Wednesday, November 28, 2007

And The Fear Is Back

It's amazing how quickly I can be reduced to a shaking, fearful mess by DCFS. I've been feeling better, stronger, and more like myself over the past few weeks, but one little phone call from our lawyer with an update and- BAM, my hands are shaking and my stomach is churning.

The mythical higher-up from Springfield finally visited the Chicago office to decide who the expert is for our case. She was reviewing our file when it was discovered that DCFS had lost several crucial documents from our expert, Dr. B. He was called and immediately faxed over the missing items, but the higher-up had already left. She's returning tomorrow to finish up and make a decision. The fact that it's requiring two days and this much thought scares the hell out of me. I should be indignant and amazed that it would be this hard to choose between a pediatric orthopedic surgeon board certified in 1985 who can read and interpret his own x-rays vs. a general pediatrician certified in 2006 with no training in radiology or orthopedics. But this type of absurdity seems to abound in DCFS. Our investigator made it seem like this would just be a rubber stamp, but now I'm scared again. Dr. K's report says Landon's injuries were absolutely child abuse with no room for anything but an indicated finding. If she's the expert we'll probably find ourselves back at court and possibility fighting for custody. The supervisor already agreed to follow Dr. B's opinion and decided Landon's injuries were accidentally done by us or incidental to childbirth. How can we take steps backward? How can anyone possibly think Dr. K is more specialized than Dr. B? Why would it be this hard to make a decision?

Our investigator is supposed to call tomorrow with the results of the expert decision. Once that is done, a determination on the outcome of the investigation should follow quickly.

I cannot wait until my emotional well being is out of the control of DCFS.
Addition at 6:51 PM: I now feel much more calm. Any time a decision has been made quickly, it's been against us. If the higher-up had been done after an hour, I'm certain it would have been because she decided to go with their contracted doctor (Dr. K). By waiting for additional documents from Dr. B that shows she's really considering him. I'm still not happy about the fact it's taking real consideration when her approval was described as a rubber-stamp like requirement, but I'm not despairing. Yet.


  1. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  2. I am so sorry to hear that you are back at square one in the uncertainty department. Perhaps the reason it is taking so long is due to the internal conflict between your case manager and her supervisor and the person from Springfield has to sort that out. You never know. I would prefer a thorough review of my case to the possibility of the Springfield person listening to the supervisor and rubber stamping you as a negligent parent or worse yet, an abusive one. Dr. K has already proven how dangerous a snap judgement can be. I know this is extremely hard and stressful. Know that there are those of us out there that don't even know you but believe you and support you. I will leave you with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." We're praying for you. Next time you are in Texas let me know and I will take you out for the biggest baddest goldfish bowl margarita this side of the border.

  3. Oh whoops, we lost important documents? Talk about negligence!
    Surely it works in your favor that they know you're going to fight this, and they can't just stick you with a "negligence" finding so they can pat themselves on the back for a job well-done. Knowing that you're willing to fight it to the end, and make them look incredibly stupid, has to make a difference.

    Again, I can't help but think of the people who don't have the knowledge or the resources to fight false allegations, and get railroaded by this messed-up system. The system is supposed to protect kids, not destroy families.

  4. I am so sorry. :( This whole mess is seriously the snowball from hell that just keeps getting bigger and going faster.

    Ditto on what Someone Being Me said. Margaritas all around and goldfish for the babies. ;)

  5. sending you lots of hope and confidence that this will end--and soon--in your favor.

  6. I am so sorry that this is still going on. I know I have been checking and praying every day for you and your family that this horrendous drama will end. My thoughts and prayers will continue to be with you.

    And double ditto on the goldfish bowl sized margarita.

  7. I was glad to read your update - that seems a much more plausible route. That this person is at least aware of the possibility that there is a better side.

    But can I just take a moment to feel outrage that they lost several documents to your case?! That is just unforgivable at this point.

    As always, I'm so sorry you're going through this. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  8. I have been thinking of you so much lately as this drags on and on and on. Our babies are just days apart, so it is hard for me NOT to think of you.

