Imagine a job where you are both hated for doing your job and not doing your job.
I have over 200 documents that could potentially be used on each client I serve. I know this because I was just tasked with the project at work to redo our electronic filing system. 200+ attempts to help these kids see some relief from whatever it is they are suffering. I work with kids and their parents many of whom have an organic diagnosis of RAD, ADHD, depression, PTSD or other trauma. I would say the best way to sum up my clients is they have seen more in their short lives than I have seen in my 40 years. We social worker’s don’t talk about our work because frankly we can’t. We are bound by privacy laws and most of us learned pretty fast that our “work talk” killed the mood at gatherings and got sick of hearing, “I couldn’t do your job.” Well, it’s no surprise due to how unsupportive many of our legislators are at protecting our kids that many of us social workers can no longer “do our jobs….successfully anyway”.
It’s time that everyone understand what it’s like working in this field nowadays. Gone are the days of solely being able to focus on improving the family system since the introduction of 200+ documents. Many of them required for each case and have timelines attached to each document. We are often redoing pointless paperwork that families will literally never look at again, all because of funding…not people…funding.
So, when this new bill came to light in the MN House, MN House File 2265 I was livid. Of course, again it had nothing to do with people so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, but then again allowing convicted sex offenders, child abusers, murderers (to name a few) to provide services that I refer children to made me sick to my stomach. Now, not only will I be trying to find services that meet the needs of clients, but potentially will need to make certain the child (who could have been sexually perpetrated on) does not get re-victimized while on the road to his/her day treatment program. Does anyone have any idea what message this sends to parents and kids? These parents are exhausted. When they need PCA services or MNet or CTSS services it is because they have exhausted other therapies, hospitalizations, evaluations, etc. Yet now there is a potential that their PCA could have been a former sex offender.
Let me fill you in on what it’s like living with a RAD, PTSD,FASD or sexually exploited child? I will give you some hypothetical examples to help you understand.
Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD kiddos experienced a sad reality early in life when their basic needs were not met. It could have been food, love, diaper not changed repeatedly, etc. The Still Face Experiment explains this best? If you have a baby try this: place your baby in a high chair and play normally with him or her (happy faces, clapping, etc.), look at his/her reaction. The baby I am sure is pretty happy. Now look away briefly and when you look back at your baby have a still face. No smile, no clapping, nothing. Just a still face. Your baby will become distressed pretty quick because he/she will likely not understand what is going on; normally you’re happy and engaging. Now turn your head away again and look at your baby and be engaging. RAD kiddos live in that still face distress mode, yet they learn to adapt somewhat to their world but not necessarily to relationships. Now, this RAD kiddo gets adopted and the adopted parents have an engaging face. This is not “normal” to them. They don’t understand it. So, they do what kids do when they don’t understand…they act out. At this point it takes a very skilled parent who understands RAD to help the child regulate their emotions. I can tell you on one hand how many “skilled” RAD parents I have met. The likelihood that one of my clients’ parents understands RAD is slim to none. Imagine every time you showed love to your adopted child they pushed you away or worse; abused you. It happens. I have seen it all too often.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD is 100% preventable. It is also important to understand though that significant damage can be done even before a women finds out she is even pregnant so pointing fingers and judging is pointless and counterproductive. This is a spectrum disorder so it varies to the degree of mild to severe limitations. I will describe more of a severe limitation of FASD. FASD kiddos could recite their entire evening routine, the problem…actually doing the routine. This completely boils down to brain damage in certain parts of the brain. The parts where one can remember steps to a task may not be affected but actually applying those tasks…impossible due to brain damage from in-utero alcohol use (now this is severe cases). How to help these kiddos: simple…routine, routine, routine. Basic skills over and over and over. Let’s say you want to teach a FASD kiddo to cook Easy Mac in the microwave, but there are several steps and tons of what if’s that could cause serious problems. So, for 30 days you show Suzy how to cook Easy Mac in the microwave and did so exactly the same way and now it’s day 31; time to completely do this on her own. More than likely, one of two things will happen: 1. Suzy will stand there in the kitchen holding a cup of Easy Mac not knowing what to do or 2. A fire will start in the microwave. The parents of these kiddos I often say have the patience of Saints, but these are also the kiddos that are using significant PCA services because their needs are so high. If Suzy who is let’s just say hypothetically in her teens cannot make Easy Mac after 30 days of “practicing” do you think she is vulnerable to her new child molester PCA?
Have you ever been to a house and rang the door bell, but it doesn’t work? Is your first thought that it must be broken? That’s not my first thought. My first thought is either the loud noise is too much for an Autistic kid or the parents disabled the bell because it triggers their PTSD kid. Think about it…you lived in a house where there were several drug raids as a child and that all started with the dinging of the doorbell…an innocent doorbell and you as a parent are thinking “oh it’s just your buddy stopping by,” but all you can think about is what came after that bell when you were a child. Your body instinctively enters into a fight, flight, or freeze mode.
While therapy, medications, and other services can help a lot of these kids and their parents. Many are to taking their child to therapy 2-3x per week or needing daily PCA just so they can make dinner for their family or need respite for the weekend because the child has burned every family bridge and the parent desperately needs a break from being kicked, hit, punched, by the child they vowed to love. These parents have sacrificed hobbies because they have zero time for themselves. They have lost friends because their child is out of control and friends just think they need to “lay down the law” or “parent differently”. Marriages have been sacrificed; yet deep down the last thing that was needed was to lose the one person that “gets it”. Many are forced to send their child to a different State for residential treatment because everything in their State is full. They sleep with alarms on their bedroom doors because they have been told by their child that they cannot wait to kill them in their sleep. Crisis plans are set up with your younger children and parents are forced to find safe locked areas of the house because the older sibling continually harms them. Clients have been kicked out of stores or restaurants because their inability to control their Tourette’s. This is reality for my clients.
I have yet to meet a child who wants to be mentally ill or who wants to be unlovable. Every kid I meet wants the same thing…to be “normal.” Try telling what “normal” is to anyone of my clients. It’s heartbreaking. We hold onto hope. Hope is hardly in my reach anymore.
Do you know how easy it is to dissolve an adoption? Too easy.Yet when one adopts; the Judge turns to the parents and says, “This is your child, with all the rights; just as you would have given birth.” My question: If this child is granted all the same rights as a birth heir; then why is it so easy to dissolve an adoption? Whatever happened to unconditional love?
What is left standing next to me is a child now with no parents, asking me “what now?”
My response as I am staring off into space in disbelief…”another 200+ documents”.