Thursday, June 16, 2011

In Sickness and in Health

It might as well be an infirmary-- 1o kids have now gotten this nasty, little bug. The house has been pretty quiet except for the occasional, "BLEH, BLEH, BLEH!"

The social worker was late, which cut our time short since I had a phone conference IEP meeting. I was fine with that until I heard from the kids what she was saying. "Where are the smoke detectors? Why are you kids all in your parent's room? What medicine is your Mom giving you? Has she fed you? Are you hungry? Do you want to go to the hospital? Why does it smell in here? Open that window. Your Mom's room is a little messy. Why aren't you guys in your own room? How did you get your black eye Andrew? Are you sure it was your sister?"

Not only did I get upset when I heard this from the kids after she left, but my kids thought she was rude with her questioning. Never in my history of adopting with at least 8 different social workers have we encountered this kind of questioning.

When I heard all of this, I wanted to call her back and defend myself. "Isn't eight smoke detectors, and one carbon monoxide detector enough? Why can't I let me sick children be in our room where they feel most comfortable and I can quickly attend to them? Can you please share what medicine I can give my children to stop vomiting? Isn't it better to let it run its course while keeping them hydrated with fresh water? Would you want to eat in between violent vomiting, or would you wait till your tummy felt settled? Why go to a hospital when the kids are doing well with home treatment? Is waiting twelve hours to see if they get better too long? Do you think I should have taken Dennis and Julia to the hospital or was waiting a day to see if they got better on their own, a good call? How else would you expect a room where kids have been vomiting to smell? And who would open a window on a hot day when you have the air conditioner on? My room is messy because-- um-- we have been up all night taking care of sick kids. Wouldn't it be more concerning to you if my house was spotless while I had 10 sick kids? I won't even comment on the black eye because my son's answer is good enough."

On top of all this, our online translation of Galina's birth certificate was not good enough-- why couldn't we get the registered translators to send an embossed translation? And though my home schooled kids got great report cards and improved state test scores, she wanted to know if I was "holding any of them back" from going to school. What does that even mean? And what if I was? Is it not my decision whether or not I think the local school system is doing a good job and if they would do better with a chartered home school?

I called my husband. I bit my tongue-- hard. Instead, I left her a polite message that yes my fourth reference had sent in their letter but just in case, they will send it in again. I wonder what what would happen if I did give her a piece of my mind. My first instinct is to do just that, but the stakes are too high. I'll let her make her comments. After all, she is just doing her job-- right?

On a positive note, Anastasia, Galina, and Paul got to see what it feels like to have me there to care for them. This was a first. A good bonding moment. I learned a lot about them through this experience. Anastasia is still sweet natured even while vomiting. And Paul's body takes a beating when he is throwing up. Poor guy sounds like a hurt baby bird when he is heaving. And Galina-- she is a strong one. She tried to not be vulnerable at first, and then finally came to my bed and crawled in.

In sickness and in health. That goes for children too.


  1. Oh wow! I pray this ends FAST....
    And WHO IN THE WORLD did they send to you? Atilla the Hun? Good heavens!
    I would have been fuming too!

  2. To those of us who have followed your story, I'm sure those questions seem ridiculous. I am glad, however, that your caseworker is willing to ask hard questions for the sake of the kids in her care. Not all prospective adoptive parents are as conscientious as you.

  3. So sorry everyone is sick! I hope they all have a speedy recovery. It sounds like you are doing a great job making the best of the situation!

    As far as the social worker goes....Could it be that the new attitude is not just a different social worker but that you are now "bucking the system" by homeschooling? I've heard that there is extra suspicion placed on homeschoolers. Just a thought... from another homeschooler!

  4. prayers for speedy recovery is all I can say...

  5. Prayers for a speedy recovery is all I can say....

  6. Just sending up prayers for you all right now! I will hold my tongue too!

  7. OMGoodness. Please tell me this is just a 24 hour virus. Bless your heart and oh my, your poor kids. I so hate throw up. You are smart to keep them all together in one room.

    All I can say about that SW is I hope she gets the virus. :)

    How dare her. UGH. That makes me so mad just thinking about it. I am so sorry.

  8. Christine, I pray that everyone at your house is well in a hurry.

    On another topic, I was just looking at CraigsList and noticed that there are lots of text books for sale on there. Perhaps you can find some good home school materials at that site.

