Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 53

We are now on Day 53 of the "investigation." I spoke with our investigator last Tuesday (I waited to call until we were safely on Texas territory) and here's the latest:

She and her (evil, heartless) supervisor have read our pediatric orthopedist's and concluded that (1) JP and I are the "perpetrators" of whatever happened to Landon, and (2) whatever happened to Landon was not child abuse, but rather an incidental/accidental event. This is very good- the child abuse part of our investigation has been dropped. However, the evil, heartless supervisor apparently really wants to nail us on something. She wants us to be indicated for neglect because the fractures were old and we didn't know about them. Never mind the fact we took him to FOUR doctors, all of whom brushed off our concerns about the popping noise in his ribs, and that our insistence on a chest x-ray is what started this whole nightmare. Our investigator openly said, "my supervisor and I aren't on the same page." She said under the DCFS guidelines (which she reminded me I could look up online) to indicate on neglect there must be "willful and blatant disregard for child's health and safety". She said herself that all the doctor's appointments make that impossible. She said having our lawyer call and mention this to her supervisor would probably help. She also emailed her supervisor while I was on the phone to remind her that their 60 day investigation deadline is up on Dec. 4th and that's not very far away. She's still hopeful we'll be unfounded- that her supervisor is just making one last stand that has very little change of sticking. She did say that even if her supervisor indicates us she just wants us to take a parenting class and this will all end- that no one is talking about custody or petitioning in court any more. I reminded our investigator that we will absolutely appeal any indicated finding- even if all the indication means is a parenting class. For one, there's just the absurdity of having been indicated for child neglect, but that also stays on our record for 20 years and if JP ever wanted to coach, or if another child of ours was hurt, that indication could haunt us.

Overall I think the conversation was good. Our investigator was very apologetic- she said several times that this case should be over, that there's nothing left do on it, and it's just about making a decision. Our expert has STILL not been approved by that mythical higher-up in the Springfield office, but I asked our investigator what the chance was that he wouldn't be approved and she said "not much." It looks like we're just waiting for another rubber stamp. (I still don't really understand the role of this person in Springfield, but our lawyer is calling today to inquire further). On our end, we're still living with a safety person even though the last Safety Plan we signed ended on Oct. 16th. We decided (with advice from our lawyer) that since we've gone out of our way to cooperate so far, we might as well cover ourselves through the 60 days. We don't want to give anyone a reason to think Landon isn't safe. JP's parents are covering us through the deadline of Dec. 4th. Of course DCFS can get a 30-day extension, but I'm desperately hoping they won't bother with that. There is nothing left to be done and at some point we're going to refuse to sign another Safety Plan and see if they really want to take us to court.

So we continue to wait for official news of anything. If I let myself think about what this child abuse witch hunt has cost us so far I get so angry I can't function. This is our last week of fall classes- I only had 8 days this quarter as a regular law student. I haven't read since this started, I dropped half my classes, and I have no idea how I will take my final in a little over a week. My blog should have been filled with trivial posts about Landon, law school, Chicago, family, and fun. We're trying to get him to sleep through the night (no, he's still not doing it, all this has been hell on any schedule we have tried to create for him) and that's worth a few posts alone. I feel like I've lost 2 months with my son- between the NICU and this ordeal we've had fewer days caring for him alone as parents than the weeks he's been cared for along with others. I'm scared to fully trust that the child abuse allegations are off the table and I'm scared of how much longer this can go on. I hope it's only seven more days, but I'm rarely correct when making DCFS predictions.

24 comments:

  1. I don't know you or your family except what I've learned here and I STILL see red when I hear about their heinous treatment of your case.
    I know that they do good. I know they have precautions in place to protect children. But damn, can't they go help some poor child who really is in trouble!
    Livid, I tell you livid!

    I am so very glad that the nightmare is almost over. And if you figure out the sleeping through the night secret, please share... I need to sleep!

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  2. I've been reading all along but haven't commented. This just makes me so sick. I can't imagine what the superior has to gain from going after you guys. I pray that things are resolved (and un-indicated) quickly so you can move on.

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  3. Sigh.

    Hang in there.

    And when this is all over, keep talking to your lawyer. Sue, write an expose, do something (unless you are totally wiped out, which I would understand too).

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  4. Good God. This woman either a) reads only every 4th word of things put in front of her, or b) has a boat stuck up her ass.

    Correct me if I'm wrong- you've been going to the doctor since day 1 with concerns about Landon's health. You asked the doctors about popping ribs, yet you didn't know about them?? I must be really really stupid because I don't see how that equates!

