mom and spends all day Thursday with her. Thursday we go to her counseling session (we are allowed to go anytime we want) and I am on one hand unbelievably excited because I will get to see the Princess and it’s been 1 ½ days since I have seen her. On the other hand I am anxious to see how she did. We get there and sit in the lobby where my husband reads our daughter books and I worry until I hear her voice and she races into the building. She runs up to me and screams, “Heeeeeyyyyyy Mommmmyyy!!!!” and gives me a huge bear hug. I hug her back and then in a split second she is off. She is racing from one person to the next, from one part of the room to the next like a person on speed. I look her over and see that she is wearing the outfit I packed, the sandals I packed with socks as well (why I have NO idea) and one is inside out…her hair is all over her head and has a rubber band holding a few strings in an attempt at a pony tail. Her mom looks exhausted and begins to tell us that the Princess got mad at her that morning and slapped her in the face. Okay. We have never seen behavior like this before from her but just ask why. Apparently, she was on the computer and didn’t want to get off of it to come to counseling. No comment. The Princess is still going 90 to nothing and wired!! I am watching her like a hawk and then the counselor comes in the lobby and takes my husband, daughter and I back first to talk about how things are going and our concerns (because we all know this just really gets things done). After we talk she brings in the Princess and her bio mom. This is when everything falls apart and I want to SCREAM!!!!!! I listen to her mom aimlessly list the things they did that night and describe how perfectly things were going but am watching the Princess the whole time and I see that look in her eyes that I have seen once before….lost, confused, hurt. WILD. She is everywhere…can’t contain her energy and then she begins to run
towards me to show me a toy she is playing with. I immediately began to see red…she is running with her legs swinging outwards like and so awkward, almost as if her hips hurt her. She is clumsy and runs into things and keeps tripping. While she runs she sticks her bottom out like a duck and from the waist up she is hunched over and runs clumsily and strange and stomps each foot as it comes down. It’s so hard to explain but it was so crazy that the session comes to a halt and the counselor asks, “Why is running so weird?” I of course pipe in and want to know the same! Mom doesn’t know…she didn’t notice anything…maybe it’s the sandals. I inform them that she wears those sandals all of the time and never has a problem. Maybe it’s because she is wearing socks with them…does she ever wear socks with sandals? I say no…and wonder what kind of question is that…who puts socks on with sandals on their child??? Mom says she insisted on wearing socks with them and wouldn’t let her take them off. Let. This is how their relationship is…the Princess runs the show. She has never once insisted on wearing socks with sandals..she hates socks period. I can’t keep them on her…even in winter when I tell her that she has to wear them I constantly turn around to see she has them in the hamper and have to put them back on. She won’t wear slippers either. Mom says one…that’s right ONE…of the sandals looks too small. No, they aren’t too small. The more questions that come up and the more the Princess runs awkwardly the more nervous mom seems to get. I try to ask the Princess if her legs hurt…joke with her about her running like a duck to see if she will tell me. She says, “Mommy, What’s wrong with you?” and I respond, “Me? You are the one running like a duck!” hoping she will let it out. No. The subject is dropped and they move on. They want to talk to mom and the Princess alone and so we take our daughter to the zoo to play in the splash pad while they finish counseling and head to speech. She had a blast on the splash pad for a while but it started getting windy and she was cold so we went to the DHS office to wait for the next 30 minutes until the Princess is there to go home with us…because let’s face it…gas to just ride around isn’t cheap. We talk for a bit and then hear the Princess again…she is still running awkward and WILD. Mom brings her in the office and looks like she may pass out from exhaustion at any minute. She looks aggravated and says that the Princess had a bad time and slapped the speech therapist in the face. I already had plans to call the speech therapist on our way home to see how it went and when she said that I was ready to leave to go call. Mom leaves and the Princess is more wild if that’s even possible. She gets a pencil and paper and begins stabbing the paper with her pencil and scribbling really hard. She seems very angry. She tries to stab my daughter on the arm with a pencil for what reason I don’t know. This isn’t the little girl I know. We leave and I try to control myself but at this point I have a million emotions. Most of it being ANGER!!!!! I call speech and it’s one minute before they close and I pray someone answers. I get the therapist and tell her what the judge decided and that she just spent the night with her mom for the first time the night before and all day that day and that mom said the Princess slapped her in the face. I apologize for her behavior but tell her I need to know what happened. She tells me that the Princess did swing at her but didn’t make contact and definitely didn’t slap her in the face. She said that the little girl in that room today was a different little girl…that she was so angry and wouldn’t do anything for her…just ran around the room angry. She just sat in the chair and watched because after several attempts…nothing worked and she refused to cooperate. I could hear the shock and concern in her voice and asked her if she noticed her running different. She said definitely and described it to me exactly as I described it to you. I asked her if she would be willing to write this down and maybe call the Princess’ caseworker and supervisor to tell them what she had just told me. She wasn’t sure she could do that legally but told me to find out if she could talk to someone and she would be more than happy to because it was the worse she had ever seen her and was worried. She said she documented everything to be turned in and assured me she would do whatever she could to help us. It’s a small ray of hope that I know won’t do any good but I cling to it anyway and breath a sigh of relief. Maybe it just felt nice for someone to finally see what we see!!! How this child responds to her mom’s care. I again try to calm myself and then call the Princess’ lawyer on his cell phone and leave him a message to call me back ASAP. The next morning his secretary returns my call and says he isn’t in and won’t hush until I tell her what the concern is. She says she will have him call me and I hear in her voice what I am so used to hearing lately….indifference. Once again, we are concerned for nothing…it’s all in our heads..we are trying to sabotage mom’s chance of getting her child back. I hang up feeling even more defeated and somehow manage to pray that he will call me back Monday morning and be the lawyer for her that she NEEDS him to be. That someone will FIGHT FOR HER!! Until that phone call the feelings of defeat, helplessness, anxiety, hurt, anger and desperation are overwhelming!! And I have no hope that he will do anything to change that. The only hope we have is that God will intervene and do a miracle. I know He CAN…I just pray He WILL!!!!

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