Monday, July 11, 2011

CPS Nightmare Redux

Over two months ago, my children were taken out of class at their respective schools because someone had reported that I had a hole in my kitchen ceiling (true) and that we had no running water (never true).    Also,  I found out today, it was stated erroneously that I don’t seek counseling for my children’s mental health needs (untrue, my kids have received counseling through a mental health agency and private sources for years and we are working with their family assistance program also. I have a referral into a new family counseling service and I am working with a hospital to have my boys evaluated.   My children are all on medication and have pediatric check-ups every two to three months).  

 It seemed that the social worker was not too concerned because after the first day, she did not call me back to schedule a follow up for a long time.  I called back several  times and only got the answering machine. Then this morning, she came to my house.

When we awoke, the electricity was off.  My kids ate and were in their bedrooms while  I was working on trying to work out an insurance issue for one of my children which I had been doing for about an hour when there was a loud bang on the door.  My kids looked out the window and said there were two well-dressed African American women outside.  I assumed they were Jehovah’s Witnesses since we weren’t expecting anyone and that’s common in our neighborhood.  My kids are not allowed to open the door for strangers.  Several minutes later, there was loud banging on the door and someone was yelling in the door for me.  I had to abandon the important call and get dressed.  

It was apparent immediately that I was in trouble as I had taken too long to answer the door.  Another issue was that there was an overwhelming odor that I had never smelled before downstairs.  I’m not going to lie:  it was really bad!  I didn’t have any time to process this because of course she noticed.  We discovered the unusual source of the odor after she left and took care of it (I had thought it was a dirty litter box, but it wasn’t).  Also, she wanted to know  ”who was asleep on my couch”.  Answer:  my teenager, but the tone made me feel embarrassed.
The social worker was very confrontational .    She told us that we had to find our two cats and put them away because they were both highly allergic and didn't like cats.  I tend to be very civil in all situations, but she was so aggressive.  She told me to turn on the lights.  I said we didn’t have any on.  She asked why.  I said the electricity is off.  She said, “Why is your electricity off?” in such an accusatory way that I did snap at her and say I didn’t know.  The electricity was all off all day all over my part of the county but it sounded like she wanted me to say that I hadn’t paid my bill.  

She walked around the house which I would say is a bit messy, but okay for a busy family of 5.  We spend a couple of hours a day tidying and cleaning and I do ten or more loads of laundry a week.  All the kids have chores.   My daughter had just taken out the recycling and trash and had dropped a chicken bone from the bag in the kitchen.  The social worker went off about this.  She also went off about my library (where the kids are not allowed to go) because I had piles of books everywhere.   My summer project is sorting the books to give many of them away because we have having several rooms of our house remodeled and we have too many books.   I apologized to the social worker because we have so many books!   She told me to do something about that!

  She pointed out everything that was out of place.   She told me that I need to teach my kids better and take more pride in my home.  She said her kids listen when she tells them to do something and mine can too.   She glanced about the rest of the house and the only truly messy room is my sons’ room because they are very destructive.  I have to monitor them every minute to make sure it stays contained to their bedroom only.  Ironically, my kids think I'm a clean fanatic.

I was told that she had planned to dismiss the case, but she couldn’t because my house was too messy.  She said she would develop a Safety Plan for me to sign.  She said if my house wasn’t clean  by next week , she could take all four of my kids.    My 16 year old (who had been traumatized by the visit to her high school months ago)  told the social worker she didn’t want to be taken away.  She responded, “I don’t know what your mother has told you…”  The answer is that my teenager is the one that was made to believe that.  I had told her there was no chance that they would take children because they were having home repairs done.  She now knows that I was wrong.
 
Then she brought the other social worker in after I put the cats away.  This social worker talked to my boys about helping out, but it was obvious that they have no insight into the levels of issues with my boys.   But one did say, "have you ever considered that some of your kids may have Reactive Attachment Disorder?"

