Monday, June 7, 2010

Peace. Out.

Given life's recent events, I've spent the last several days doing a lot of thinking. I've had to come to the unfortunate decision that I should stop blogging.

Now it's not that I don't have anything left to say. I have plenty to say about a wide variety of things, not just foster care and post-adoptive life. I have things to say about politics, personal finance, Judaism and a great many more topics, but now is not the time to voice those opinions.

Over the past few days a lot of disturbing things have happened. I've received a number of threatening e-mails, our daughter's camp has confirmed that they have received at least one suspicious telephone call, and I've been made aware that a third abuse allegation has been made to social services.

We've already been in contact with the Department, and don't yet know how things will turn out. Either things will end as a big, fat annoying nothing like the other two allegations, or they won't. In either case, FosterEema and I have had some very long talks about what this means for us. Whatever the outcome, we have come to an accord on a number of issues that divided us, and are at peace with whatever happens.

I have to admit, even as creepy as all this has been, that there's a part of me that's the tiniest bit flattered by the attention. I find it hard to believe that a blog, which I thought hardly anybody bothered to read, could inspire such incredible passion in people. If I stumble across a blog that I don't like or that offends me, I just drop it from my feed reader. I can't imagine being inspired enough to go to the effort of hunting someone down and stirring up trouble in their personal life.

The worst of this isn't that someone has caused trouble for me. It's annoying, but it's not the end of the world. This boils down to a certain amount of harassment and some public embarrassment, but that's really about the extent of it. I think the person or people involved in this know that they are walking a very fine line between what constitutes free speech and what becomes criminal harassment.

So I've been embarrassed. Big deal. Heck, I've done plenty to embarrass myself before, and I'll likely do it again. It's part of life. Once, I managed to spill enchilada sauce all down the front of my shirt during a lunchtime job interview, so it's not like feeling stupid in front of others is a new experience. What makes this so bad is the upset it has caused Danielle.

Danielle has an inordinate amount of fear when it comes to social workers. From her perspective, social workers do nothing good. During her stay in foster care, workers constantly talked about moving her to another foster home, but never did. During the year prior to her adoption, we had a worker who would tell her, "I'm doing everything I can to make sure you stay," while at the same time fighting against us as hard as she could in court. She even went so far as to say things that weren't true while testifying, and she wrote statements that were provably untrue in her reports. Because of this, Danielle sees social workers as liars whose sole purpose is to remove children from their homes.

Danielle is the big loser in all of this because another investigation means yet another visit from social workers. Not only will they want to talk to us, they'll want to speak with Danielle, which will be quite upsetting to her. The first time an abuse report was made against us, a social worker showed up at her school. She called home, traumatized and upset. The second investigation, though brief, was much the same. Each time social workers talk to her, she is terrified.

This just seems so senseless.

In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have written so openly about my feelings, as it has obviously gathered the ire of some people. Although there are a great many foster and adoptive parents who write about their experiences, most aren't so open in their blogs. Perhaps it is because they fear criticism from the wider community, fear exposure, or feel guilty for having strong feelings about their troubled children.

When I started blogging, more than four years ago, I couldn't believe some of the stories I'd read and heard about foster care. I couldn't believe that the system could be so broken and that kids could be so troubled, until it happened to me. In many respects, I think my experience has been worse than some (though better than others) in part because my wife and I are queer. I think most of the scrutiny we were under prior to Danielle's adoption was motivated purely by discrimination, and it has also been at least part of the motivation for the abuse referrals after.

Do I regret blogging? Absolutely not. Perhaps I should have been more circumspect in what I said, but I think the story needed to be told. People need to be aware that the foster care system is broken, and that damaged kids are being adopted out to families without the needed and necessary supports being in place. When it comes to post-adoption support, the government's attitude seems to be, "well, you adopted the kid, now she's your problem."

If you look at the situation from a societal perspective, this is an incredibly stupid and irresponsible attitude. It is today's troubled and damaged kids that become tomorrow's criminals and prison inmates. Given that the annual cost of incarcerating someone in prison averages about $23,876 a year, and many offenders return again, again and again, it would seem wise to put programs in place to prevent this outcome for our at-risk youth.

Just like so many things in life, society finds it easier ignore the root cause of problems, preferring to address them after the damage has already been done.

My story is a story that needed to be told. Although some might worry about the damage it would do to Danielle, we've talked as a family about a great many things I've discussed here. Some of the more difficult topics were discussed more gently than I've voiced here, but we have shared them as a family. Even without discussion, Danielle understands just how difficult her behavior can be. When asked, "How would you feel if...?" she expresses many of the feelings that I've shared here. Danielle, too, sometimes expresses regret about the adoption. She recognizes, as do we, that there are a lot of things we wish were different.

Bottom line, despite all our extreme frustrations, we do care about one another. We care about Danielle, and I think she cares about us, even if she isn't always able to express it.

As for me, this isn't the first online forum or community in which I have participated, and it certainly won't be the last. I cut my teeth online back in the days before the Internet, and I can't imagine not being an active participant in the online world. Ideally, I'd like to bring back my blog at some point, but now is definitely not the time to do so.

