Sunday, February 3, 2013

Seriously? Child Welfare?

I noted yesterday that I hadn't slept much/well the night before.  Let me tell you why.

A couple of days ago Lizzie answered the phone and spoke briefly to the person on the other end of the line before passing the phone over to me.  I said hello and the woman on the other end of the phone commented on how beautifully my daughter answered the phone.  I said "thank you" and then asked who I was speaking to.  She gave me her first name, and then said that she was rather embarrassed to be calling me because she was calling from Child Welfare.

My first thought was to wonder if she was calling about some kind of foster or adopt program but she quickly told me that she was calling in response to an anonymous call that she had received stating that, according to my blog, my family is having difficulties in our home.  She said that, in response to that call, she was required to make contact with me.  In anticipation of that phonecall, she had read a chunk of my blog to ascertain whether there was reason for concern.

She was actually a lovely woman who twice more said that she felt embarrassed about having to call because she knows firsthand how difficult older child adoption can be and how hard it can be on children already in the home.  She said that it seemed as if we were experiencing pretty normal circumstances and that it sounded like we were doing well under the circumstances and doing all of the appropriate things.  She asked if she could be of any help to me through any of their programs and I told her that we have supportive friends and family, and that we were also working regularly with two professionals well versed in both children and adoption.  She said that she wished other adoptive families did what we are doing and reiterated that she knows firsthand about how hard older child adoption can be.  We chatted for a while about both of our experiences, and it was ok.  She repeated that she felt badly that she was required to call and did so only because she was required to;  she assured me that this was not something that I needed to worry about.  She said that my frustration about the situation would dissipate with time and that the wind would carry this all away.

I have no issue with her...she was doing her job and she was kind enough to leave me her phone number in case I ever wanted to talk or had any questions.

All's well on that front.

But I'm angry.

Why someone, even genuinely believing that either my children or I need help, would choose to call Child Welfare rather than calling me to offer help is beyond my ability to understand.  You want to help by potentially complicating our lives even more than they already are and by putting my at-risk children at further risk??  This is the part that makes me angry.  My children have been through enough!

I would not be surprised if the caller was the same person who anonymously commented on my post of January has the same kind of tone to the call that was made.  The woman from Child Welfare thought this would make sense.  Maybe the anonymous commenter of Jan.16 didn't like my responses...who knows?

The internet is a vulnerable place to be; I get that, and maybe I deserve this kind of thing for writing a blog.  But whether or not that's true, I'm deeply frustrated on at least a few different counts, and I hope that you, anonymous caller and commenter, are paying attention here:
  • First, it was really hard for me to learn to be real about how things really are for me and for our family.  I've always been rather private in what I've said to other people, particularly about things that are difficult in my life; it has taken me a long time to feel more real and open about what I share rather than presenting a mask of perfection like some other blogs I read.  I have felt encouraged and supported by the genuine offers of help and compassion I've received from friends of late, both here and in my real life.  But now I just feel slapped down for having been real.  It's very perplexing...knowing how to be real in an environment where people will judge me and, in this case, take inappropriate action based on their judgment of me.
  • Second, life is just plain hard sometimes.  I've gone through worse in my life than what we've gone through in recent weeks.  Life is not black and white:  There are good times and hard times; and sometimes those things happen simultaneously.  That's life.  Life is hard.  And still we move forward and do our best.  And better days come.
  • It is clear to me that the person who contacted Child Welfare does not know me in person because if she did, she would also know that I am a mother who works incredibly hard at learning and learning and learning, and at understanding ever more about her children with the sole perspective of wanting to assist them in reaching their full potential.  I mess up many things, but one thing I am sure of:  I don't rest on my laurels as a parent and I am constantly striving to work with my children in the ways that work uniquely for them as individuals.  My husband and I pull in whatever resources we need and have been doing so for almost as long as the younger kids have been home - just because I don't choose to talk a lot here about those professional resources doesn't mean that they don't exist.  Furthermore, my husband and I made a choice that I would stay at home full time so that we can offer our kids every opportunity to be secure.  I am not making a comment here about other parents who choose differently than we do about staying at home - I am saying that we chose what we believe to be in our children's best interests for this season in our lives.
  • Parenting is messy and full of heartache (as well as a lot of joy).  I write on my blog about this as authentically as I can.  My guess is that this anonymous person does not have children, and for sure not adopted children, because she seems to have a rather idealistic view about what parenting, and parenting children of adoption, should look like.
  • It's stunning to me that someone thinks that they might know me or my family by what they read on my blog.  Do people not realize that what they read here is merely a snapshot of a moment in our lives and that we are much more than what I write about here?  Do people not realize that the half hour I spend at night time writing a blog post about difficult things we're going through comes from the reflections of a tired and recently discouraged heart and does not reflect everything that I say or do or feel or think?  Do people not understand that my children are about far more than their complexities and challenges and that there is a huge amount of love and caring that goes into our every day?  Do people not understand that we are doing everything in our power, and by God's grace, to help them through these difficult adjustments and through the hard healing work that needs doing?  I had an incredible career that I have put on indefinite hold just for this purpose:  So that I can walk through these difficult days with my children and know them and provide the help that they need.  This is my job in life.  It's what I'm called to do.  Could that anonymous caller possibly believe that calling Child Welfare and putting my children at risk would be in their best interests, after all of the trauma that they have been through in their young lives?  Who are you that you would do that to them?  I just cannot fathom it.
  • My kids are doing so well, despite difficult times...perhaps what's not understood is that we need to go through these difficult times in order for my children to heal and be able to move on.  They all three need to grieve their life's losses and how that manifests is different for each child; and this is going to take years.  We go through incredibly tough times, it's true, and we work extremely hard during these times and I get discouraged and tired sometimes.  Any adoptive family of older children will know these things to be true.  But they're only home 19 months, for Pete's sake.  They're all three doing amazingly well, given the givens.
  • Save the public resources for people who need it.  Seriously.
That phonecall was not kind and it was not offered in the best interests of either my husband and me or my children.  It wasn't an offer of help, but rather a statement of judgment.  Anonymity is the voice of cowardice.  Had that person truly wanted to help me or my children, she would have handled matters by offering her name, by offering us the help that she claims she wanted us to have, and for sure by contacting me rather than Child Welfare.  Does she think that she knows the sum total of our family by the snapshot that she sees here?