    This is getting ridiculous. No, it's been ridiculous for a while now. My vocabulary is lacking momentarily because this is such crap and it makes me so angry!

    All I can say is that you have endured so much and (it sounds like) it will be over soon.

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  5. How infuriating. I wonder how many kids are actually being hurt while they are busy messing around with this.

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  6. I not only wonder how many kids are really hurt while they are pursuing a baseless case like yours, but truly how many other people are in the same boat as you? There needs to a close examination of this system.

    You're right, don't agree to anything but total clearance. It would come back to haunt you.

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  7. December 4th is the first night of Hanukkah, one of those nice stories about miracles in times of siege. Maybe it's a sign :)

    And I second Rose: Doesn't it just make your ears steam to think about the time and resources that could have been spent helping a child in actual danger/distress? Farcical.

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  8. Insane. There have to be children out there who need that supervisor's attention. Not only is she being unnecessarily stubborn, if Landon WAS being hurt, she's sure not doing much to prevent it. It seems to be more about being "right" that doing the right thing. How sad.

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  9. I think it so inane that they want to nail you for neglect when gee- how many days in a row did sweet baby have on the same clothes while he was in THEIR care in the shelter!

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  10. Now they're just being malicious. Is there some sort of upper-middle class quota they're trying to fill here, or do they just try to screw everyone they don't have any evidence against? Isn't the point of an investigation, to investigate and reach a fair and unbiased conclusion based on the facts in the case?

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  11. "Neglected child" means any child who is not receiving the proper or necessary nourishment or medically indicated treatment including food or care not provided solely on the basis of the present or anticipated mental or physical impairment as determined by a physician acting alone or in consultation with other physicians or otherwise is not receiving the proper or necessary support or medical or other remedial care recognized under State law as necessary for a child's well‑being, or other care necessary for his or her well‑being, including adequate food, clothing and shelter; or who is abandoned by his or her parents or other person responsible for the child's welfare without a proper plan of care; or who has been provided with interim crisis intervention services under Section 3‑5 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 and whose parent, guardian, or custodian refuses to permit the child to return home and no other living arrangement agreeable to the parent, guardian, or custodian can be made, and the parent, guardian, or custodian has not made any other appropriate living arrangement for the child; or who is a newborn infant whose blood, urine, or meconium contains any amount of a controlled substance as defined in subsection (f) of Section 102 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act or a metabolite thereof, with the exception of a controlled substance or metabolite thereof whose presence in the newborn infant is the result of medical treatment administered to the mother or the newborn infant. A child shall not be considered neglected for the sole reason that the child's parent or other person responsible for his or her welfare has left the child in the care of an adult relative for any period of time. A child shall not be considered neglected for the sole reason that the child has been relinquished in accordance with the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act. A child shall not be considered neglected or abused for the sole reason that such child's parent or other person responsible for his or her welfare depends upon spiritual means through prayer alone for the treatment or cure of disease or remedial care as provided under Section 4 of this Act. A child shall not be considered neglected or abused solely because the child is not attending school in accordance with the requirements of Article 26 of The School Code, as amended.

    There's lots of Illinois case-law further explaining what neglect means, but I don't have westlaw or lexis access at home. Landon can't possibly be found neglected.

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  12. I still can't believe this is what brought me to your blog...but for some reason, it has and for this, I am prayerfully thankful. You are an awesome mom, a mom that works her tail off to make her family better...you are going to get through this and be the best lawyer ever...EVER!

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  13. Del in Alabama11/27/07, 9:39 PM

    As they used to say in New Orleans: "Sue day asses!" When it's all over, of course.

    Proto-attorney: exactly. Filling a upper-middle-class quota, or satisfying some kind of related agenda. I've thought that from my first visit here.

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  14. Indicating for fractures/neglect would require the agency to demonstrate the the danger to the child was so obvious and imminent that any reasonable person would have intervened to prevent whatever caused the injury (look at the agency's allegation system under alleg. 59). That's a little difficult to prove up when all you have ia an injury with an unknown cause.

    It sounds as if the caseworker wants to unfound and the supervisor doesn't. In an appeal hearing, should they found the case, it would be important to have documentation of this disagreement.
    Generally, more weight should be given to the opinion of the investigator, who actually conducted the investigation,
    rather than that of the supervisor,
    who is unlikely to be qualified as an expert and didn't have the direct involvement the investigator did.

