Wednesday, 29 February 2012

My monthly anxiety attack

So often when someone hears that Children's Aid (CAS, which would be DCFS or the like in the US) is going to be coming to visit, the first reaction is anger or panic.  And so often we've been conditioned by varying sources not to trust them - the media in horror stories of children who've died at the hands of their parents after CAS and/or the courts have decided that it was safe to return the child when it was not, cases of children seized when there may not have actually been just cause, or cases of children seized because of the religious views of their parents (such as Jehovah's Witness' parents refusing certain medical care which will more than likely end in the death of the child).

I get the feelings of the panic.  I totally get it because I've been there.  Every time I know they're coming I have an anxiety attack, some worse than others.  Even when I've known for a few weeks.  It doesn't matter if I've got notice or not - I'm always second guessing myself.  Is my house clean enough?  Are my children behaving appropriately?  What are they going to ask?  I can physically feel my blood pressure rising from the time I get up that morning as my mind goes to "worst case scenario."  Yet, that never has happened.  I have never been treated with anything other than kindness and patience.  I have especially been greeted with concern.  The concern, however, is not usually with the boys or their well being.  I have always been told that I am obviously a good mom - that my kids are obviously well taken care of.  That they are smart, well spoken and polite.

I also understand the feelings of anger.  My first contact with CAS had nothing to do with me or anything I had done.  It had everything to do with Abdullah and his original arrest.  Though he and I were not living together at the time, because we were still legally married and because he still had contact - however infrequent it was at that time - it was a mandatory CAS call by the police.  I was angry at the time because I had done nothing to cause what I saw as an unjust intrusion in my life.  Logically, I understand the whys and wherefores.  But emotionally, I was, to put it bluntly, pissed.  How dare they come into my home and judge me?  How dare they be in a position to take my children away from me?  How dare they?  But really, the question was then and is now, how dare Abdullah put us (and them) in that position?  But the feelings of anger were also from some who had had experiences with CAS.  However, looking back on those stories now, the ones I know first hand, I see and understand why they were involved.  And honestly, looking back now, I wonder why they weren't more involved.

They closed the file that time, saying that they did not believe the boys were in danger.  The concern with that case was that the boys were in danger from the activities of their father.  I could have assured them of that from the beginning.  Well, at least I thought I could.  But honestly, since I didn't know his actions, could I have really?  I'd like to think I could, but honestly, I don't know if I could have or not.

The second case.  The second case left me feeling more betrayed than anything else.  Once again, logically, I understood the role of "mandated reporter" because as a Girl Guide leader at one point in time I was a mandated reporter.  Anyone who is working with children is a mandated reporter. But emotionally, I felt that what I told my counselor was told to her in confidence and should have stayed that way.  That the boys were not in the home at the time of the incident, nor do they even know that anything like that had ever happened.  But because the boys live in the home, it was a mandated call.

Once again, they closed the file.  I can't remember what their feelings were, but the file was closed.  Essentially, the boys were in no danger.  May I just say that my children have never been in any danger in my home.  That was May of 2009.

In August of 2011 was the third call.  This time by Abdullah's parole officer.  The reason for the call has never made sense to me.  I was told that he had "concerns that Abdullah and I do not communicate well with one another."  What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?  Unfortunately, that this time other things were, once again, coming to light for me.  Abdullah wasn't paying bills.  He didn't tell me that the hydro bill hadn't been paid in so long until the day they turned the power off.  Fortunately the boys and I were house sitting elsewhere.  And also fortunately a very dear friend and her husband helped me out.  But it was almost as if it was proving the parole officer's point.

In December, it was decided the case would be closed again.  I just just gotten the closure letter two weeks before the incident on New Years Eve day that brought us to this point.  On December 31, Abdullah ended up being arrested and the police ended up reporting to CAS - again.  Only this time, the ending is different.  If it was the same, there wouldn't be much to mention.  But this time, it's not.

This time, they've chosen that they're not going to be closing the case.  It has nothing to do with the health and well being of the boys.  As they've repeatedly said - they're well taken care of.  If there is a medical issue, an educational issue, behavioural issue, I'm on it.  I take care of it.  My kids know how to behave.  We have our normal temper tantrums, but basically my kids are good, well behaved if not frustratingly talkative little boys.  They are smart, ambitious, imaginative, creative and considerate little boys.  So why are they not closing the case?  Why are they still here?

Well, apparently their concern is me.  Their concern is not that I would hurt the boys.  Their concern is that i have not dealt well, or rather, dealt at all, with everything that has happened over the past four years.  Or, as we talk more, the past seven years.  Having a husband who, for the majority of our marriage, was physically absent much of the time putting things other than his family ahead of his family has created many issues which have lead to today.  They've admitted that their concern is that I would hurt myself.  They have this concern to the point that they've actually got a plan in place for should I feel like I want to hurt myself.  I admit that there is a history from when I was a teenager that would give them that concern.  And I admit a history of depression.  A depression that, at the moment, has gotten worse (don't worry - there is a doctor's appointment made to talk about adjusting my meds).  And a newer history of anxiety.

Today the intake worker was back, bringing the person who will be our permanent worker over the next however long they have us. She's older.  I'm guessing closer to my Mom's age, whereas the intake worker was right around my age.  I'm just grateful it's not someone who's 22 and fresh out of college.  That just would not have gone well!  She'll be back in a three weeks.

But one thing I have learned in all this is that if you're not on the defensive, if you're not trying to hide something, if you legitimately know you're a good parent, they see these things.  I have no concerns that they'll take the boys, or that they'll here to pick apart and find something wrong.  Yes, she will be talking to the boys alone.  No, I don't worry about this.  Heck, Hassaan will tell anyone everything whether you want to know it or not.  And whether I want him to keep it quiet or not.  Granted, they'll both probably complain that Mommy only lets them play video games on the weekends, but somehow I doubt they'll find much sympathy on that one.  I no longer feel that CAS is the enemy, even though just the thought of them coming in make my stomach start leap frogging with my intestines.  And the paranoia about not being good enough is still there every time as well. But I no longer go into these meetings with the worst case scenario in the back of my head.  I no longer dread them to the point of wanting to run away.  Yet, they are still not my favourite things to do.

I have learned that CAS is not the worst enemy unless you have created the situation that they would be.

And I've also learned that sometimes you get bumped to the top of the list for something when they tell you it must be done.  So sometimes, there is an advantage.

However, given that, I'll also say that I will be grateful for the day they are no longer involved.

1 comment:

  1. Your such a strong and wonderful woman! Your a great mama and I'm proud to have you as my friend! <3