Curve ball

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
The plot thickens. Tornado has made a couple of calls from jail. Not pleasant. She wanted to speak with her kids. But first she sort of thanked me for taking care of them, then berated me for the situation with her eldest. Again, my fault. In her mind. I picked up because it was Christmas and I had hoped this time might be different.
Sigh.
The thing is, my grands don’t want to talk with her.
Simple enough. I won’t force them.
So, I told her that they weren’t ready to speak with her. A spewing of wrath, “You are such a liar...let them tell me that....I don’t believe you” She had expressed to me when she was getting out she would come home. Home? Here? Sorry not possible. Another lashing out that “just because dad is dead doesn’t mean you have say over the house....I said bye and hung up. I don’t need to listen to that. She is still bent on blaming me for everything, unable to look at the consequences of her own choices.
Enters the social worker. You see, since my daughter was in custody, she was transported to court for the second permanency hearing and told the judge she would comply with services to prevent her parental rights from being terminated. Okay, this is a good thing. But, it also puts me back in the game.
The social worker tells me-
“I met with your daughter in jail. What are your thoughts about phone calls?”
“Ahh” I thought to myself “Tornado must have complained that she wasn’t able to speak with her kids.”
I told the social worker that my daughter could be extremely nice and clever with people, but is abusive and belligerent on the phone. That my grands do not want to speak with her.
She went on to say that my daughter still has parental rights and that if she complies with the plan, the kids will have to visit with her. I told her that I am trying to help my grands and don’t want to further traumatize them. That I understand that reunification is a possibility but at this time until my daughter gets treatment it is not healthy for any of us. She said that the kids need to see their mom anyway, that if she doesn’t change, it helps them understand why her rights may be terminated.
Okay.
What?
I am reading up on the idea of reunification, that kids do well when their parents get into treatment and get back on their feet. I get it. We all want our addicted loved ones to recover.
I told the social worker that I have been down this road too long, I know too much, have witnessed too much.
But that is just me. As a parent of an addict, the loss and suffering is ongoing, but I am an adult. What about these children?
I am already dealing with their trauma based behaviors. Trying to help them have stability. They are triggered so easily, setbacks are common.
I am trying to breath and not write the end of the story. Trying to take one day at a time. Trying to figure out how to move forward.
I think I will speak with the kids counselors and see what they say. Figure out a plan. I will have to make a plan to protect my heart as well.
I do want my daughter to get well. I do hope she is truly ready and willing to make changes for her own sake and for her kids. I just don’t want to see them hurt and let down again. I am the one who will have to deal with the repercussions.
Oh boy.
Leafy
 

RN0441

100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Leafy

I do hope and pray that your daughter makes the changes that need to be made this time. However, it kind of sounds like everyone around her is running around and doing all the work. Does it seem that way to you?

I agree with you that I would not know what in the heck to do. These so called "experts" never helped me either when I was going through our "stuff" and that is a horrible let down. There seems to be NO ONE that you can really turn to and nothing is black and white. I just wanted someone to tell me "what to do". Ha! That is a laugh!!

I do think you are doing everything HUMANLY possible to work through this entanglement of confusion. I do not know where you get your strength other than from the Lord because it has to be exhausting mentally and physically.

I know that you will be rewarded greatly some day. No only for helping your daughters and grands but by helping us all here by sharing your insight.

Hugs.
 

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Thank you RN. Yes, it does seem that others are doing the work. It is also a thing that she is stuck in jail and has to go to rehab as a condition of her release. It is not her choice. She has to. Hopefully that will work.
It is a start.
I have only heard her venting and ranting in those calls. I realize that she has come off meth cold turkey, that the holidays must have been painful for her, that this is going to be hard for all of us. I am waiting to hear some.....humility. Some responsibility towards the havoc her drug use has caused herself and all of us. So far, it has been the same story, everyone else is to blame.
That tells me she is still very ill. i will remain guarded until I hear otherwise.
It will be interesting to hear what the counselors say. I know connection is important, there is literature on how it is key to keep attachment and bonding for parent and child. These kids have been abandoned for nigh three years. Shouldn’t they be able to choose whether they want to see their mom, or speak with her? They are hurt, angry, confused. They have not had enough time to heal and be able to talk openly about their trauma.
I have no way of knowing how this will affect them. So I am back to square one, just trying to slow way down and calm my racing thoughts. I will work on giving it to God and just trying to be present.
Thanks RN. I have been helped so much here. I wish us all peace. That would be reward enough!
Much love
Leafy
 

Triedntrue

Well-Known Member
I am so sorry to hear that your life is so stressful right now. I am sure that is an understatement. Someone once said to me that the social workers and others in the system do what is to their advantage. What gets things resolved and out of their hands. They don't consider the effects on anyone except your daughter. I don't know if that is true but kind of suspect it is at least partially true. Therefore i am glad you are looking for advice from professionals who are not in the system. I wonder too if your daughter is showing what she thinks will work to get her out. My son says and does the right things until he gets what he wants. I sincerely hope this is not the case and she is ready to straighten up her life. It should not be at her childrens cost or your cost. If she is truly sincere she can straighten her life and then try to rebuild relationships when she is stable. I don't mean to sound harsh but I think i did. Prayers that all this is a positive change.
 

ChickPea

Well-Known Member
...So I am back to square one, just trying to slow way down and calm my racing thoughts. I will work on giving it to God and just trying to be present.
Leafy
Oh hon, I'm so sorry. I was journaling this morning trying to put my feelings to thought and I think you've helped me, actually.

My daughter is in the "New Year's Resolution" phase (been here before). She's been working for a week (after about 4 months of getting money how, I have no clue), has plans to get an apartment, wants to get in shape, on and on. She's not realistic about things, but doesn't want to hear anything "negative" (ignoring the bills gone to collections, the shady people she's shacking up with, the fact that she hasn't even had a job yet for a month). If she can keep all this for a year and remain stable, wonderful. Let's talk then. Isn't that the goal? But, my mind won't let me believe --or act on it-- it until I see it. So I'm waiting for the shoe to drop. For the spiral. But she wants immediate compensation/reward. She's moved on, why can't everyone else?

