Monday, May 14, 2007

Not to overwhelm you...

...but I'm overwhelmed, so you get to share.

Yesterday, as we were getting ready to bring Niblet home, we did our normal routine of changing her back into the clothes she came in. We always change her into "playclothes" that we keep in a drawer for her, because we like her to be able to get dirty and we don't want to worry about her dirtying the clothes her parents put on her. Plus, most of the clothes they have for her are still a bit too big (because she's a skinny, skinny kid) and they often fall down.

So anyway, we were at our friends' house, in their well-lit living room, and I stripped Niblet down and changed her diaper. When I did, I was confronted with a large, healing bruise on the side of her stomach. My heart dropped, but she's a toddler, and toddlers get hurt. As we well know. I pointed it out to fostermama, but there are a million explanations, so, yeah...

I had to keep looking, though. And I found more. On both of her upper arms, there were big bruises. Either from someone grabbing her too tightly, or from someone smacking her arm hard. We tried to document them, just in case more show up, but the only camera we had access to didn't end up working very well.

There's nothing we can do about it. Yes, they probably grab her too hard sometimes. She pushes their buttons, she's a handful. In the year we had her, I often felt the desire to toss her out the window. I didn't, but different people have different breaking points and different lines that they're willing to cross. Smacking a kid or grabbing their arm are things that some parents find acceptable. They're not a reason for a call to CPS.

The bruise on her belly, I have no idea how that got there. Hopefully it was self-inflicted. She's clumsy and falls all the time, so she could have fallen onto something.

Now we're in the weird position where we'll be looking at her for bruises every time we see her. We'll be taking pictures of whatever is there. And if something really crosses the line, we're going to have to mention it to her parents. Niblet spends time with a lot of different relatives, so it's possible that the bruises aren't from her parents. Anyway, we're not going to go behind their back and call CPS on them, because then they'll never trust us. We would probably never see her again.

When we still had Niblet living with us, fostermama and I used to dream up elaborate ways to "kidnap" Niblet and start our lives over elsewhere. Last night, as I was falling asleep with my son safe and secure in my arms, my mind was whirring again. It's not going to happen, but it's much easier to think about ways to take Niblet from them, than to think about watching her grow up being yelled at and hurt.

To top it off, if she did end up getting pulled from their home, currently we couldn't take her in. Because of the Joy Fiasco, we're not currently allowed to foster.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry this happened. It sucks.

However, if worse came to worse- do you think you could get her parents to sign custody of Niblet over to you rather than have her enter care?

Again- this sucks and I really don't know what to say.....


Lo said...

Kikilia has many good suggestions on all these topics, says I.

FosterMommy said...

Yes, we've thought of asking them if they want to write up a will of some sort saying that we should get Niblet if something happens to them.

I highly doubt that they'd just give up and sign her over to us. I wouldn't suggest it.
Anyway, at this point, we couldn't legally adopt her. The Joy fiasco would prohibit that. Squeak isn't a problem because our agency is okay with it, but any new adoption would be a problem. Realistically, if they wanted us to have her, we could just take her and then do the legal stuff in the future when everything's settled down. Not going to happen, though.

Aimee said...

Oh my - I am so sorry.

We just finished the whole process to be licensed and hopefully will be having our foster kids soon, so I am coming from a really naive perspective. BUT I really think you should call it in. Especially in light of the recent bogus nonsense you went/are going through with Joy. What if the parents called you in?

Again - I am very sorry. I would be completely overwhelmed as well.


Gawdess said...

I feel wordless
and I want to tell you that I would be overwhelmed.

Love and hopes for you all and Niblet too.

Anonymous said...

Any idea when the Joy fiasco will be settled? Seems to me there's not even anything there to investigate... I don't get why they've made it such a big deal.


fostermama said...

The caseworker for Joy knew that she was really at fault for what happened to her. She is a hateful and miserable person, and needed to put the blame on someone else. And, we had challenged her authority by making suggestions and by going over her head to finally arrange a visit between Joy and her mother.
So, since she has had all the power up until this point, this is the point we've gotten to with it. She won't have all the power when we go to a hearing, and we really didn't do anything wrong, so hopefully it will be over then. But, they have some absurdly long time to perform their "administrative review" (which we expect to be a rubber-stamp process) and then schedule a "fair hearing" for us.

Meanwhile, I think FosterMommy is overstating things. I suspect that if Niblet's parents wanted us to take her back, we could manage it legally even with the Joy thing. But, it's wishful thinking. They don't. And they won't. Realistically. Though it's become hard not to hold out some hope. I don't want that turmoil for Niblet, or for us, but I do of course still want her back on some level.

I think she will be ok with them, though. And, she will still have us in her life, forever. I think even one afternoon a week with us can make a really big difference in her life.

I don't think anyone in her family is hurting her on purpose, and we do intend to point the bruises out next time - it was weird to not have asked this time, really.

Meanwhile, we get to take her camping!! Memorial Day wknd we'll have her and Squeak and a bunch of friends and tents and FUN!

Anonymous said...

Have fun camping! Though my idea of camping is a hotel with no cable. ;-)

I'm glad you're able to be in Niblet's life- and yeah- one day a week does mean a lot. I'm glad she has you guys.

BTW- how big is Squeak now? I bet he's adorable.


Michelle H. said...

Oh gosh. I am so mad. How dare they treat her carelessly. I don't understand people that can't grasp a child isn't a rag doll, that a child is SMALL and EASY to harm.

I'm sorry for Niblet most of all.

It is horrible to say but did you document it? Maybe this could be part of an effort to get her back in your care.

A Special Family said...

Oh I am so so sorry. I don't even know what to say apart from the system isn't good and I'm thinking of you both and Niblet!!

Robin said...

Wow! You definitely need to document every bruise or mark you find on her. I am so sorry that you have been put in this situation.

Julie said...

my heart just sunk when i read this- it is my biggest fear in reunification to parents who aren't ready. ugh!

yes-theyre-all-mine said...

Somehow found your blog...I too am a NY state foster parent. Bruises sound scary...TAKE PICTURES or (her) to the pediatrician. What county are you in? I am in the Adirondacks (formerly from Long Island) Cynthia

Amanda said...

Foster Mommy - I tagged you on my blog. I thought since your blog is mostly meta now you would have room to play along.

Amy said...

Hang in there and document everything. She needs you and is very blessed to have you. Take care!!