Monday, June 18, 2012

Sometimes, Your Gut is Right

Long time followers might remember a little girl that I named U.G. (Uninvited Guest) on my old blog.  This was a kid who came to the house several times without an invitation, and we had quite a few problems because her behavior stank and we couldn't communicate with her mother who didn't speak a word of English.

Danielle had begged to be allowed to spend the night at U.G.'s house, but we always felt uncomfortable with the idea.  U.G.'s behavior was an issue, as was the communication impasse, but we had a gut feeling that things weren't quite right over there.  Later, we learned that an aunt (who was living with the family) had deliberately burned one of her children after the child had been caught stealing.

We finally put a stop to the girls' visits when U.G. came along on an especially lousy outing.  She was openly defiant (and egged Danielle on) when we expected appropriate behavior in a bookstore and in a restaurant.  Since we'd had ongoing troubles with her, this was the straw that broke the camel's back.  We put an end to visits at our house.

The last time we visited with U.G. was back in January of 2007. 

At the time, I felt somewhat guilty for depriving Danielle of visits with her friend.  Still, we couldn't find a way around her behavior.  We thought about hiring an interpreter to speak with her mother, who seemed nice enough.  In the end, we decided it wasn't our responsibility to foster a friendship with a kid who wouldn't behave.  Besides, we had some valid questions about her mother's character, simply because her child behaved so terribly.

Still, it turns out that our instincts for keeping Danielle away from the girl (and her family) were correct.  We recently heard U.G.'s brother is now wanted for murdering his girlfriend in an extremely horrible and brutal way.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

First World Problems with Birth Family

Small issues with Danielle's birth family keep coming up, though I do have to admit that these are really first world problems more than anything else.

Still, they are annoying.

When we met with Danielle's birth family, they invited us to attend a milestone event for one of Danielle's cousins.  We weren't sure we wanted to attend for a number of reasons, though Danielle very much wanted to go.

In light of our discovery that one of Danielle's birth family members is offering prescription drugs for sale, and that this person would be at the festivities, we decided not to go.  Danielle was understandably disappointed, but as it turned out, we wouldn't have been able to attend anyway.  FosterEema has a conflicting appointment.

As this situation unfolded, we also observed that another family member voiced her approval of the aforementioned drug dealing.

In a nutshell, it has become clear that these are not people with whom we want to associate.

My current problem is that one of the above relatives has started to send me regular messages via a social media site.  Whenever she is online, it seems she wants to chat.  I'm trying to remain positive and believe that she's simply trying to be friendly, but in all honesty, it makes me very uncomfortable. 

The problem is made worse by the fact that she seems to only send me messages when I'm on the phone with a client or otherwise engaged in work.

I know, first world problems.

These problems put a sharp focus on the underlying flaw of the foster care system, and it reminds me very much of a story we were told about a girl who had been in care for most of her childhood.  She was about to turn 18, and the social workers were trying to put together some sort of plan for her.  In the end, our county bought her a bus ticket and sent her back to her birth family.

This was the birth family who had abused her sufficiently that she wasn't safe living with them.

If a family isn't safe when a child is 15, 16, or 17, how does the family suddenly become safe when the child turns 18?  I'm not sure I see much difference between an older teen and an 18-year-old, other than a difference in their legal status. It makes me ask, if these kids so desperately want to return home, should they have been taken from their families in the first place?

It's an uncomfortable question to ask.

Danielle continues to make it clear that she wants to go live with her birth family after her 18th birthday.  She's already told us that she wants to live with a relative who she claimed abused her.  When we asked Danielle about this plan, her remark was, "Well, I've already forgiven her."

The abuse Danielle described was not insignificant, yet she wants to return to that life.

I find it extremely confusing and sad.