Friday, November 16, 2007

What Investigation?

I promised an investigation update, but unfortunately there isn't much to say. After being promised that we would have an answer last week, absolutely nothing has happened. This mysterious person in Southern Illinois who has to approve new experts is still unreachable (how can anyone be in the office and unreachable for 2 weeks?), so DCFS still doesn't know who their expert is for our case. We're not pushing it because we are still very much hoping that Dr. B will be the expert and we know that it would be much easier for them to designate the evil Dr. K (thus ensuring an indicated report).

We did receive Dr. B's final orthopedic report and it's as favorable to us as it can possibly be with the facts at hand. He included a few articles about the lack of research done on rib fractures outside of child abuse, the presence of other injuries in abused children, and diagrams showing that abusive rib fractures are predominantly posterior and Landon's are not. If anything can make us unfounded, that report will. It took three days for Dr. B to get in contact with our investigator, but she finally had the report in hand on Thursday afternoon. Our lawyer has also been calling her, but all he learned from their conversation is that DCFS is "still trying to figure out who [our] expert is" - which is what they were trying to do three weeks ago. This is really starting to get ridiculous. They've been "investigating" since October 4th, but not one thing has been done. We've seen our investigator once since picking Landon up from the shelter- she's supposed to be monitoring us weekly and observing our interactions with "the minor". We also haven't seen the case manager since we met him two weeks ago, and he's supposed to be visiting weekly too. It's not that I want to see any of these people, but if they insist on us flying people from all over the country to stay with us and continuing this "investigation" it would be nice if someone besides us did something. There is nothing in their file that wasn't there at the hearing on October 16th.

We're flying to Houston for a week on Monday. We'll get to relax, eat a big Thanksgiving meal at my grandparent's house, go to my parent's lake house, and get Landon baptized. It will be wonderful to get the hell out of DCFS territory for a few days. I'm thrilled we get to go visit, but it seems odd that DCFS would think a Safety Plan is so important and then let us just leave the state with Landon for seven days. Requiring us to have someone stay with us when we get back just seems silly, but I suppose that makes sense in the bizarre world we're living in right now. I hate that this still isn't any closer to a conclusion. Luckily they only get 60 days to investigate and Dec. 4th is fast approaching.

In other news, I took my car in to get the shocks replaced and found out it needed $1500 worth of work done. Immediately. Apparently some ball-tire-thing had worn off completely and it wasn't even safe to drive. Also, the winter quarter seminar lottery results were posted today and I didn't get in to a single one. I've always gotten my top choice, so to not get into any of my top three was crazy (although oddly fitting). And to think I had such hope for the month of November.


  1. i'll be waving at you from austin, and sending lots of hope your way that this will all soon be a distant memory.

  2. I hope you guys have a great time and are able to relax. If anyone deserves a restful holiday, it is you. Best wishes and travel safe.

  3. dude. email your dean for your classes. cite child care/schedule issues. he/she cannot not help you - i mean, really!

  4. Have fun in Houston! Hope it's relaxing and warm for you.

  5. When this first happened, I couldn't believe how aggressive they were being with you, when kids constantly get left in horrible, abusive homes. Now I'm starting to understand. They just start the process, don't move it along in a timely manner, leave loose ends and make a mess of things. For innocent parents, that means time, money, undue stress and unfair time away from their chlidren. For child abusing parents, that means the opportunity to really hurt their kids (or worse) while an "investigation" is supposed to be in progress.

    What a terrible system.

  6. I live in South Central Illinois, near St Louis. If there is anything I can help with, that won't irritate the powers that be of course, I'd be happy to try to help.

    It is so strange - them with their Safety Plan, but not checking on it at all. I'd be like you - glad they're not intruding more on your life, but still feeling like you should get credit for doing your part.

    At the very least, you've got everything documented here and you'll be able to write an expose when it's all said and done. Send it to Oprah!

  7. The DCFS regs say that they have 60 days to do an investigation, but practically speaking, their regulations permit 30-day extensions indefinitely. The criteria for these
    extensions are sufficiently vague that practically any reasons are sufficient. I would not assume a finding would definitely be made in 60 days, given delays so far.

    DCFS is not a medical organization and cannot determine who is an expert and who is not. In addition, there is no such thing as a child abuse specialization in medicine; physicians cannot be board-certified in child maltreatment. Most medical child abuse experts are self-identified. They write articles, participate in conferences, offer their services to the local child protection office, and are eventually accepted
    as "experts."

    Physicians don't make DCFS child abuse findings, the investigator has final responsibility for doing so. Illinois' child abuse law does not say that the DCFS designated "expert" alone can make a finding or determine if other physicians are qualified to do so. The investigator is expected to weight the physicians' qualifications and expertise in making a finding, but
    she cannot exclude your expert's
    opinion merely because he or she is
    not "certified." All medical opinions must be considered. The Southern Illinois person must have some other role.

    Again, I would keep in mind that the investigator, not the physician, carries the statutory responsibility for making the final
    determination under the Illinois child abuse statutes.

  8. That last comment from "anon" sounds very knowledgeable. And I REALLY like the suggestion to contact Oprah when this is over. (Not a bad idea to contact your dean right away. Maybe you can still get in a seminar.)You know your fans are still praying and pulling for you. (How MANY have used that expression!)

    Well, remember the rabbi's blessing for the tzar: "May the Lord bless him (DCFS) and keep him.....FAR AWAY FROM US!"

  9. are you guys driving or flying home?maybe ill see ya on a flight back to atx!!!

  10. When you say "southern Illinois" do you mean Springfield? Springfield is not southern Illinois but it is where DCFS HQ are. I'm working right by the DCFS building now and would certainly offer any help a local could give.

  11. You might want to take a look at the Family Defense Center website which
    describes this Illinois organization, which appears to have highly reputable board members, and its efforts to challenge some aspects of the safety planning process. Apparently, some aspects of safety planning are being appealed to the Supreme Court following a decision in 2006 at the appeals court level.

    The site also says they are available to consult on safety planning issues, so if your attorney doesn't have much experience with DCFS, they possibly could be helpful.

    I am familiar with and have met some of the people on the board and I would definitely consult with them if I had a dilemma similar to yours.