Rather than deeming (anonymously) that I or my children need help, rather than judging me/us, what may have helped is an offer from her of compassion and understanding and maybe a phonecall to me asking how she could help.

I find it so ironic that just this past week, prior to the call from Child Welfare, three things happened that were so encouraging:
  • I received that lovely card last weekend from a friend sees me in the nitty gritty of life; she  encouraged me so much with her observations of how I'm parenting the kids and how the kids are doing.  I blogged about this last Monday or Tuesday.
  • When meeting last Monday evening again with one of the external professionals we're working with, I left her office feeling so uplifted and encouraged that, despite the rough weeks leading up to that day, she felt that the kids were doing really well and that I was doing well.  I felt rejuvenated.
  • Last weekend, as I continued to observe and interact with the kids, I commented to Geoff that it felt like things were picking up a bit...that maybe, just maybe, we were through the roughest adjustments with all three kids; it felt great that some of our strategies for handling the tough stuff appear to be working.

Then, the call from Child Welfare.  Talk about a crash.

So here are my options:
  • I could shut down my blog.  This was my first inclination, and it may be the decision I end up making.
  • I could maintain status quo...continue to share openly and honestly what's going on in our world, knowing that this one person is just person out of a daily readership of 350-500 people.
  • I could go private with my blog.  But I decided early on that I didn't want to do this, primarily because one of the main reasons I post about some of our family challenges is because I want other adoptive, or prospective adoptive, families to know that there are others out here who are grappling with really hard stuff, and who are coming out of it ok.  I get so many private emails, and some comments here, to the effect that parents appreciate what I write about, and feel understood and not so alone themselves. I have often been moved by other parents from all over the world who have contacted me either with compassion or stories of their own to share...sometimes both.  For precisely this reason, I am reluctant to go private.
  • My blog could become a good news only kind of where I post only the stuff that does not give an anonymous reader the vehicle by which to make a complaint.  This doesn't appeal to me a lot, for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which is that I will get very tired, very quickly, or posting only the stuff that sounds like sunshine and's just not real.

So...I'm thinking hard about where to go from here.  We can seriously do without that kind of 'help.'


  1. Unbelievable! I am sorry to hear about this Ruth.

    While I can see that it's quite possible that readers could have vastly different parenting perspectives and may disagree with yours, the fact that someone would report a clearly doting and determined mother to child welfare is not only ridiculous, but irresponsible.

    I hope this behaviour won't get you down and I also hope that you continue to blog and that I get to read it. I feel very strongly that people should blog in whatever way is helpful/enjoyable to them as long as it does no harm to anyone else (whether the blog be a pack of lies or the nitty gritty truth) and I do so appreciate yours, just as it is.

  2. I am speechless. Seriously. That sucks and I would also be so angry. Sorry my friend:(
    It is Obviously up to you and Geoff what you do in regards to he blog. But...I know you are an encouragement to many and I also know how valuable it is to read someone who is honest with the hard stuff...praying for you friend. (ok so I'm not speechless lol...but about THAT I am. It floors me!)

  3. Ouch. A mother's worst nightmare. This is the exact reason why many of us struggle in silence and don't get the help we need.