In between all this is the sweet grandchild that has lived with us every day of his life thus far. Happy, stable, doing better than I think my own kids did at this age. With two parents that have a lot of growing to do.

You've hit on my fears and frustration. That the courts would basically allow a child to incur trauma for the sake of it. For the benefit of closing a case --even for a bit-- and re-opening it when they need to. It's just insane. I know not every grandparent/aunt/relative is willing to take a child on in hopes of giving them a better chance in cases like this, but when they are, why not utilize them?

If she is truly sincere she can straighten her life and then try to rebuild relationships when she is stable. I don't mean to sound harsh but I think i did. Prayers that all this is a positive change.
This is how I feel right now in my case with my daughter.

I hope you can find some peace as well. I'm trying. Some days it is minute by minute.
 

AppleCori

Well-Known Member
Hi Leafy.

My step-siblings went through a similar situation when they were kids, and I have come to believe that “family reunification “ is really all about the rights of the parents (adults) and has very little to do with what is actually best for the kids, or what they kids’ actual needs are at this point.
Did the social worker seem concerned with the kids’ mental health, feelings, thoughts, or best interests, or was she more concerned with your daughter’s rights? Sounds like the kids’ needs were just swept under the rug.

They will “have to” visit with her?

Would we tell an abused, abandoned spouse that they will “have to” visit with their abuser because he/she is now complying with some court-ordered plan?

I hope their counselors will make a determination on whether this is in the kids best interests at this time, and the report will be taken into consideration. It should be their decision (in my opinion) so that they feel some sense of control with their own lives, not to be treated as objects belonging to someone else, as if their feelings don’t matter.
 

Blindsided

Face the Sun
She said that the kids need to see their mom anyway, that if she doesn’t change, it helps them understand why her rights may be terminated.
New Leaf, I am so livid right now! WHAT????? kids need to see their mom to understand??? These are children. This person is asking them to be adults. in my humble opinion any reunification efforts, and that doesn't mean custody, should be at the lead and discretion of a specialist in child psychology. Your Difficult Child gave up her moral rights to be forced on her already traumatized children. It's obvious to me she has not accepted responsibility for her behavior and that she doesn't give a care about anyone but herself, or she would never try to force herself on children who do not want her brand of affection, especially her own. Why would this soc. worker think the children have a need to know any of this right now? Have the children asked? From what you shared, that would be a resounding NO! It's common sense. In fairness to the social worker, your Difficult Child may be manipulating and the soc. worker is not educated on behavioral disorders and mental health, maybe it's time.

The laws don't always protect everyone. Definitely speak with the children's therapist. Try to get what you can in writing or recording anytime you speak with that social worker again or any for that matter. I seldom get so riled up to speak my opinion, but these children are defenseless and you care enough to take on the task of providing for them and protecting them. I suggest starting a journal, today! Date, time, person, length of discussion, topics discussed, plan of action, etc. As a nurse paralegal I can tell you, if it isn't documented, it didn't happen. It seems you are the children's only advocate in this particular situation.

My sibling is nearly finished raising granddaughter who is now in college, and daughter (bio-mom, meth addict, and severely mentally ill as a result) is living with them now, after being on the streets drugging for months, which she has done for many years now. It is my siblings way of dealing, but the bottom line is that my great niece resents her bio-mom beyond belief. She was able to figure things out in due time. She has been on medications and in therapy herself.

I hope I expressed something you find useful. My heart breaks for all involved. I am sending wishes for your Difficult Child to be surrounded by helpful, caring people who show her the best way. I am sending wishes for you to find the right person to help you navigate all of this so you all have the best outcome. That is a prayer I often have for my Difficult Child and for myself.

In healing, Blindsided
 

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Hi all, well surprise, surprise I got a phone call from Tornado asking me to call the residential treatment center and put in a good word for her because space is limited and supposedly relatives calling holds sway. So I did speak with a counselor. We shall see what happens. I don’t know if her motivation is to get out of jail, or her kids, only time will tell.Not holding my breath.
It should not be at her childrens cost or your cost. If she is truly sincere she can straighten her life and then try to rebuild relationships when she is stable. I don't mean to sound harsh but I think i did. Prayers that all this is a positive change.
TNT, I feel the same. It is time for her to do the work in proving that she is ready to straighten up her act.You didn’t sound harsh, just real. Thank you for your honest thoughts and prayers.

That the courts would basically allow a child to incur trauma for the sake of it. For the benefit of closing a case --even for a bit-- and re-opening it when they need to. It's just insane. I know not every grandparent/aunt/relative is willing to take a child on in hopes of giving them a better chance in cases like this, but when they are, why not utilize them?
It confounds me and my well children that this is the case with my grands. They were left by both parents for three years. Is that not enough? I understand the idea that kids fare better when their parents recover. But...the odds of that happening are slim. However, I am not closing the door on my daughter. I do hope she follows through. One of the things I have always taught my children is that we all have an opportunity to change our ways. It will take time and a monumental effort on Tornados part to prove herself.

I hope you can find some peace as well. I'm trying. Some days it is minute by minute.
Yup minute by minute. For sure. I have to stay in the present and not let my mind wander to outcomes.
I have come to believe that “family reunification “ is really all about the rights of the parents (adults) and has very little to do with what is actually best for the kids, or what they kids’ actual needs are at this point.
I have thought the same myself, Apple. I think the hardest thing for the kids would be to have their hopes dashed again. They have endured so much throughout their lives. Haven’t had much of a childhood. They are very traumatized by their experiences. I get the brunt of their misery. So, it is double jeopardy for me.

Did the social worker seem concerned with the kids’ mental health, feelings, thoughts, or best interests, or was she more concerned with your daughter’s rights? Sounds like the kids’ needs were just swept under the rug.
I did not detect much concern for the kids. I think the concentration is on legal rights of the parent. I wish the parameters that are mandated on foster parenting would be as rigorous for parents.
Would we tell an abused, abandoned spouse that they will “have to” visit with their abuser because he/she is now complying with some court-ordered plan?
No way. But I do believe I have some leverage with the kids being older.