    Every time I see that you have updated, I fervently think "Oh, I hope THIS is the post saying it is over. Pleaseohplease".

    Hang in there and know that so many people you have never met are only hoping the best for you and your family.

    I am not religious, but I can only think of saying "Godspeed" at this point.


  9. ugh, yuck. happy thoughts your way for a good decision and a final resolution to this mess.

  10. Hang in there, I'm rooting for you.

  11. Me, too -- I want you to be out of this mess. I am happy to know that you had a good time in TX and had some positive family/friend time. Don't lose sight. Keep your chin up!

    It was hard for me, when I was in your same shoes, to understand WHY I had to endure such hateful, ugly shit.... And I have actually learned a lot from the experience. It's hard to see, but, as you becoming a lawyer (!) you'll have a better perspective.

    I have my fingers crossed - and toes, too -- that this will be over soon.

    I wonder who you could contact about this after the fact? There HAS to be some sort of higherarchy that can be notified of such stupid torture....

  12. look, I work for child welfare in my state and there is a reason I am leaving a post anonymously. I've left one previously and you deleted it, about watching what you blog about.

    Anyway, my point is this, the supervisor has a supervisor, call them. And then call their supervisor. Keep going up the food chain. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    I wish I could tell you to email me but I can't, I'd lose my job.

  13. Every day you are in so many peoples prayers. Good luck.

  14. I've been following your story for a while now, and for what it's worth, my heart aches for you. I am pulling for you. I believe you. I wish with all my heart for you and your little boy to be free from the threat of separation.

  15. Having dealt with people out of Springfield before, don't stress too much about a 2 day thing. A lot of times they can't even "rubber stamp" something till all the ducks are in a row. She probably is waiting for the file to be complete before even looking at it 100%. If she is only in Cook Co. this one time since all this crap began, she is probably reviewing hundreds of files. She saw yours was incomplete, asked for it to be completed and didn't look at it again. I'll be thinking about you guys all day today!


  17. The caseworker, not the doctor, has to make the final decision as to whether to found the case, and on what allegation. The role of the Springfield physician seems to be to advise the Department on the medical evidence. It would be important to make sure that all of your supporting documents are included in the official file because if the case is indicated, the file is an extremely important part of the appeals record. I don't know if you and your attorney can review the file while the investigation is still pending, but you should review it in person and obtain a copy at the earliest possible opportunity. You have a legal right to do so if the case is indicated.

    One option the Department has is to indicate for abuse against an unknown perpetrator. This means, abuse occurred, but DCFS can't find credible evidence that any specific person did it. I don't know if that can be appealed, but I believe that
    it could result in information on the child and family being kept on the state child abuse registry for a couple of decades. Should that be the outcome, it's worth a careful review of what and unknown perpetrator finding means.

    A neglect finding seems really questionable. In order to prove neglect/blatant disregard, you have to demonstrate more than simply the presence of an unexplained injury. You have to demonstrate the circumstances which lead to the injury and how they were neglectful.

    You should also be aware that while the standard of evidence for the investigator to indicate a case is only credible evidence, the lowest standard, the standard for the appeals process is preponderance. A higher level of evidence is required to sustain a finding on appeal than to indicate it in the first place. This is a primary reason why 75% of appealed indicated cases are overturned
    on appeal.

    In other words, even if the case is indicated, you have an excellent chance of getting it overturned on appeal.

  18. The the last Anon: the person from Springfield isn't a physician, it's someone higher up in the DCFS hierarchy who apparently has to make the decision of who their expert is for our case. It would make more sense if they were a doctor (as far as having to choose which physician has the better handle on our case), but they're not.

    And thank you for the appeal information, that's very interesting. It's good to know that at Some Point DCFS has a decent evidentiary burden.

  19. Just one thing after another, isn't it? Anonymous is right about the squeaky wheel. In all your spare time, if you and JP can lean on DCFS or get your lawyer to do so for you, I do think it might get results. Your every instinct from the start has been to be patient and cooperate. DCFS is not rewarding your efforts. They stink.

  20. Praying for peace for you guys. Hang in there. Just a little while longer.