> No More Secrets And Lies: The County Threatens Me

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The County Threatens Me

On March 6th, 2009 at 10:00 am we held our last team meeting. We met at the Social Services office to discuss the prospect of placing Mary in the foster home in Fergus Falls. The whole team attended this meeting except for Mary's lawyer who had a schedule conflict.

The meeting was really a face-off of sorts between the social work supervisor and me, and she began the meeting by insisting that, because I had called the vision therapy clinic in Fergus Falls and found out that my insurance wouldn't pay for Mary to be seen at this clinic, somehow it was my fault that … ah … they wouldn't take my insurance. I wasn't sure what she was trying to say, but I was pretty sure she didn't mean this, and that whatever she was trying to say just didn't come out right. So I asked her a few times what she meant, but it never did come out clearly. I think she was trying to say that I was attempting to sabotage Mary's placement when I called the clinic to find out if they took my insurance. At least that's how it sounded to me. I did call the clinic and I asked them if they accepted my insurance, and they told me they didn't take Health Partners (which I carried for all the girls). But it sounded like she was saying it was my fault that they didn't. I was confused.

I brought a copy of the Department of Human Services' mission statement regarding out-of-home placement to our meeting. Their mission on the subject of placing children in foster care was clear: children in foster care were to be placed as near as possible to their family in order to maintain the bond with their parents and to facilitate the child's return home. Social Services' own mission statement demanded that their social workers do whatever they can to keep children close to their parents.

I gave her a copy of her mission statement and told her that I had found foster homes that were closer to home than the one in Fergus Falls. I also asked her if she had even looked for foster homes near Mankato and if she was purposely trying to place Mary far away from me. She wouldn't give me an answer, and we argued for what seemed like most of the meeting about this. I kept telling her,

"Not only is this foster home in Fergus Falls far away, but my insurance won't even pay for Mary to be treated there. How is this going to be paid for?"

She had an answer.

"Well, Karen and I talked about this and we have it all figured out. We decided that you parents could work out a payment plan with the clinic so this shouldn't be a problem."

Karen nodded in agreement.

"Really? You and Karen talked about this? I didn't talk about it. I didn't agree to anything like this."

She continued…

"Ahem. Well you see John, this way Mary's treatment can be paid for and she can go to the foster home the psychologist recommended. We have to do what the psychologist recommended. He's the expert."

I was waiting for her to remind me that he also had a PhD, and I wanted to ask her who really recommended this type of foster home for Mary, but I didn't. Instead, I came back with this intelligent rejoinder, "This is ridiculous," and followed that up with, "I don't put any stock in this guy's assessment of my parenting skills. This so-called parental assessment of his is a sham. How could he have assessed me when he hadn't even met me?"

She gave me a look like I had just discovered some great secret she was going to take to the grave with her, before it turned into more of a how-dare-you-challenge-my-authority look. And then I knew I hit the nail on the head. If I remember correctly, throughout the whole meeting, she and I were the only ones who spoke. No one else said a word. But everyone witnessed it.

Next I told her I had found vision therapy clinics for Mary that were as good as those in Fergus Falls that my insurance would pay for and were closer to home — something Mary, her lawyer, and I all wanted, and something her own mission statement indicated she should want, but definitely something she did not want.

She stared at her notes for a few minutes and then looked up at me,

"Look, John, we're done talking about this. If you don't sign this form allowing the county to place Mary in the foster home in Fergus Falls, we're going to file child abuse charges against you and recommend to the judge that he file a CHIPS (CHild In need of Protection Something) petition against you."

At this point in the meeting I was almost expecting something crazy like this to happen, and I simply replied,

"I wasn't going to sign this form before, and I'm certainly not going to sign it now after you've threatened me. Go ahead and file your child abuse charges. I haven't done anything wrong and you know it, and I actually welcome someone finally talking to me for a change and finding out what kind of parent I really am."

She ended the meeting.


two.random said...

NUrse Ratched comes to mind....

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