Saturday, May 3, 2008

Foster Care False Allegations and Mandatory Court Reporters

Yesterday was an eye opener. I had the experience of someone allowing me to eavesdrop on/ their conversation and truthfully I kind of wish I had left to give them privacy. I heard something that was downright frightening to think about. If you aren't a foster parent it isn't something to worry too much about - although it could happen to you too.

keep in mind that I am changing the names to protect the innocent, but giving them names to help the flow of the story)

I was at our foster agency picking up the baby from his visit with Best Drug Mommy. Another foster mom was dropping off two of her little ones to visit their mom. She asked the mom to come outside to speak with her. My daughter and I were there so I told Donna that we would step inside. She said no, we could stay where we were. We stayed.

The mom of her two foster kids is a mentally ill woman and she has abused and neglected her kids because of it so her kids are in foster care. They were taken into custody to protect them from their mother and they are in a wonderful home. I know of the family. They are upper middle class, middle aged, stable, loving, and do foster care because they can provide a good home for children who need it. Most foster homes are not abusive low class families doing foster care "for the money." Believe me, they could make more with a job at Walmart.

Back to the conversation: Foster mom Donna, a conservative Christian with a classy European accent, quickly asked me to excuse her French. I guess she knew the conversation would be bad.

It turns out that the bio mom reported the foster mom for abusing her kids. CPS (Child Protective Services) had showed up at her door to investigate. It was a false report and the bio mom tried to deny it at first. She said her therapist had reported it. Well, her therapist has never seen the children and only was taking the moms word for it. The mom said her daughter had a black eye.

The daughter is anemic and always has dark looking circles under her eyes because of her condition. Her son apparently had a bruise on his forehead one day that he got while playing and walked into the wall. The bio mom knows the kids aren't abused and she is darn lucky they are in such a good home! She is mentally ill, her children have been taken away and she is trying to cause trouble. She is actually hurting her children. They will now be moved from an excellent foster home and a family that they have bonded with. People always complain about all the moves foster kids go through. The bio mom caused this herself.

She has also caused trouble for a caring, responsible, safe, and loving foster family. Yes, the report will be found unwarranted, but the damage is done. This family will have this on record and suffer through an investigation because the therapist is a mandated court reporter and he is required by law to report this.

Could he have called the agency, social worker involved, asked someone to check the children, or used common sense before calling in the report? Probably. But he didn't.

Who else is a mandated court reporter for expected child abuse? All public officials, doctors, teachers, and more. And me. Yes, foster parents are mandated court reporters. Would I ever call in a report because of one bruise on an otherwise happy, healthy, well cared for child? NO.

But some people do and it is a little scary. Will I think twice now before taking in an older child who could call in a false report themselves for attention? Will I refuse to take a child from a mentally ill parent who has visitation rights? Yes, to both of those. I know there could be exceptions, but I have a family to think of. I know things can happen anyway, but I can't knowingly and purposely put my family in harm.

It could happen to any of us, but the fact that we are more at risk is kind of scary and sad.

Yes, someone has to protect the little ones. But there is real abuse going on in the world. Calling in a report for a little girl with a dark circle under her eye and no other cause for concern is crazy. What's the world coming to?


You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
Exodus 20:16


Nichole said...

Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences! Each time I hear a story about false abuse allegations it makes me realize how protective you have to be and that if you foster for a while you will most likely have to defend yourself at some point.

Susan said...

Hi Nichole,

U hate to think it may happen to us, but I guess it could. We were asked to take a little girl whose foster family had asked to be removed from their home. Why? Because the bio parents threatened them with reporting them. Why? The mom was mad the daughter may have more attachment to the foster family.

We refused the child. Sadly, but I just felt I needed to protect my family when I can do so. Most foster children get very attached to good foster parents. If they have been abused or neglected they crave love and attention - my specialty!

With that said, I still think foster care is something we should do. We can't protect ourselves from every nut in the world and children need homes and families.

Thanks for stopping by,