Posts Tagged ‘agency’

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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I am pretty angry and stressed and really very sad because a year ago we were in one place and now we are in a totally different place in regards to reunification / TPR.  There is too much s@*t to even explain but Andrew summed it up beautifully, ‘It would be one thing if we were (and by we – I really mean the agency) engaged in concurrent planning.  But instead, we are simply not planning for anything at all – we are non-current planning!’  We are adrift.  The agency is not trying to meaningfully engage and support the biological parents but they also don’t seem to think that TPR is really feasible.  And they are suddenly paying attention to the rules – mom has to be at the IEP meeting, they say.  Yes, ok, I get it and I agree.  But you never gave a flying fig newton about that before and why did you wait until 48 hours before the meeting to invite her and then send us frantic and frankly snotty emails about how we are not allowed to set up meetings without bio mom.  We didn’t ‘set it up’ – this in NYC and the DOE has attitude.  They sent us a notice that said come to the IEP at this meeting date, time, place – they were not interested in our calendars.  And then we SHARED the notice with the agency.  And they sat on it for  10 days and then yesterday frantic, crazy, stupidness.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it is my deepest fear that I will have to be a foster parent for next 8 years….I just can’t.  Of course I will, but it will leave me a broken, hollowed out shell of a person.  And I don’t think that kind bulls#%t non-permanency would be good for Blitzen either. Reunify or TPR – after 6+ years, simply no excuse for any other course of action.


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Blitzen, in the end, decided to go to her visit on Friday. It turns out that given the opportunity to decide independently what to do, our gal wanted to attend.

So imagine my annoyance when I found out at 3pm that Mom wasn’t going to show and only 2 of the siblings were planning to come. I spoke to the SW and we all agreed that cancelling the whole deal was the best option.  Upon hearing from Andrew that she did NOT have visit, Blitzen did a little fist pump, said, “Yes!” and then asked if she could stay longer at the park.

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Blitzen’s behaviorist and social worker came over this week.  Here is what we decided with Blitzen:

Blitzen will email her social worker the morning of visits, before she leaves for school, with her decision about attending.  This way, we can make plans and prepare, either way.  If she wants to attend family visit, great – business as usual.  If she feels that she doesn’t want to go, she is free to skip it.  It is entirely her decision.

And, as I predicted, we had the following dialogue last night.

Blitzen. “I don’t want to go to family visit.”

A and C, “Ok.” “Great, we can help you email SW.”

Blitzen, “Yeah, I am going to make a play date with my best friend instead.”

C, reacts like an over-tired human/parental unit, “Yeah, you know Blitzen, when SW talked to you about this, I am pretty sure she didn’t mean that you don’t have to go to family when you’d rather play with a friend.”

Blitzen, “See, you always control me.  I don’t have to do whatever you want. It is my decision. You think you are the boss because you are the lady of the house.” ***

C, “Yup, you are right, it is not my decision – it is completely up to you. Please work with Andrew to email SW and explain that you are not going to family visit.”

***  Seriously, people, where DOES she get this stuff?!? Try keeping a straight face when somebody calls you the lady of house in anger.  I wish I got to be the boss just because I was the lady of house!!

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I don’t think I was expressing myself clearly yesterday nor did I take the time to fully explain the story.  The blessing of forcing myself to write every day is that I write every day, the curse is that sometimes it is abbreviated and overly concise therefore incomplete and incorrect.  Sometimes it is just a moment of irritation, misplaced frustration, or an ill advised thought that I foolishly release onto the internet.

Andrew and I are aware that Blitzen has PTSD and we’ve been working hard to  support her, to love and guide her, to parent accordingly.  It hasn’t been easy.  We’ve taught ourselves as we’ve gone along – we’ve read A LOT, we’ve consulted people who know a lot about child development, about the brain, about trauma, about humans, about being good parents. We’ve done a lot of things not that well but we’ve called upon some inner resources that we didn’t even know that we had, we worked together and through some whacky combination of our individual strengths and the strength of our partnership, we have done a pretty good job.

It is not by accident that there are very few surprises in our home.  They used less scaffolding when they built the empire state building than we use when introducing a new experience or trying to manage an old and scary one with Blitzen.

I know that unexpected stimuli, new situations, old situations, encounters with parents (mine, Blitzen’s, other children’s), uncomfortable feelings, happy feelings, or a  man walking down the street in a jacket smoking a cigarette, can touch off a deep well of fear and anxiety, a fight or flight response completely beyond Blitzen’s control. This is why you might see me shuffling down the street with 2 hands on Blitzen’s shoulders while she walks in front of me.  Not because I am marching my child down the street, controlling her every move, forcing her to go where she doesn’t want to go, oblivious to the fact that somewhere deep inside she is reliving a very terrifying moment.  No, it is because she has said to me in a tone that I recognize only all too well, that she needs to walk in front of me, directly in front of me.  What she is asking, every time, is if I will stand with her, will I step between her and perceived danger?  And the answer is yes, in small and large ways, Andrew and I gently put our hands on Blitzen’s shoulders each and every day.

