Monday, January 5, 2009

ANNIE'S AWFUL AUTUMN, TWO - Maxim and the System

The Friday after the previously described event...when it was, frankly, long forgotten, I got a phone call from Craig at work.

"They're going to move Maxim. They are putting him in Methodist Children's Home in Detroit. He's to be ready at ten o'clock on Monday."


All I could think was - I can't let this happen to him!

As any reader of this blog knows, Maxim is a challenge. Maxim is not precisely a ray of sunlight in our home...but I have committed myself to helping him. I have vowed to protect him.

And this is a boy who is terrified of abandonment, distraught if I am even a few minutes late picking him up from school. How could they think of doing this to him? I was overwhelmed with the need to stop it somehow. I knew I couldn't call from work, I was beyond I wildly asked my assistants to take care of the catechist who was on her way to see me, and I raced home, hardly knowing how I got there.

History: Maxim has had five "primary" caseworkers in the county where he was originally placed in state care. The first one, despite the fact that she was by law required to see him in person monthly, didn't lay eye on him for over a year - even though for much of that time he was right there in her county. The day she did see him in person - at a meeting with a number of people present, including her supervisor - she pretended to know him. I was disgusted, frankly, at her attempt to act as though the two of them had some little joke together. I wasn't previously enamored of her, frankly. She had taken a superior tone with me from the beginning, responding to innocent questions with orders, stated as though I were deliberately trying to be difficult or obstinant. But,then, she disappeared somewhere.

The next three caseworkers were merely names. I did not get to talk to them, e-mail them or ever communicate with them. They were not "active" and I was glad enough. My experience with #1 had been sufficient. Fortunately our local "courtesy" caseworkers were nice ladies. They "saw" Maxim once a month as required. That was about it.

But late last summer, a new caseworker (L) from the distant county gave us a call. She was unlike the others! The first thing she did was call and say she was driving to Lansing to meet Maxim. Well! That seemed unnecessary to me, but nice. The local caseworker heard of this and just looked confused and couldn't see why that was necessary. When L. arrived, we could immediately see she was a young woman, full of energy; she appeared to be nice, but from the beginning of the conversation it was so odd! "Would you like to write an order to have him removed?" The first time I think we both ignored this non-sequiter. But three more times she asked - "So would you like to sign an order to have him placed in a different home?" Why was she pressing this? I tried to explain that, we might like to find a different home for Maxim sometime in the future, and he had told us he preferred a home where he'd be the only child - but it was important to us all that he stay near his friends, his support system and his school (where we've paid hefty tuition all this while!). That's the way we left it, but we thought her approach was really odd.

So, she apparently was stuck on the idea. Removing him. Why is this her main idea? I still don't know. I've even wondered if she could be getting some sort of kick-back from the residential treatment center? But, no. That makes no sense. They have a hard time finding spots for kids. None of it mades any sense to me.

But, here was this hanging over us. How could I let this happen to him? How could I let him be taken from his cozy home and a school where everyone loves him to a residential treatment center? He is very adaptable....and I certainly didn't want him to adapt to that setting! That's why we'd worked so hard and sacrificed so much to keep him in this safe and positive environment. And to have it all destroyed so suddenly!

My mind was going round and round. At first I'd think of things like school, friends, classes! Then, I'd get a vision of his hugging Rosie, or putting his special Christmas ornament on the tree - and it would all seem even worse. Unbearable. I've never felt so helpless.

That afternoon was hellish. I couldn't reach anyone for several hours. I now understand the idea of "rending one's clothes" because I actually had the impulse to do that. (Craig said I actually did it.) My energy had no where to go. Finally, I reached L on the phone - with voice trembling and tears falling I asked her what her thinking was, begged in every way I knew how for her to reconsider. She kept talking about "safety" and so forth. For heaven's sake! She spoke as though his thrusting a bunch of papers into my face was a full-out attack!

Would we be able to get him back? See him? She didn't know (didn't sound like she cared.) She hung up.

Why I didn't think of it earlier, I don't know, but finally I remembered CASA. Court Ordered Special Advocate. When the judge at Maxim's name-change assigned him a CASA worker it seemed really unnecessary to me. Now it seemed providential. But I couldn't reach them!

I left wild messages on his advocate's phone, and on that of her boss.....

Meanwhile the weekend loomed. I had to go pick up Maxim from school! What would I say? I did pick him up. How miserable could anything be? I wanted to be strong and matter-of-fact - assure him....I'd stick with him no matter what. But, I took one look at him and started crying. Actually, that was good. He listened to me with a softer heart.

And, blessedly, he really didn't understand his danger. He took something of it in....but I think (as children will) he really had faith in us to protect him. So he comforted me. And we processed through the weekend with this ominous thing hanging over us. On Sunday afternoon as we were delivering the papers, Maxim said, "Can you help me finish my paper for religion after this?" My breath was taken away. "Maxim! You may not even be at that school any longer, honey - you don't need to do the homework." Perhaps at that moment he understood a little more. But it was also then that I decided that they'd have to fight me for him. We were NOT going to have him packed and ready the next morning!