I hope their counselors will make a determination on whether this is in the kids best interests at this time, and the report will be taken into consideration. It should be their decision (in my opinion) so that they feel some sense of control with their own lives, not to be treated as objects belonging to someone else, as if their feelings don’t matter.
This is my hope. I don’t know if the kids will express their deepest fears because they are not at a place where they speak openly about their history. It comes out in rages, re-enactments, fits and behaviors, regression to younger ages, outbursts of past trauma that they have not yet begun to process. They are trying to live normal lives, to fit in with their peers, to not stand out. They have yet to recognize their need for counseling. There are many bridges we need to cross in order for them to turn down their heightened fright or flight reaction. They need to be heard, have their own opinion and choice. Otherwise I fear we may go down a very dark road. I am waiting on intense in home counseling for the younger two and have recently learned that all the paperwork is done waiting on the social workers signature. She claims to be playing phone tag with the service counselors, they say their part is done, they just need her to sign the forms and return them. Ugh. The maze of bureaucracy is difficult, winding around overworked understaffed agencies. Trying to advocate for services without stepping on toes. It’s hard, one has to have diplomacy so as not to incur wrath by way of dragging the process out, paperwork lost in the pile so to speak. I will try my best to make sure the kids perspective is honored. A call to their guardian ad litem is one way to work through red tape, but that comes at the cost of alienating the social worker. Sorry I am rambling. The system is definitely lacking. I am navigating new territory and trying to do what’s best for my grands. At the same time, if by some miracle my daughter sincerely wants to get off the streets and come clean, take care of her kids, that will be a huge step. She will have to understand their anger, their fear. She will have to acknowledge her role in their brokenness. She will have to see that her lifestyle and choices have hurt all of us, especially her kids. I don’t know how a recovering addict can deal with traumatized kids. It’s hard enough for me to train myself to use a therapeutic voice, to not take their acting out personally, to work hard at earning their trust, providing enriching experiences. They are mad at the world. They are difficult to deal with. Wary. They isolate. Break things. Test. “If I do this or that, will you still love me?”
At times, it is like working with three year olds in teenage bodies. That takes a whole lot of patience and holding back my own feelings. I don’t know how my daughter would deal with the frustration. I don’t know how much or how long CWS would be watching over her.
This is all looking into the future with concerns, doubts and worry. I must try to stay present. But, it is good to brainstorm about what may or may not be so I am prepared.
Tornado called again, wanting me to call the rehab daily advocating for her. Um no. That’s overkill. From what I hear, she is most anxious to get out of jail. It is severely overcrowded, often in lockdown, three people to a small cell. Yah, jail is uncomfortable, unless you are Martha Stewart.
I will just have to work at slowing my thoughts down, getting a plan on paper, talking with the kids therapists and going from there.
One red flag is that Tornado said residential treatment is for one month. I don’t for one nano second think that is long enough. After so many years of actively using, one month?
I have my work cut out for me.
Thank you all for your thoughts, love and kindness.
Leafy
 

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Hi Blindsided thank you for your heartfelt reply.
I am so livid right now! WHAT????? kids need to see their mom to understand??? These are children. This person is asking them to be adults.
I try to keep even keel because these kids are like horses, they sense emotions. It is not always easy and I have been anxious after speaking with the social worker. My youngest daughter who has been such a help is done with her two sisters. I am to the extent that they would have to “jump through hoops” to gain my trust. I think that’s how my grands feel. They are protecting themselves. The whole thing sounds insane. Why put them through that all over again? I think it is some weird reverse psychology. The social workers and literature I read says that the kids love their parents no matter what. That some agencies allow visitation even when parents are actively using.
:groan:

should be at the lead and discretion of a specialist in child psychology. Your Difficult Child gave up her moral rights to be forced on her already traumatized children.
Moral, but apparently not legal. Loopholes. I agree the decision should be the psychologist and the kids. They should be able to say no.

It's obvious to me she has not accepted responsibility for her behavior and that she doesn't give a care about anyone but herself, or she would never try to force herself on children who do not want her brand of affection, especially her own. Why would this soc. worker think the children have a need to know any of this right now? Have the children asked? From what you shared, that would be a resounding NO!
She is very ill. Too much meth. Addict talk, everyone else’s fault. She has been in jail for about a month now, her behaviors are typical. From what I have read, CWS and the courts are mandated by federal law to attempt reunification. We have not sat down with a plan. I want the intense home counseling services to kick in before any of this begins.

I suggest starting a journal, today! Date, time, person, length of discussion, topics discussed, plan of action, etc. As a nurse paralegal I can tell you, if it isn't documented, it didn't happen. It seems you are the children's only advocate in this particular situation.
Thank you Blindsided, I have been keeping record. But that is still my side of the story. I think once the new counselor steps in there will be a stronger voice.
She was able to figure things out in due time. She has been on medications and in therapy herself.
It is so hard on the children, addiction. Not just the unpredictable behaviors of the parents, the kids often blame themselves and have huge issues with self worth.

I am sending wishes for your Difficult Child to be surrounded by helpful, caring people who show her the best way. I am sending wishes for you to find the right person to help you navigate all of this so you all have the best outcome. That is a prayer I often have for my Difficult Child and for myself.
Thank you so much. I believe in the power of collective prayer. Wishes for you and all of us to stay the course. Steady as she goes, one foot in front of the other.
(((Hugs)))
Leafy
 

ksm

Well-Known Member
OH, Leafy... It's heart breaking to read this, the pain you and the children bear, while bio mom doesn't have a clue how her actions affects everyone.

Can you ask the social worker to set in on the first few mandated phone calls and help prepare the children before the call and process it after the call? Can the children just tell their mom "I'm not ready to talk right now."

I know how the mom will try to manipulate the children over the phone, how she will make all sorts of promises, how she will use the child's vulnerabilities to draw them in to her empty promises. I know, because I've lived it for 16 years. And my grands bio mom is still doing it, and we adopted 15 years ago. But now my grands are adults (kind of) and they still don't have the emotional maturity to handle it.

