About this story 15/11/2009Posted by Sir Ralph in Introduction.
Tags: biological parents, bureaucracy, foster children, foster parents, Germany, red tape, trauma, turning point, youth welfare office
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This is a story about the fate some people have to cope with from their early days of childhood on and how they adjust to it. It is a story about how the case of those who have afflicted unmeasurable suffering to them is considered justified and right and those who try to stand for their rights have to fight and finally might fail. It is an example for red tape in Germany. The actors are biological parents who have failed in the education of their children, foster children who have been deeply traumatised by their biological parents, their foster parents who are responsible for accompanying these traumatised children at least until their coming of age, and the youth welfare office staff whose decisions influence the well-being of the foster children in a significant way.
The characters in this story are purely fictional. Resemblances to existing persons are purely incidental, but show at the same time that the situations described in this story are anything but far from reality, no matter how unbelievable and partly curious the might sound.
The German version contains a number of letters to authorities and other institutions as well as analyses which are also purely fictional. In the English version, their contents will be summarised. They serve as explanations of the problem, but do not relate to existing persons. Still, they describe prominently the problems which have to be dealt with.
This story has a focus: The Turning Point. From there on, the story develops onwards and backwards respectively.
Tags: emergency unit, foster children, foster parents, housing group, keep distance, supervision, trust adult
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Those are the words of Jeannett she had in store for her sister during a supervision session. We have agreed that Jeannett should take part if this would be of any help for us as foster children. We were talking about the consequences of the parting from Susan a month ago.
Jeannett must have suffered terribly, She didn´t mention, but she must have been afraid that our whole family would break apart. This would have destroyed the setting which she classed as stable enough for the first time in her life and gave her enough security to survive in a world where she couldn´t trust any adult except us as her foster parents. She was trying to save what she thought would have supported her in her future development. Her sister in this situation was a crucial threat to her.
Jeannett and Ruth these days are not able to visit Susan at the emergency unit these days. The hurt would be too much. The fact that I was losing more and more of Susan´s trust didn´t make things easier. It would be best for all of us to keep distance. so we were getting used to the fact that Susan should be accommodated in a therapeutical housing group which was not necessarily in reach of a day´s trip.
“Why has my sister changed so much?” 16/08/2010Posted by Sir Ralph in How it went on.
Tags: dirty language, foster children, foster parents, regress, therapy, visit
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How amazing it is that people change fast when changing the environment they live in. This has obviously happened to Susan, and Jeannett is appalled.
It was the day when Jeannett had decided she wanted to come and visit Susan with me in the emergency group. Susann hugged her sister for hello. As the day was fine, we proposed to have ice cream at a nearby ice cream parlour. Susan refused, however. She rather wanted to show Jeannett her new place where she had been living now for three weeks. Jeannett took a good look around the room, judging everything neatly.
“You have started shaving your legs?” she asked in an intriguing manner.
“Yes, indeed! I also make up my face.” Susan gave back in the same way. She seemed nervous and restless. She used dirty language and chewing bubble gum all the time – which was completely against her behaviour when she stayed with us. Finally she disappeared without saying good bye, a big distress for Jeannett.
Susan now seems to be regressing into behavioural patterns which she has acquired before she came to stay with us, and the cause seems to be that she is under the influence of the other youngsters in the housing group. We think it would be best for her to get out of there and start a therapy. But this might take a long time.
For the first time, my wife Ruth and I feel that we have lost influence on what is happening to Susan, and we know there is no way back.
Can you imagine total chaos? 26/01/2010Posted by Sir Ralph in how it came about.
Tags: adventure, aggressive outbreaks, chaos, destroy, emergency, in too deep, inner self, locked away, mental institution, mess, messy, neglect, trauma therapy, traumatised children
I bet you can´t! Imagine a room, full of half eaten sandwiches, empty plastic packs of youghurt or quark, chocolate bar wrappings, tons of sheets of paper, cut and torn clothes…
This was the state in which Susan´s room was in. And this was not the work of a week or even days. Susan could create a mess like this in a matter of two hours.
But how did she do that? Where did she get all the things from? For months now, we have been locking the kitchen the copying paper has been locked away in my study, we supplied her with sweets of all kind for a case of emergency – and still, she found ways to access our supplies, partly stored in the fridge in the cellar. Shopping for the week has become an incalculable adventure, not knowing how much there would be left of anything.
The same, Susan is unwilling to put her clothes into the wardrobe or take worn clothes to the washing machine in the cellar. It was all spread out on the floor of her room.
And you better don´t criticise her behaviour, unless you are prepared to get an aggessive outbreak and slammed doors.
