Child Abuse for Dummies: The Politics of Child Abuse
By Joshua Allen
DCFS Has “Taken your kid.”
When social workers come to your home to remove your children: Put your shirt on before opening the door. And incidentally, how come your shirt is off every time a social worker comes to your home?
If social workers are taking your baby for neglect: Don’t light up a cigarette (or anything else) while they are there and your kids are crying. You can do that when they’re gone. Oh, and don’t make a scene, it’s not good for the children.
Now this is important:
Gather up as many clothes as possible so the social worker can put them in a garbage bag to bring to the foster home. It may be days before your children have a change of clothes. Foster parents should buy or have on hand some clothes right away. But they are busy the first few days, taking your kids to the doctor,specialists, enrolling into school or special needs, visiting shrinks, taking them to children’s court, the dentist, or the offices or a half dozen other social workers, investigators or lawyers.
And... if your child needs any medicine please make sure the worker gets it before they leave. (It's a big deal).
Don’t scream or act stupidly in front of the social workers, therapists the judge, anyone else, and especially your children. I know it’s hard, but Really - Don’t yell, scream or cry!
It doesn’t help your cause. It will add more time to your separation, and frankly, haven’t you screamed enough?
Get the Emergency Workers phone numbers. The Emergency worker is the guy or gal who comes to your home with the cop to remove your children. They know you’re hurting, but be polite. You need their help to learn what your new friends want you to do.
And here is why. More days than necessary will pass before your child is entered into the data base if the ER Worker is difficult. Nothing happens until your children become a number in the system. Until then, you are in limbo before anyone can tell you your child’s status, whom you should call, where to visit your kids, where to take your classes or drug tests, find shrinks, - or do whatever else the county wants you to do. So be nice.
When you call your social worker (or anyone else), leave one (1) message, or if you really must, two. Don’t do more. I know you want to, but don’t. Really, don’t. Every message beyond a couple is counter-productive. (That means it won’t do you any good and may hurt).
Your phone message should be direct, clear and polite. Don’t complain, blame, or inventory your problems. Save that for your neighbor. It’s probably okay to say you’re concerned and want to do right by your kids. Be concise, leave contact info, (Be sure to have a cell phone with paid minutes), and express gratitude in advance to them for returning your call.
Faux (fake) or not, gratitude goes a long way towards helping your cause, if for no other reason then it differentiates you from all the other angry resentful buzz killers social workers have to deal with on a daily basis.
Remember, your goal is to learn what you need to do, (to get your children back), the best way to do it, where they are, and how frequently you can visit your children. Anything else is unpleasant commentary and won’t help you.
Visitation can be tricky.
Try to work with the foster parents and be reasonable regarding time and distance. If you insist on daily 3-hour-monitored visits close to your home (which will be monitored by the foster parent), your children will probably be moved to another home from the nice one the worker just found at 3:00 am last night. The foster parent just won’t do it. Nobody will. And nobody beyond the judge - not even your children - want daily-3-hour-monitored-visits a week. This may be new, but try to understand what's best for your children.
Think about it.
It can’t be good for your kids to be bounced to another home, right? You do get that? It happens a lot and it is just terrible for kids. Yes you have to get them back, (just like you had to have that rock). But think. The most important thing is to minimize their suffering through this ordeal which if your honest, is most likely your fault.
If the county worker or judge says ‘jump through hoops,’ do it. ‘Jump through hoops!’ Yes sir, no sir, do you want another sir? You know the drill – again, you do want your kids back right? Jump, twist, stand on your head…whatever. It doesn’t matter who is right, not this time.
There is no other principle, no other priority, except to be a good parent to your children. Everything else stems from that.
Don’t blame the County, the Social Workers, the Judge, the Foster parents, your chidlren, their Teachers, their Doctor, you Neighbor, or ‘the System’ for having your kids ripped from their home. Everyone has heard it a million times and it’s usually a lie - Almost always. Even when it’s true you likely won’t be believed. Instead, look in the mirror. You’ll probably find your answers there.
If you have two dimes to rub together, GET A LAWYER! Do whatever it takes to get your own lawyer. I can’t stress this enough. If you wait for the one the county provides you’ll be waiting for your kids, maybe for a long time. In life you get what you pay for, and that includes lawyers. This is not a time to be cheap. You want your children back? Repeat…Get a good lawyer, and pronto. Sell your possessions if you must, (the legal ones), but just do it.
Basically, the amount of money you spend to reunify with your children can be inversely proportional to the amount of time they are away from you. There are many exceptions of course, but how often do you see wealthy kids in foster care?