And neither does their mom. Luckily she is 1500 miles away.

Ksm
 

BusynMember

Well-Known Member
I am so sad that the courts are doing the wrong thing in my opinion by the poor grands. The courts always tend to favor the biological parents no matter how difficult they have been. I have no idea why. The children have no voice at all it seems. I have heard many versions of this story.

This propensity for our courts to do so is why we adopted a child from overseas. The U.S. court system scares us regarding the bias towards even horrific biological parents. And in almost all jurisdictions grandparents are considered inferior guardians or not considered at all.

The poor kids!

I pray with all my heart for all of you, New Leaf.
 

Blindsided

Face the Sun
Hi Blindsided thank you for your heartfelt reply. I try to keep even keel because these kids are like horses, they sense emotions. It is not always easy and I have been anxious after speaking with the social worker. My youngest daughter who has been such a help is done with her two sisters. I am to the extent that they would have to “jump through hoops” to gain my trust. I think that’s how my grands feel. They are protecting themselves. The whole thing sounds insane. Why put them through that all over again? I think it is some weird reverse psychology. The social workers and literature I read says that the kids love their parents no matter what. That some agencies allow visitation even when parents are actively using.
:groan:

Moral, but apparently not legal. Loopholes. I agree the decision should be the psychologist and the kids. They should be able to say no.

She is very ill. Too much meth. Addict talk, everyone else’s fault. She has been in jail for about a month now, her behaviors are typical. From what I have read, CWS and the courts are mandated by federal law to attempt reunification. We have not sat down with a plan. I want the intense home counseling services to kick in before any of this begins.

Thank you Blindsided, I have been keeping record. But that is still my side of the story. I think once the new counselor steps in there will be a stronger voice.
It is so hard on the children, addiction. Not just the unpredictable behaviors of the parents, the kids often blame themselves and have huge issues with self worth.

Thank you so much. I believe in the power of collective prayer. Wishes for you and all of us to stay the course. Steady as she goes, one foot in front of the other.
(((Hugs)))
Leafy
Thank you for replying. I think you have a clear plan. It is hard for our other children to understand and equally important not to let our Difficult Child get all the attention. I understand how behavior disorders, mental illness, and addiction affects the entire family. You have a handle on mental illness and behavioral disorders. Addiction is often our DCs way of coping with something much deeper that is too painful for them. I believe their is opportunity in adversity and you are not letting this one slip by. Keep us posted.

Love and light.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
She said that the kids need to see their mom anyway, that if she doesn’t change, it helps them understand why her rights may be terminated.
Dear New Leaf.

I'm sorry for this latest curve ball. I have not read all the replies but have a suggestion. Any child in custody of the system has an attorney or eligibility for same, as I understand. Before I adopted him my son had one. This attorney represents only the child's welfare. What I am saying here is that somebody besides you needs to advocate for these children that they not be traumatized further by their mother. Child welfare because of bias in the form of protecting the rights of parents, imposes an adversarial lens onto custodial family member, such is happening to you.

There can be a real callousness and indifference to the feelings of children by the people entrusted to protect them and their rights. I am remembering when I was visiting my son in the crisis nursery before I took him home. It was the most dire of situations. My son had bonded with me immediately, but I had no rights either to advocate for him or to make decisions that affected him. I can't remember exactly the circumstances, but after bringing him home for a visit, they made me leave him back at the facility. To "test" they said, his attachment. How traumatizing this was to him and to me. My son at 22 months old understood it was an abandonment. While he recovered, it was hard on both of us.

I think what this social worker is proposing is similarly traumatizing for your grandkids, seeing them as property of their parents, not souls to protect. I would feel exactly as do you.

I say somebody besides you needs to advocate for the kids because you are so easily dismissed by the social worker, as having your own interests at stake. This infuriates me.Of course this is not true. The system victimizes you too, in this way. Thank goodness you're not permitting it. Are there pro bono legal services for you too?

I'm sorry New Leaf, that this continues so difficult.
 
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Albatross

Well-Known Member
I’m sorry to read you are in the maelstrom again, Leafy.

Quote “thingie” not working, but what you said about your Hubs giving Tornado a place to shower and do some laundry brought tears to my eyes. “My” Hubs did the very same thing for Son on many occasions.

None of us “deserve” this, but you least of all. You have been such a kind and caring soul to Hubs, your children, your grandchildren, and the people on this forum—and I’m sure more people I don’t know about!

I too don’t think a month is enough time to bring about a change in Tornado. I am sorry if this is pessimistic, but I think at this point Tornado is probably thinking only of getting out and getting back to the lifestyle. I know Son, who was in jail for longer than Tornado while awaiting a plea several years ago, showed his head had only BEGUN to clear after weeks and weeks, and he was not as entrenched as Tornado in meth.

I hope she has changed, but realistically I must doubt it.

As far as the social worker, my Hubs is an attorney and once represented a woman whose ex-husband picked their daughter up from school and disappeared for EIGHT YEARS. Names and pics on the posters at Walmart finally led to his arrest and extradition back to the States.

Hubs was hired to make sure Dad didn’t have the chance to abduct the daughter again.

Between Dad’s legal team and the social workers, Hubs had a hard-fought battle of it.

The courts and social workers are almost ALWAYS going to favor reunification.

I think you are spot-on in getting the grandkids’ counselor involved— and perhaps a guardian ad litem involved as well?

I try to remember that moments of clarity can happen at the most unlikely of times, and I dearly hope this is that time for Tornado

If not, I am so sorry you are called once again to be the one to toe a line that is not of your making. You and your grands are in my prayers, dear Leafy.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
Dear New Leaf (again)

I didn't address your real stressor, the reappearance of Tornado. I think this is because I feel just so protective of you. It's hard not to have our guard up about her. In these last years this has been a revolving door.

She is mean to you. You don't deserve her criticism. You deserve her gratitude, respect and love. I know that she can't be any different right now due to all of the drugs she ingests, but still. She is responsible. Even if she can't be, she is.

Your primary role right now as I see it is to be a mother-substitute to her kids, whom she has abandoned. I think your impulse, to protect them, is the only reasonable and responsible one. (Please see caveat below.)