On Monday, I took Maxim to school like usual....but told him to be prepared....if someone came to get him, behave. Be good. We'd be doing what we could to get him back. Meanwhile, Craig was on the phone. And between Craig and the CASA workers, we stopped it.

I'd thought that L, herself, would be coming to get him in her she could talk to him, explain things, counsel him. Little did I know that they were actually sending a big, strong security person to take him there - like a prisoner. No. No counseling. No comforting was planned.

But....we headed it off. I called school and had him come to the office so I could tell him everything was OK.

We still wonder what that was about. Craig had hoped to get some advice, some support. Perhaps some referral to anger management. Somethinge helpful! But, oddly, "helpful" is not really in their vocabulary.

I managed, on my own - to locate family counseling. And I pushed and shoved, and used the help of the CASA workers to get us approval and financing.

However....stressful and emotionally taxing as all this was....more was to come. And, from an unexpected direction.


Nora said...

Ummmm....I'm ready for the next installment!!!!! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!!!!

Miss and love you!


MamaPoRuski said...

I remember your posts about this, but did not realize the depth of the situation! OH ANNIE! So glad the HS knows how to pray when we do not! Still praying! HUGS!

Elizabeth said...

So hard! I've gotten confused chronologically...was this recent? It was such a touching moment with Maxim, though difficult. Has he ever spent some time away from you, with other adopted kids his age? I know they have a few summer camps like that in the U.S.

I'm not sure if I will ever tell the full stories on my blog, but we've had Nastia and Masha in and out of our home for various reasons, and they were both taking everything out on my mother, even though she and my father made all the rules together. Sometimes the mother is just under fire!

kate said...

Glad you staved that off! What next?

Alexandra {{Awareness Warrior}} said...

Thank goodness he has such an amazing, loving mother to fight for him! I'm so sorry you (and Maxim) have had to go through all this!

Not to rush you *joke joke*, but seriously, the suspense is killing me! Part 3! Part 3! Part 3! =p

crispy said...

Oh Annie, it sounds like you felt so helpless. Grateful it all worked out, but stressful to say the least.

Carolynn and Steve said...

Oh, Annie. How difficult it is when the people who are supposed to be advocates for the kids and for us don't do that..and can only see one way to fix a situation. Big, big hugs here from me...and like Mama said, so glad that God has his hand on you and your family.

Ciska said...

It must be terrible to live with the fear they will take him away. I'm so sorry for you. What happened next?

MyGirlElena said...

I have been thinking about you and wondering what had happened. I am so happy that Maxim stayed with you. Perhaps this is what needed to happen to make him realize how much he is loved by you.

Tina in CT said...

I remember our emails and phone call this past fall. Such a horrible time for you.

Christine said...

Annie, I know this is going to sound way out there and it is probably none of my business, but to me it is a no brainer that you should adopt Maxim. Yo care and love him like a son. I know you want to protect him and love him, but I don't think he quite understands how many hoops you jumped through for him. If he knew he may understand your love more and understand his alternatives which are not bright. You have shown that you want him to stay in your home--- if he was adopted at least they would be out of your business.

Annie said...

Doesn't it make sense? But, actually, he does not want to be adopted by us. And he is old enough that the choice is his.
He has the idea that a wealthier family without other children is his due. Really.

I do not know why he doesn't realize (after all that has happened to him) that he is fortunate to be in anyone's home.

themommie said...

what a horrible thing to go through. It is so sad that the people that make life changing decision for these kids do not spend any time with them or know anything about them. They only know what it says in their file and from are experience there are all kinds of mistakes in the files. One of our fosterbabies had it in her file that she was chinese and when the social worker came to see her at 10 months old she said she is not chinese and we looked at her like she was crazy. She said if we knew she was blonde hair blue eyed and didn't have any real problems she would have been adopted out sooner. Can you believe this.I could go on and on but I will stop now.....themommie

Rachael said...

Ah, another cliff hanger.

And, just read your comment back to Christine too. THAT is the whole nonsensical tragedy in the whole thing!

Svetlana said...

Wow, sometime those workers don't have anything else to do, only mess with good people. My friend went thru the same things.... Those workers need to pay more attention to the other families where kids are in big danger.

I will pray for your family and protection from workers.

luvin' life said...

Wow! Talk about disillusionment! I cannot imagine how awful and frustrating that experience was for all of you! It's now wonder that you are just now writing about it. It is hard to write when the pain is raw and so many things still unknown.

I hope things are better now.

Tami said...

Wow! Its unbelievable all you've gone through. ((hugs)) to you.

Ginny said...

Annie, I am just catching up. I am so glad you were able to stop them from taking Maxim. I hope you are able to post again soon-I am anxious to know how you are doing.

Fioleta said...

Oh dear, sounds horrendous. I always wonder about social workers - they have so much power in their hands and they must believe in what they do, but how many of them remember to question their believes (is it even possible to stay working in that profession if one is unsure of what is right and what isn't) and to see real people and their needs.

You are such an inspirational mother.