Saturday, September 7, 2013

Outing the Single Hussy

EDIT:  Per a typo-laden cease and desist letter (which spelled my name & AJ's name incorrectly several times) from the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families, I am ordered to stop publishing images of a foster child in state care.  I find this amusing as AJ is no longer in state care -- RI closed her case in March of 2013.  But I am being threatened with law suits is I do not stop discussing her case at all in any public forum or media.  So I'll just leave this here.  I'm sure everyone can come to their own judgment of the glorious Powers That Be who purport to look out for best intests of children in their care.  Those who have watched lives be destroyed and trauma caused at the hands of DCYF certainly don't see this as the case at all, but rather another corrupt political bully throwing their weight around lest truth ever be exposed.

One of the wonders of the internet is the assumed cloak of anonymity.  While some take advantage of it to be complete assholes, I find it allows me to be more honest.  I don't necessarily have people who know me, who judge me, looking over my shoulder and peeking into more than my normal public everyday life.

But then there are times you come to a crossroad and you find you need to combine your public and private voices to expose truths, and amp up the volume.  I'm getting ready to shout.

Grief has taken an odd and unexpected turn.  After my last post regarding another child the state removed from a pre-adoptive home with no notice or reason, my anger hit a point of moving me to do more than get out of bed a brush my teeth.  I emailed the reporter with me story.  And he called.  He listened for an hour and a half to me try and tell our crazy, complicated story.  I fought to remember details I didn't want to remember.  I showed him the video, listened to her screams again at the airport.  I needed him to feel it as acutely as I did, to be just as angry.

He was.

Last Sunday, Wee Bean's story was featured in the Sunday paper:

And I added my own illustration with the video showing both our happy times, and then that most awful of days:

Isn't she the most gorgeous girl?  

So those of you who would like to help add your voice to the fight, please consider liking our Facebook page.  I want to amplify my voice, to bring this story to NC where AJ is now, to see if we can't get national exposure to show the flaws of our foster care system.  I may never get to be reunited with AJ, but perhaps with enough attention, with enough exposure, we can save other foster children this pain.  We have a broken system.  judges and social workers have an antiquated and unsubstantiated bias that DNA trumps all.  

DNA is not what makes a family.  DNA does not dictate love and attachment and safety and security.  So many thousands of children continue to be traumatized, turned into damaged adults who then feed the system with their own children to repeat the cycle of social worker job security.  Think of how many families could be made, could be joyous and happy and spreading that sense of love everywhere.  
So this is where I out myself.  But I'll never stop being as honest as I am.

Friday, August 23, 2013

This isn't my story, but it might as well be

Just sharing this as proof that AJ and I are only a grain of sand in this state's treatment of children in their care.  Reading this makes me physically ill.  I spoke to the reporter today, and he has been inundated with calls from foster/pre-adoptive parents who have been treated the same.  Still, he wants to help me share AJ's story and continue to stir up problems for DCYF, especially as hers was a case that included lying in court testimony and sending her to another state in exchange for money.

I will try to get back here to post more about how our story unfolded and the trauma that was inflicted.  I'm still moving slowly through a bog of grief so it does take me a while to actually find the energy to face some things.