While you can't permit that those kids be used and abused, again and again, you must give the appearance of collaborating and deferring to Child Welfare. You can't be in the position of seeming to withhold them from their mother, in a way that would jeopardize your custody.

I think you handled it just right with the social worker, to tell her exactly what happens when the kids talk to their Mom. Actually, I would keep notes, and I would volunteer to send the social worker a written chronicle of just what happens, with examples:.

The children became unstable, sad, and withdrawn. Susie cried for 20 minutes. She locked herself in the bathroom and wouldn't come out for an hour. Finally, I had to open the door with a screw driver, because I was worried. Tommy wouldn't eat dinner. That's not like him. Usually, he scarfs down everything in sight. They yell and fight. They become volatile and impulsive. Peter bopped Adam over the head with a wooden spoon. Adam threw his tinker toys into the toilet. And flushed it. Neither child could fall asleep. Susie wouldn't let me turn out the light. Peter wet the bed. Johnny seems to compulsively overeat. He ate the whole box of Ding Dongs in 5 minutes.

This way, the decision to force the kids, to expose them to harm, will squarely reside with the social worker, for the time it takes you to mobilize third party experts to advocate for children.

I would write the names of the kids, the date and the times. The jail logs phone calls by inmates. All of Tornado's calls can be verified. I would also ask the children's teachers to document any behavior or moods that come up, in writing.

At minimum you will have this log for your own reference.

That said, I would defer to the social worker. If she/he decides that the children must speak to their mother, or do anything else that you believe to compromise their welfare, I agree with Albatross: involve their therapists (actually I'd do that now.) And think about a guardian ad litem, and/or the court-appointed attorney for each child.
 
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Deni D

Well-Known Member
New Leaf, even though I don't respond much to your posts my heart is always with you. The road you travel is one of the most difficult I've read on here. My vision of you is of such a strong balanced woman, someone I would like to become.

I wonder if you could contact CASA in addition to working with the grands therapists to help with the social worker, and most likely the next, and next social worker. I have no doubt you are strong enough to stand up to a social worker without other support though.

On the mainland, from what I've learned mostly from others, is these social workers back down when you put things in their lap. Like telling her you want, in writing, what her "detailed reunification" plan is, and a detailed plan on how she is protecting these children, which is part of her job. These social workers tend to push to make responsible people jump through hoops while allowing the lower functioning adults, who don't care currently about the children, to run the show. That is until you stand up to them. They only have so much power and tend to use it against the only people they can, the responsible, caring people. If you let her know you will hold her feet to the fire about your concerns about her decisions most likely she will cut it out and will start to work with you.

I'll never forget the day I packed a bag, including a good book to read. And I packed a bag for my very young son at the time and made arrangements for someone I trusted who he would stay with. I had had enough with his fathers court shenanigans. The father had yet again taken me to court for visitation he said I was denying him. The reality was he was not interested in or exercising his visitation but instead was tying up all of mine and my sons time with switches, changes, and subsequent no shows. I was fully prepared to go to jail. Don't know if they would have allowed my book or not, lol!. But as it turned out, once I stood up to the bs things turned around on a dime including a very stern admonishment from the judge to my son's father. The tail wagging the dog changed in a snap when I no longer allowed it. But luckily to show the extent of the issues at that time I had a 6 month calendar documenting all of the phone calls (no less than 4 a day) for the switches, and the mostly no shows. Prior to that I had tried to explain to the court what he was doing. They actually laughed at me, made fun of me. A father should be able to contact the mother, should be able to make changes based on normal life circumstances they said. They did not listen to me about the reality of the situation, I could not explain it, frankly couldn't even understand it. So to others points, documentation in the face of a severe lack of common sense I think is required, even when addiction and or mental illness is accepted normal people cannot comprehend the extent of it.

It must be so difficult for you to separate Tornado's issues from your grands. But just like you know you can't rescue her, neither can your grands rescue her. From what I've read of what you have posted she now trying to use them as her ticket back in. I just can't imagine to your home, just can't imagine.

Wish I could change things for you, I pray for you and wish you peace.
 

JMom

Well-Known Member
Leafy,

I am angry for you. I will set that aside and offer my thoughts. Is it possible for you to record the phone calls from jail (especially if she speaks to the children)? You could have those transcribed as building a case in favor of the children. I agree with the others on enlisting the help of a third party for the grands.

I was wondering if the grands, could write letters to tornado in jail as a type of reunification (to demonstrate participation). They can be honest letters of their true feelings. They can detach with love, just as we can. Perhaps you could set boundaries, such as letters only, no phone calls until she is 60 days sober, or some variation thereof. That clears you from abuse and the grands have a choice if they want to open the letter. It gives them the opportunity to set boundaries for themselves, which we have all experienced can be a healing practice. I might even go as far as giving the grands the choice to have it read first by you and black out manipulative parts.

Has Tornado completed rehab in the past? My son went 5 times. He said the first one for me, the rest for a place to stay for 30 days. He didn't need rehab to get clean, he needed to decide he was done with drugs (his words, not mine). The rehab explained to me that rehab was just a "jump start" to have a sober living space with support, to help him focus on sobriety; and rest is up to the recovering addict. I wouldn't think her returning to your home a viable option. You have worked tirelessly to have a happy, healthy home for the grands. There are half way houses. The rehab my son went to advised against him coming home to the same environment. In sober living they have to drug test weekly to live there and are typically given time to find a job, chores, have to attend meetings, etc...

I haven't been through this, as I haven't had grands yet, so please forgive me if I overstep. I hope that your grands are close to legal age of an adult so that they can be left in peace. Do the grands journal? There may be things they have experienced that they haven't shared. I think everyone had good ideas on how to get teachers, counselors and 3rd parties involved.

I think you are doing ALL of the right things. BRAVO to you for grasping the present, I had a hard time controlling my catastrophic thoughts. I am so very proud of you. You really put in the work to protect the grands, they are extremely blessed to have you.