There is a lot more to the story of the pre-visit meltdown – it was an afternoon with a few unexpected moments, new things and transitions at the end of a long and tiring week — all of which are exceptionally difficult for our child with PTSD.  I can only assume that is why my husband was huddled in the only quiet space he could find in the Friday after school chaos – a stairwell – encouraging our girl to come back to herself, relax her body and mind, keep herself and him safe, and why he remained there with Blitzen for the better part of an hour.

Did I mention that I hate visits?  They are a complicated, emotional landmine-filled field for Blitzen.

Visits are hard – sometimes they go so great, sometimes they do not.  Are they re-traumatizing?  Some days, they may be.  Some days Blitzen gets to connect with her family in a deep and meaningful way – she has made it happen through her own generosity and kindness.  And she has felt loved and embraced.  And in my mind, this is the most important part of her healing process.

Some days Blitzen is excited about going to family visit, some days she wants to stay in the park with her friends, some days she will think that her ipod has been stolen and that Andrew is to blame and they will need to spend an hour in the stairwell, and some days she is anxious, angry and afraid.  It is not always clear which kind of day we’re having.

Some days Andrew and I respond perfectly, nurturingly, calmly – some days we don’t. Some days I will be frustrated by  a social worker’s too easy response – Blitzen doesn’t have to come to visits.  Really?  Doesn’t have to come today, tomorrow, forever? Get specific because kids with trauma don’t do ambiguous well.  The family visits are a responsibility and maybe Blitzen shouldn’t go if she chooses not to go but that is a major decision and I want to know the parameters, the guidelines, where is the scaffolding? We don’t react – we consider, we plan, we support, we assist Blitzen and hopefully help make the right decision or come to grips with the decision that must be made.

I also know this post sounds defensive – I’ve been feeling defensive lately.  I don’t think the world is doing enough for Blitzen, I worry that I am not doing enough. I worry and I am sad because I know that no matter what happens next and no matter what I do,  Blitzen will likely continue to be disappointed and hurt because there is no magical, happy outcome here.  So I will remind myself not to react – I should consider and plan and support and keep hoping that what we are doing is for the best.

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Poor Blitzen is so torn about her visits — she says, pre-visit, that she doesn’t want to go.  And in fact, she had a meltdown of epic proportion at school with Andrew this week  (first time at her current school) with a plethora of parents and kids looking on — she saved her best stuff for the stairwell where it was just her and Andrew but the lobby action was probably still enough to get the other moms scared off playdates for a while.  Poor Blitzen, poor Andrew.

We’ve been thinking about how to deal with the visit stuff.  Blitzen’s social worker says that she doesn’t have to go.  I think this is short-sighted on a lot of levels – 1) it is a commitment and a responsibility, in this family, we honor them even when they suck 2) should reunification happen, it will be essential for us to have a decent relationship with mom and step-dad (step-dad hates our guts and mom goes whichever way the wind is blowing) and skipping  visits will not be viewed favorably 3) Andrew and I work – if she doesn’t go to visits, we need to organize care which is fine unless the change of heart happens last minute — in which case, it is not ok — and Blitzen is not good at organizing her thoughts and feelings in advance.

So she has to go to visits, right? Have I ever mentioned that I hate visits…….

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Frankly, it has been grueling for everyone involved.  We will try again in a month.  Exploring new modalities, different approaches and structures, considering if a different therapist might help.

We told our social worker about the decision and after relaying the big reveal from our last emotionally exhausting session, she said simply, ‘Ok, my heart is literally breaking a little bit now.  And I think it is a good idea – that is just a lot to process.’

In the meantime, we have ‘therapy’ at home at least 3 or 4 times a week.  Meltdown followed by in-depth processing and examination.  We are accessing and recalling more memories of all types kinds – good, bad, mundane. We talk about our feelings a plenty, past, present and future, so I not concerned that we’ll lose ground.

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That is what I said to the chaplain at my work yesterday when we were chatting about Blitzen.  I also said that I was well aware that the right thing and the best thing are not always the same thing but that we could only do the best we can do in this moment.  That sentiment probably reveals most of all the anxiety that I feel about the slow movement in any direction for Blitzen and her siblings.

I am not saying what is right, I am not saying what is best, I am not saying that I am the answer or know the answer but I am saying limbo is stupid. These kids need permanency and someone needs to own it and make it happen.

To that the Chaplain said ‘Amen!’

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