Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Yes, a little secret. I wrote this a few days ago, hit publish, then removed it from my feed. I wasn't so sure I was ready to let it out for the world to read. I'm sure some of you already have read this since it was originally published before being pulled, but I'm finally publishing it to be read by all, mainly because you never know what can happen.
New Year's Eve there was a knock at my door. My fourteen year old answered it and found two ladies standing on the porch. One asked, "Are you Jeremiah?" (cue red flag) He answered yes, then she handed him a card, a card from Child Protective Services.
My son's not an idiot. He knows what Child Protective Services is and what they do, after all he was placed in my home after being taken by Child Protective Services. He was scared, really scared.
When I got home he handed me the card and told me what they said. I was furious! How dare they ask for him by name? That only made him realize that he was the target of their visit.
I called the number on the card and was sent to voice mail. I left a message asking for a return phone call. There was none. I then called the head honcho of the place and explained to her what had gone down and how scared my son was. Asking for him by name was not a cool thing to do, especially when they have my phone number.....HELLO.....I was a foster parent for years with the State of Oregon, I'm in their system. My number was also on the police report that I was sure had triggered their visit. Remember our little incident with the sheriff's office? (Full disclosure here, or maybe I'm just feeling generous. I did not write about everything that happened that day).
I reassured Jeremiah if the sheriff had believed him to be in danger they would have had him removed from our home that day when all hell broke loose. He was still worried, as was I. Remember, I worked with the State for years and I know how things can go.
After numerous days and phone calls I finally made contact with the social worker. She wanted to do a home visit. I was still confused as to what part of the incident led to the report of suspected child abuse. I'm not really sure why I never asked her why she came out here. I guess I was in shock?
She came out to the house, we talked about what happened, she interviewed everyone present and interviewed Jeremiah alone. As far as I was concerned she could have interviewed us all separately, we have nothing to hide.
She then asked if she could check out our house? WTF? Ok, whatever. She checked out the house, EVERY ROOM AND CLOSET, then looked to see f we had food in the house, again, WTF? Still I was unclear as to why she was even here.
We cooperated fully answering all of her questions and allowing her to speak to anyone in the house she wanted to speak with, we allowed her full access to our house, and our food. Unfortunately since Joshua is now an adult I couldn't sign a consent form for her to verify his continual treatment and everything we had tried with him. (The reason for the incident December, 30)
The "interview" went well I thought, after all what in the world did we have to hide? Still had no clue as to why a report was triggered. Still didn't ask. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that a suspected child abuse report had been filed.
Today I spoke with her supervisor. The supervisor remembered me and said had the worker known I had been a foster parent, things would have been handled differently. Still no explanation, but she did tell me there had been a call to the worker from a psychologist that worked for the sheriff's office, that he knew us, and had been to our house. Although his name sounded familiar, I had no idea who he was so I gave him a ring.
It turned out that he had been out to my house a year ago after the police had been here for a similar situation. He had worked with us on how to handle our autistic son and gave us numerous resources that we could utilize. He also suggested we formulate a contract for the family to sign, including Joshua, that had requirements for Joshua to follow to continue to live in our home as well as how we, as a family, would handle situations with Joshua, dangerous ones, aggressive ones or iffy ones. After my conversation with him I still had no idea why the social worker had been here.
I then called a friend of mine that works for Child Protective Services and had placed several children with us. I told her the entire story, every last detail, and asked her what would have caused a suspected child abuse report to be filed, I presumed by one of the deputies that had been to my house. Immediately she said, "It's because of Joshua and the aggression he showed that day. It's because he was around Jeremiah."
Then I remembered what one of the deputies had asked me. He asked why we continued to allow Joshua to live in the house when his aggressive behavior was escalating. He didn't know, when he asked, that I had been, for weeks, looking for alternative housing for Joshua for that very reason. In Oregon there is a tenant law that basically says if you allow someone to stay in your house for a certain period of time you have to go to court and have them evicted. He told us we couldn't make Joshua leave if he didn't want to go. Well that's a no win situation.
So let me get this right, the deputies know the Oregon Tenant law, they know I couldn't make Joshua leave, I told them I was actively looking for alternative housing and they couldn't make him leave against his will. I was stuck. What in the hell could I have done? I guess I could have rented an ENTIRE hotel for the rest of the family to stay safely in during the eviction process.
As it turned out we were able to remove Joshua from the home the same day as the incident so the threat of violence had been stopped in it's tracks. Everyone was safe, Jeremiah was safe, the family was safe and the house was peaceful.
I was reassured but still nervous. The worker that had visited informed me that she had 30 days to make a decision as to what her conclusion would be. It could be "founded," "unable to determine, " or "unfounded."
Although I'm certain my son is in no danger, the "threat" of a thirty day window has me nervous, after all this is the State that once told me to take three little girls to the dentist and "make" him say there was evidence of neglect when there was none. That worker was determined to keep the kids in the custody of the State. It's also the State that I had to fight with to get them to remove an extremely violent foster child from my house after he had tried to choke to death one of my children, my son only lived because my oldest son walked into the room, saw the situation and pried hands from the neck of Michael. By the time Cole got the child off of Michael, Michael's face was blue and his neck bruised. See my concern? That particular worker at the time actually asked me what she was supposed to do when she had so many other cases. I told her, rather forcibly, that in no uncertain terms she would either have him removed or I would be dropping him off on her desk that afternoon. I called her supervisor and learned upon a foster parents request a foster child must be removed within 24 hours of the request.
Don't get me wrong, there are amazing social workers that work for the State, but there are some that need to move on.
I do have to say that the worker that came out was polite, friendly, professional and over all I was impressed by her demeanor. I was impressed with the notes she took as we spoke, I was impressed with how she listened to our dilemma with Joshua and I was impressed with how she kept her cool as she was, not so kindly, informed that she pulled a not so cool move by asking for our son by name on her first visit and scaring the Holy Hell out of him. Was venting done? Yes, venting was done.
And now? Now I wait. I know the conclusion will be "unfounded," but it is a scary place to be in, and the thought of a thirty day window has me totally stressed out. I'm impatient like that.
Time for a valium and a peace out,
NOTE January 15, 2013: I spoke with the caseworker that visited our home and she informed me that she found the report "unfounded," and that we had a great family. Finally, we all caught our breath and can now get on with our lives.