It might be a good thing for her to be in jail, rather than rehab. Both places offer food, shelter, clothing and a place to get sober. One of those places don't require YOU to be responsible in any way for her. I know it's terrible to admit, but I was always relieved to have a break while he was away at "church camp". That was the lie I told his younger sisters (they forgave me).

I will offer warm, fuzzy thoughts and prayers for "reunification" of Tornado and her sober self. Sorry, that was snarky. I couldn't help myself, I feel protective of you and those babes! I really do pray for her to get sober and healthy.

Hugs,
JMOM
 

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Good morning all, I am so humbled and thankful for you thoughts and kind words.
Can you ask the social worker to set in on the first few mandated phone calls and help prepare the children before the call and process it after the call? Can the children just tell their mom "I'm not ready to talk right now."
The calls are pretty random. So that would probably not happen. The social worker was not aware Tornado is still incarcerated, the judge denied her release and mandated she be released from custody to residential treatment. That’s a good thing and also not so good because it is forced. I hope underneath it all, she succeeds at getting clean. I am seeing through dealing with CWS that social workers are overloaded with cases to know or even remember details like this as far as Tornado still being in jail. She called yesterday asking for money on her account. Ugh. Then again last night as we were eating at a restaurant. I didn’t pick up. The kids of course ask “Who’s that?” I am honest with them. “Don’t pick up, Tutu.” We have a no cell phone at the table rule anyway, so that was a no brainer.

The courts always tend to favor the biological parents no matter how difficult they have been. I have no idea why. The children have no voice at all it seems. I have heard many versions of this story.
I think that it’s the system giving chances and covering legalities. On the slim chance that a parent will come clean and walk the straight and narrow, yes this is great for all involved. I think we are all here predisposed to count all the negatives, because of our own experiences with our waywards and how traumatized we have been and are. It is difficult to imagine putting a child through that.

And in almost all jurisdictions grandparents are considered inferior guardians or not considered at all.
That is changing because the foster system is overwhelmed with kids going through this.
When we had the kids ten years ago, we received no financial help. I don’t know if that was a shoddy social worker or the system. At least now I am getting some aid. Okay rereading this it sounds crass, but finances definitely play into caregiving capability. Hubs and I quickly went through savings ten years ago. I am mindful that I am nearing retirement age.

Any child in custody of the system has an attorney or eligibility for same, as I understand.
Guardian ad litem. As I battled the issue with my eldest grand I pulled that card. The social worker was not responding. So I talked with the GAL and she was appalled, she had already had a conversation with the social worker that he should be removed for his and his siblings safety. That shook up things pretty quickly but also comes at a cost. I have to reserve that option as my “ace in the hand”. I hate to play politics. But this is the State I’m working with and don’t want to be labeled as “that foster grandparent”. So, I have to weigh my options carefully.

There can be a real callousness and indifference to the feelings of children by the people entrusted to protect them and their rights.
I think that is why older foster children have it so rough. At a time in their lives when they are trying to establish identity and have some control over their lives there is the system. What is hard for them is the intrusiveness of it all. What a change from “What happens in the family, stays in the family”. That is an unhealthy state to be in, but to go from that to having to talk with so many strangers, counselors, evaluations, plus process triggers and trauma. It’s exhausting. I keep reminding them that we can turn that negative thought of intrusion into the fact that they have a team behind them trying to help them develop healthy ways to deal with what they have experienced. That there are adults who care about them and their future. That they can call or talk to someone if they need to, rather than bury everything inside.

To "test" they said, his attachment. How traumatizing this was to him and to me. My son at 22 months old understood it was an abandonment. While he recovered, it was hard on both of us.
I am sorry you and your son went through that, Copa. In reading books on trauma, there were some pretty outlandish theories out there. One example was “holding therapy”, where foster kids were forced held until they relinquished, forced to speak of their trauma. That’s abuse. I have read about trauma affecting babies, that though they have no recollection of what happen to them, their bodies do.

I think what this social worker is proposing is similarly traumatizing for your grandkids, seeing them as property of their parents, not souls to protect. I would feel exactly as do you.
I am wrestling with this as the system is bogged and slow. There are foster parent groups and a warmline that I am relying on as well. These parents have long term history dealing with issues that will help guide me.
I say somebody besides you needs to advocate for the kids because you are so easily dismissed by the social worker, as having your own interests at stake. This infuriates me.Of course this is not true. The system victimizes you too, in this way. Thank goodness you're not permitting it. Are there pro bono legal services for you too?
I have no legal services available as yet, but will look into it. We had a therapy session yesterday and the counselors are concerned about the phone calls and reunification plan. They asked if they could speak with the SW, of course I agreed that would be good. I am journaling and keeping record of the issues I am dealing with. I took a respite from that to collect myself, but need to get back on track.
Tornado a place to shower and do some laundry brought tears to my eyes. “My” Hubs did the very same thing for Son on many occasions.
That was Rain, Albie, our eldest and his favorite. It was so hard for him to see her self inflicted sufferings. Extreme abuse from boyfriends. She is still with an abusive man. It was and is hard. I am sad that he passed as he did, with no resolution in sight. He worked all of his life to provide for us, he grew up with domestic violence and vowed his kids would live better, only to witness our two, our grands, go down that dark path. I am sorry you have been through the same. It definitely becomes a divide in our relationship.

I too don’t think a month is enough time to bring about a change in Tornado. I am sorry if this is pessimistic, but I think at this point Tornado is probably thinking only of getting out and getting back to the lifestyle. I know Son, who was in jail for longer than Tornado while awaiting a plea several years ago, showed his head had only BEGUN to clear after weeks and weeks, and he was not as entrenched as Tornado in meth.
I agree, Alb. She may be wrong about rehab timeframe, I don’t know. We all know the propensity for relapse is real. Right now through phone calls I am seeing her first motivation is to get out of jail. She complains about being locked in a cell, getting fat, her cell mate rambling nonsense. The focus seems to be on her discomfort. No real remorse over choices.

