What do you do when the toxic person in your life is a child?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Ehlena, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    Trying to make a long story short, my stepson is 14, almost 15, and no longer lives with us. He made multiple accusations of abuse against us when he was 10-12, was finally removed from our home, and when they realized that we weren't abusive, difficult child refused to return back home (the social worker also stated he was a danger to us due to his propensity to accuse us of abuse). He bounced from a few different foster homes before he was placed in a level 12 group home. He started to even out there - hadn't gotten suspended in a while, drug usage dropped, and he was treating us better, even talking about coming back home.

    Then he got a new social worker.

    This lady admitted that she hasn't read the case file and is unfamiliar with his diagnoses (he has been diagnosed at different times with reactive attachment disorder, conduct disorder, ADHD, and emerging schizoid personality disorder). She has been taking difficult child at his word and not double-checking his claims. So...she thought he didn't belong in a group home, moved him into a foster home, and is slowly cutting my husband and I out of difficult child's life. difficult child can be very, very charming when he chooses to be.

    difficult child is loving this. His new foster dad has a children-can-do-no-wrong attitude, is also unfamiliar with difficult child's diagnoses, and is showering him with gifts and privileges. It's been about a month and a half, and difficult child refers to his new foster parent as "dad". Although he was enjoying visits with us before, he has now been claiming that we force him to do chores. In reality, we have been taking him out for pizza, going rafting with him, getting frozen yogurt, etc. I have documentation in the form of photographs and receipts, but I'm wondering whether to send them to the social worker or to not bother. She's been very unpleasant towards us. We've already had to write a rebuttal to one of difficult child's claims (that we slaughter animals in front of him and force him to watch). This doesn't seem to have changed her attitude towards us.

    Meanwhile, we've heard from another source that difficult child is out getting high again and trying to get the kids from his old group home to join him.

    I'm tired of having my reputation dragged through the mud. difficult child doesn't want to see us anymore. I can't really match the new guitars, the meetings with rock stars, the karate lessons, gymnastics lessons, the threatening difficult child's school with news coverage when he gets suspended and loses his promotion privilege. REALLY. This is how it is in his new foster home. He calls the lunch lady a ***** and tells her she can't read, continues to harass her, then harasses and insults the vice principal, then the principal, finally gets suspended, and the new foster dad gets angry that difficult child doesn't get to participate in promotion.

    I know when this falls apart, difficult child will want to be all buddy-buddy with us again. I know he's got these mental health diagnoses, and these things are not really his fault. His mother was on drugs while she was pregnant with him and breastfeeding.

    I just wonder how hard we should fight to visit with him when he keeps saying these awful things about us and doesn't want to see us anyways. I don't know what else we can do at this point. When he lived with us he was in regular counseling, we had regular meetings with this teachers and a 504 accommodation plan. We read everything we could find on his diagnoses. Implemented a structured reward system, tried to encourage his strengths.

    After a while, you just start to question if you're ACTUALLY a horrible person, if you're the one who's nuts. I have never laid a hand on this kid, never called him names. Every time I lost my temper and yelled, I apologized for it afterwards. I went to college, hold down a steady full-time job, never did drugs, never so much as got a traffic ticket.

    I'm struggling with being categorized as a bad influence.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Ehlena.
    I am so very, very sorry that you are going through this. No one deserves it.
    The first person who comes to mind with-a history like this is DaisyFace. I can't recall the titles of her threads but she can steer you in that direction. She's not the only one, unfortunately. There are so many caseworkers out there who do not read files, and I don't know if they are mental cases themselves, or if they couldn't care less how many lives they ruin, just so they can get back to their comfy chairs and fave TV shows.

    If you have the energy, you could get a lawyer.

    If not, he's, what, 15? Three yrs to go ... and he's probably still yours, legally. Be very, very careful before you totally wash your hands of him, because it can come back to bite you as abadonment.
    I feel for you. Wish I had some really good advice. Don't you just love those motivational coaches who tell people to get toxic people out of their lives, and they have no clue that it could be the person's kids?
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I'd be going up the chain of command - fast. Who is the Social Worker's boss? that that person's boss? THEY need to know. If they will listen.
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    SW needs to read that file, and so does Foster Dad. Where is all this money for all these privileges and fun things coming from? I agree with IC. Up the chain. This is WRONG.