 They showed me the “Safety Plan” and I asked what I could do if I disagreed with it since I was signing a document that said I recognize that my kids can be taken away if I don’t  clean my house.  She said in a hostile voice that I could see them in court.  What I meant was not that I wouldn’t comply, but rather that I did not agree that I don’t do my laundry, clean my toilets (which she didn’t see), clean linens,  vacuum, take out the trash, etc.  the one thing I did agree with her about was the litter box because the odor was bad and it is not typically.  After she left we discovered that the smell was not the litter boxes which we scrub every Sunday, but rather something that my elderly sick cat had done that needed to be cleaned up.  Once it was cleaned up, there was no odor.
After they left we were shell shocked.  I just cried because being a single mom of 4 teens and preteens  with special needs is hard enough without the added expectation of a spotless house.  I put enough pressure on the kids about keeping the house clean.  

 It’s doubtful that my children will be taken because there is absolutely no danger to their physical well-being or safety.  I am a very protective parent.  However, I do see this bombastic style of confronting my family as emotionally damaging to them as individuals and as detrimental to our fragile sense of ourselves as a family unit.  It is not easy to bring together so many older children who have not lived together and create a sense of family unity.  The result of this morning’s visit was not that everyone decided to stick together and work this out as a family, but rather to place blame on those that were responsible for the “messes” and to wonder if some can stay and some can go if it comes to that.  One asked if only the sloppiest of them can go and I had to explain that the issue wasn’t whether they were too sloppy, but whether I was good enough parent to them.  One said that perhaps he should be the one to go since he breaks everything.  This is a heartbreaking situation for me.


70 comments:

Barb G said...

I am so sorry you are dealing with this. (((hugs))) What rubbish!

Kathleen Benckendorf said...

So sorry. This stinks.

www.fightcps.com - I'm told there are great resources here.

My understanding is that, w/o a warrant, and short of an immediate threat to the safety & wellbeing of the children, technically you don't have to let them in.

Denise said...

I'm so sorry you and the kids went through that. That is just crazy!

Psycho Mom said...

What a bunch of crap. My house always looks like what you describe. These ladies sound crazy. So sorry you have to deal with this junk. So sorry your kids have to go through this kind of stress as well. Wish there were easy answers. Am glad you could at least vent through writing. That just royally sucks.

Gina Locke said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. OUCH! Immediately call STATE CPS. They oversee your county CPS and putting in a complaint with them will require them to investigate the county organization that did this to you. Make sure you provide them with complete names if possible, dates and times, their exact threats and how if affected your children.
They should act professional at all times. They did not. They should not traumatize children. They did so.
Request that these workers apologize to your children, preferably in writing. Let the state know that you have kids with mental issues and how deeply this affected them. Request that workers with knowledge of mental disorders be assigned to finish out this particular investigation.

Learn your rights. That's probably the single most important thing. You do have them. You are single with four kids. The wrong workers will take advantage of that because they know they can go on a power trip and you don't have the resources to fight back.

Here is a link with some info: http://www.familyrightsassociation.com/

Read the good stuff, ie eat the meat, spit out the bones. You don't have to go overboard fighting them or being rude and some of the ideas on the linked site are overkill, but you do need to know your rights in order to protect yourself and your family when social workers on an ego trip come knocking and this site provides that information.

Anonymous said...

Get a lawyer, and DO NOT open the door to CPS again unless they have a LAW OFFICER WITH A WARRANT. Refer anyone else to your lawyer. If they arrive with a cop & a warrant, request your lawyer's presence (they must comply). And visit fightcps.com. Good luck. CPS is out of control.

Gina Locke said...

Just letting you know you're in my prayers and will continue to be. I don't know what type of emotional support you have around you, but if you ever need someone to vent to, feel free to contact me. Yep, a complete stranger off the internet. LOL Not my usual, but your story has touched me, especially considering that I spent a number of years as a single parent and also know the sudden shock and devastation of waking up okay on morning, only to have your life and reality drastically altered five minutes later thanks to "that knock on the door."

Stay strong. You can do this.

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