Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Story of Joseph - Taking Him Back

All the way home from the doctor's office I fumed. I was so angry at Angela for saying Daniel had bruises on him when I knew that she was just doing it to be spiteful and manipulative. I was angry at the doctor who said the marks were bruises. I was angry at Dippy for not taking control of the situation and instead choosing to sit back and let Angela run the show. The whole drive home I swung between being so mad I could spit to blinking back tears of frustration and sadness.

When I got home and walked into my apartment the phone was ringing. I figured it was Jesse wondering why I hadn't called him after the visit like I usually did. (This was back in the dark ages before I had a cell phone.) I picked up the phone and heard sobbing on the other end.

It was Angela. Before I even had a chance to say anything she blurted out "I know you didn't hurt him! I just got scared because I saw those marks and I didn't know what was going on! I was just so worried! And ..... and I just want him back so bad!"

For one very brief moment I felt sorry for Angela. She wasn't a good mother and not a very nice person but she was a human being and she had feelings and I couldn't imagine how hard it must have been on her having all of her children taken from her. (Angela was only a few years older than me but she already had five children.) I took pity on her. I felt bad for her because as cynical as I am I'm also a pretty nice person. And I'm a sucker.

I tried to reassure Angela that neither Jesse or I had hurt Daniel. I promised her that all I wanted to do was take care of him while he was with us. She cried and said that she knew that was true. It seemed like we understood each other but I was a little confused about why she kept telling me that she would do anything to get Daniel back. I mean, I didn't have any control over what happened to Daniel and certainly she realized that making me look like the bad guy wasn't going to help her get him back any sooner right?

The next couple of days were kind of odd. To be accused of hurting a child is stressful and painful but also sort of thought that the whole thing was over. Angela didn't call at all but looking back I'm sure it's because it was during the weekend and she very rarely called during times when Jesse was home. Dippy never called either so I assumed that she wasn't going to pursue her "information gathering". I thought the incident was just going to fade into the distance as a tiny bump in the road.

On Monday Jesse went to work just like usual and I took Daniel out to run some errands. I was gone all morning and when I got home there were several messages on the answering machine from Dippy. They all said the same thing: Call me right away!

I was a little nervous as I dialed Dippy's number but I was never expecting her to say what she said. I can so clearly recall the conversation

"Jennifer, I need you to take Daniel back to the Children's Home."


"I need you to take him back. He's not going to be in your care anymore."

"Why? What's going on? Angela and I talked, I thought this was all taken care or!"

"Well, she just keeps calling me and she won't leave me alone. She's insisting that we remove him from your home and I don't really know what else to do."

"How about telling her no? I don't understand how you can just take him without even giving me a change to say my side!"

"You're just a foster parent, you don't get a say in what happens to Daniel."

"I know that! I just mean that you're taking Daniel out of a very good home without even trying to find out what's actually going on! Listen, Angela told me several times that she would do anything to get Daniel back and I think this is just her way of trying to do that."

"That doesn't make any sense. Having him taken from you wouldn't get him back to her any sooner."

"I know that and you know that but I don't think Angela knows what. She never wanted us to take him in the first place and I think she sees us as somehow keeping him from her. I just don't understand why you're saying we have to take him back."

"Angela just keeps calling me over and over and I don't know what else to do! I need you to bring Daniel and his things to the Children's home immediately."

"His blanky and a bunch of his clothes are dirty, can I at least run them through the wash?"

"No. Pack up whatever is clean and I'll come and get the rest tomorrow."

"So you think I'm taking such bad care of him that he has to be removed from my home yet you're asking me to drive him over to the Children's Home myself? That's just screwed up."

"They're expecting you. I'll be by tomorrow for the rest of his stuff. Someone from CPS will be calling you later this week. There's going to be in investigation into the complaints of abuse." *click*

I called Jesse at work. Now it was my turn to sob over the phone. "They're making us take him back and now I'm being accused of child abuse!" Jesse flew home at about 90 miles an hour and I packed up Daniel's clothes and medications.

