One of the reader comments in response to “What would you like me to talk about?” focused on the ever-present specter of getting hotlined for “suspected abuse” and having your kids taken from you. Actually, the reader stated it more in terms of “Us” and “Them” and sadly, I couldn’t agree more with her choice of words. I would like to think this particular aspect of parenting traumatized and abused kids would be getting better—meaning that “They” would have a better understanding of what these kids say and do. THEY don’t …
For example, this post appeared on one of ATN’s listserves today … and is reprinted with permission:
Friday night son and husband had another blowout when husband told son he couldn’t go skating (behavior issues and no money). Son stormed upstairs and husband followed (therapist had told us not to leave him alone when he’s mad because he has started cutting himself). Son sat against the door and wouldn’t move. When husband broke it getting in he found son with a safety razor (not sure where he got it because we have been keeping his locked up and only allowing him to shave under supervision).
My husband ended up restraining son on his stomach on his mattress when son tried to leave the room through his second story window after swinging at husband several times. Husband couldn’t restrain son in the “prescribed manner” (did I mention son’s 5’9″ about 180lbs?). Son clawed husband and attempted to bite him several times. He bit husband on the forearm (very deep, broke the skin). Husband apparently opened his mouth to scream and son’s neck was right there. Son has a bruise on the back of his neck.
After son calmed down enough for husband to let him loose, son wanted to call the police so he could leave this house. Husband let him. The police came and talked to son and husband (and me). At first son was surly (although he had already decided he didn’t want to leave after all). Then he began sobbing and said he was afraid of letting us into his heart because he didn’t want to get hurt again. He hadn’t slept well for 2 days because he’d started having flashbacks (of his abuse). After a 1 1/2 hour discussion (mostly with son sobbing and opening up to me) the police decided to leave him in our custody with a warning that next time they would take him to Juvie (this is the 3rd time he’s been involved with the police because of his anger in the 6 months he’s been with us). Son slept in our room on a futon because he didn’t want to be alone (and we were too exhausted to check his room for things he could hurt himself with).
After son fell asleep, husband sent an e-mail to our “team” (out-of-state caseworker, in-state caseworker, GAL and therapists) telling them what happened. The next evening the in-state caseworker came and took son and his sister, C, to respite. C, who was just starting to anxiously attach to me, was calling us “those people” by the time she left and refusing to let me touch her. (Their biomom sent them away when they got out of control and finally said she didn’t want them back). We were told to help them pack enough clothes for a week.
The kids will be gone until the investigation is over. Anywhere from a week to 2 months, assuming they are allowed to return at all. I’m surviving, but only because I’m already on anti-anxiety medication. Husband is a total mess, and the little kids are confused and afraid. They’ll still get to see C in school this week, and next week they’ll all 4 go to summer camp together (assuming they’re allowed to). Husband and I are not allowed any contact with them until the investigation is over.
Husband and I did search son’s room today. In a way this is probably not such a bad thing for him. He probably needs to get some more help then we thought (we found many homemade weapons). We hadn’t thought he was that bad. His sister on the other hand kept saying she hadn’t done anything wrong. I’m guessing we’re going to be back to square one with C if not worse.
Could really use some prayers and support (and advice if you have any). I hate this system that doesn’t train us on how to deal with our kids, tells us we’re doing great every time we deal with issues the best we can, and then yanks them away.
Wouldn’t we all love it if this were the exception and not the rule? But it isn’t. There are families all over the country experiencing this. We are given these kids but given few or no tools to use in our efforts, little or no support in making it happen, and to add insult to injury, we are condemned and criticized for most of what we do. Having these kids pulled will set this family back immensely. They will have to start all over convincing their daughter that they, the parents, are strong enough to keep her safe. And “the system” will have done a fabulous job of showing both kids how to effectively manipulate and work the program to avoid accountability.
I watched something on television the other night about a mom who drives a Honda Odyssey, the minivan I used to drive myself. Apparently the power doors are nailing quite a few little hands as they close… and parents are having limited success in getting this problem addressed. So this one mom, whose kids had been caught in the door twice already, took a picture with her cell phone before freeing her son’s hand. Now she has some real proof to show the auto manufacturer. (Go here to see the picture.)
Can’t you just hear the criticism leveled at this mom because she spent 30 seconds taking a picture? Never mind that she had a bigger picture in mind… I can just imagine the heat she is taking because she didn’t rescue her son immediately.
So it is with us… we have a much bigger picture in mind but all folks can see is the moment. If we don’t do everything in our power to make life as easy for our kids as possible, we are “bad parents”. But how many of the folks condemning us have had to deal with a 180 pound raging kid who is downright dangerous? This is craziness at its best!