Since part of what I try to do with this blog is paint a realistic picture of foster care, I'll let you in on my feelings over the past 24 hours. (times are approximate)
5:50PM - Nervous. Anxious. Very uncomfortable. It's not easy to pick up someone else's child and take them from their house. Especially when you know the child does not want to come with you at all!
6:00PM - Confused. Pumpkin and her mom were eating dinner in Mom's truck. The optimist in me said, "maybe they were running errands and it was easier to just wait in the truck 'til I got there instead of trying to maneuver Pumpkin out of the truck, into the house and back in to my car." The pessimist in me said, "What's going on in that house that Mom doesn't want me to see?!"
6:05PM - Relieved. It wasn't as bad as I made it out to be. I'll never get used to it. Pumpkin wasn't screaming. I'll knew I'd do my best to acknowledge that she's depressed and I'd try to not ask too much of her.
6:30PM - Surprised. As I got Pumpkin undressed for her bath I noticed several new markings on her body. The two that surprised me the most were on the tops of her shoulders. That's a strange place to have a bruise. That's a strange place to have a scratch. Especially on BOTH shoulders. I quickly moved in to analytical mode. I called the appropriate people at my licensing agency. I took pictures. I sent an email to CPS and my licensing agency. I was in a "document document document" sort of mood.
6:45AM - Doubtful. The bruises were small. I hate the idea of accusing someone of abuse. It makes me feel sick. But Pumpkin can't tell me what happened. But I was really doubting how big of a deal all this seemed to be.
9:45AM - Supported. My agency worker called me to discuss things. I love it when I feel like someone is on my side. She had seen the pictures and felt the same way I did about things. Nothing "screamed" abuse. But it didn't sit quite right with her either.
10:30AM - Deflated. I was instructed by the director of our agency to call the abuse hotline. I knew that this was going to at least start an investigation. It can also be a very time consuming phone call and I didn't want to spend forever on the phone.
10:45AM - Further deflated. I was instructed by the CPS supervisor in Pumpkin's case that I was to take Pumpkin to the doctor. It's not that I didn't want to advocate for Pumpkin. But a doctor appointment is a long process here and I had two other cherubs that I was going to have to drag along.
12:00PM - Bored. Frustrated. I sat on hold for a long time waiting for an intake worker to take my call on the abuse hotline.
12:30PM - Pleased. The worker that took my call was wonderful. She was thorough and very pleasant to work with. Since I've had to call the hotline due to issues with Pumpkin many times, I've dealt with some that weren't so nice to talk to. (The rules for calling the hotline include any time a child is hospitalized. I've also had to call for other injuries that happened on my watch.)
2:45PM - Irritated. The mobility company that had finally gotten around to getting Pumpkin's walker set up with swivel wheels in the front was supposed to come between 2:00 and 3:00. I couldn't afford for them to be late because we had to leave for the doctor appointment. It took over six months to get the wheels switched from fixed to swivel! I was happy for the change as it will make things easier for Pumpkin, but today was not the day I wanted to deal with this.
3:00PM - Relieved. The mobility company showed up. It took less than 5 minutes to make the switch and sign the paperwork.
4:00PM - Bored to tears. Our appointment at the doctor office was at 3:30. Where we live though, it's not uncommon to wait hours for a scheduled appointment. Waiting is boring.
4:10PM - Peeved. The doctor finally came in to see us. The first thing she did was explain to me that the course of treatment prescribed to Pumpkin a little over a week ago for a possible fungal infection was 100% wrong. (I knew this already because My Genius Brother is a doctor - but a small part of me had hoped that my brother was wrong with his diagnosis via text message and that I wasn't going to have a huge hassle in front of me.) Now Pumpkin is going to have to go see a dermatologist. More waiting in doctor's offices. Yuck.
4:15PM - My emotions became so jumbled up that I can't give you a concise evaluation. I'll just tell you what happened.
The doctor took one look at the bruise on Pumpkin's shoulder and announced that it was due to a pinch. (This is what Pumpkin's mom did to Pumpkin back in September during the 10 days she was out of foster care.) As we looked at the shoulder with the larger scratch we both noticed a new bruise about the size of a thumb print on Pumpkin's arm.
It's never fun to try and prove abuse against a child. It makes me feel even sicker than making an accusation against the adult that did it. Here's this completely non-verbal child being examined from head to toe. Lord only knows what happened to her during those 48 hours she was with her mom.
But I've been there. Pumpkin has made me feel mad enough to want to pinch her. I'll be honest....I've wanted to do worse. And without incriminating myself, I have NOT always had the most stellar of parenting moments with Pumpkin. She's a challenging child to care for. So in the same way I'm completely FURIOUS with her mother for not keeping her safe, I can understand where she's coming from. But then, on the flip side, I'm screaming, "Really?! Really?! You can't keep it together for 48 hours?! Especially when you know CPS is watching your every move?!" It blows my mind and I don't feel sorry for her one bit.
Then I feel guilty. Guilty for my feelings toward Pumpkin sometimes. Guilty for my anger toward Mom. Guilty that I have a hard time praying for Mom to get "better" and for a miracle to happen.
The guilt is the worst.
I've done stupid things to my kids. I'm certainly not perfect. How dare I judge this woman?!
But CPS isn't watching me. I didn't neglect my children's health for years. I apologize when I screw up and I've never hurt my kids like she hurt Pumpkin.
We are the same.
We are totally different.
7:30PM - Conflicted. Empty. Exhausted. I don't know how to feel. I'm drained. I'm suffering from a lot of compassion fatigue. Pumpkin is so sad. She misses her mommy so much. These visits are so incredibly confusing to her. And because she's so delayed, there's no explaining anything to her.
So I bought some vodka. And some gin. And some Sprite. And a little pineapple/orange juice. And a bottle of grenadine. I'm not a lush - really I'm not. But I am going to have a stiff drink after I get everyone to bed. (And I couldn't decide what I wanted at the liquor store so I bought a variety.) It's been a rough day.
My med logs are completely caught up to date and everything that is supposed to be locked up really is right now. I even moved my dishwasher detergent out from under the sink. (I'm a rebel and keep it there against the rules.) I know that an investigator is likely to grace my doorstep within the next day or too.