Sunday, December 23, 2007

Better and worse

We finally got to go visit Niblet at her aunt and uncle's house. The visit, although great, has left me reeling and I'm having a really hard time pulling it all together again.

The worse:
We got the specifics of the injuries her "parents" inflicted upon her that day. She was severely beaten. She has a diaper-area injury that still hasn't healed because she's still in diapers. Her aunt changes her uber-frequently, but the cut still opens up regularly. Based on a description of the injuries, an online friend of ours said that Niblet's mother (the one we all assume did the harm) should be sent to prison as a sex abuser and made to register when she's released. I can't say I disagree.

We also found out what poor Niblet has been enduring over the past year. There have been other bruises that we never saw. Her aunt saw them, and on one occasional called CPS, but nothing was done. She was basically starved. She weighed 18 lbs when she was in the hospital. She's 2.5 years old. She weighed exactly the same - 18 lbs - when she left us at 1.5 years old. They apparently sold her WIC checks - for drugs for the mom (and probably the dad, who knows) - and most days she was given a cup-o-ramen and that was it. This is a girl who was eating us out of house and home at 18 months old. Her mom was taking the dad's monthly check (social security?) and using it for herself.
We couldn't have known this. Almost everytime we picked her up, they were in the process of feeding her. Either shoving mac & cheese in her mouth, or she was sitting in front of the TV with a frozen dinner, or something. They must have been doing that on purpose.

And all the guilt I've felt for not calling CPS for the various little things we've seen, well, there's no point in that. Get this...the aunt said she saw hand-marks on Niblet's face, and choke marks on her neck, and she hotlined it. Called CPS about it. And NOTHING HAPPENED. WTF!? We have a foster child with random bruises on the outside of her leg, and we get pulled into a months-long ordeal...they obviously slap and choke their child and they get to keep her long enough to beat the f*ckin' crap out of her?? CPS is totally at fault for this child's injuries.

A year ago, when she left us, she was a happy, healthy, normal little girl. Now she's still the strong, smart, happy girl she was, but she has scars. She has eating/hoarding issues. She is seriously delayed in speech. She's already slated to get PT, OT and speech therapy. They can't even do psychological counseling because she's pre-verbal and we don't live anywhere fancy enough to have good shrinks who work with pre-verbal abuse survivors. Who knows what kinds of issues she's likely to have in the future?

To top it off, she now has the same case worker she had when she was with us. The one that sent her back to her father. The one who, initially, told us that we would adopt her, that she was going to convince the father to surrender, that she was going to TPR the parents. Then when the county changed it's mind - she changed her tune and never gave us the time of day from there on in. Now she's giving the same song and dance to the aunt. Granted, they have a better case against the father this time, and she might feel responsible in some way and actually give this little girl safe permanence, but I'm not holding my breath. What I do know is this - if they make motions towards sending her back to her father or mother, you're going to see this story on the evening news. That's our only recourse - shaming the county into doing the right thing - and we're going to use it.

Now the Better:
Niblet is wonderful. She is flourishing in a loving family. She was all smiles and Niblet-ness during our visit. We hadn't seen her in a long time, and not since she was hospitalized, so it was probably a little confusing for her to see us out of context and everything, but she was so happy. She sat on fostermama's lap and hugged her for a good 10 minutes, but then started playing with Squeak and let us show her how to open the presents we'd brought for her. Then she was running around, being silly, and basically being our little Niblet. It was so good to see. Her cousins are 8 and 11 years old and obviously love her. And she them. She didn't act scared around them like she did around her parents. Her aunt told us about some of her issues and how she's made sure to teach her that she can always eat as much as she wants and there's always more. She brought her to the supermarket and showed her that that's where food comes from and that they will always buy more.

She's teaching her not to be afraid. Not to hide. And helping her find her words. She'll copy a word if she's told to: "Niblet, say whale,"..."whaaale". It's cute. But she doesn't talk on her own. We're pretty sure that it's because she was trained by her parents not to express herself at all. She wasn't allowed to cry, to laugh, to be loud. So why would she have learned to speak for herself? It would have just gotten her in more trouble.

We're so thankful that Niblet is with this loving family. We are crossing all our fingers and toes, and praying to any gods we can think of, that she gets to stay there forever.

