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Susan, what is becoming of her? 20/01/2010

Posted by Sir Ralph in How it went on.
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The day couldn´t be more controversial. In the morning the assistance conference for Susan took place. Our welfare official was present, together with another official who is in charge of children who are in danger of mental handicap. Both of our foster daughters have been classed in this category. As Susan is in the custody of the youth welfare, there is a change in responsibilities. Not to our best, as will be proven.

Furthermore, the biological father and family case manager were taking part. No idea why the co-ordinator of the family case manager was present, as well. Does she mistrust her own employee?

In the beginning, I gave a detailed description of the reasons for giving Susan into the youth welfare office custody. It is a strange situation. Why couldn´t I get rid of the feeling that we have failed? Nobody said so, and the atmoshere is professional. Maybe that´s the reason. A mention like “Don´t worry, you have done all that there was to be done” would have shown some appreciation for us.

In fact, the decision-making of the authorities played an important part in the coming up of the present situation as we see it. The authorities argue rather blodly that the trauma therapy which we applied for during a year´s period was not sufficient any more. No word about the fact that it was them who refused a special therapy, without having an idea of how it works. No word about the fact that in my position as foster parent had tried to find an appropriate institution, writing letters and making telephone calls. Is this my competence, anyway, or isn´t it rather the responsibility of the professionals to get this under way?

The educator in charge of Susan is looking at the problem from another position. We believe her report to be trustworthy, as she leaves an impression of dedication with us. Her report gives a totally different picture than we had of Susan before she had left us. She is easy to be integrated, keeps to the rules. She is amazed about how calm and relaxed the reaction to her situation was.

The biological father came up with what he probably thought to be a brilliant idea. Susan should be accommodated in an institution near his place of residence, so that he could visit her more often. Was this the start of returning her to the person who had abused and neglected this girl for such a long time? Was it going to start all over again? Is the fact that he had served his sentence enough of a reason to give it another try? Just the idea of that gives me the creeps.

Fortunately, this suggestion isn´t acceptable even for the youth office officials. Most of all, the intention to keep up Susan´s relation to Janet was reason enough not to follow this proposal.

It is evident to everybody present that Susan needs a therapeutical housing group. A suggestion for such a group near our residence is turned down because it is supposed to be unsuitable.

At least, everybody agreed on the procedure to visit any chosen institution beforehand and also escort the removal. I agreed because it gave me the chance to keep up some influence at least on the choice – as things will develop, I won´t be very successful with putting through this intention.

Change of location and situation. Emergency unit in the emergency housing group. Susan was already attending my arrival. We were spending ten minutes outside on the playground. I observed that the present situation is of utmost importance for her. She left the impression of being distractable and nervous, always moving about and avoiding eye contact. She is not able to concentrate on any conversation, all the time looking around as if she was searching for something. It gave me the impression of a typical lack of concentration syndrome, like when she lived with us, only more intense. She spoke in confusion about clashes amongst members of the housing group. Maybe it is only my perception from a more distant position that made me feel uncomfortable. Anyway, soon Susan had enough of my presence and decided to leae.

Ruth and Janet were already attending my return when I arrived. What was it like? I told them of my impressions. All of us felt distressed. Still, it will be me to keep up contact. Both of them wouldn´t be able to bear this sort of situation, and I don´t like it, either.

Not in charge of mental disasters 13/12/2009

Posted by Sir Ralph in how it came about.
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If you are in need for help in case of mental distress, don´t count on assistance of medicl institutions if you live in Germany.

This is a letter I wrote to the head psychiatrist of a mental clinic for juveniles in the atempt to organise help for our foster daughter Susan and the result that came from it.

Dear Mr XXXXXXXx,

We are turning to you because we are in urgent need of help for our 12-year old foster daughter who has been living in our family for more than five years together with her older sister.

For one year, the symptoms of a post-traumatic stress disease caused by a crime in her family. She is transferring her traumatic experience inflicted by her biological mother to my wife, is over-reacting aggressively to her, is restaging in our family the situations she had experienced and is putting herself into isolation in our family because of her uncontrolled behaviour. Beginning puberty is causing aggressive outbreaks. Dyscalculia has been diagnosed, and is leading to problems at school.