  4. Oh my goodness, Ruth. I can't believe that. I'm just speechless. I have loved reading your blog and admire your openness and vulnerability. I don't know what to say...I think you have helped countless people in sharing both the ups and downs of your journey...but that has obviously come at a cost. I am mad for you! I will pray for you...for wisdom and peace as you make your decision on next steps. If you decide to discontinue your blog I hope you send me a weekly wrap up email so I don't go through withdrawal. :-)

  5. I'm speechless....
    So sorry this happened Ruth. Personally I have appreciated your candor. As a parent and foster parent and future adoptive parent I think it is safe to assume that I will find myself in hard places and I have sought out on purpose, parents and bloggers who speak to that honestly. I consider you one of them, and a thoughtful, loving and intentional mother.


  6. Wow say I am shocked is an understatement. I wish I lived closer, I would love to sit down with you and have a tea or coffee.
    Please let me encourage are a good momma. The care and love you pour into each one of your children is evident! I see your heart. I often visit your blog and so many times you have inspired me! If you decide to go private please send me an invite.
    I have four bio children and one adopted, life can be tricky!
    Please know you are on my heart.
    (((big hugs))) Kelly

  7. Oh my! That would feel like a nightmare, especially as you were starting to see things pick up.
    I, for one, find strength in reading your blog. Some days I feel so much better reading that another family with older adopted kids are having very similar struggles, some days the hope comes from the light you see in one/some/all of your children. Often there is one line that is just what I need to hear - today's was that our children need these harder times to work through their challenges to become stronger people (your wording was percect).
    So Ruth, my selfish hope is that you don't let "Anonymous" take away what you are giving the rest of us. But, I support whatever decision you feel is best for your family 100% because I know that you will make it the same way you seem to always do - in their best interest.
    Thank you for being honest!

  8. I am so sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, you are not the first blogger this has happened to that I know of. I know that you ultimately have to do what is right for your family but I just want to remind you how much your honesty is ministering to moms in the thick of it. I love your willingness to generously share to help others. Feeling sick for you though. Hugs and prayers.

  9. I'm flabbergasted Ruth, flabbergasted! You must be so hurt. You've shown so much trust by putting yourself out there, and whoever this is has really betrayed that trust. I'm so sorry that this has happened. Please don't shut your blog down or self - censor - that would mean this person wins, and that would be such a shame. Sending you lots of love - this is the last thing you need right now!

  10. Oh my goodness. So thankful that the complaint was directed to a worker with good judgement who was able to respond sensitively and with empathy.

    I so value reading others' experiences with adoption, and hearing a bit about different ways children adjust, and struggle, and how those things are addressed. It is very encouraging to me in our family's adoption journey to know that others are out there doing the same thing.

  11. I read this yesterday and was so disturbed I couldn't respond right away. You are among several outstanding mothers I have the privilege to know up close and personally. The efforts you make on a daily basis to give your children the best possible opportunities for well-being in the present and the future are beyond what I could ever imagine doing myself. I do think it's good that you wrote this post, as it is honest, an acknowledgment of the realities of blogging, and an appropriate chastisement of whomever made the complaint. You go, girl!!

  12. Unbelievable! I can only imagine your frustration and anger. I cannot understand why someone would do that to you. I really hope you don't decide to stop blogging. It is a great way to feel connected to you and your family. I do appreciate your honesty and authenticity while doing so. Thanks Ruth and I will pray that you figure out what to do as you parent,

  13. I don't often post comments on your blog, but I feel compelled to do so now. I really enjoy reading your blog & as a future adoptive parent I very much appreciate that you don't hold back the "bad" stuff, that you tell it all. So many adoption blogs tell the good side only, which is misleading for those hoping to adopt. Life is full of good & bad, and it's good to hear that it does get better. I'm sorry that this happened - I do hope you will keep blogging!

  14. The first time I read this I was so shocked and angry on your behalf I didn't comment then. Wasn't sure that what came out would be all that helpful... I am so thankful that the women from Child Welfare was kind, had wisdom and intelligence to know that your situation is all about lovin' on your kiddos and doing what is best for each of them. Keep on lovin' on them, you are an amazing Mama and your honesty and integrity inspire and encourage so many!


  15. Goodness gracious, I'm sorry that you're going through this. I'll add a better comment when I'm not working, but be assured that most of us read your blog and are in awe of how well your family is managing. Mostly, we see that your family is flourishing, sure there are a handful of times where the growth slows down, but always with the promise that the bloom will be that much sweeter.

    In regards to your blog, do whatever will give you the most peace, but know that what you've shared has been deeply valued.

    I'll be thinking of you!