Now for the feel-good, holiday-ish part of the post:
During our visit, Niblet's aunt complained that the agency that was going to provide some christmas gifts for Niblet sent over 3 small, lame toys for her, and gave Niblet's *parents* a bunch of stuff for their new apartment - plates, towels, etc. The aunt and uncle live in a nice, but poor, part of town and have their 2 boys to shop for, as well, so while they do have some clothes and a couple of toys for her, they were feeling bad about it.
We have some clothes in her size that we were going to offer them, so we did and the aunt said they'd love them and that "every little bit helps". So we mentioned this to some family and friends who have known and loved Niblet since she came to us, and they are pulling a few toys and books out of their attics, or sending us a little cash to shop for her with, and we'll bring it all over to Niblet in the near future. It's not quite a Christmas Miracle, but I'm happy to be able to show Niblet and her new family just how large and extended their "Village" really is.


Maerlowe said...

Holy frakking Christ.

That sounds so, so familiar.

The good part is that I can point to Huckle, who went throught similar things during reunification, and over a year later, he's almost okay. Not whole, maybe never whole, but he's strong and smart and dear and beloved.

I hate that things like this still happen.

Amanda said...

OMG. I am beyond angry. Really. I am so sorry that this happened to Niblet and I hope now she will have the loving family she deserves.

Also, please email me and let me know if there are things Niblet needs - I would be glad to send them.

Kikilia said...

I am without words. The fact that the aunt called social services and they did nothing screams incompetence to me.

I am so happy to hear Niblet will be spending Christmas with folks that love her and want her to be with them.

I hope that Niblet is able to stay right where she is with no fear of seeing her 'birthparents' again.
Certainly, she deserves that much.

Julie said...

I am so angry as well- poor Niblet was left by CPS- they suck- and I hope that they do her right this time! And Yes go to the media if they don't it is just not right! I am sick of what has happened to her because of them. I am so happy you got to see her and that she is in a loving safe place!! Hopefully she will get to stay!

Patyrish said...

I just started following your blog at your last entry.

My husband and I are in the process of being licensed as foster parents. The problems you are facing is what scares me the most about the whole situation. I can only imagine the heart break of loving a child just for her to go back to a home where she is abused. I am so sorry the system is the way it is. I AM glad she is in a loving home and she is being taken care of though.

I also wanted to add that they discussed "food hoarding" in our foster classes but it's totally different hearing "first hand" that it does happen in real life. Just breaks my heart.

steph said...

This is so sad. As both a former CPS worker and now a foster mom, it is heartbreaking. I know how horribly the system fails the kids when the workers are not on top of things.
Niblet is loved, which is the best remedy for any ailment. That love will help erase the scars so she can go on to become a strong woman.
And I recommend the media should further shennanigans occur. You can also write letters to the gov, mayor, etc, and have every person who's ever met Niblet join in the fight...

Runergirl said...

Poor Niblet.....I can't read your posts without feeling sick or that I might come un-glued. It is just so unfair for her!!!

Please let me know if and where I can send some money for her for Christmas:)

Tricia said...

Sadness for the wounds Niblet unnecessarily endured, the broken system, the broken birth mother and father. Love, therapy, consistency...I hope these stay in her future.

Overwhelmed! said...

Wow, I'm speechless at what you've learned of Nibblet's injuries and that the CPS workers ignored the warning signs presented to them and allowed this precoius girl to be so abused!

I'm so glad she's safe now and that you're able to visit her. How wonderful that you and your friends pulled things together to give her a nice Christmas. :)

Cookie's Mom said...

I hope you all are having a great new year so far. Here's hoping Niblet is still safe and sound and doing well. I am heartbroken at what she went through - and you all as well. Hope Squeak is also thriving!

marci said...

Wow. It never ceases to amaze me how f*cked up our child welfare system's philosophy is. I'm amazed at all the foster parents out there that do what they do despite the system. You guys make such a difference. I've seen it in students I've taught through the years. You guys save lives.

And go, Niblet! Wonderful to see you get the healing and love you need and deserve.

starevelina said...

Gosh, I guess I haven't checked in in a while- I'm crying right now- I'm so angry that this stuff happens. I was just thinking about our little Sweets, and this is exactly what terrifies me the most. We pour our hearts and souls into these babies and then can't do anything but hope they don't get broken. I should be used to the injustice by now, but it still slays me that the abusive birthparents have all the rights and foster parents have none. I'm glad Niblet is in a safe place with a conscientious aunt and uncle. I hope so much that she stays. Take care of you, too.

*~JESSIE~* said...

How horrible that Niblet had to go through all of that! I'm glad to read she is doing okay and that you have been able to visit. I hope she is doing even better by now.

Sassy said...

It's been a while. How are you all?

Kikilia said...

How is everyone? Is everything still okay?

qUeEn oF tHe cAstLe said...

Hey there! I hope all is well and wanted to let you know I have a new placement. A baby boy born on Christmas. We picked him up from the hospital when he was 11 days old. I'm still kind of in shock. I have some questions when (and if) you come back to blogger land sometime soon. :)