In cooperation with the local youth welfare office in charge, we see the necessity of helping Susan in a fast and competent way. For us, the precondition for a diagnosis and therapy is being treated and cared for by a multiprofessional team specialised on traumatology, as well as the inclusion of the foster parents and psychological parents into decision-making and therapeutical processes. We class your institution according to the description of your therapeutical methods and treatment plans in your Internet presence as most suitable and would like to discuss the futher steps with you in a personal contact.

The present crisis in the development of our foster daughter is calling for immediate action. On the other hand, we refrain from putting Susan into an institution which does not ensure our taking part in the therapeutical process and the use of appropriate therapeutical methods.

We would like to urge you to assist us in this situation of distress which we are not able to bear much longer. We are available by e-mail or the above-mentioned mobile number at any time. I would try to contact you during the next days, at any time which will be convenient for you.

Yours sincerely

P.S.:

The reply reached us in form of a call by the secretary of the head psychiatrist who let us know that Susan could not be admitted because we weren´t living inside the clinic´s service area.

P.P.S.:

This is horrifying. There is no way to choose the best treatment for our foster daughter. You have to take what you get, no matter if it is first or second best or not suitable at all. In our country, for those who have to suffer the most terrible fate there is the least help. Fates and experience are administered, there is somebody in charge for every problem, everything is socially balanced. Who does really care for the psychic state of these traumatised people? Why is it left to circumstance which treatment they are entitled to and if the clinic in charge for the service area really fits the needs of the individual person? Why is the traumatised kid not entitled to the latest, best, most efficient methods of treatment? Why are there so few trauma therapists who are fully booked for years? Why are some therapists still allowed to class EMDR and other trauma therapies as ineffective? And why do youth welfare offices still trust in those who are discrediting trauma therapies?

The most important of all questions is why those who are in need of a special therapy but are not able to meet the costs to get the best of all therapies are denied financial support. Why may biolgical parents in custody of the kids they have mistreated so often prevent such a therapy by refusing ther consent, and thereby provoke a legal conflict in court the outcome of which is more than uncertain?

This is the end of my efforts. So much for the search for a suitable mental institution for Susan.

The Birthday 22/11/2009

Posted by Sir Ralph in How it went on.
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After the supervision ruth and I set off to the emergency unit. It is Susan´s birthday, and we had promised her to visit her. Janet stayed at home with our individual case adviser, a person who is especially assigned by the youth welfare office to help children and their families to cope with different problems in education, at schools and with authorities. Janet would not be able to manage the situation of meeting her sister, as she had to cope with her own problems.

Susan showed some appreciation of the presents we brought for her: some new pieces of clothing and a portable radio-cd-player. She had already attended us and welcomed us cordially. We were spending about twenty minutes in her room which she was sharing with another girl. Still, she was not willing to leave the unit with us, although the wardens would have allowed us to do so. She seemed to feel protected in some way in the emergency group. After all, maybe she felt just embarrassed by the situation and guilty, although we did everything not to give her any reason for that. Everybody tried not to talk about any critical topics, so you could really call it small talk. How are you doing, have you made any new friends, what about school. What else could we have mentioned without hurting. Susan did not show any signs of distress due to the fact that Janet did not accompany us. We only mentioned that she is not well.

Susan told us that her room mate had visits by boys and smoked in her room; something which really irritaed us. Asthma had been diagnosed with her since the very day when we took custody of the girls. The warden had noticed what was going on and put an end to it.

The social worker in charge for Susan told us that Susan had been beaten by a class mate. Otherwise she was calm and adapted well to the group.

On the way home we tried to explain the situation to each other. What we had not wished for had now taken place. Susan was now in the company of youngsters who had been taken into custody for different reasons, and were spending sometimes only a few days in the emergency unit. Was anything going wrong at her school? Was she well? What did she feel and think about? For the first time, we noticed that we were not responsible any more and didn´t have any influence. Back home, I would have contacted her school immediately and would have put everything right. We were out of power now and not any more part of her development. We were happy that her social worker in charge was reacting very professional, as well as sensitive, also in relation to ourselves.

What stayed was a vague feeling and the certainty of not being able and not being allowed to do the best for Susan.