Friday, September 2, 2011

Our Fostering Journey Seems To Be Over...

... after only two weeks.  We are crushed.  We are discouraged.  We are wondering why we were led on a journey that was soo long just to be completely disappointed and broken-hearted.  To be quite honest, I am devasted, angry and sad. 

Here's where the ordeal started.  Go read that and come back.  Ok, so I emailed our caseworker and apologized that our dog scared her, but that I knew he wouldn't bite her.  I also asked her to resend something that I had not recieved.  She resent the info and never mentioned the incident.  For the next eleven days we talked several times, made arrangements to provide respite care, talked about Melissa, etc.  Everything seemed fine great. 

Last Friday around 10:45 am I got a call from our CW who said that she was coming to pick up Melissa.  She would only tell us that she had been discharged from our home and I needed to pack up her things.  She said she would be picking her up from school and that she would not be allowed back into our home.  We asked if we did something wrong and she said we would discuss when she got there. 

The night before we had Melissa's CPS CW at our home and things were great.  She was awesome and I was really excited to have such a happy, friendly CW in her. 

So Friday after the call we had no idea what was going on.  I was a wreck... not because she was leaving in general (she was scheduled to be leaving in about a month to go with family anyway).  I was a wreck because of not knowing what was going on and I was a wreck because Melissa was going to be moved one more time in her short life.  We actually sent our daughter to be with family because we were completely confused about what was going on. 

Can you imagine that?  It blows my mind to think about those feelings again.  We were so confused that we sent our daughter to a family member's house.  We thought that whatever idea had been fabricated from Thursday night (when M's CW came) to Friday morning was so bad that we didn't know if our daughter would be taken away also.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it. 

So Friday afternoon came and they showed up almost an hour later than they told us they would.  Our caseworker showed up with her boss, who has no personality at all.  She had come to our house for this visit.  They walked in and said that the reason why she was being removed was because, "as we knew, our dog bit CW at her last visit." 

I was immediately relieved that it wasn't anything more, I was also immediately devastated that it was something on our part, and I was also immediately shocked that our CW was lying about our dog biting her. 

I'm actually quite tired of thinking about this whole think and the same goes for typing about it so here is the letter to the Director/Owner of the agency (I changed the names with as little effort as possible :) ): 