    As to commenters mentioning lawsuits...it's a long shot.
    The law gives DCFS employees very substantive immunity. They can only be sued if they are believed to have been acting in bad faith. That's very hard to prove and in this case, doesn't seem to apply.
    The employees involved sound inept but not malicious. And if their medical "expert" claims the fractures resulted from abuse, that pretty much eliminates the bad faith issue up front. In addition, the most recent appeals court finding on DCFS safety plans gives the Department considerable leeway in making and implementing safety plans. That could change, of course, if the Supreme Court agrees to hear it.

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  15. wow - all I can say is that it really sucks you are still going through this. I just find it unbelievable that they are spending energy on this sort of thing when there are undoubtedly so many other children who go uncared for - unfortunately those kids don't wind up in ERs... I'm glad you had a wonderful time in Texas though. LM started to cry when I was reading this entry - a propos I think.

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  16. I'm so glad this is almost over for you (don't worry, I'm knocking wood on that one). I don't think any of us can begin to imagine the horror you've been through, but I am incredibly thankful that you'll soon be done with it. You'll finally be able to look at your son and not think about everything that's happened. You, JP, Landon, and every single person that's helped you through these times are all in my thoughts.

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  17. Dear god- these people just don't give up do they? I mean on a case that definitely doesn't warrant their attention. So infuriating!!!

    I have suggested before that you should sue. But not DCFS since they are well protected, but you should go after the doctor that sent in the complaint. Sue for her not following protocol in a possible abuse case. I.e. not asking your pediatrician, or getting a second opinion and that her actions have have cost your family a lot of pain and money.
    She started it, she should be sued.

    I am not a lawyer, but there should be consequences for a doctor who doesn't follow the rules, specially when the consequences of her rash decision have had such lengthy and far reaching effects.
    Those are my 5 cents

    Here's hoping this will be over next week!

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  18. The whole thing is outrageous. I don't know what else to say.

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  19. I know you said in your last post that you don't necessarily believe in "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger" but honestly, I think you are one of the strongest people I know! I'm glad you are trying to see anything positive in this situation, like the wonderful support of your family and friends.

    I can tell you one thing for sure, from personal experience...you are going to have one of the best Holidays ever this year...this will all be over and your son will be with you, healthy and happy. The little things in life that would have previously bothered you will probably just roll off your back after having been through this...it's all so clear what's truly important when it's almost been lost.

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  20. ((((HUGS))))) My BP is through the roof reading this. I'll keep praying it ends soon. Ditto Proto's thoughts on motivation and CM's thoughts on what to do when it's over, if you have any strength left.

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  21. Just hang in there and keep doing the right thing. That's all you can do. And love your little guy!

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  22. Gakkk. I'm just floored that there really are people out there that live to destroy others. It absolutely blows me away. Unbelievable.

    I trust that this will be over soon - I have a deep confidence that it will be. When it is, regardless of whether you're able to make these people face the consequences they deserve, you'll left with the question of forgiveness. They don't *deserve* to be forgiven; that's not even a question and it's not what I'm saying at all. But in my experience, holding onto this rightful rage - even while seeking justice - has darkened me inside and had no impact on my adversary. I so want you to be able to really move on after this and enjoy your life with your son and husband without being shadowed by this - that's the only reason I bring it up, but I do hope that you'll give it some thought.

    Hoping and praying that justice comes quickly.

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  23. As with everyone else here, I'm keeping you & your family in my thoughts & prayers, and hoping for a positive conclusion to this mess in the very near future. It completely floors me that this is still going on, and I wonder if I could handle such a thing as well as you are. Kudos for keeping yourself and your family together through this.

    As for sleeping advice--I have found Dr. Marc Weissbluth's book, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," helpful since my son was a few months old (he's 2.5 years old now). He offers a range of sleep solutions, depending on your preferences. With his advice, we've helped our son sleep through the night consistently (first in his crib, later after transitioning to a toddler bed), and we've improved his naps tremendously. I highly recommend this book.

    Hugs to you. . . hang in there!

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  24. I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this but each state DCFS receives federal monies per child they place in foster care or something along that line. They get monies for each child they rip from their families so to them that is incentive enough to continue to do so. I bet they've filed whatever papers necessary to get funds for what they are doing to your little family and it just sickens me to no end that they can't be held liable. Yes granted there are a few cases that are warranted but cases like yours (unwarranted) are popping up all over the place. DCFS can rip yours/mine and everyone else's children from us and there is absolutely NOTHING we can do about it. This does need to be brought to the SC! DCFS has abused their power far too long.

    PS sorry to be so upset but I know of another family that had to go through all this and their son was taken from them for 6 MONTHS before they could get him back. And it was all unfounded!

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