We ask ourselves constantly what might go on in her mind that makes her do the things she does. We know that because of neglect in her early years of childhood, she was storing food and drinks in her room. We know that cutting and tearing her clothes derives from her urge to destroy what she likes, and the same goes for enjoyable situations. But why does she tear sheets of paper and spread them out on the floor?
Many times, I helped her with tidying up her room, or at least part of it. As a result, one hour later, the state was as before. Some people say that her room was a sort of mirror of her inner self: chaotic, unstructured, messy.
We decided that we couldn´t go on with Susan like that, and bear her behaviour that was destroying our family. An immediate solution of the problem had to be found. This would definitely mean an admission in a mental institution where we could rely on a special trauma treatment. It would mean that we would be integrated in the therapeutical process, so that Susan could return to our family and would be able to go on with a trauma therapy to bring relief to us all.
There is no question of why we are doing all that. We´re in too deep. Can we really manage all that and find an acceptable solution?
The Escape 18/11/2009Posted by Sir Ralph in how it came about.
Tags: aggressive outbreaks, chaos, emergency hotline, following the hint, mental institution, multiple trauma, rampage, shadow personality
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Susan was gone. About two o´clock she left our home, uttering “I am gone now.” What was that supposed to mean? In former similar events, she went for a walk or through the garden and returned very relaxed. We had hoped that it would be the same this time.
The cause didn´t stand for an easy outcome. When we entered Susan´s room we found it in a chaos of torn paper and clothes scattered about on the floor and in her backpack a bar of chocolate and a bag of chocolate sweets which Ruth had put on the living room table in order to take them with her to work the following day. Furthermore, we found in her room a box with apples cut in half, three of Janet´s brushes and my headphones among used underpants. Did she plan her escape?
How ofted had I tried to help Susan with tidying up her room and keeping it tidy. Sitting on her bed and reading or talking with her was all I had to do. In vain. Hardly an hour had passed and chaos had taken over, again. How much chaos would there be in her head and in her mistreated soul! I wished we could have organised some sort of help for her. So I made a clear decision: I would now contact now mental institutions with a good reputation for treatig traumatised children. I really should be able to get professional help for Susan.
At half past four, I phoned the Children´s Emergency Hotline. This is a national institution run by the fire brigade. They put the caller through to the local emergency hotline. The official on duty recommended me to inform the police. The police told me it would be best to search for Susan at locations which would be familiar to her. So Janet and I set off to her best girlfriend and learned that both of them had gone to see a third friend of theirs. So we started following the hint.
The girlfriend´s mother was a nice person, but a bit naive. She wouldn´t have believed that the other two kids didn´t tell their parents where they went.
When they returned, the police had already arrived. They had to assure themselves of everything being ok. Susan didn´t feel guilty in the least. She declared that she had informed us when leaving and that she would have returned home.
Was that merely a good show? Or had she really forgotten about the cause of her leave? It seems so. She denied taking away the sweets from the living room. She couldn´t remember. It was as it always had been. She did something, couldn´t remember and relapsed into her shadow personality when being confronted with real situation. Than she either becomes aggressive and rampages about or sits there in silence and not listening to anybody. We could not see any progress in her development. We knew her problems, but were lacking competent help that would lead to an improvement.
Having a Bad Time 18/11/2009Posted by Sir Ralph in How it went on.
Tags: abandoning ties, consequences, custody, emergency hotline, emergency unit, parting, relatives, trauma, youth welfare office
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The days after the turning point were hell for the three of us. We were laying the dinner table for four persons, removing one of them. I felt that our decision to part from Susan would have consequences for a long time and we would need much time to cope with them. Ruth has been suffering from a bad stomach ache and would not be able to work. Janet didn´t attend school for some days. I was the only one of us to continue working, probably to get some distraction. Things had to go on.
I visited Susan in the emergency unit to leave her some of her belongings. She welcomed me cordially. Ruth and Janet would not be in the emotional state to be confronted with Susan. They have my sympathy.
Susan made a relaxed, or should I say, weary impression on me? No, not really. She seemed calm, but not depressed. She made contact with the other youngsters in her group; she is the youngest. Still, it is obvious to me that for Susan parting from us meant yet another situation of abandoning ties to persons with a strong influence on her life. I only can hope that there will be professionals to help her get over the parting and her trauma. And I would do what I could to minimise the consequences. This is my firm resolution.
Fortunately, the youth welfare office had granted us a supervision which had already helped us on a lot. The supervisor confirmed our decision. Susan could not bear the closeness of family ties, even if she appreciated it from time to time. All the holidays in France, Britain and Austria she really enjoyed, all of our relatives and friends who had accepted her without reservation, being successful in the local spoorts club where she could really work herself out…
In conclusion: we did the right thing, and there had not been any other way. That is why she would be better off in a children´s institution like the one where she was now.