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Posts Tagged ‘ACS’

I guess I was kind of waiting for one, hoping that I could write that final post that pulled everything together, made it all just fine – the ending that made me (and maybe all of you) optimistic about the future.

But no.

A court date was scheduled for last week. And then cancelled because the judge called in sick after everyone else had arrived at the courthouse. It has been rescheduled for November with yet another judge. I think this is the 4th judge on the case but really only the 3rd because this judge was on the case previously or something.

Blitzen has been in care 2426 days (which can also be counted 58,244 hours if my math is right) and she is certainly no closer to permanency/ reunification /any kind of resolution than when we first met her.

What would you do with 2426 days or 58,244 hours?

You could complete college (if you went full-time and stayed on track) 1.65 times. You could get 2 or 3 master degrees, if you put your mind to it. Travel the world in 180 days 13+ times over.  You could drive coast to coast about 1,000 times – assuming that you didn’t stop to smell the roses.  I read somewhere it takes like 75 days to climb Mount Everest – so you could do that, a bunch.  Hike the Appalachian Trail (takes about 6 months so you could do that maybe 12 times – more if you jog part of the way). Took little more than 1 year and 1 month to build the empire state building or so google tells me.

In 2426 days, you could learn a new language, run a bunch of marathons, master a musical instrument, hell – if you are already super fit and spectacularly talented you could train and compete in the Olympics.  You could plant a tree and watch it grow. You could go to a lot of movies – you could make a lot of movies. You could read many books – and write a few too!

Or, you know, you could have a childhood with just the average amount of anxiety and uncertainty.

But no.

Have I ever mentioned that every time that I read a book to Blitzen, about half way through the second chapter, she asks me to read the end?  Every time.  It is just too tense, it is just too much, the not knowing.

I sure do wish that we could peak ahead to the last page now.

But no. So, gonna leave you without an ending. For all the fosterhood followers – we’ll keep Rebecca up to date, I’m sure that she’ll let you know if anything earth shattering like permanency ever happens.

 

P.S. In about a week, I’m taking the blog down.  We talked to Blitzen about blogging and writing and she, in her very Blitzen way, was completely baffled by the thought of folks sharing their ‘business’ with the whole wide world.  So it truly is time to put the blog to bed. I certainly will miss my internet friends, gotta say. This has been the best virtual support group a foster family ever had. Thanks – don’t think we would have made it the past 3 years without all of the peace, love and understanding.

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And I am just thinking and thinking and thinking about the concept of permanency.  And how everyone talks about it but no one gives a shit about it.  The constant court postponements, the inept and incompetent bureaucrats, the changes back and forth, the lack of accountability, the lack of empathy and human kindness.  Everyone waiting for everything to be perfectly aligned so that we can have permanency.  Guess what – nothing will ever be perfectly aligned, somethings just will not change.  So decide.  How can anyone possibly believe that a life of insecurity and uncertainty is best for a child?

And I am not advocating for adoption every time here or even most of the time – I think that biological parents get the shaft over and over and over.  I’ve said it before, the amount of time, money and resources that are put into child welfare via foster care subsidies and court costs would be so much better applied if we simply turned our attention to helping people in trouble, to acknowledging the crushing and dehumanizing impacts of racism and poverty.  But no, we want to pretend that we are interested in helping families and reunification but we’re really interested in ass covering and politics.

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What the staff at our agency know and think to be right and the actions that they feel compelled to take by the giant f-ed up bureaucracy that controls all of our lives, well, let’s just say it’s a really long walk.

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Quoting email from our caseworker:

‘We are finished with this round and the next court date will be in October. There was no resolution this time – foster care will continue until permanency is achieved. The goal for all the kids is still reunification.’

Meanwhile, all manner of shit that I can’t discuss here has gone down and still, we lope along as if we are in no hurry.  These children will have been in care for 7 contiguous years in August, 7 years and numerous placements (and not all the good nurturing kind of placement either).  3 of the children are in unstable placements as we speak.

But no hurry.

Can I say it for the 10,000 time?  Why haven’t these children been returned to their parents?  After 7 years (the entire life of one of the children, by the way — never ever has lived with her bio parents), you’d think given all the resources that have been poured into this, the hours in the court, the case managers and therapists, that someone should have been able to make a determination about whether or not these parents can parent safely.  You’d think.

