“So this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down.’
A few months after I graduated college, three children in another state were removed from their parents after law enforcement entered the home with a search warrant due to concerns of drugs being made in the home. DCF didnt try to take them right away but they had no choice. The parents weren’t doing right. They were neglecting the children in their education, providing adequate supervision, and exposing them to drugs. I have my theories as to what was going on with the older two children. I know they were using. Calvin was only 7 or so. The baby of the family. The kids were running around doing what they wanted s good amount of the time. The parents were selling everything for drugs after they fled the birth state of the children to prevent serving time.
I was working as a child care teacher and working a part time job. At almost a year, I was looking for jobs in states that would allow me to work with abused and neglected children without a degree specifically in social work.
During that time, they were probably still all together. Living in a home where they weren’t welcomed to the fridge. Had no air conditioning. Were disciplined in very inappropriate and basically an abusive manner. Calvin’s older sister was running away to use with their parents. His older brother got arrested for a very serious crime that made the news and SWAT responded to. It was documented that he had behavior problems… what would you expect? A model citizen?
I visited a sister that lived out of state and interviewed for a job as a Child Welfare Case Manager before I flew back home. I was so excited to get the job. I put in a month notice and prepared to move out of state, not knowing a soul.
I got a case after I changed agencies when a worker was fired and I was advised “this case needs some attention”. After reviewing it, I was baffled. Almost every family member was using drugs, except the youngest child who was 7 at the time of removal. The case was going on its third year in the system. The children were originally in a foster home that was cruel and did not deserve a license. The parents had done basically nothing on their plan. The parents were “missing” and a search was being done for them… when really they kept getting arrested so they wouldn’t have been hard to locate. The goal for the case was changed to adoption for the two children who didn’t age out, 8 months prior and nothing had been done yet.
I jumped on it. More like I pounced on what needed to be done like an animal attacking its prey. And that was when I first talked to Calvin. I explained the different goals the case could have, and he chose adoption. He was with relatives at that time. And his brother was detained in a program and expected to be released at some point in the next 6 months. His brother also chose adoption.
Calvin started getting into trouble with the law right before his brother got to their home. After 5 or six months, it was becoming impossible to find a way for the placement to work. 3 months later, it was court ordered for him to come back to foster care here. I arranged flights and advised the courts and social worker where he was at of the plans. His relative cried on the phone to me multiple times before it was even determined he would have to return to the state that was trying to salvage his placement so he could be adopted. She said, “I pray to god that if I cant have him you get him.” And she was dead serious. She had never met me and vice versa. I had never met Calvin or video chatted with him or anything. She wanted him with me and she stuck to it. She didnt even want him with family. I thought she was crazy. I thought she was high.
I scrambled. Trying to find family to place him with. I tried to request an out of state homestudy on an individual who was fictive kin, trying to grasp at straws and find a loophole to give him the best shot at a yes.
We had such a good time on the flight and being around each other was natural. But I could tell he had been crying. He smelled like he had been hot boxed in a room filled of cigarette smoke. I tried to keep it light and not bring up going to a group home.
I knew this was going to be hard, even if he didnt want to act like it. I also knew he really needed a strong parent like figure so he could behave better. He wasnt getting parented. He was getting to do whatever he wanted and exposed to so much that I didnt even know of until I was in high school.
His first placement was a group home, which I tried to demand they not do to him. It took weeks for me to get them to change his placement. One time he cursed at a female and I shut off his tablet. He cursed me out and I laughed and told him I loved him to then swiftly hung up on him.
I had a lot of hope for the next one. It was a traditional home. They had adopted two children recently. They were nice and he didnt run away or break anything.
But, he was also getting away with doing whatever he wanted. He had a cell phone and was talking to his mom every day face timing. They didnt keep up with his medication. He skated across a busy area to go to the house his father was staying at. Where I knew drugs were getting used daily. He met with people he shouldn’t have met up with. They didnt even ask who he was going with or how long he would be gone. They didnt monitor how much time he was spending online every day. He would be up so late. I found a video online with him wearing a bandana pretending to shoot a gun to a song that was very inappropriate to say the least. They ended up having to leave the state and didnt even tell him he was going to have to leave until the last minute.
Then he was placed at a home with some old people that I could tell hadn’t parent a child in at least one or two decades. They made rude comments to him. Made him feel bad for not wanting to spend fathers day with them the first weekend he was there. Which, you aren’t supposed to force a child to be a part of. And you are supposed to be trauma informed.
They acted like he was going to kill them in their sleep after he through a tantrum. He then had to go to a group home I hate. Kids run wild and do whatever the hell they want. Which is the last thing he needed to get on the right path. He cried when I came to pick him up. And in that car ride. I set rules for him and expectations. After that, was the first time he mentioned wanting me to take him. He said, “why cant i just come home with you?” I said, “because I have to be your caseworker”. He replied “well you would be the one taking care of me, and that would be better.”
My heart melted. And I knew that I needed to keep being active and involved. At that point, I was trying to see if I could help his sister get to a point that she could get him. She had overcome so many obstacles and was doing good considering. But she was expecting, and we both knew she wouldn’t be able to get him.
I knew he must have smoked while he was there. When I found out, I showed up with his sister and tried to get a drug screen. He flipped and she chased him as he ran out the door cursing. He ran away three more times after that. One night, he wasnt back that night. He was gone over 24hrs. I was sick to my stomach all night. I couldn’t sleep. I was distraught. When he was recovered, I made sure he was brought to the police station. I took all of his shoe laces. I cried and tried to talk to him about his behavior. He couldn’t even look at me. He just said “I didnt want to go to another home again.” Even though I kept my word after he said he wasn’t going anywhere I didnt approve of and with people I hadn’t met. And he knew that I liked the home he was going to.
I loved this foster parent. But he struggled with her calling him out on his behavior without even knowing him. He went postal in front of her two very young adopted children. He blew the placement in the first five minutes. I was so mad at him. I sent him outside and told him I couldn’t talk to him because he disappointed me so badly. I was an emotional wreck again.
To be continued…