    We are writing this letter to address several issues that seem unknown and unresolved.  We hope that this letter will be taken to heart with an open mind.  We feel like our family will forever be judged and discriminated against because of these events.  We know that this letter will not change the decisions that were made, but we hope to make our name better and address issues that should be taken into consideration in future cases like this. 
     T came to our house and needed to look in our bathroom medicine cabinet.  I told her that our dog, Buddy, was scary looking, would probably bark at her and come up to smell her.  I asked if she was going to be all right with that.  She replied that she would handle it fine.  I told her that he does not do this to everyone, but that he does do this some adults and might do it to her.  Again, she insisted she would be fine.  Melissa, our former foster daughter, opened the door before I was able to be in a position that would offer more control.  Our dog ran up to her and nudged her with his nose.  She immediately thought that he bit her.  He calmed down, stopped and I took him outside.  T was understandably shaken up.  I asked her if she was ok and she said, for the first time, that he, in fact, did not really bite her.  We continued talking and she stayed for at least ten or fifteen more minutes during which I asked several more times if she was fine and she replied that she was. 
     The facts that indicate that T was not truly bitten are as follows:
-T repeatedly told me at my house that she was fine and that he had not actually bitten her.
-T stayed at my house for at least ten or fifteen minutes after the incident and there was no sign of torn pants or blood.
-Later that day, I sent T an email apologizing again and also asking for some needed information in regards to a conversation we had earlier.  In the email I wrote in part "He has never bitten anyone ever and I knew he wouldn't bite you.  But I sincerely apologize that he scared you."  She replied with only the information needed and made no mention of the incident.  She did not mention it ever. If she had really been bitten she would have or should have replied to my email stating that she had in fact been bitten and I would have never written what I wrote in the first place.  Instead T completely disregarded the incident and did not mention it again. 
-T maintained normal communication with me and even approved us for respite care this coming week.
-T did not mention the incident for eleven days and allowed Melissa to stay in our home.
     We definitely agree that if Monica had truly been bitten she should have immediately made arrangements for Melissa to be removed from our house.  She should have gone to the doctor and had the bites addressed.  She should have had the bites documented and she should have told someone sooner than eleven days later.  It is actually quite disturbing that Melissa would be left in our care if the events happened like T says.  There should have been immediate actions taken.  When T and W came on Friday none of these facts were addressed.  Instead we were accused of having bad judgment because we did not remove the dog from our house after the incident.  The reality of T never correcting me in my email that she had actually been bit and the reality that she never even mentioned it to anyone for eleven days after the incident, but yet later came to the conclusion that Melissa was in such grave danger she should never be allowed back into our house shows extremely bad judgment.  Although, the reality that we never had the opportunity to remove Buddy from our house so that Melissa would not have to be moved once more shows the worst judgment from everyone involved.  
     We did not and have not removed our dog from our house.  He was protecting his family, including Melissa, and was trying to figure out who the stranger was in his house.  As I stated above, I warned her that he may look scary, would bark at her and run up to her to smell her.  She said she was fine with that.  He did exactly what I said would happen and he did not bite her.  She told me several times before she left that she was fine and that he had not bitten her.  Our dog is eleven years old and he has never bitten anyone, including T.  He is intimidating when you see him, but everyone loves him once they meet him.  Melissa loved him and on her second day at our house she laughed about how when she would kiss him on his nose he would kiss her back.  Melissa did not really like our hyper puppy, but would always call for Buddy to be near her.  We would never allow a dog to bite anyone and stay in our house.  Our family is too precious to ever take that chance.  After the incident, he did stay outside for a while, but I do not remember how long he was separated from Melissa.  Once he came back inside, everything was just as it had been and as it continued to be.  W asked how long he stayed separated from Melissa and I told her.  She then said that there was definite questions about our judgment.  We would have agreed if Buddy had actually bitten T, but he did not bite her.  We would have agreed if he had never barked or sniffed a stranger and he all of a sudden had done so.  He did exactly what I told T he might do. 
     W completely disregarded my question about why if he was considered so dangerous would Melissa be allowed to stay in our house for an additional eleven days.  I applaud W, in general, for defending T's decisions and appreciate that as a supervisor she is willing to defend her employees.  I am surprised and offended by her lack of acknowledgement towards the questionable and irresponsible decisions that T made if she had truly been bitten.  I am also hurt by the accusations that our judgment was completely careless. 
     When we received the call mid-morning on Friday that Melissa would be removed and that her bags needed to be packed by that afternoon, we were beyond shocked.  We asked T why she was being removed, if something like this was normal and if we had done something wrong.  T would say that we would discuss it later, only implying that it had been something we had done wrong.  We still cannot figure out why T would not tell us anything.  We began packing her stuff while trying to figure out what had just happened.  Our family was devastated, but my heart was completely broken for Melissa.  She had been with her previous foster family for several months, had been living with us for thirteen days and was going to be expected to live with a completely different family for the next month before she was to be permanently moved to her aunt's.  This last move could have been completely avoided had we been asked to remove our dog.  If Buddy had in fact bitten T, we would have moved our dog to a family member's house until Melissa left so that she would not have to be moved once again.  We still do not understand why this was not considered an option, but it was seen as acceptable for Melissa to leave our house feeling like one more family did not want her in life.  To think about this will always crush me. 
     If such inconsiderate and rash decisions are normally made at (agency), we are not sure we can continue our relationship.  One of the reasons why we decided to move forward and adopt or foster to adopt was because we found (agency).  Doors opened and we felt confirmation after confirmation that we were doing the right thing with the right people.  I cannot say enough about how welcomed and encouraged we felt by Joy and Bella.  We learned so much and I truly enjoyed our training classes.  We met you at the training class where we watched the great video by Chip Ingram.  I saw your eyes light up when you spoke about your ministry at (agency).  Jesse did our homestudy and made that process as enjoyable as it could be.  Shelby was so vibrant, informative and helpful when she called about placing Melissa with us.  When T was finally assigned to be our caseworker I was thrilled to begin the relationship that would last the longest and would become the strongest.  I loved meeting T and although she left after being scared by our dog I was hoping that our relationship would become the one that consisted of trust, honesty and encouragement.  Unfortunately, I do not see that kind of relationship being formed with T, and even more unfortunately we are unsure if that kind of relationship can now happen with anyone at (agency).  We do not want to be known as the family who had a dog bite a caseworker, especially when it is not true.  We also believed that (agency) was there to support and encourage us.  The complete opposite happened during this incident.  We were completely blind sided when we were told that Melissa would never be allowed back into our house.  We were not told the reason, but only told to pack her things.  When T and W came to our house we were not only informed that T was now, eleven days later, lying about being bit by our dog, but we were also told that we showed unacceptable and questionable judgment. 
     We are passionate about adopting and would still like to adopt through (agency).  We understand that we are no longer allowed to foster as long as our dog lives here.  Because T said that she was bit by our dog, we sadly understand that it seems dangerous to have him here.  Moving forward, we will not be fostering anytime in the near future.  We would like to be placed on the list to adopt only and would like a new caseworker, with whom we could discuss further options for adoption and not be prejudged for this incident.  We are adamant about having a new caseworker as we do not believe that any real relationship could be formed with T.  We know that being chosen as an adoptive family might be a long journey, but we also strongly believe that if it is God's will for us to be a child's parents He will open any door to make it possible.  
     I am deeply saddened that all of this was taken so far and handled so poorly.  Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing how we can take the next steps to be placed on the adopt only list.     
We sent this on Monday and I did get an email back from him on Tuesday saying that he would look into it more and get back to us on Friday.  Today is Friday and he did email me back...

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