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Posts Tagged ‘ACS’

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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I just have to say that I get most frustrated when the professionals in our life do not understand the importance of the schedule.  It is of ultimate importance, it keeps us safe, it keeps us functioning, it allows us to grow.  Without the schedule, there is not a single thing in my little girl’s life that is certain. Not a single thing that she can trust, even us — we have earned Blitzen’s trust by always doing what we say (fine 97% of the time) and then when people don’t show, it pisses me off.

It is disrespectful to Blitzen and doesn’t acknowledge how her brain works, her emotions, her time, her personhood.  It is disrespectful to us, we make time to prepare Blitzen for her day each night and then again every morning, we leave our jobs early to attend appointments and people cancel at the 11th hour.  Then the poor babysitter is stuck delivering the news — oh, you know that thing that you have been mentally preparing for, not gonna happen.

And how do you teach a child about honoring their own responsibilities and commitments, if the grown people around them don’t.  You think Blitzen wants to go to therapy, you think she is rushing home after school instead of going to the park to get in some awesome discussions about her crazy life with her case worker — umm, no.

This is literally neuroscience – we are rewiring Blitzen’s brain, people.  You think a neurosurgeon is all – yeah, I’ve got a headache so I’m not gonna come in today.  I know several and I’ll tell you — they pretty much just always fucking show up.

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And no parents, no kids lawyers yet. So I glad that I am not there.  I sent him the following email:

Is there an algebraic formula that we can use to figure out what time we are actually supposed to come like 9:00am / x (y+1) = z – 30/ n2

In other words, come 3 hours, 49 minutes and 34 seconds late.

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Apparently, Blitzen is meeting with both her therapist and her social worker today because there are ‘discrepancies’ when she talks to people about her desires for placement (stay with us or go home).  ‘Discrepancies’ about that and ‘other items’ – we were informed via email.

The funniest thing is when Andrew and I both lose it over different things in the same asinine email.  He hated ‘discrepancies’ and I am not fond of the vague ‘other items’.

First that email was stupidly cryptic.  Second this adversarial system makes every human interaction sound like something out of a crime drama on tv.  I can picture the room with the 2-way mirror and the metal table.  The cold cup of coffee and bad lighting. The institutional representative stands there, arms crossed.  ‘So, Blitzen, last week you told your therapist that you wanted to stay with Carrie and Andrew, this week you are claiming that you want to live with your mother – which is it, huh?  Make a decision – you’re 11, you’re traumatized, you’re confused because you love the people in your life and want to be with them, all of them.  Well, too bad, make a decision and be quick about it.  We don’t have time for emotional ambiguity.  I mean, we’ve told all the adults in your life to simultaneously plan for two possible outcomes and work their hardest to make sure that you are expressing your emotions about all possibilities but you know, come on, make a decision already.  Which set of grown ups do you love best? It is a simple question – just answer it and don’t change your mind, ever, especially not after a not fun family visit or having to clean your guinea pig cage  — you’re 11, you really should be way beyond that kind of wishy-washy waffling.  And what about these other items?  Do you care to clarify your feelings?’

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Permancy Hearing on Monday

We were informed at 4pm. Thanks for the advance notice.

A snippet from the email from our social worker.

I’m not certain what the judge is going to order us to do come Monday but I’d like to prepare you guys for what might be happening in regards to moving toward reunification. Not to be an alarmist or anything but I’ve cc’ed your homefinder on this email as an additional support for this conversation.

Glad your not being alarmist – this email is in no way alarming, thanks.

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