I was reported to Children and Youth Services for possible neglect and/or other concerns regarding my twins Caleb and Isaac.
8:25 am May 1st, 2012. I had just gotten Camille and Elijah off to school. The twins were playing in their playroom still in their morning diapers. Both boys were really suffering from a sinus infection that they so graciously decided to share with their mama. I was very hoarse this morning and not at all feeling well. I was fixing my morning coffee when I hear a knock at my door?? As my mind starts wondering who was knocking at my door at such an hour, I start chuckling thinking that Camille and Elijah missed the bus and were trying to be funny to ask for a ride to school. As I approach the door, still in my morning attire, I see a young man with a name tag on a lanyard hanging around his neck. Puzzled I open the door and ask "May I help you?" to which he answers "I am so in so from CYS, I need to come in your home."
I was very curious what would have made a CYS representative come to my home so bright and early in the morning. I was wondering if it may have been due to an incident that recently happened with another family member and he was wanting my statement. As we approached my kitchen island he set his books down and opened his paperwork. Curiosity really had me now.
"He stated that we have been reported for two different issues. The first was neglecting medical treatment for my twins and concern that I had sent them to school with pink eye. He also went on to state the second issue was that it was reported that we have SEVERAL dogs in our home pooping on the floor. We have two children with Down Syndrome living in our home who may not know that dog poop was unsafe and were known to eat off our floors. There was concern for their health."
When I heard these allegations, I immediately starting wondering who in the world would have done this to us. I was literally in shock. The CYS case manager had several papers for me to sign and then he had to check the welfare of the twins. They were both playing..in their dirty diapers... sick and congested in the play room.. UGH!!! Then the case worker stated that he had to look in our refrigerator to make sure there was adequate food in there for our children and then he had to look at the children's bedrooms. I complied with all of his requests and tried to wear a friendly smile. He stated that the issue of dog poop all over the house was going to be closed immediately because he did not see any at all upon his visit. He would then go ahead and call the doctors office and maybe the agency that our TSS workers are from to see if they had any concerns. He was very nice and handled everything in a very nice, calm professional manner. I bid him goodbye and it was then that the personal anguish began. After I had some time to really think about this.
As I sat there allowing my mind to wonder... my feelings became more and MORE hurt. I began to cry realizing that someone out there really thought that I was not a good parent. Someone out there really thought that we were neglecting our children. Someone out there really thought that I would actually do something to jeopardize my children's health.
I had just taken my twins to the doctors a week prior to this visit from CYS, as I too suspected they may have they may have had pink eye. I was assured that it was a bacterial form of pink eye and was not contagious. There really wasn't much we could do about it but keep them cleaned off. Doctor prescribed an eye drop to try to put in, but doc and I both knew I would probably not be able to get these drops in because of their sensory issues. They DO NOT like things put their their mouth, ears or eyes. I was told that if I could not get drops in to just be sure to wipe their eyes with a warm wash cloth in the morning to get their eyes open and cleaned up. I did this daily.
The second issue stated that we had SEVERAL dogs in our home?? I have a little tiny black pug named Rosco..one pug...one tiny pug. And I will confess that Rosco still has accidents in the house. Daily??.. No! A few times a week?? Yes. I pick up the accidents promptly, I disinfect and make sure the area is clean. Where does Rosco frequently have his accidents?? In the boys and girls bedrooms, because my inlaws who used to live in our house before us had a dog who also had accidents in these rooms. It happens, I don't like it, but it does and we clean up after the dog. We DO NOT feed the twins off of the floor in their bedroom.
Let me explain how we "feed off the floor".. The twins are getting so much better with self feeding. They are starting to use utensils, they are starting to eat a bowl of cereal at the table and not throw the bowl before finishing it all, they are transitioning very well to sitting and eating as a family. Before this they would not eat out of a bowl, they would not eat on a plate, they would not eat anything out of a bag. When they wanted their cereal or popcorn, I would offer it in a bowl... 100% of the time, they dumped their food on the floor. I attempted several times to have them pick it up and eat it out of the bowl. They down right refused.... I opted to have them eat verses fight with them each time with the result of them not eating. Today this still happens but NEVER EVER in a spot that the dog may have had an accident in. They are not allowed food in their bedroom and honestly have never even tried to eat in there.
I almost feel like I am making excuses as I type but I am just trying to set the stage for my feelings and my blog post.
Words can and do HURT!!
Words can and do make one feel like they are not doing a good job!!
Words can and do make one feel as if every action is judged and critical judgement at that.
I do know who made the report. I do not know why this person felt that the "alleged neglect" was enough to report our family to a county children and youth service to come in and investigate us. This person knows our family and has been in our home. This person knows how much I do for my children, both educationally and medically. This person knows the challenges I face, yet the intense love that I feel for each and every child in my home. This person also knows where my husband and I both work.... these allegations could have hurt both of our careers. (I am not implying that people with good careers do not do wrong!)
What this person does not know... we call the doctors office so much for our boys they know us by name, the doctors office appreciates our input and suggestions on things to do with and for the boys, we travel to Pittsburgh so many times a year to make sure the medical attention our boys receive is what they need (this is 2 1/2 hour one way and difficult to do so often, but we do it), we have worked SO HARD with our boys to get them to where they are today, we have advocated for fair treatment of our boys and have put their faces out wherever and whenever we can to promote acceptance, we have gone above and beyond with our time and patience to be good parents to all five children. We know and understand that raising identical twins with multiple disabilities is a challenge. Its a challenge that my husband and I have fully accepted, but it is also a challenge that no one has ever written a rule book on or even instructions on... We are not perfect, we are not trying to be.. But one thing that I can say for sure is that I fully rely on our Dear and Precious Lord to guide us and give us wisdom that we can find no other place. It is with that wisdom I have chosen to pray for this person who made the call to CYS. It is with this wisdom that I have shared my story with my church members and have asked for their prayers and advice. It is with this wisdom that I will allow this situation to make me grow, to educate, to advocate even more than before.
So if you have read this far...Thank You.. If you have not read What can Words Do?? (Part One) please do. I also welcome constructive comments on what would you do in this position?
Why am I blogging about this?? Because if I can just teach one person that before you do something so hurtful, so judgmental to someone.... PLEASE if the children are not in immediate danger, call the family. State that you have a concern, hear their reply before calling a county agency to come in and investigate. If this person would have just given me the courtesy of a phone call.... I could have explained that I already had them to doctors, that we do not have several dogs and my children are safe.. Not to mention... this person DOES NOT EVEN COME INTO MY HOME... how did this person feel obligated to report health and welfare concerns when they don't even come into my home. I have TSS staff who come into my home almost daily, who are mandated reporters, and they did not feel the need to make report. Instead, we WORK on the issues, they state any concerns and we actively work on fixing them. I am just saddened that this person does not feel like I am approachable. I would think that I am probably one of the most approachable people I know, or at least I really try to be.
I am also blogging because I forgive this person. I wish I knew the motives or the outcome the person was hoping for and expecting to come about. The paperwork has came back "unfounded" and "case closed", but the hurt feelings will last on and the accusations have made an imprint on my heart.
What have I done???
I have not contacted person yet, but am thinking of the contacting supervisor. I have pulled them out of their preschool for the rest of the year and I am not sending them to summer school. I can not honestly send them without feeling we are being observed in a critical way. Any other suggestions??