    At one point my kids' bio complained that we forced the kids to do chores, too. Like (gasp) folding clothes! Taking out the garbage! The judge actually laughed at her lawyer. As for butchering animals - I can see this one, but gee - if you have a farm - that's what you do...
  5. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    husband has gone up the chain of command, and they support the new social worker. So no luck there. I really miss difficult child's old social worker. She was firm but kind, and worked with us. I'm pretty sure this one doesn't have kids, because she just doesn't seem to get it. She thinks the only things we should do are taking him out to pizza and yogurt. Apparently he didn't enjoy the rafting (though he told US he wanted to go).

    I'm not sure where the money is coming from. I think he gets deep discounts or things for free since he's a foster kid. I know they set up a meeting with a rock star who lives in the area, and the guy gave difficult child a signed guitar. Things like that. As I said, difficult child is very charming when you meet him.

    We do run a micro-farm. difficult child asked to watch the slaughtering process. I expressed my concerns to husband, since difficult child has a history of cruelty to animals. husband thought it would be a good learning experience...and here we are. husband still has parental rights, etc. etc. I'll have to look into abandonment - I'd hate to get into another mess with this whole situation. I personally think we should only be doing supervised visits with difficult child, so there is always a neutral third party who can verify what is happening, but I know husband would never go for that :\ We don't even ask difficult child to clean up his own dishes - we just can't fight that battle anymore.

    What I want to be able to say is "We love you difficult child, and hope you want to be around us again someday. At the same time, we have to protect ourselves. You have our number and we're here if you need us."

    Ugh. We are struggling to know what is the right thing to do. I feel if we push the visits, difficult child will keep escalating and either husband or I will end up charged with something we didn't do. Again.
  6. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    A month and a half ago we were having difficult child over every Sunday. We were authorized for overnights, but haven't felt comfortable doing those. Then difficult child requested every other week for two hours, the judge agreed to every other week for four hours (this was last week). And a few days ago the social worker was calling us to tell us that the last time we visited we made difficult child very upset. Two days ago she called to tell us that we could only visit on weekdays now. husband said that he had to talk to me and discuss what days would work, but that he had to keep this Sunday's visit. Today the social worker calls and tells us that difficult child has cancelled this Sunday's visit.

    So...that's the way things are going.

    We have been visiting every Sunday for two years without issues.
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Next step is a lawyer.
    Not so much in terms of changing anything on the system's part (although that would be nice...), but in terms of protecting yourselves.
    What needs to be put in place now, so that WHEN things go off the rails, YOU are protected?
  8. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    We have a lawyer assigned to us through the courts who has been very helpful. husband dropped her a line asking for her advice, and I expect we'll hear back next week. Would you suggest hiring a private lawyer? Would a private lawyer have more resources available? I do want to make sure that husband and I are protected. husband can be a leeetle bit dense when it comes to his son.
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Yes, sadly this sounds all too familiar...

    The thing is - you will NEVER be able to control what difficult child says about you...you instead must find a way to make sure that his version of events does not define you. To that end - make sure you document everything you can possibly document and make sure that you do not get drawn into any ridiculous he said/they said kinds of arguments. the more you protest and defend yourself, the more you look as though you have something to hide.

    Instead - when someone confront you with one of difficult child's stories...just nod solemnly and say something non-committal: "Is that what he's saying these days? We were so hoping the abuse stories would stop with continued therapy..."

    At that point - pull out your file of papers from docs and therapists... That usually stops people in their tracks. I also highly recommend attending at least one "parenting class" {yeah, yeah - I hear all the snickers in the background}...not because you need parenting lessons - but because you want the certificate from the parenting class in your file. This is further proof that you are good people who really have tried everything to help their child.

