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 16...it 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.
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 that...one 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 blog...one 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 roses...it's just not real.
So...I'm thinking hard about where to go from here. We can seriously do without that kind of 'help.'