To my bloggy friends, whether I know you or not, I send my thanks and appreciation. Your support, comments, and constructive criticism have meant a lot to me. Your kind words of support and good thoughts have given me strength during some of my darkest hours. There really aren't adequate words to thank you.

To my trolls, haters and stalkers, I also have words of thanks. Your remarks, though often profoundly unkind, have made me think. They often have made me consider my actions and challenged my beliefs. Even if I rarely agreed with you, debating and defending my actions was most certainly worthwhile.

If you have been following my blog for a while, I hope that my words here have been of some value. Whether you are one of my supporters or not, I hope that I've managed to make you think, too. I hope that for those of you who are considering fostering or adoption, that I've opened your eyes to what can be a very dark and troubled system. For those of you who are already fostering or have adopted, I hope that my story has made you feel just a little bit less alone. If you are parenting a troubled child, you are not alone. I hope that the discovery of knowing that there are other parents who are struggling, as you struggle, reduces your sense of isolation and despair.

I'd like to think of this message not as a "goodbye" or "farewell," but more as a "see you later." I have every intention to come back to the blogging world at some point, though I don't know when, or what form, that will be. Please leave me in your blog readers and RSS feeds, because if and when I come back, that announcement will be here. If you'd like to stay in touch, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail. My address can be found on my profile page.

Although the damage done to Danielle by my Internet stalkers is pretty significant, I'm also sad that it has done damage to my readers. I am sure people will pause and wonder how the story ends. What will the results of the child abuse investigation be? How will Danielle behave after she returns from camp? Will FosterAbba and FosterEema be able to resolve their differences and strengthen their relationship?

It makes me sad that I might not be able to tell you all how the story ends. Of course I don't know how it will end, either.

So for now, I send you all a cyber hug. Know that I am thinking about you, and that I know you are thinking about me.

Peace. Out.

- FosterAbba


  1. I'm really sorry to see you take an indefinite break. It's obvious, though, that you've given this a lot of thought. You're doing things with Danielle's interest at heart. That's the best kind of parent there is.

  2. I am sorry you have has to come to this decision. I hope whatever the hatemongers have done won't have a lasting effect on "Danielle". I have not always agreed with you and undoubtedly done some this different than you, but I want you to know, you have my respect and I will miss being involved in your family life, even if I am only a bloggy friend. I send my best wishes to you and your family. {{{{Hugs}}}}

  3. Nooooooooooo!

    I am going to miss you, but you have to do what is best for you and your family.


  4. I have been reading your blog since just after Danielle has placed with you as a foster child, and have always admired your uncompromising honesty (it's refreshing). I read foster and adoption blogs chiefly because I want to do foster care myself one day - I am still determined to do it but I believe your blog (and a handful of others) has significantly opened my eyes to the reality of what getting involved with the system will entail, and it is my hope that I can now go in with my feet on the ground and my exit-strategies in place, which will hopefully make me a better advocate for foster children and also make sure I retain some sanity along the way.

    I have not always agreed with your parenting strategies but as I said I have always admired your honesty and I also firmly believe that no one can know what you as a family have been through with Danielle if they haven't lived it, and thus cannot fairly or accurately judge you. What has always been apparent to me, however, is the genuine care you have for that child and the lengths you have gone to to try to improve her life go above and beyond what I suspect most people would be willing to do when handed a severely traumatised and troublesome young girl to care for. The battle you went through to keep Danielle with you at all when Nasty Number Seven tried to yank her out of your care is one I still remember vividly (I was living in rural Thailand at the time and can remember several instances of going out of my way to find an internet signal just so that I could read your case was progressing). How anyone who has actually read what that process was like for you can question your dedication as a parent is beyond me.

    I have also been profoundly touched by your personal struggles with your family being accepting (or not) of your sexuality. I am also queer and am fortunate enough not to have immediate family members who are homophobic (although some of my aunts and uncles leave something to be desired); but your issues echoed the ones that many of my close friends have had with their parents and/or siblings, and the heart breaking honesty with which you have recorded their attitudes to your family is something I truly appreciate. I believe that stories like that NEED to be out there, so that people can see exactly how painful and harmful homophobia is. It's not just an abstract societal ill - it's a deeply personal problem that tears families apart and creates terrible wounds for no good reason at all.

    Anyway - thank you for keeping this blog. I have appreciated it very much, and I am saddened and angry that some people have decided to use it to inflict further harm on Danielle and further disruption to your family. I hope you are able to keep everything together and that you are able to re-enter the blogosphere at some point, and I wish you all the best.

  5. I have only recently started reading, as we are considering adoption/fostering, and I am so sad to know that I will not get to read the next chapter in your lives.

    Be well.

  6. Teary eyed, I offer all three of you an internet hug and warm wishes. I am very sad to hear of this. Aghast that people can be so cruel. I have sincere and utmost respect for you both. I have gained so much from your honesty, it has made me braver and I have really appreciated your comments on my blog as well. I am just so sad to hear this news ...

    I bid you adieu with the instructions to read the book "Alex and Me" if you have not already.