The courts and social workers are almost ALWAYS going to favor reunification.
I have learned this is the law. I have yet to read on “When reunification goes wrong” from the systems perspective, but have read of foster parents grieving over children reunified only to be mistreated, neglected and even deaths have occurred. Unacceptable. My grands slipped through the cracks years ago, their parents completed service plans for a short term but there was no follow through. My intake SW told me he saw records of my calls. My thinking is that foster parents have to jump through hoops to ensure safe homes and that the kids are receiving proper medical, dental, psychological care. I would like to know what the plan would be for reunification. How long would the parents be monitored? Not long is my experience.

I think you are spot-on in getting the grandkids’ counselor involved— and perhaps a guardian ad litem involved as well?
The GAL is my ace, as I have expressed. But I do think I will email her and let her know my concerns. Keep her apprised. The counselors plan to speak with the SW.

I try to remember that moments of clarity can happen at the most unlikely of times, and I dearly hope this is that time for Tornado
Me too, Alb, me too. I think it will take an awful lot of soul searching and counseling to get her head on straight. I have not “seen” Tornado for a long time. The fact that she had her kids so young, smoked pot heavily, how has that stunted her growth, her cognitive skills? Then the meth abuse which effects brain function altogether. It will be a tough battle for her.

If not, I am so sorry you are called once again to be the one to toe a line that is not of your making. You and your grands are in my prayers, dear Leafy.
Thank you Albie. We are dealt with all kinds of challenges in life. I keep telling myself that life is a series of adjustments. I was stagnating a bit, contemplating son going off to college and my being an “empty nester” Huh! What a surprise. I grieved the notion of that freedom on this path with my grands, but am experiencing an awakening to the task. They are helping me as much as I am them. I have to keep my ducks in a row. There is really no time for me to fade into oblivion and numb myself. I ha e a propensity to become somewhat of a hermit, burying myself in yard work. (Admittedly I miss that and have to find a balance!)

I didn't address your real stressor, the reappearance of Tornado. I think this is because I feel just so protective of you. It's hard not to have our guard up about her. In these last years this has been a revolving door.
Thank you Copa for your insight. That is a huge factor in my emotional and mental well being. I had a set back last year during the holidays with her calls from jail. I ventured to the edge of the rabbit hole and became depressed. Overwhelmed. It was hard telling her she couldn’t come home. Especially with her saying that she would just “end up on the streets” if she couldn’t. Although I was resolved, it ate away at me. She is my daughter, I love her, but in her state of being, she is dangerous. I am more resolved to not let her nonsense infiltrate my psyche. Especially with my grands involved. She is calling daily, sometimes twice a day and ends each call with “Don’t forget to put money on my account” Why do I need to do that? She has said in the past that it is for shampoo, conditioner, chocolate. But I have absolutely zero knowledge of this. In fact I just got off the phone with her. She does not take responsibility for her part in her kids troubles. Her response to my statement that we are working on the kids healing was “Still?” I told her they are not ready to speak with her on the phone to which she retorted, “I don’t want to hear anything negative or anything about the past....” Huh. Of course, I do hope that Tornado will come round. I must stay present, and not get anxious about the “what if’s” on either end of the spectrum. What will be, will be.

I know that she can't be any different right now due to all of the drugs she ingests, but still. She is responsible. Even if she can't be, she is.
You are right, Copa, brain damage and all, she is responsible. Right now, I hear an addict babbling. I know she could access drugs in prison if she chooses. Only time will tell.

While you can't permit that those kids be used and abused, again and again, you must give the appearance of collaborating and deferring to Child Welfare. You can't be in the position of seeming to withhold them from their mother, in a way that would jeopardize your custody.
This is true. CWS website and literature touts reunification as the end goal. It is a card game I must play.
This way, the decision to force the kids, to expose them to harm, will squarely reside with the social worker, for the time it takes you to mobilize third party experts to advocate for children.
Thank you Copa. It is unfortunate that I have to strategize approach, but this is how the system works.

I would write the names of the kids, the date and the times. The jail logs phone calls by inmates. All of Tornado's calls can be verified. I would also ask the children's teachers to document any behavior or moods that come up, in writing.
All great counsel. I have my work cut out for me. All while dealing with issues at home. My grands are slowly coming round, but they are still testing, triggered, wounded.
That said, I would defer to the social worker. If she/he decides that the children must speak to their mother, or do anything else that you believe to compromise their welfare, I agree with Albatross: involve their therapists (actually I'd do that now.) And think about a guardian ad litem, and/or the court-appointed attorney for each child.
Check and double check. Therapists notified (and noticeably horrified). Contemplating emailing GAL, so she is aware of what is happening. Keep her informed and engaged.

New Leaf, even though I don't respond much to your posts my heart is always with you. The road you travel is one of the most difficult I've read on here. My vision of you is of such a strong balanced woman, someone I would like to become.
Oh gosh, Deni thank you for your kindness. I don’t feel that strong, I am battling my own issues in dealing with this to tell you the truth! I have put on a bit of weight and am working on that. Still trying to define myself.
I wonder if you could contact CASA in addition to working with the grands therapists to help with the social worker, and most likely the next, and next social worker. I have no doubt you are strong enough to stand up to a social worker without other support though.
Yup, got their counselors involved. Tippy toeing with diplomacy with the SW for now. If it gets sticky, I know where to get support and answers. Thank God for the helpline. Seasoned foster parents at phone calls reach to help navigate the system.

The reality was he was not interested in or exercising his visitation but instead was tying up all of mine and my sons time with switches, changes, and subsequent no shows.
Ugh. What a mess you went through. It’s sad that some parents don’t see the damage they do to kids, virtually using them as weapons to spite the custodial parent.

But luckily to show the extent of the issues at that time I had a 6 month calendar documenting all of the phone calls (no less than 4 a day) for the switches, and the mostly no shows.
That is a good example for me to follow in documentation.

