Thursday, December 17, 2009


FosterAbba, who is much better about linking to other people and previous posts than I am, just commented on my last post reminding me that she would have asked for a removal long ago if she were fostering Sabrina. My highlighting this is NOT, NOT, NOT to be read as a comment on her approach to parenting. It is because it reminded me of something else that happened this morning.

When I was on the phone with the social worker's supervisor's supervisor, he made noises indicating that he at least expected me to ask for Sabrina to be removed, if not outright asked me if I wanted it, but honestly at this point I don't remember exactly what he said or asked. After all, I had a four year old yanking on my hair and I was in tears at the time. But I do remember then spelling something about ICPC and her "f-a-t-h-e-r" (which he then asked me to say or spell again because he didn't catch it; look, it's not like the time I spelled "o-b-s-t-i-n-a-t-e" when I was on the phone with my mom, even though Sabrina probably doesn't know what "obstinate" means) and how if the Agency had submitted the referral in a timely fashion, this wouldn't be an issue, and how Sabrina is really smart and sweet when she isn't biting/hitting/pulling hair. In other words, "why is your default opinion that I'm going to mess this kid's life up even more?"

Then when we finally got to school, 35 minutes late even though we were on track to get to school in time for breakfast, and I told the teacher about our morning so far, her teacher asked me if I was "going to keep her."

This whole situation makes me wonder if I'm really up to being a foster parent; if I can't handle a four year old who DOESN'T have issues like ODD, RAD, FASD (as far as I know), etc., how will I parent a kid who DOES have those issues?

So no, I'm not asking for Sabrina to be removed. She'll go to her dad's for an extended visit over Christmas and then come back until dad's state takes care of his home study and such. (That time will be A.W.F.U.L. but I'm just not worrying about it 'til the time comes.) And it doesn't bother me that FosterAbba thinks that's the way to go. But what DOES bother me is that removal is the first thought of professionals who supposedly have the interests of kids at heart.


  1. The reason that I lean towards a removal has nothing to do with your abilities. I would lean towards removal because I don't think it's appropriate that a regular foster parent should have to deal with physically violent children on a daily basis.

    As for the professionals, they reason they assume, by default, that you want a removal is because they have no other tool in their arsenal. There's no pill they can give a kid to make her stop hitting, and there's no therapy that will instantly fix a kid, so they often use removal as a tool in the hopes that maybe someone else won't have the same problem.

    In my admittedly limited experience, moving kids around doesn't usually fix the problem. Sure, there might be a honeymoon where the drama eases for a few days, weeks, or even months, but eventually things end up spinning out of control again.

    The girl that we had removed ended up winding her way through more than 20 placements. Eventually, the county gave up and placed her back with her biological mother (from whom she'd been removed two or three years prior) because they simply couldn't figure out anywhere else to place her. She'd been through foster homes, group homes and even locked facilities. She was placed in and out of county, yet she kept making trouble, running away, and eventually finding her way home.

    They kept moving her, hoping the next placement would be better than the last. Finally, they finally gave up, let her have what she wanted and sent her home.

    As for your specific situation with your child, I don't think her hitting is caused by your inability to parent, or your inability to control her. Her hitting is caused by the fact that she's been taught it's okay to hit. She's using the problem-solving tools in her arsenal, and unfortunately she hasn't figured out that hitting, at least in your home, isn't going to get her what she wants.

  2. I don't really know what to say except that I think you're doing your "job" and doing it right, and the people in the system are not holding up their end of the deal. It's not appropriate for Sabrina to not be getting therapy of any sort. It's not appropriate for you to not have ANY resources to turn to. But that's what you've got to work with and you're working with it. I think you're doing a fantastic job as a foster parent, but only you will know what you can do. I'm glad you're able to be there for Sabrina even when she's not being smart and sweet, because at least you're someone who's not letting her down. I hope she can go to her Daddy House soon, but you're dealing with a bureaucracy that could barely get your homestudy approved in one decade..... It just sucks, for you and for her. But don't worry about the kids you could have; do your best for the one you've got. Despite all the mess, I think you're doing well.

  3. I don't think that removal is ever the first CHOICE of a social worker. However, our experience usually tells us that when a foster parent calls the worker and tells them that they are being hit, kicked, bitten, etc on a regular basis - that is usually immediately followed by a request for removal. I am always surprised when a foster parent DOESN'T request a removal the first time the child becomes aggressive. Its sad, but its our reflex reaction because that is our experience.

    Now, I don't think that Sabrina's behavior is any reflection of your parenting. She was parented by someone else for 4 years - you, only a few weeks. And don't forget that just because she hasn't been diagnosed with something doesn't mean she has not experienced and is reacting to trauma - at the very least the trauma of being removed from her mother and placed with a stranger.

    As far as the hitting/kicking/etc - what would she do if you just walked away from her when she started getting aggressive? If you simply stopped the conversation, got up, and walked away from her? I know that you are stressed out about being late - but perhaps that would difuse the situation and she wouldn't have control over it anymore? Just a thought.

  4. @socialwrkr: I try just to walk away. In fact, that's part of why it took so long this morning. (It might have worked better if I had been wearing gloves and a hat. Wow was it tough pretending not to care that we were hanging out in the cold.) The call to the social worker--and subsequently her supervisor and then her supervisor's supervisor--was not a "hey, this is happening on a regular basis and I need you to do something" call, but a "I made the mistake of sitting in my car to wait for Sabrina to let me buckle her seatbelt, and she has grabbed my hair and won't let go, and do you have ANY WORDS OF ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE ME BECAUSE I AM IN A LOT OF PAIN RIGHT NOW HELP ME HELP ME" call. In other words, I would have loved to walk away, but I was trapped!

    This reminds me, I expect her home any time now, so I should put my hair in a bun.

  5. LOL - oh sorry, didn't mean to laugh... I was just invisioning the time I got into that exact same scenario - child's fingers tangled into my hair from the backseat - good times. NOT.

    I can try to describe some "defensive" moves to reduce pain/loss of hair and get yourself out of her grip if you'd like. Once I mastered these techniques, it made pulling my hair/hitting/biting me way less effective. Let me know if you want them... maybe I can even find illustrations somewhere...

    Sigh - hope you're getting some sleep tonight!

  6. Oooh, defensive moves sound good. When I tried just holding my hair closer to my head than her hands, I apparently accidentally scratched her finger. Guess what she told mom during her visit today?

  7. I was just thinking how if I was in your position, I would be grabbing her arms and moving her away - forcefully, if necessary. I know I'm repeating myself, but I am amazed and humbled by your patience. Don't let yourself be too patient!
    And btw, I'm with you on not waving the white flag. Yes, DO get the resources you need from your state, but don't give up.