  16. Oh my word. That would shock me too! Please keep writing, Ruth. Don't let one person's misunderstanding of your family's situation change your writing. I think it's hard for people on the outside (having never adopted older kids) have any idea of what it is really like. So sorry that happened!

  17. Hi Ruth,

    I am writing as I have been trying to get inside the head of “Anonymous” and, at the risk of sounding like a devil’s advocate, am wondering if I can attempt to offer a theory as to why Person X did what they did? To begin with, let me start by saying that I think that calling Child Welfare was completely out of line and took entirely the wrong tack on anything written here. The only possible thought I had, as to why someone would respond in this way to some of the issues raised in your blog, reflects upon another thoughtful blog post that I read recently (on a different blog) that focused on the difficulties that come from seeking outside support as parents. We all, as parents (and particularly if we are good parents!) seek to be intentional in our parenting and to do what we feel is the best that we can possibly do by our children as individuals. As such, it is often second nature to us to want to be all things to our children – caregivers, of course, but also therapists, teachers, mentors, you name it, and ironically, the desire to do this is the very mark of a good parent. However, there are, of course, circumstances where, regardless of the level of education or qualifications of the parents, and in spite of their very best intentions, it is not always possible for us to cover every aspect of our kids’ emotional or intellectual lives entirely on our own. It is definitely a struggle to acknowledge this, but there can be, in the life of any child, difficulties or struggles (ranging from learning difficulties, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, through to depression or emotional troubles and everything in between!) where an outside source or individual is better placed to help our children than we might be ourselves. Of course, this does not mean that seeking such assistance equates to failing as a parent – the exact opposite, in fact. But I found myself wondering, especially after reading the Jan. 16th post you mentioned, whether or not Person X, while they clearly went too far and took precisely the WRONG approach, might have done so because they were concerned that your oldest would benefit from the support of an external source (e.g. a child psychologist or therapist), but that you might be reluctant to seek it? I know that, subsequent to their comment, you responded by saying that you were indeed seeking outside help for Matthew, and I wonder whether perhaps they didn’t read your response to their original comment?

    Please know that I am in no way condoning their actions and am very sorry that this has happened to you; my only purpose here was to try to see if it was possible to shed any light on things and/or to try to make some sense of how this could possibly have happened. You can feel free to keep this reply private; I have read your blog for many months and hope to look forward to many more future posts. :)

  18. I also hope sincerely that you continue to feel free to share Matthew's struggles here, and that you continue to provide insight for other parents as to what avenues and professionals you have, and are, consulting to help him. The worst irony here would be if Person X caused you to stop being authentic and "real" in your blog. Others are going through the exact same things that you are going through, but may be too uncertain or embarrassed to voice these issues, and they would really benefit from your feedback as to the varying pathways you are pursuing to help your kids.

  19. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Totally sucks, especially when you are doing the best you can.

    Please don't shut down your blog. We're in the waiting stage of our adoption (i.e., homestudy done, dossier being prepared, waiting for the green light to send it to country). Your blog has been SOOOOOOOOOO helpful in presenting the real face of adoption for many. So many adoption blogs paint a picture that their lives are true perfection. Like a friend of mine said once "Some blogs want you to think that their family eats and sh*ts glitter". (how great is that statement!). If that's the rose-coloured glasses approach you want to go with then fine but those blogs aren't all that helpful for people like us who are heading into the adoption world. I want to know the reality, not some candy coated world that is possibly far from the truth. Thank you for being honest and willing to share reality.


  20. Wendy, thanks so much for the encouragement, and mostly for the great laugh!! That is a hilarious statement about glitter - I'm going to have to remember it!!

    I wish you well as you progress with your adoption. It's definitely not all roses, but it's also way MORE than one can imagine in other ways. We wouldn't change it for the world...regardless of how rough the road at times.

    Blessings, and thanks,


  21. Wendy, thanks so much for the encouragement, and mostly for the great laugh!! That is a hilarious statement about glitter - I'm going to have to remember it!!

    I wish you well as you progress with your adoption. It's definitely not all roses, but it's also way MORE than one can imagine in other ways. We wouldn't change it for the world...regardless of how rough the road at times.

    Blessings, and thanks,


  22. Ruth, It's been awhile since I've 'Checked in' to your blog (long couple of weeks/days), so I had to come back to read this. My heart just hurts for you! For some reason when you post your feelings so well-it's like you are writing my feelings out. I feel like crying with you, not for you. Seriously people--she's writing about how her family works and how she feels, this person that called Child Services either must not have children, or came out of some sort of Michelle Duggar pill bottle. WOW is all I can say!
    Prayers are always with you Ruth, you've been a great source of strength and wisdom for me!

  23. Thanks Jennifer...MUCH appreciated!

    Thank you for your prayers, for your kind words and for your support...they mean so much.

    Hugs and blessings,