    I also agree with going the lawyer route. If you already have a lawyer that you like and has been helpful - I think you should start there.
  10. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    Thanks DaisyFace. We've been through the whole rigamarole already, which is why it's frustrating that we seem to be starting at square one with this new social worker. We took multiple parenting classes and have the certificates to prove it. I have a huge packet of documentation that we put together when this whole thing started which is labeled and tabbed, showing the interventions we already had in place for difficult child (504 plan, counseling, in-home points/reward plan, daily emails to the teachers...). Joint counseling, and individual counseling - did those too, this is all in the juvenile court file. husband has explained this to the new social worker (who didn't know because SHE DIDN'T READ THE FILE), and this hasn't changed her attitude. I think I'll be sending her my notes/receipts/photographs from our visits, but I really feel like she just won't listen. The information is there, and she's not looking at it. difficult child has her wrapped around his finger. Our lawyer has dealt with this social worker before and is not surprised. So this lady has a certain reputation.

    She has not met with us, not once. She has scheduled meetings with us and then canceled them.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Document, document, document.
    Keep written documentation on all appointments when made - for example, confirm by email. Then do the same for the cancellations. Don't want it to look like YOU are the one cancelling.
  12. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    InsaneCdn, that is excellent advice. So far she has only been contacting us by phone, though we've contacted her by email. Duh. This should have been a no-brainer. I guess I just got too used to working with someone who was reasonable.
  13. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Every time she contacts you via phone, follow it up with an email. "To confirm your phone call to us on June 22 at 4 PM, difficult child has cancelled this Sunday's visit." And on and on and on.
  14. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    Thanks, StepTo2. I forwarded this to husband. It does seem weird now that I think about it that she always calls us. husband is checking with the lawyer regarding the visits as well. Last time he was in court, the judge didn't grant difficult child's request for two hours every other week because he didn't think difficult child should be running the show.

    And yet...it sounds like the social worker is allowing difficult child to do so.
  15. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I have no advice, but you have others here who have given you very good ideas to think about. I agree with Daisy and ICD when they say document everything. I'm sorry you are going through this.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    When we had our stint with CPS, we were told by a lawyer that CPS trumps a lawyer. They are a government agency and have more power. We got nowhere with it. Scary thing is, some of these social workers are daffier than the kids. But have fun getting them into trouble or having anyone in their hiearchy admitting it.

    The fact is, reactive attachment disorder is not fun. There is no doubt that this kid will implode in his foster home, no matter how many goodies he gets. And then he will want to come home (the child). I am not sure he is safe anywhere (to others), but most definitely he will implode and want to come home.
  17. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Sadly the worst part of this (and there are many awful parts)...these people are actually doing damage to your difficult child. If the professionals who work with a child who has reactive attachment disorder do not understand the "superficially charming", "triangulates adults", "makes false abuse accusations", "tells lies", etc. symptoms, and when they do not understand that these kids desperately need to NOT be in charge so they can learn to trust that they dont have to manipulate and act this way to survive....they are just feeding into the disorder.

    It should be criminal to have a worker do this, but what can you do? You are likely better off with his being placed out of the home but I wish that the adults working with him would see that supporting you would be in HIS best interest.

    I am just terribly sorry they are doing this...and undoing what you were working toward.

    I agree with the others, keep all the documentation you can. At some point he is going to get in huge trouble and it is on THEM not you. Just really awful. This diagnosis is one that is handled wrong from beginning to end in huge numbers of cases.

    Welcome to the CD board, as you can see, you are sadly, not alone.
  18. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    buddy, you've hit the nail on the head. From my point of view, this is clearly doing a lot more damage than good. We had a 504 meeting about a month ago, and the social worker thought difficult child only had ADHD. I had to speak up about his other diagnoses, and how much you wanna bet that she didn't bother to look them up?

    We are back at square one - both with the people in authority and with difficult child. He's repeating the same behaviors that got him into this whole mess.

    I think it's really telling that we've had two years of steady weekly visitation with no issues, and as soon as this social worker came onto the scene, we are OMG terrible people.
  19. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Where did the old social worker go? Can you request a meeting with old and new? I agree, my first statement to new social workers boss would be just that. How come all of the sudden visits are getting cancelled?