  7. I'm sad that this blog will be gone, but I understand totally the reasoning behind it. You made a careful decision. I wish it could go on because it really opened my eyes quite a bit. I am a social worker, and although the state I live in has some excellent programs, I know that all states and it sounds like especially yours lag behind in support for foster kids and families. I wanted to be a foster parent, and sometimes still do, but I feel like I'm better informed after reading blogs like yours. I know that not everyone has the experience you did, and I read a variety of sources, but it opened up my mind to the realities of what COULD happen. I applaud you on the hard work you and your wife have done, and your committment to your child in the face of extreme adversity. your blog has been a valuable resource. Take care.

  8. This see you later post was one of the most touching I've read. I have one wish for you: Shalom.

  9. I have been reading for a while but not left comments before. Just wanted to say thank you for putting this explanation up and hope everything settles satisfactorily.

  10. Very scary stuff. I hope y'all are able to remain safe.

    Take care of your family. We'll still be here ready to read when you get back.


  11. I, too, am a new reader, but I've read your blog from beginning to end. I've been learning from the foster care and adoption (and RAD) blogs that I've recently begun reading, and I really hate to see yours go away. I will certainly be checking back now and then, hoping to find that you're back on.

  12. I'm sorry to see that you won't be blogging anymore. I certainly understand your reasonings, however. I think, in a large part, it has been thereputic for you to write out your frustrations. I hope you will continue to write, even if it is only for your own reading.

  13. I hope Danielle's time at camp turns out well for her, and all of you get the breather you need. She's been through a lot, and I'll always be rooting for her.

  14. I understand, but I don't have to like it. Stupid, stupid trolls and stalkers. I hope you aren't dropping out of the blogosphere entirely. I like knowing there are some experienced parents reading and commenting on my blog (and I'm hoping to hear a little more about your life through your comments).

    Anyway, I will keep your blog in my feed and hope that you can't stay away. You do know you can use a stat counter to learn a little more about your visitors? You can't do it retroacively, but if you do decide to come back then you might want to set it up.

    Hugs and prayers!

    Mary in TX

  15. Hope you got my email- having problems commenting for some reason. It doesn't seem to recognize my google account now.

    Anyway, I keep checking back hoping you're posting again. LOL the blog world is very boring with you gone.

  16. I'm sorry to hear things have gone south again. I'm a lesbian foster/adoptive mom with a very challenging kid, and reading here has often been therapeutic. I hope that Danielle's time at camp is productive, that you and FosterEema have a very rich, delightful, and restorative time while she is gone, and that allegations submitted by trolls are quickly and decidedly trampled. Peace.

  17. I've read you for years, and while I haven't always agreed with you, I think your voice has been an important one. I hope all will be well with you three.

  18. Oh, dear. I saw your blog come down, and I partially blamed myself. I made a comment you didn't really appreciate, right before you made this decision. I hope you don't think that I have anything to do with the scary stuff that's happening to you now. I say this from two experiences I've had in life -- being a sudden advocate to a homeless 18 yr old girl, who seems a lot like Danielle -- and also being very afraid for ourselves, when my husband (who runs an online business) received threats towards our family, from unidentified interneters. Anyways, I wish you all nothing but peace, and I hope you get to the bottom of (all of) this. Good luck, and hope to hear from you again someday.

  19. Thinking about you. Hoping all is well and that things with Danielle have improved. I'm guessing she is either home now or coming home soon. I hope this is the life changing event you were hoping for.

    Best wishes!

  20. It took me this long to figure out you two have stopped blogging. We moved around the time of your issues and added 3 kids. I figured my computer lost your info when we moved and just kept meaning to sit down and look your blogs up.

    I'm so sorry you all have been attacked like this. I wish people weren't like that but they are. It is unforgivable when they search out our children like they do. Be safe. I'll always have space for an RV, if you find yourself near here.

  21. I was away when you posted this and got back to find you gone. I miss you, and your honesty. Found the posting when you commented on someone else's blog.I'm keeping you on my favorites list in case you decide to come back.Please don't let the bad guys win.

  22. Somehow I missed this when you posted it. I'm sad to see you stop blogging, but obviously you have to keep yourselves safe first. I hope that Danielle's time at camp was productive and helpful, and that you as a family are doing well.

    Shana Tova.

  23. Hey, sorry it's come to this again. If going silent is what's best/safest for your family right now, I guess everyone will just have to respect that, but it's a loss to net-land all the same...

  24. Just de-lurking to say that I'm sorry to see you go. Have you thought about making your blog private though. You have changed many of my beliefs about foster care. i feel from the bottom of my heart that you are trying to do the best for your child even though she often does her best to undermine you. I hope everything gets better for you.

  25. Are you gone? Peace out to you too.

  26. Ok, this is weird. My reader had a different post as new, but couldn't find it went I followed the link. So I went to the homepage, which started with this post.I didn't look qt the date and although it sounded eerily like last years post, I just thought it had all happened AGAIN. I finally noticed the date on one of the comments.

    I hope theres just a bug because I see nothing past this post. Like the commentors last year, I find this blog very valuable!


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