Thursday, February 01, 2007

Why we don't believe...

Another post resurrected from the saved, but not published list (First draft: 8/16/06):

Rossecorp comments on the last post (NB: this is a post from August 2006) that she and other social workers have the experience of trying to tell prospective adoptive parents about the behaviors of children and yet they do not believe.

Failure to believe or even remember things we don't want to know is actually a fairly common human experience. Studies have shown this over and over again with patients in medical facilities. Take a conversation that David had with his orthodontist.

David,"How long will I have to wear the braces?"

Ortho, "Two years."

David, "Is there any chance that I could get them off earlier?"

Ortho, "It could happen, but it is rare, and your teeth are really crooked. I think it will take two years."

David, "But it is possible that they could come off a few months earlier?"

Ortho, "It's possible."

David, "Like maybe 18 months?"

Ortho, "That would be highly unlikely. Like I said, it will probably take two years."

David, "but they could come off earlier?"

Ortho,sighing, "Yes, it is possible."

Later David told people that he had been told that his braces were coming off in 18 months, 20 tops.

Patients who get bad news from doctors and are interviewed later DON'T REMEMBER.

People who are signed up for randomized clinical trials can explain what that means, tell you what a placebo is, and then will express shock at the very idea that, given their condition, they would be given a placebo. That would be wrong. They are sick and they got into this trial so that the could get the new drug.

We want to explain this away. It is the uneducated who do this, right? Wrong. In the studies, EVERYone does it.

And prospective foster parents are just as bad. We come up with explanations for why a child has behaved the way they tell us they have. Their previous house has been stressful. The last foster parents did not know how to do this; they just were not a good match for this kid. Or we just don't hear.

It's a shame, really, because these are children's lives we are messing around with. We do it in total innocence. Everyone is doing the best they can with limited resources: both time and money. Social workers need to find this kid a place to sleep. I am very fortunate in that I work in a foster care program that does matching. Most foster care programs are not about finding the very best home. Foster homes are where kids wait until the right home is found.

More social workers would probably do a better job if there were more options. You have a sexual active (hetero) teenage girl who bullies younger children and steals from other girls. Um...let's see...can we find a house with no younger children, no teenage girls, and no one that the girl is likely to have sex with? Well, only if there is someone out there with no other kids in the home.

That is as far as I got in August. It seemed to me then that more needed to be said and I did not know how to say it. Now I am not sure what else there is say. There is a great need for homes. Social workers are torn between needing to find a bed for a child to sleep in and the need to be honest with parents. Parents, like all people, have a hard time believing what they are told.

And it is tragic, because these are kids' lives we're dealing with.

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