I wrote this article on June 26,2010, I thought I would reprint it on my blog today:
Being a foster parent is a fulfilling job, but there are risks involved.
Separating a parent and child is a serious thing, and most parents
react violently to having their child removed. Once the shock wears off,
the parents will sometimes come to the realization that they are going
to have to work with the state to fix what ever caused the removal,
although it's still a volatile thing and parents can be quick to accuse
the state of anything they can think of.
As a foster parent, I am
usually able to have a good relationship with the parents of the
children I care for. They soon realize I had nothing to do with their
child being removed; I am just the lady hired to care for the child
while they are going through this hard time. I do what I can to give the
parents peace of mind. If they seem stable enough, I will usually give
them my cell phone number so they can call me and check up on the child,
or just talk. I enjoy the mentoring part of my job.
But once in
a while there will be parents who are just angry. Usually those are the
ones whose anger problem is why they are in this situation. Maybe they
abused the child, or maybe they tore their family apart because they
abused themselves and each other. Whatever the case may be, these
parents are out to get everyone, including the foster parent.
took care of a lovable little girl for twenty months who had parents
like this. We called her MiMi. I loved MiMi immensely, but her father
gave me trouble the whole time she was in my care. In fact, I was
finally investigated myself because of accusations he made.
began at court. I always attend the court hearings for my foster
children. It gives me the opportunity to talk to the child's
caseworkers, CASA workers and attorney. They hand me copies of their
reports. I can listen to what is said to the judge by everyone involved.
By the time I leave, I know where everything stands in my foster
child's case, and what still needs to be done in order for the parents
to have their child returned to them.
One hearing, while we
waited for the judge, I could see MiMi's father talking angrily to his
attorney and hand him a paper. The attorney glanced at me, looked
embarrassed, and walked over to the CASA worker, showing her paper. The
CASA worker soon came over to me. "Has MiMi had a bad diaper rash
recently? Or a yeast infection?" She asked.
"Yes, she has. I
showed it to the doctor at our last check up. I suspect it's because she
has been taken off formula and put on whole milk, and also, she had
some pineapple juice that she hadn't had before." I answered.
"Oh, you've had her at the doctor recently?" She asked.
"Oh, yes, just this month." I replied.
The CASA worker visibly relaxed.
I soon discovered what was up. MiMi's father had a letter from her
mother, who was in jail. He had told her about MiMi's bad rash, and she
wrote a letter to the court accusing me of abuse. She even had a letter
from a "doctor" who had never seen MiMi, who said that the only way a
child would develop a yeast infection was if they had been abused. I was
horrified that anyone would think I had hurt this precious little girl.
The CASA worker stood up for me, telling the judge I was a good,
experienced foster mother. The state's attorney showed the father that I
had had MiMi at the doctor just within a day or so of his accusation.
The father began to back track and try to change the dates. The judge
finally ordered that I take MiMi to the doctor, along with the mother's
letter, within the next 48 hours and have her examined.
I called my pediatrician when I got home, and made an appointment for the next day.
Although MiMi had not been abused before, I felt like she was by the
time she had been examined. Although the doctor's examine was gentle and
careful, I hated that she had to be put through that. The doctor
confirmed she had not been abused, and agreed it was probably the milk
causing her rash. He said yeast infections
were so common in babies; they actually had a medicine for it. He gave
me a prescription for the rash and also for the eczema and croup MiMi
was prone too. The medicine and advice worked wonders, I was especially
careful, and we didn't have problems after that.
embarrassment of being accused of such a serious charge made me overly
cautious around MiMi's father, and caused me to make a mistake a few
One morning, the day before MiMi had a visit with
her father, I noticed a bruise that almost encircled her tiny forearm,
and looked just like a grab mark. I knew I had not grabbed MiMi, and
because she was always with me, I knew no one else had, either. She did,
however, have a terrible sensory disorder, and often threw herself
around while having tantrums.
