Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesdays Tears - Unspeakable Trauma

I have always had neglect cases.

So far I'm glad about that.

Last night one of my kiddos told mie about a past trauma that no one was aware of (well, at least not mie or my family).  It was an innocent conversation - I was telling my kiddos individually how good they were doing while we were driving in the car - and out spilled the trauma.  Though all my kids were "good", one child who I'd never heard of before, was "bad".  When I asked why so and so was bad, I was told of horrific things that were done to "my" child by this other kid, things that no one should ever know about and children of this age should not even be able to imagine in their wildest imagination.  Specific details of abuse at the hands of another child.  My child didn't act as if it were "traumatic" but calmly expressed her disapproval of that kind of behavior.

As any good foster mom does, I silently teared up, knowing this child couldn't see my face (I was driving), and calmly allowed this child to tell mie what was in his/her heart.  I questioned a little bit to see the extend of the abuse, who was involved, and where/how often it took place.  I tried not to be leading and tried to avoid placing shame on this child for the abuse but clearly expressed that what happened was not ok and reiterated what should happen if anyone tries anything like that again.

Then I scrambled to compose myself and figure out what to do next.  It was after hours, there was no present danger for my child, and we're in the middle of a caseworker switch.  I decided to tell my husband about the discussion (he wasn't there at the time, away with Logan, thank God) and then to call the caseworkers in the morning.

Clearly the worst part about this is that this precious child experienced something like this early on, but beyond that it brings up so much crap that most people (non-foster/adopt families) don't think about.

For example:

  • What if they think I'm making it up?  I can't imagine why someone would make something like this up, but still, what if they think that. 
  • The allegation is against another foster child (I think, I don't know the child's name from anything) at a previous foster home.  I don't know the foster family or this other child.  I didn't witness the abuse.  I do believe something happened because the details are not something that would/could be made up, but what if it didn't happen at the former foster home?  What if my child is confusing a memory with something that happened before her time in foster care?  What if my child is confusing a memory with something that happened at the hands of the foster parent, or another child, and not the child that was named?  This is such BIG stuff - it needs to be told and not kept with mie - but what if the information is not entirely accurate?
  • Fear - the abuse occurred in a closet (so I'm told).  Every Saturday morning the kids wake-up early and bring all their stuff from their bedroom to the closet.  They play in there.  What if the abused has become an abuser and has done similar things to my daughter who is too young to communicate that yet?  I've told them not to play in the closet (mostly because I'm tired of taking ALL their stuff back out) and I've never noticed anything that would make me think something like this has happened but what if...?
  • What if it leads to an investigation - like somehow they think we're involved or something...?  What if after this case ends this child remembers our home in place of her last and accuses us of something?
  • What if they just plain don't believe mie or want to protect the state (because this happened in a foster home) so they deny it and look past it?  Will our child get the appropriate help?  
  • What about the accused child - if this story is indeed true and the named child is at fault, how many other victims might there be?  Are they going to get the help?  Will the accused child get help?
  • What will be involved in the investigation about this?  Will there be one?  Will there have to be a physical exam or a psychological exam or even criminal interrogation?  What will our child have to go through as a result?  What will our family and our other children have to go through as a result?  
This all just breaks my heart.  

We've had a situation with a placement in the past where the child in a RADish rage started yelling at mie that I was a monster and that I can't beat him anymore (I never ever touched that child out of punishment or aggression and in that moment was very calm).  I remember asking a few foster parent friends for advice on how to handle it - they recommended reporting to our homestudy worker (FAD worker) and the child's caseworker - I told them and nothing ever came of it (thankfully).  We had another incident where my nephew was learning about different types of abuse and different ways foster children might act out in the home while their family was going through PRIDE classes - at that point he mentioned an acting-out behavior that this same placement had been caught engaging in (alone) several months earlier.  At the time he didn't know about acting-out so he just told him to stop what he was doing and didn't make a big deal about but after learning about things he thought he should say something.  I was nervous about that one too - it had been several months and I'd never seen that behavior - what do I do about it?

To top it off - this happened in a foster home.  Apparently there were concerns about this foster home anyway, though not THIS issue as far as I'm aware, probably about spanking or something.  It sucks that now there is this situation that I'm personally familiar with of the stereotypical "bad foster home" experience for this little child (and potentially others).  I have a feeling the foster family was aware of the problem based on some things that were said.  It's just wrong all around.

I hope this gets the attention it needs and our child gets the help needed to heal.  I hope our family is spared unnecessary trauma and that the truth is identified and handled appropriately.  I hope to never have to go through this again and that, more importantly, every child that comes into my home from here forward is always protected and safe in foster care, before and after they enter our family.


Vertical Mom said...

ACK! Mie, that stinks :-( Your poor baby. Keep us posted so we know how to pray for your family.

Jess said...

Praying for your child! I would recommend counseling for the little girl. Poor thing, when abuse came out in my family I tried explaining to my cousin that abusers don't want to abuse just like alcoholics don't wake up one day and decide...I want to be an alcoholic. Crack addicts don't decide to be an addict, it happens slowly, down a slippery slope. And the same with abuse, if the person doesn't seek help.

Prayers for you as you seek to tell your case worker, that it may be taken seriously but not point fingers at you or your family. That this little girl may get the love, attention, and help she truly deserves.

What a hard hard topic. One that people tend to sweep under the rug or pretend that it isn't that common. <3