This was getting frustrating.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
I call the Social Services office in early 2011 to talk to Mary's social worker.
Me: "Hi, this is Mary Brosnan's dad. I'd like to talk to Mary's social worker."
I'm put on hold.
Receptionist: "I'm going to have to put you through to the social work supervisor."
"Hi, this is Trish Reedstrom."
"Trish, hello. This is John Brosnan. Remember me? I called to talk to Mary's social worker, but they put me through to you."
"Well, I'm taking her calls. How can I help you?"
"I want to know what's going on with Mary. She's been acting strange. She won't talk to me anymore and she's telling people I did something to her, but no one will tell me what that is. I know she's working with a social worker, so I called to find out what she and her social worker have been talking about."
"Well I know we are providing services to her, but she has asked that we don't tell her dad anything, and we are respecting her wishes."
"What? What are you talking about? I'm her father. I'm her legal guardian. I have custody of her. Why can't you tell me anything about her?"
"Well, John, she's trying to get on with her life and Mary has other parts of her life too. I don't understand why you think we are in the middle of this."
"But you are in the middle of it, and for some reason Mary has a social worker again, and you're taking her calls. It looks like you're right in the middle of it — of her life again — and I don't understand why you can't tell me what the two of you are discussing."
"Why can't you just ask your ex-wife what's going on with her?"
"I tried, but she won't tell me anything either. I also went to your front desk and a supervisor had me fill out a form and then wait until someone could figure out if I could get information about Mary or not. What's going on here? Are you refusing to give me information about my daughter?"
"Well I understand that you are her legal guardian and that you have a right to know."
"Right, so can you tell me what's going on, and can we stop pretending that you don't know what's going on with her and stop playing these games?"
I told her the girls are being poisoned, both Mary and Grace, and that I was very concerned about this.
Trish: "Well it sounds like you have an issue with your ex and you don't know what to do."
"Right, I'm confused. Very confused, and very worried about Mary, and I would like you to tell me what she and her social worker, or you, are discussing."
"I don't know the details of the case."
"If you did know would you tell me?"
"Well, Mary has asked us to respect her privacy."
I wondered how she knew this if she didn't know the details of the case. At one point, she even said she didn't know our custody situation, which is hard to believe since she worked with us for two years. She knew.
I said, "I think you do know, Trish. Remember a couple of years ago we were in court all the time with Mary and you tried to place her in a foster home near South Dakota and I wouldn't let you?"
She interrupts: "Yes, and she went home to you and I understand she did pretty well, for most of that time."
Most of that time? She knew more than she was letting on.
Me: "Yes, she did well because she was finally getting some stability in her life. That wasn't an easy thing to do, and I had to fight against your agency and your threats just to get her home and care for her."
I talked a little about how Mary had to move every two months when she was in the group homes, and about her lack of treatment, lack of assessment, and other things that had gone wrong with her placements. I told her I was concerned about all my girls now and I thought there was some abuse going on.
Trish: "Well, you know Mary could have other parts of her life going on. Why do you focus on Blue Earth County to take care of an issue you have with Mary and your ex-wife? We don't have all the answers. We're not her whole life."
This is not how social workers normally talk to parents who have concerns about their children, especially children they are working with. She seemed defensive and wasn't very good at hiding this.
Me: "But this is all I know and I'm starting here, and I'm a parent who knows something is wrong with my child and I need any information you have about her. I'd like to know why Mary doesn't want me to know anything about her. I'd like to know what I did to her."
Trish: "And that's why I'm going to ask her social worker if we can talk to you about Mary."
Forty-five minutes later, her "real" social worker called me — first time ever. Five months after Mary left me, and six months after Mary had been seeing this person, I finally get a call from her. She talks to me as if I'm a reporter.
"I hear you want some information about Mary?"
"Yeah. I'm her father."
"Well, she's fine. I check with her regularly and she's just fine."
"What do you mean, 'she's fine'?"
"She's just fine."
"What's going on here?"
"Nothing's going on."
"She's worked with you for six months now and something happened to her that was so devastating she won't even talk to me anymore, and she supposedly never wants to see me again, and you say she's fine? Apparently she's not fine."
"Have you talked to her mother? Why don't you ask her?"
This was getting frustrating.
"Well, like I told Trish, I have asked her mother and she won't tell me anything except that Mary's seeing a social worker. And so I called you to find out what's going on with her. Why do you keep telling me to ask her mother anyway?"
"Because it sounds like you need to work this out with Mary's mother."
"I'm her dad. I have a right to know any information you have about my daughter. Are you aware that Mary has a father who is very involved in her life?"
"Well, she has mentioned you."
"Mentioned me! Her thing is all about me apparently. I'm supposed to be the reason she's seeing a social worker."
"Right. Well like I said, Mary is fine. Is there anything else?"
"Yes. I want you to tell me what happened to her."
"Well, I can't tell you that. Is there anything else?"