Oh, how I dreaded the next day. If
her father would accuse me of abuse over the toddlers diaper rash, what
was he going to say about this bruise? My stomach clenched as their
visit grew closer. As I dressed her the next day, I decided to cover
some mosquito bites with little band aids, and put one over the bruise,
too. I couldn't stand the thought of the confrontation he and I would
have if he saw the bruise.
As I lifted her from the car at the
CPS office, I considered taking the band aids off. I had not hurt MiMi,
why did I feel like I had to hide anything? I struggled with indecision,
and then decided to leave the band aids where they were. I took her
into the office, handed her to her father under the supervisor's
watchful eye, and as they went back to the visit room, I asked to see
her caseworker. When she came out, I told her about the bruise and the
band aids. I was glad I did.
Two hours later, I returned to pick
her up and was ushered back to the visit room. Her father was throwing a
fit. I saw right away he had taken off the band aids. He threw them at
my feet as he screamed at me about covering up the bruise. I told him I
was scared of him because of what he had done in court. I said I didn't
expect him to be reasonable, and certainly he was not being reasonable.
The caseworker nodded her agreement. My own worker quickly took the
children into another room. I found out later she had quizzed my ten
year old daughter while they were alone.
MiMi's father calmed
down some after I talked to him, but he was not happy. After he left, I
went to the room where the children were. MiMi ran into my arms,
settling her head comfortably on my shoulder with her arms around my
neck. I took another child's hand and we started out the door, with a
caseworker on each side, studying MiMi's reaction to me. It was one of
complete love and trust.
That night I received a call from my worker. She had decided to open an investigation. I could expect a visit very soon.
I was horrified. I had opened my home to these children and now "I"
was being investigated? Was I in danger of losing my own children
because I was a foster parent? How could the state do this to me?
Weren't we supposed to be working together?
I considered telling
them to come get the children and close my home. But when I calmed
down, I knew I wasn't going to do that. I was committed to seeing these
children through this awful time. In fact, the parental rights of our
other foster daughter had been terminated, and we were planning on
I knew, too, that sending the children away and
closing our home wouldn't stop the investigation. Feeling helpless, I
would just carry on and wait for the investigator.
The next two
days were hard for me. I was so stressed it was hard for me to function.
Being on the other end of Child Protective Services was a scary thing.
I settled into prayer, and asked God for peace every time I felt
overwhelmed. And suddenly, it came. I had not hurt MiMi and I knew God
would be faithful to keep us all safe. I calmed down enough that I began
to almost forget what was coming.
It must have been a low priority, because was six days before the investigator came out.
But finally, there was a knock on my door, and I could see the shadow
of a woman with a clipboard in her hand. She was nice and friendly and
put me right at ease. She opened her notebook and began to ask me
questions. She looked MiMi over. We talked.
Then, MiMi got mad.
She wanted the rocking chair my son was in. When he wouldn't get up, she
went into a full blown melt down. She screamed and thrashed and
wouldn't be comforted. The investigator watched as I tried to talk to
MiMi, who wasn't responding.
"Does she do this often?" The investigator asked.
"Well, she has a sensory disorder." I replied.
"Yes, that's in her records." The investigator said, looking at her notes.
"But she's really a sweet child when she's calm." I said, defending
her. "She is a wonderful little girl and she doesn't always do this."
The investigator smiled at me. "I'm trying to establish another way she may have gotten the bruise." She said
."Yes," I said, feeling foolish. "She is prone to tantrums just like this."
The investigator soon closed her notebook, thanked me for my time, and
got up to leave. Nervously, I asked her, "Did you find anything that
"No," She replied. "This case is closed. You will
be getting a letter in a week or so. I am satisfied that everything is
I closed the door, feeling a bit weak. God had been
faithful and gotten us through this. I was so glad I hadn't done
anything rash when my emotions were running so high.
We had MiMi
for another five months after the investigation. Her parents lost their
rights, and another relative did a homestudy and got custody of her. I
miss her so much. I learned a lot from my experience with her family,
and I hope I did them some good.
And I still love being a foster mother.