Family baffled by foster child’s removal
August 18, 2013 01:00 AM
Adoption seems such a warm, generous, kind thing to do. It brings certainty to an uncertain life, provides family where there was none. 
But even when all the right things seem to be in place — a caring and welcoming family and a child who seems a perfect fit in their home — adoption is not a sure thing. There is a process. There are social workers. There are big chunks of the past — the family’s and the child’s — that come into play. There are questions and questions about questions. There is the need to measure up to standards that are not always clear. 
Last month, a boy I will call Jason was taken from his foster home in East Providence by a social worker from the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). He was taken for a doctor’s appointment. He never came back. Other social workers showed up to collect his clothes and belongings. 
It was the abrupt end of a nearly two-year relationship that Marc and Maria Dauphinee thought was going to lead to adoption. But they were found unacceptable as adoptive parents. They’re not sure why, especially considering how well Jason seemed to be doing in their care. 
“You tell me,” says Marc. “When that child grew so much.” 
He talks of the things Jason did while he lived in their home. He made the honor roll at Riverside Middle School. Then he made it again, and again. He took up the trumpet. He played Little League baseball. His medications for what was originally diagnosed as bipolar disorder were being reduced. 
They first met through Adoption Rhode Island in September 2011. 
“There was an instant connection,” says Marc. 
He remembers Jason telling one of the social workers, “I think I just found my new family.” 
First, there were visits, then daylong stays, then overnights. In July of last year, Jason moved in. He started school in September and saw his name on the honor roll for the first time ever. 
There were questions. There are always questions as a family tries to prove that it is caring enough and doesn’t have any deep, dark secrets that could cause problems. No one should consider adoption without accepting a very thorough, even invasive, examination of their lives. It is incredibly complicated, especially with an older child. The people at DCYF take a very long look at how well a child is faring with a foster family before moving toward adoption. It is, says Stephanie Terry, associate director for child welfare at DCYF, a very fluid situation. 
“Things come up,” she says. 
Obviously, there are things she cannot discuss when it comes to the decision to deny a seemingly deserving, caring couple the opportunity to adopt. 
“We have the utmost respect and admiration for those willing to foster and adopt older children,” says Terry. 
“But sometimes, regardless of putting out their best effort, it evolves over time that this is not the best match.” 
DCYF does not give up easily on the possibility of a child being adopted, Terry says. But things happen. Questions come up. 
There was a question about Maria Dauphinee’s compatibility with Jason. There was a question about whether Jason would get along with Alexander Dauphinee, Marc and Maria’s biological son who is the same age as Jason. 
There were also good, positive signs all over the house in East Providence. There were the honor roll, baseball, playing trumpet in a church band, the need for fewer and fewer medications. And there was another thing Marc mentions — Jason’s increasing comfort as a member of the family. 
But when they tried to force the issue, hire a lawyer and seek a straight answer on whether they were headed for adoption or not, they say they could never get a yes or no. 
Then came the day in July when Jason was picked up for the doctor’s appointment. He didn’t come back. The Dauphinees say they were never told the doctor’s appointment was really the end of their attempt to adopt. 
“My wife called me at my office in tears,” says Dauphinee, maintenance director at Laurelmead in Providence. “It’s astounding.” 
Again, Terry says there is more to the story of how Jason was removed from the Dauphinees’ home. But she can’t discuss it. 
Jason called once after he was taken, and during the conversation, according to Marc, Jason said DCYF workers told him the Dauphinees had never intended to adopt him. 
Now, they wonder where he is, how he’s doing. He was a member of their family and now he’s not. 
“Being one of those kids, it frightens me,” says Marc. 
He was removed from his home when he was 8 and made a ward of the state. He was one of the “night to nighters,” boys in state care who were moved from place to place in what was truly a hideously damaging procedure. 
He grew up hard and beat the odds. And he understands better than most what it means for a kid to come in from the cold. He thought he was doing that for Jason. 
I first met the Dauphinees in March 2006. They had left their jobs to home school and care for their oldest son, Zachary, who was battling cancer. He had been at it for two years then. There was great support from his school and the community. 
Zachary was 10 when he died on the day my column about him appeared in The Providence Journal. 
Marc Dauphinee says the experience with Jason has been in some ways equally painful.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Not on a break, there are just no words when you live in darkness

There has been an item on my to do list since last September: Update Knocked Up.

It should be easy as there has been no lack of things to blog about.

But when your world comes to an end, there is little strength to remember to breathe.  Rehashing your struggles of how and why is of little import.

Perhaps as part of my journey out of this dark hole I can try to start telling the story.

Just know, it is not good.  With no notice, the state came and tried to take A. from me with no notice, and no chance to see her again.  I managed to get another 36 hours with her.

But with no transition, no preparation, a crying, screaming girl was pulled out of my arms at 5 in the morning at the airport, and that is the last I have heard of her.

She is missing.  In attempting to reach out to the birth family for some kind of update and the chance to be a "fairy godmother" and send books and toys and clothes, I hired a private investigator,  The court ordered her to be removed and placed with a specific family member because she HAD to be with half siblings.  But she is not there.  No one will tell me where she is, or what happened.  Is it transition that did not work out right?  Was it all a lie just to get her into foster care in another state?  Is she back in this state and I was lied to yet one more time and would not be offered her placement?

All I know is that there is a two year old child who had her life shattered at 17 months, everything she knew of safety, security and love ripped away from her, and I have to fix that.

Because I cannot breathe without her in my life.