Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Where the girls are

Georgia is in detention and will be for a while. Everyone, her foster mom, the director of the program she is in, her social worker, the other social workers in the department, is sad and angry and frustrated. In order to understand the level of anguish you have to understand how high the expectations were for her. She was the one who was going to go to college. She was the one who was going to make it.

Irene is off at the teen shelter home. It is actually a very friendly, safe space. It is in a regular house in a regular neighborhood. There are always two adult staff people there who are well-trained, kind, and rested. They always go home after their shift and sleep.

E is staying with me for until Sunday. Her social worker wants to send her back to Mandy's. It should be a good idea. Mandy wants her. Miss E though is not happy about the idea at all.

E. is a deeply hurt young woman. She was adopted for a while. The first time she was in our house she was saying that she was sure her social worker was going to make her go back to her adoptive parents. That was wrong because they are horrible, abusive, terrible people. If they sent her back she would just runaway again. She would start cutting herself again. She would commit suicide. The day of the hearing she was on the phone to everyone she could think of yelling because she was not invited to go to the hearing. She was a teenager; she had a right to be there; she needed to tell the judge how awful these people were; the other kids in the home should be removed and she was the only one who understood how much danger they were in. She had to tell the judge that she would rather die then go back.

It turned out that she was not invited because the adoptive parents were being give permission to let her go. Apparently there was much shedding of tears, and then they agreed.

Almost right away E. started telling everyone that she knew they did not love her. If they loved her they would have fought for her.

Now E. is doing the same thing with Mandy. Mandy's daughter and young grandchildren live there. E is saying that someone should make social services see how horrible Mandy is. The grandchildren need to be rescued. I heard her complain to someone one the phone, "I keep telling people but no one believes me. Just because she has been doing foster care for 30 years and everyone likes her. They all believe her and not me."

Yep. We all believe her and not you. I have been doing respite for her for 6 years. I have got to know at least eight other girls who live there. I have heard their stories of the "terrible things" that Mandy has done. Mandy is human just like the rest of us and she has sometimes said things she should not have said. We definitely make different judgments regarding when it is best to attempt to restrain a tantruming child and when to allow her to throw things and wear herself out. (To be fair, I'm a coward. I'm just going to lock myself and all non-tantruming kids in a room and call 911. Forget that restraint stuff. I took the class because they said I had to, but I told them then I wasn't using it.)

E's stories just don't make sense. They don't correspond to even the worse things that other kids have said about her. It is deeply sad because sometime E. really could be in danger.

If I detach myself far enough I can have a lot of sympathy for E. I can get furious at whatever happened to her to make her so damaged. I know though that she is out of my league. Her social worker asked if I would consider taking her if she got into the program. I didn't even pause before saying, "No."

The social worker asked if I could tell her why. (It is not like me to answer in the negative quickly).

"Let's just call it an extreme case of 'failure to bond.'"

The social worker sighed, "That happens a lot with E."

Next on Miss E

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