If you must settle for the county provided attorney offered to you, then it is okay to break the above rule regarding leaving only 2 phone messages, since you may have to leave a dozen or so before getting a call back, (if you’re lucky).
You’ll probably meet that government provided attorney initially a few minutes before your first hearing at children’s court. And don't talk much unless they ask a question since they will probably be reading your file for the first time, as will the judge the first minute they see your face. Your lawyer will need those precious 5 minutes before the hearing to read the file before, so wait until the lawyer asks you something. If you have questions, be concise, better yet, have them written down, preferably in bullet form.
If you’re a man and you are ordered to stay away from the wife or the children whom you hit, (or worse) then Stay Away. Don’t sneak back to your Lady/Wife/Partner/Girlfriend/Baby Mama, even if she agrees. Yes, they often agree, but stop being selfish.
Take the monitored visits like the adult you are and do what you have to do to be back into your kids’ lives. http://www.tmz.com/2012/01/28/halle-berry-gabriel-aubry-dcfs-anger-management-classes/#.T43Gz6seOrY
Follow the judges rules. Yes, the rules may be unfair, stupid, wrong, or more likely, put there for all the right reasons. Will fighting court orders get your kids back faster? Has it ever worked for you before?
Go to the meetings, stay clean, and go to those anger management groups or family therapy. Do the 12 steps or whatever. They might work http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/08/drunk-mom-arrested-while-_n_780258.html (Or maybe not). What’s life without hope?
Somehow keep your job, or get one. Clean floors if you have to. “Do the right thing.” And as I previously noted, keep your shirt on. (That goes for ladies too, err... unless that’s your job I suppose). And if the county wants clean pee tests, well…do the impossible. How much do love your kids? You keep saying it…
Oh, and don’t scare the social worker, the majority are females and often touchy-feely. They don’t respond well to loud words, anger, 20 phone messages, dozens of emails, lies, threats, resentment or generalized stupidity. And well…yes, occasionally the workers are nuts.
So remember; smooth sailing, that’s what it’s about. Therefore your best move is to be polite, kind, considerate and obsequious. (That means compliant or servile). As far as the system goes, a little honey goes a long way.
It’s unfortunate, but a lot of birth mothers seem to choose a perpetrators warm body in bed over being with their children.
You’re not one of those are you?
If the Guy, Baby Father, Boyfriend, Husband – whatever – needs to stay away, make him stay away. Call the cops. If you have to move - move! If grandma isn’t allowed visitation, then don’t sneak her to your home or to that monitored visit at McDonalds. And if you – yes you – are supposed to stay away until clean, then get clean.
By the way, you should learn to like McDonalds since you’ll be meeting your kids and the monitor there quite a bit. The place should charge a table fee for all the non-paying birth parents they have at their establishments every week. So be polite and buy the lunch for your kids instead of making the foster parent pay. They’re really not getting as much money as you think. And, well, it makes a good impression with both your kids and the foster parents whom you want on your side. (So the foster parents tell the social worker what a great parent you are).
When you visit your children, look decent, grooming goes a long way. Show up on time, be polite with the foster family, apologize to your kids, and hug them. Don’t argue with the worker or foster parents in front of them - ever.
Don’t disparage the foster parents, and don’t tell your kids they are returning home right away when you have no bleeping idea. Don’t behave like a jerk in front of them, just stop that type of behavior.
Don’t tell your kids to lie about how bad the foster home is. It will further damage your children when they be forced to move to another home because of your thoughtlessness and stupidity. It won’t get them back one second faster. It will do the opposite. And everyone, including your kids will resent you for it. That may not matter much to you but if you’ve read this far it probably does. And it really stinks.
Take responsibility, it will help you and your children. If you have a problem with the foster home, make a respectful concern to your attorney and the social worker. Don’t make stuff up about the foster home. That will just mess everyone up, you the most.
Walk through Hell-Fire and Brick Walls to get your children back. Isn’t that what good parents do? If this means improve your character, get clean, take classes, get a job, stop tweaking, or find G-d. Then do all those things and really mean it. Show everyone, especially your children, you want to be a better parent.
Hopefully you haven’t perpetrated too many unspeakable things to your children and they can forgive you. It happens so don’t give up hope. Children want to love their parents, they really do. Give them a reason to.
Don’t forget to apologize to your kids again, and take responsibility. Own it. When appropriate, hug them and tell them you love them. Thank all that’s good and decent for the second chance. There may not be a third, or fourth, or fifth…
And finally, and this is my own take on things and it won’t hurt;
It always helps to pray.