Monday, March 4, 2013

Advocating makes me feel sick

I don't know what to do anymore. I seriously don't know how to advocate. I'm completely worn out. And when I do try to call someone, I literally get sick. My heart races so fast I can feel it in my chest. I physically ache. It becomes difficult to breathe. Just writing about it puts a tingle in my arms.

CPS thinks things are just hunky-dory in Dallas. Despite the fact that Grandma N has NO relationship with these cherubs, CPS is perfectly find sending them there to live forever.

You can read all my reasons why I think Dallas is a bad idea for my cherubs in previous posts. I won't rehash it all. Simply put now though, Grandma N has many, many people in and out of her apartment every day. One of the individuals is her son. This man is currently wanted by the federal government on some rather substantial charges.

My licensing agency spoke with a supervisor at CPS about the uncle in question. CPS's answer to the problem...they'll tell Grandma N that Tio E can't come over when the kids are there.

During the last visit my cherubs had in Dallas, Tio E spent time at the apartment (possibly even slept there) and he drove the children around in his car.

Doesn't sound like CPS really gives a damn if he's around or not.

I've left two messages for the GAL to call me concerning the case in general. He has not called me back.

I called the probation department. They confirmed that Tio E is on probation and that there is a warrant out for his arrest at this very moment. He violated his probation back in November and has been "hiding" from the law since. I believe he has had contact with my cherubs every month they have gone to Dallas. The probation department said there's nothing that could be done unless I could say specifically that Tio E is at a specific location at a specific time. I cannot do that.

CASA is not an option. Trust me.

The attorney for the cherubs is only concerned about the legality of things. I'm not sure what I'd even say if I called her.

Because let me refresh your memory -- the lawyers and guardians down here don't give a damn. They do not spend time with the children outside of court at all. They pretty much just do whatever CPS tells them to do. Besides, my cherubs are on their third lawyer. This last attorney (and the guardian for that matter - the cherubs finally do have separate representation) was assigned in January. She doesn't know my kids. She doesn't know the case. She just doesn't know.

I don't know what to do anymore. I seriously don't know how to advocate. I could call the lawyer and the guardian over and over and over I guess. But what would I really accomplish? I'm asking someone to do their job and that is out of the norm down here.

The only thing I can think of is to legally intervene. I've prayed over this many times. I just don't think this is what we are supposed to do.

Will someone tell me it's OK to just be their mom now? To stop "advocating". That it's OK to speak up when asked but I can stop feeling guilty about not knowing what to do?

Because I'm worn out.


MamaFoster said...

i had the same issue with Savannah, my first foster case. she told me, in explicit detail, that she was being molested by her uncle that lived in the house she was going to be returned to.

i did everything i could. i videotaped her telling me it all word for word AND NO ONE COULD DO ANYTHING because the bio family would not admit to it (no, I'm not kidding) and because when her social worker drove her to be interviewed by a complete stranger she shut down and wouldn't tell them anything.

She was returned to them. No further involvement from the state or CPS. who knows what is currently going on there.

Sometimes you have to just leave it with God and you do what you do. be a mom while they are with you and put one foot in front of the other. it is the hardest thing you will ever do. But, I can tell you, life will not always be as bad as it is right now. (when it comes to all this drama )

Jessica Miller Kelley said...

Is there a separate CPS in Dallas or is it one agency for all of Texas? If Dallas has its own, I was thinking maybe you could call them with a complaint and get them investigating the home from scratch.

CherubMamma said...

What do I say to the CPS office in Dallas?

They conducted the homestudy on Grandma N initially. But they aren't involved in the case at all now. Financially they aren't obligated to help. And since no one would get paid to do anything, I seriously doubt anyone in Dallas at the CPS office would give a damn either. They have no need to investigate the house at this point in time....even if a known felon is living there. one believes that Tio E lives with Grandma N. And since Grandma N doesn't legally have any other children in the home right now, why would they investigate?

