This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is April-June 2008.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
During the time between the baby that needed medical attention going home and us receiving our baby, I received a call from a CPS Case Worker asking me if I knew how to contact the family of the baby that was taken from his visitation appointment that devastated me. I was a bit taken aback. As foster parents, it is VERY RARE that I would have personal information on the biological family other than what information the state has. We are usually seen as the enemy. In their eyes, we have their kids.
I told the Case Worker that I did not have any information. It was then that she informed me that the aunt he had been placed with had disappeared, and he could not be found. She was sending a case worker out to find him. She assured me she would call me and let me know if he was ok. I prayed. And waited. I prayed. And waited. I prayed. And waited. I had countless sleepless nights.
I cannot even tell you the horrors my husband went through. He had not even been able to say goodbye to him before he was taken. To make matters worse, he had not been able to see him that day at all. It was our routine that my husband would get the baby up in the morning, change his diaper, and have a few minutes with him before going to work. That morning he was running late and didn’t get him up. So when he was taken from visitation, this left no opportunity for goodbyes.
With that heartbreaking end to his life with us, and knowing that now they could not find him, my husband was devastated. I began calling on a daily basis after a couple of days, trying to see if they had found out anything. Everyone involved in the case knew we wanted to adopt him. At every turn I would hit a brick would, and was never able to find out anything.
After about 2 weeks, a CPS case worker finally called me back and told me that he had been located, he was fine, so there was nothing to worry about. Ok, good. Thank You, Jesus, he is safe. After two weeks of praying, pacing, worrying and crying we finally knew he was ok.
So, we went on with life, at peace because he was fine. By this time we had all five of our children, and we were enjoying our new life. We were in our new home; we were facing the challenges of each day and all of the changes that had happened for all of us.
Then, yet again, out of the blue, about 2 months later, I received another call from the state, this time from a CPS supervisor, regarding the same little boy. The supervisor told me that his case had been handed over to her unit, and she had some major concerns for his safety and well-being in his current situation. She told me that they were actually getting ready to remove him from the aunt because CPS had found out she was homeless and just moving him around from house to house. They asked if we wanted him. Of course, I said yes. And I began praying!
Once again I would have to increase our license so we could take another child. I told her I would call our agency immediately and start working on the process of getting this taken care of. I knew that this would be the last time I could increase our license because 6 children is the state maximum for a private foster home. Anymore than that and you have to become a group home status. I knew that it took minutes to get this taken care of. So I made the call- got voice mail. I left the message. And I started sending emails of the information they needed. I knew we had plenty of room in our home, so that was not an issue.
I did not hear back from them. This was on a Friday morning. On Monday evening, I received a call from one of the case workers under the supervisor telling me they were removing him the next day, and she wanted to make sure our licensing was taken care of so she could bring him to us. I told her I had not heard back from them but that I would call right then. I had to leave another message. Within minutes, I got a return call from a supervisor, not my case worker. From the very beginning of the conversation she was combative. She would not license our home to have six children. She told me that the law stated that we could not have more children under the age of 6. My husband found the law outlining the requirements- which meant we would indeed be qualified to have him- and sent an email to her. But she would not budge.
I left a message for the CPS Case Worker. I was devastated! This baby had been through so much already and now he was not going to be able to come back to us. My biggest concern was that he would have to go to the shelter.
The next day I got a phone call from the CPS Case Worker. She started making calls on her side of things.
From here, the story gets very complex and convoluted. At this point, I was at the hospital for one of the boys to have out-patient surgery. My baby-sitter had fallen through for that day, so I had all five kids at the hospital with me- one to have surgery, the other four to wait with me.
During the same time, I am getting calls from the CPS Case Worker. She has been on the phone with our Agency, and they are telling complete lies to this Case Worker. The Agency told her that we did not take our children for their medical and dental check-ups when we were supposed to- yet, I am at the hospital at that very moment taking care of a medical issue for one of my children. They told her that I was continually increasing my license to have more children so we could make more money. I was appalled! Yes, we had increased our license several times, and our Case Worker knew the entire process we had been through mentally, emotionally, and as a couple in making these decisions.
This process is not easy to digest. We had no idea our lives were going to take the turn that it had, so we did not prepare for that. But we also were going to obey God’s call no matter what happened. To know that we were being presented as people that was in the system for money was revolting to me! This is one of the issues that anger me greatly! A lot of changes need to happen in the system, and foster parents are one of the changes that need to happen!. I will address this issue in greater detail in a later article.
Why they lied, I do not know. We had never had major issues with the Agency or caused issues. There had been some discussions and clarifications on some things, but we had never been written up nor had anything negative documented or said about us as foster parents. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We received compliments from all parties who had ever been involved with us in the foster system.
By the time everything was said and done, the Agency did not place him with us. I was very adamant in insisting to the CPS Case Worker that he not be put in the shelter. She was in total agreement with me. They did find another placement for him through the Agency. So in the end, it did all work out. He went to a good family, and he has since been adopted by them.
If my role in his life was simply supposed be that that I would fight for him to make sure he was safe, then that is ok. I can live with that. In fact, I am honored to have played such an important role in getting him out of the situation he was in.
My problem is the entire foster care system. This includes the State CPS Caseworker that was originally assigned to this baby; the Judge who presided in this case; the Agency that we were with at the time; and anyone else that was involved in the life of this child. The State of Texas Department of Family Services lost a baby! They let him go with a family member that did not have his best interest at heart. For months he was shuffled back and forth between homes. There was no stability in his life. When he was removed from his aunt he was very sick and very hungry. The entire system- all who were involved in this little boy’s life to care for him and oversee his well-being- failed him!
The only thing I can come up with where the Agency is concerned is that they were not happy with the fact that I do fight. I will not back down from anyone or anything if there is something being done that is not right. I will stand up and shout and keep shouting until someone hears me. I go through the proper channels, but if I am not seeing progress, I will keep making calls, emailing, or whatever else I have to do to get the issue addressed. My only guess is that the Agency did not like this about me. They would rather keep things status quo and not ruffle feathers. It does not bother me one bit to ruffle feathers if that is what it takes.
It was not but a few months later that another issue came up with the Agency.
The Purpose Of This Series: Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?
The next chapter in this series: My Children Are Threatened
The previous chapter in this series: Full House
Foster Care: A Broken System- Video