  9. Poor kids...poor you! Hang in there! Sounds like you are trying to adopt through the foster care system!! I know...not funny or nice...just a bit true.
    Sending prayers and good thoughts you way.

  10. Poor kids...

    Forget about the social worker. Some people just don't get it. I have them all the time in my work. ;)

    Hope the kids are getting better. Lovely book about A and P.

  11. I must agree with Nora above- certainly the social worker's questions may seem harsh, and I understand how it might seem and feel like what she said was a personal attack on your parenting, but remember that not all children are so lucky to have amazing parents who love and care for them, and that the social worker was just doing her best to make sure your children are as safe and happy as they appear. After all, it would be impossible to find the 'bad' parents if nobody was there trying to look underneath the ribbon and wrapping, and spot anything questionable going on.

    That is not to say, however, that she might not have been unnecessarily rude- some people are just mean like that, try not to let it get under your skin.

    I hope your children recover swiftly- there is nothing worse than a tummy bug. Make sure you stay rested and healthy yourself, as well.

  12. That social worker needs a good smack around the head... Sheesh.

  13. I'm not excusing any of the other things the social worker did, which were over the top. But her objections regarding the birth certificate do make sense. Online translation does not work, period. If you try it with two languages that you speak well you can see right away the ridiculous mistakes and incorrect grammar. It's far from enough for a legal procedure.

    There's a reason why translators spend years in college and get certified - I should know, I'm one :)

    (Although not for Russian... if I were, I'd do it for you!)

    I hope everyone in your house feels better very soon.

  14. Wow. You all are in my constant prayers! Hang in there. I'm sure it will get better!

  15. I came back to this, because everyone seems to be missing something really critical about the social worker's questions:


    Raising questions about your decisions about caring for them, about your housekeeping, about the number of smoke detectors may have been (and probably are) completely appropriate, but ASKING THE CHILDREN or RAISING THESE ISSUES WITH THE CHILDREN was completely inappropriate.

    I do think this is worth a politely worded letter to the department, along with an equally politely worded statement about why you made the decisions you did.

    The social worker needs to be called on what she did, and you probably should establish how reasonable you are by 1) writing the letter and 2) pointing out that there were good reasons why she saw what she saw.

    No social worker should be undermining a parent's decisions (which might prove very upsetting to children, after all), and any questioning of children should be done in an appropriate setting, and only after a potentially abusive situation has been formally identified.

  16. Social workers can be extremely annoying. So sorry your family is sick, sounds awful! Hope your all healthy soon!

  17. Christine, take care of yourself so you don't get it too! I hope you all are well quickly so you can put this behind you and enjoy your summer.

    Perhaps the social worker was just verifying what she already knew by asking the kids those questions to make sure there was no discrepancy?? I'm SURE you have nothing to worry about and she was just being thorough. Could've been nicer though.

  18. That social worker was on a fishing expedition. My suggestion is that you call her ever so sweetly and say:" My children told me some things that gave me the impression you had some concerns regarding their care. Do you have a minute to talk so you can discuss these concerns with me? "

    Do NOT let this go. Adress this issue as soon as possible. I did foster care for many years and that line of questioning spells potential trouble in my opinion.

    Anna R.

  19. I am sure you have been told, but it is well worth your while to join HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) in the event some nut (government or private citizen) decides that your decision to home school is unacceptable. They will defend you in the event the state tries to interfere with your right to home educate your kids.

  20. Holy Smokes! I would not be able to take that as well as you. How offensive!

    So sorry you are all so sick!
    Glad Dennis' surgery went well!

  21. Hi! I am so sorry everyone is so sick at your house. Please be careful. Pat

  22. I agree with Anna R. that a polite follow-up with the sw would be in order. The questions are on par with what I would expect, though. Every sw I worked with went fishing when they met with us, but they always did it in front of me. Questioning the children without you there is wrong. I think I would have shown her to the door five minutes before the IEP meeting, apologizing that she had been late and asking her to please make another appointment as soon as she can fit it in.

    On the 'optimistic' side of things, maybe she'll get the virus you have. :D Then she can answer the questions about eating while vomiting through personal experience.

  23. I doubt that "hard questions" are necessary; in fact, I suspect that a bit more kindness, supportiveness, acceptance and curiosity would bring more "revelations" even if there was something she didn't like to be revealed. And, indeed, critical questions to the children, especially ones that could put questions and worries in their mind is out of line. I like the assertive approach suggested - you're up to that!


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