Do I call the Hotline the next time my kids go for a visit?
What if that back fires on ME?! Remember....I'm the only one that cares about what is going on in Dallas. If things get sticky they are going to know it's ME. CPS could make my life a personal hell. They could move the kids. Or they could just stress me to the point of a mental breakdown.

And don't tell me that you can make an anonymous call to the Hotline. I've heard of too many people getting flack from CPS because the Hotline exposed them!

Kaari said...

So true...I made the mistake of thinking that it was anonymous as well.

You know what? You HAVE voiced your concerns over and HAVE advocated. That is all you can do. Advocating is stating what you KNOW (or feel or whatever) is in their best interest.

Now you just have to pray that those in charge will do what is right. In the meanwhile, focus on those kiddos and perhaps reinforce any strategies that they can use to stay somewhat safe in an unsafe environment?

I wonder if you could send the little ones with a disposable camera on their next visit? Encourage them to take pictures of ALL their family members so that you can make a book for them or something? If a picture of their Tio pops have proof that he was there, right?

Just a thought...

Praying for you!

Foster Mom - R said...

Ooh I like the camera idea!

You have done everything you can. Short of making a scene in the GAL's office. Or in court. Which I did. I don't know that it helped per se but it made me feel better. And it did get me a phone call from the GAL. Who still has done nothing but it made her focus for a bit on the kids.

I would also call CPS in Dallas and maybe even hotline. You have reason to believe that while the children are there they are being driven around by a criminal.
Here we have a chain and an agency that advocates for foster parents. If you get to the top of the chain you can get the advocacy office involved.

Cheryl said...

You are advocating for them. You have done nothing but advocate. You will never stop advocating because you will always speak the truth and your heart when asked. Sometimes there really is nothing else that can be said or done but that doesn't mean that you've stopped advocating. Be their mom. Love them every minute they are with you. Pray when they aren't. Let go of the guilt.

Annie said...

This is so heartbreaking. I wouldn't even believe, it - honestly - if I hadn't seen this kind of thing with my own eyes. Decisions completely in the worst interests of a child, made by lazy or uncaring people. And, it felt like the MORE i advocated, the more anxious they were to thwart me - as though by CARING for one of these kids, I was breaking some rule.

My only other thought was bringing in outside help....Community Mental Health? Someone else, down there, who'd make a complaint? Media? Maybe some young reporter would like to do an investigative report.

It is all so sickening.

Mie said...

I would say call the hotline. Any time you suspect abuse or neglect you're supposed to report it, especially with your kids. Of course you know how that goes from before...

If you need help in Dallas let me know.

Amanda said...

I'm in the same place this week. I think being mama is what they need here and now. The best you can do is document your concern and focus on your kiddos.

r. said...

I know I'm the odd man out here, but I'd say don't call the hotline unless it's for something that would count as abuse or neglect in its own right. For instance, if Tio's felony has to do with abusing children or being a sex offender, then of course call the hotline. If it's just that he's a felon, though, or that some other violation of the case plan or misrepresentation to CPS occurred, not so much. (Again, if it would be abuse or neglect independently of the CPS case, of course call.) I just don't see how it would help your credibility with CPS to be reporting that type of thing as abuse or neglect, unless, of course, there are major details that you're leaving out.

P.S.-- I realize that there are some folks out there who think that having a convicted felon in the home is in itself abuse or neglect. Keep in mind that there are huge racial disparities in both Texas and in the U.S. in general in who gets charged and for what and crimes end up on their record. The U.S. does a very good job of locking up men of color, and if that was enough to people from living with kids their would be a whole lot of kids in separated from their families. I'm not saying that house is the most appropriate placement for a foster kid (there's a difference in a child being born into a situation and the state placing them there), but I also think maybe there's a difference between something being what you'd report to the caseworker or supervisor vs. what justifies an independent investigation for abuse or neglect.

Just my 2¢.