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Posts Tagged ‘agency’

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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So, the thing with extended unsupervised family visits is that there is no damage control, there is no perspective. Whatever is heard has about 8 hours to marinate in the 11 year old brain and become fact.

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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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To not leave New York if I go to live with mommy?

I’m not leaving New York but how about I promise not to leave New York until your old enough to come visit me no matter where I live?

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I am really having trouble listening to Blitzen.  It is hard to sit with compassion and kindness while someone tells you how much you suck, even when you know that is not what they are really saying.  Andrew keeps telling me not to listen to her words.  And I know that this streak of awfulness is related to anxiety and fear about 1) moving 2) new summer schedule 3) vacation 4) cancelled and rearranged family visits.

Sigh.

I went out on the stoop to get some space and peace and hang out with my best friends, Ben and Jerry.  Blitzen followed me outside to yell at me some more, tell me that I didn’t need ice cream, proceeded to stick her hand in my pint (yeah, it is that bad – I am eating it straight from the carton – if you see a disheveled woman roaming the streets of NYC trying to eat ice cream discreetly from a carton wrapped in a paper bag, you’ll know that it is me) and I maturely responded by pitching the pint out into the street causing Blitzen to start sobbing and yelling that a car was going to hit the ice cream, flip over and people would die and it would be all my fault.  When I explained that due to physics, this chain reaction was extremely unlikely, she replied that she had seen it happen at her old foster home.  I couldn’t argue because Blitzen has seen a lot of fucked up and unbelievable shit so it might have actually happened.

PS – Dear internet – I know that throwing my carton of ice cream was extremely bad parenting and littering, and I am deeply regretful about both of those things. But no one died in a car flipping tragedy so at least there is that.

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1) I will continue to self-medicate with Ben and Jerry’s every night, ultimately reaching an extraordinarily unhealthy  weight as opposed to my current a little bit unhealthy weight and get diabetes, have to give up the ice cream (my sole comfort in life)?

2) My heart will explode from all the adrenal constantly coursing through my body as it plays out stupid ‘flight or fight’ to Blitzen’s fight and flight every day?

3) I will move to Alaska, change my name Brown Bear Betty and attempt to live with bears until they eat me?  I am deliciously Ben and Jerry’s flavored at this point so it wouldn’t be long before the bears decided to snack on me.

4) Figure out self-care?

I think, sadly, given my personality and 43 years of experience, 4 is actually the least likely to happen.

Also, we have an FTC today.  I know that I swore last time that I would never go back.  But since I am so bad at #4, I will probably go….

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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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