The drive to the Children's Home was awful. I cried and Jesse clutched my hand tightly. I just kept saying "I just don't understand!" We had all the best intentions and now our first foster child was being taken away from us in such a cruel way and we under suspicion of child abuse. How was that even possible?

When we got the the Children's Home I forced myself to calm down and stop crying. I took Daniel out of his car seat and snuggled him tight. I buried my face into his sweet, fat neck and inhaled deeply. He smelled like spit up and diaper rash cream and peaches. Jesse got Daniel's stuff all together and we went inside.

The inside of the home was - to put it mildly - depressing. It was poorly light and smelled kind of musty. Two boys who looked like they were about ten screamed obscenities at each other in the lobby. We took him in to the intake office and signed a couple of papers. All in all it was less complicated than dropping a dog off at a shelter. The people in the intake office were very kind and turned away and busied themselves when it came time for us to say goodbye. I chocked back a sob and kissed Daniel very quickly. I didn't want to cry again so I handed him over, walked away and didn't look back.

As we walked out I whispered angrily " I can't believe she would rather have him here than with us! I hope she's happy now."

Then we went home to do laundry and wait for the investigation to start.


Kelly said...

This story is just wrecking me. I just can't imagine...

Shannon said...

The cliffhangers! They're killing me!

Sam said...

Needz moar pumpkin head.

Cathy said...

OMG - that's insane. Truly insane.

Ben said...

On the plus side, Rifftrax Saturday at nine?

ingrid said...

That is heartbreaking.

Jen said...

kelly - I was pretty wrecked at the time too. It was hard.

shannon - I thought this one was pretty non-cliffhangery. I guess not?

sam - Everything needs moar pumkin head!

cathy - I was insane. It starts to get less insane at some point though.

Ben - Indeed. Call Becky and Emily will you?

ingrid - My heart was pretty broken at the time. It was rough.

wheelsonthebus said...

I know your case worker was just doing what he had to, but a mother who loves her kid would never do that to him.

Laggin said...

The system is jacked up beyond all belief. Truly.

~*Kathi*~ said...

how horrible...I bet that you thought your heart was going to break. I can['t imagine! Cant wait to hear more of the story!!

Aurora said...

Waaah. This is so sad.

nell said...

That is so awful, what an introduction to the system! Can't wait for the next part...

shyestviolet said...

jen, I'm so glad you're writing about your experience. J and I often talk about doing foster care (although for us it would be after our own children), and I'm glad to have your experience as part of our collective knowledge. (am also glad that all of this experience somehow--we'll find out how!--led you guys to be joseph's parents. what a lucky kid he and elle are to have such caring parents.)

kik said...


Oh. My. Gosh.

I don't know how you could stand all of that.

Do you think that being young made it harder for you to stand up for yourself?

Seems like dorky the social worker needed you to go over his/her head from the beginning.

Jen said...

wheelsonthebus - I think Angela saw ehr children as things and she didn't want anyone "using her things". Very sad situation.

laggin - It's not always that bad. It's bad but in our case we were just dealing with a combination of a really inetp social worker and a mother who knew how to work the system.

kathi - Broken indeed. Thank goodness it all has a happy ending!

aurora - Hang in there! I prmois it starts to get better soon.

nell - The whole thing kind of made me wonder why people did softer care at all. It was pretty yucky.

shyestviolet - I hope you don't let something like this scare you out of foster care. The system is screwed up (and if I'm correct, you and J would be liscened out of the same coutry Jesse and I were) but that means the kids in it just need good foster parents even more. I think you would be an awesome foster parent.

kik - I do think being young made it hrder for me to assert myself. I don't know if aserting myself would have made much of a difference though. Social workers are so overloaded and so I'm sure that their supervisors are even more so. Going over Dippys's head probably wouldn't have had any result, just one more person to sign off on her decision.

Shamelessly Sassy said...

:( I'm anxious to find out what happened. It's all so very heartbreaking.