It must be so difficult for you to separate Tornado's issues from your grands. But just like you know you can't rescue her, neither can your grands rescue her.
That has been my soul search and the quandary I am in. It seems a double standard, that our battle as parents is to detach from our addicted drug using adult children, but my grands are supposed to remain “attached”? How confusing for them! I am hoping that the therapists and GAL can come up with some parameters to protect my grands. If they wish to remain no contact, that should be honored. My granddaughter in her youthful wisdom said “As long as my mom is still on drugs, I don’t want to talk to her.”
For them, just posing the question about contact is painful. They have been abandoned by both parents for three years. My daughter, posting selfies on Instagram of her partying, posing as a bandit with a bandana on her face, writing things like “f&?$ feelings” her kids saw this stuff. Rubbed in their faces. Their mother proudly exclaimed to me that she kept in touch with them through Instagram. It’s awful. What more do the kids need to endure?

Wish I could change things for you, I pray for you and wish you peace.
Thank you Deni, and I for you. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Is it possible for you to record the phone calls from jail (especially if she speaks to the children)? You could have those transcribed as building a case in favor of the children. I agree with the others on enlisting the help of a third party for the grands.
I don’t know about recording. I would have to read up on that. But, the calls are recorded from prison, which reminds me to be cautious of what I say. Right now I am focusing on honoring the kids wishes, without jeopardizing my caregiving status. I think it is reasonable to expect their mother to enter rehab and receive therapy before engaging with the kids.

I was wondering if the grands, could write letters to tornado in jail as a type of reunification (to demonstrate participation). They can be honest letters of their true feelings. They can detach with love, just as we can.
I spoke with my grands about that. Right now, I am taking baby steps, waiting on word from the counselors. What’s difficult is that my daughter is still suspicious of anything I say. I am thrown back to an awful episode with her screaming at me that “these are my kids, you have no say!” This was after years of trying to help. I know meth amongst many other things makes users paranoid.
This bodes me to keep record of her calls. I don’t know how far she would go towards getting her kids back, as far as accusing me. In retrospect, she has a terrible track record of neglect and excuses. It’s always someone else’s fault.

Perhaps you could set boundaries, such as letters only, no phone calls until she is 60 days sober, or some variation thereof. That clears you from abuse and the grands have a choice if they want to open the letter.
That is a good idea JMom. I want there to be a clear plan for the kids emotional welfare. I want them to be a part of that plan. The hard part is that this is a whole different veering into their healing. Taking the focus off of self discovery to the monkey wrench of possible reunification. I am trying not to think negatively, maybe navigating through this is an essential part to their healing. That caring adults will step in to help them. Who knows? I can’t protect them from circumstances. They have to learn just as we all do to love themselves and make good choices.

It gives them the opportunity to set boundaries for themselves, which we have all experienced can be a healing practice. I might even go as far as giving the grands the choice to have it read first by you and black out manipulative parts.
A good plan, thank you. That is part of the journey in giving the kids the opportunity to have some control in decision making.

Has Tornado completed rehab in the past? My son went 5 times. He said the first one for me, the rest for a place to stay for 30 days. He didn't need rehab to get clean, he needed to decide he was done with drugs (his words, not mine).
No rehab and much denial. Tornado has always been a tough kid. Rebellious and unappreciative of opportunities she had growing up. I don’t know if there were co-existing mental issues because I am thinking that she experimented with pot at a young age. She barely had a chance to grow up, pregnant at 15. Her boyfriend abusive and controlling. She has a lot of baggage mixed in with addiction. Sigh.

It might be a good thing for her to be in jail, rather than rehab. Both places offer food, shelter, clothing and a place to get sober. One of those places don't require YOU to be responsible in any way for her. I know it's terrible to admit, but I was always relieved to have a break while he was away at "church camp". That was the lie I told his younger sisters (they forgave me).
I am glad she is in jail, JMom. It is a good thing. She complains about it being uncomfortable and hard. Our prison system is overcrowded, overwhelmed. She won’t get treatment there. But, she won’t have the same exposure to drugs. Although I know that they are available there too. At least I know where she is, that she is alive. I have no contact with her while she is out on the streets. Same for her older sister. That is hard to deal with, but necessary due to choices to be with dangerous men, street gangs and drug dealers. There has been an outbreak of violence here in the islands. Senior citizens attacked and robbed. Criminals in stolen vehicles targeting older folks in broad daylight, with onlookers present. It’s awful. Meth has a strong foothold in the islands. There are many homeless encampments. I don’t think there is enough manpower to police the drug dealing and related crime.
I don’t plan to go out on the limb to jeopardize my safety. There are moments of guilt, where I feel that at least if I saw my daughters periodically that may have an effect on them. But that is covered over by the reality of their situations. It is unsafe for me. I give them to God and hope they will find their way. In all honesty that is coupled with grief that I have no control over their choices.

I will offer warm, fuzzy thoughts and prayers for "reunification" of Tornado and her sober self. Sorry, that was snarky. I couldn't help myself, I feel protective of you and those babes! I really do pray for her to get sober and healthy.
Me too, JMom. I hope she “seizes the day” so to speak. Not being snarky, cautiously optimistic and hopeful, but not holding my breath either. She is my daughter and I do want her to see her potential without drugs. That can’t come at the cost again of her kids. They have been through enough. I intend to try my hardest to help them through this. It will be another test for all of us. I have to define my role as grandmother, caregiver, mother, judiciously, with caution as I am on this battleground. I have to stay vigilant towards self care as well as looking after my grands. That can be tough as each day brings up new challenges. My grands are slowly getting better, but still test the waters. The normal teen stuff is fraught with underlying trauma based behaviors and acting out. Then there is the laundry piles, housework, bills and work. I’m exhausted just reading that! Oh well, such is life. One foot in front of the other. I am trying to stay present and prayerfully walk this path. Thank you all for your good words, prayers and help. It has been a reflective morning responding here. Peace and love to all.
(((Hugs)))
Leafy
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
Guardian ad litem. As I battled the issue with my eldest grand I pulled that card.
New Leaf, when my son was a foster child, he had his own attorney. Not a GAL. As I understand it, all kids in the system have an attorney or the right to one. Maybe we can google it and find out how to get this set up or access this person.

How are you New Leaf?
 
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Overwhelmed1

Well-Known Member
I wish you the best of luck with this situation Newleaf. My experience with case workers and the State was not pleasant so I cannot give any advice but wish you all the best..

Peace and Love
 
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