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It has been fascinating to follow along as Rebecca relays the saga that is Meghan and Snap’s brother.  There are all of the obvious things like why wouldn’t an agency want an emotionally and financially stable foster parent with a commitment to maintain a sibling relationship, community resources, the tenacity to fight for a child and willingness to participate in what is clearly a lame ass system, why?  Rebecca’s most recent post has me thinking though.  In this scenario with Meghan, the agency is acting like they have all the power.   And the judge and lawyers are kinda shuffling around, saying all of the right things, but they don’t seem to be able to get anything done.

A recent discussion with our foster agency painted the exact opposite picture.

We inquired, ‘Who is pushing for overnight visits?’  And the answer came back, ‘The court.’  I said to Andrew, ‘Really, the court? As in the judge or mom’s lawyer? (a lawyer who I believe is Johnnie Cochran in disguise because people, seriously, this guy is a mad legal genius). And who put that guy in charge?’

And I guess that is the thing, right?  Nobody is in charge.  And in every case, it seems like the people that are least invested in the details of the situation, those that care the least about the best interests of an individual child (not ‘children or parents’ as a whole, anonymous unit / legal concept but the best interests of distinct human beings with varying needs and nuanced, complex lives), those are the people that somehow seem to get their way because they hide behind the stupid rules – rules and precedent and god knows what else – of a broken system.

I have a job. Many of you have jobs.  I recently had a discussion with someone that I work with that went a little something like this:

Employee to me, ‘Yes, we have a system in place. That is how we do it.’

Me to employee, ‘Systems are awesome, glad we have one. Doesn’t mean that you never have to think.  So let’s think about this, shall we?’

Thinking is hard work, changing a system is excruciatingly, painfully slow and nearly impossible.  So it is easier to support a broken, immoral system than just take 5 minutes to think something through and do what is right.

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I’ve mentioned before that Blitzen has an incorrect diagnosis on her IEP.  If she is going back into the public school system, we must have it changed, we must.  So, Blitzen has to be evaluated, again.

We had a plan, it was – as you might imagine – thoughtful.  But carelessness and inattention rule the day, and a 24 year old intern was sent to do the delicate work of ensuring educational opportunity for Blitzen – work that we were told would be performed by a phd with years of experience dealing with children of trauma.

The young eager do-gooder thought it wise to begin her discussion with a distrustful, traumatized, resistant child in care with low self esteem by peering into her big fat file, rattling a few pages, glancing up and saying, ‘So, it says here that you have a history of tantrums, how is that going?’  Then she started prattling on about how this was all going to finally help Blitzen do well in school.

The senseless whippersnapper really should have just said – Oh, I see in this file that is kept by a bunch of white bureaucrats so that they can write down lies about you and your family and then share the information with whoever the heck wants to look at it, including me a total stranger that you have never laid eyes on before, that you are not only very dumb but also a very bad little girl.

Well, as you can imagine, this interaction really relaxed Blitzen. She was eager to please and ready to do her best work with the understanding that this person was here to engage her and guide her, here was someone that could see that she is a creative, talented, smart, curious child, here is someone that clearly has no hidden agenda that would endanger her or jeopardize her precarious place in the world. Here was someone that she could trust. Rainbows and unicorns magically appeared and all was right in the world.

OR perhaps Blitzen was sucked into the vortex of fight or flight* by her hard-wired, survival driven synapses and overactive adrenal system that resulted in 2 hours of drama, hysteria and very very little ‘evaluating’.

Are you crying or are you screaming? I cried, Andrew screamed (Andrew is not really a screamer but he has a look that is really loud and capable of withering a person completely). Blitzen has another appointment, in a place that she is comfortable in (her own school) with a professional.  But I fear it is too little, too late.

* in Blitzen’s case, we should really call it fight AND flight – she is amazingly capable of doing both of these things simultaneously.

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Andrew and I have both experienced, in the last 36 hours, that look.  That look from ‘professionals’ associated with Blitzen’s case.

That look that says ‘you are troublesome foster parents, you are making my life difficult by demanding that we do all that we should which is way more than we feel that we can.’

That look that says, ‘Oh, we’ve written your child off (not that we in anyway consider her to be your child) and you should too.’

 

That ‘When this was all headed for adoption, you were committed, passionate, model foster parents that we begged to speak on panels, rally new recruits, participate in city-wide ad campaigns. But now, you are a pain in the ass and we’re tempted to just accept false allegations against you so we can make you go away quicker’ look.

We’ve both experienced that moment when it has become crystal clear that this child is going back into a social system of grinding poverty, family dysfunction, racial and domestic violence, a broken and battered educational system that is really just a pipeline to prison/welfare dependency/homelessness/teen pregnancy/addiction, where she will be lost. And sadly, the look in their eyes says ‘we simply don’t care.’

I am sure you all are familiar with that look.

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