How long does it take for a traumatized child to recover? Who can and should be held accountable for inflicting undo stress and emotional abuse on innocent children? These are questions that must be answered. How many children must suffer before our government takes action?
My son is 13-months-old. He turned 13-months-old while in foster care. My home has always been a very “attached” home. I believe in extended breastfeeding, positive reinforcement, baby wearing, and co-sleeping, to name a few of the child care practices in my home. I have two other sons, ages 7 and 6 years old. I have no history of abuse/neglect allegations, nor do I have any history of any interaction at all with CPS before this incident.
My son came home from an overnight visit with his father (only the 2nd overnight visit to take place) on Monday, August 11, 2008 with a small bump on his head. As he’s just learning to walk, the occasional bump is to be expected. I did not immediately seek medical attention, as there was nothing to lead me to believe that this was an abnormal injury.
On Wednesday, August 13, 2008, the small bump on his head became swollen, and felt soft when I touched it. I called our pediatrician, described the bump to him, and told him how the baby’s behavior had not changed at all. Our pediatrician told me to go ahead and wait until our previously scheduled appointment the next morning. I was not entirely comfortable with that answer, so I called the triage nurse at the local emergency room and went through the same conversation with her. She gave me the same answer, to wait till the appointment with the pediatrician the next day. I still wasn’t comfortable with that answer, as my son’s head is not supposed to be soft, so I took him to the hospital, when it became obvious to me that this was not a normal bump on the head.
A trip to the ER
After having him examined at the emergency room, I was told that he has a ‘hairline skull fracture’. He was admitted to the pediatric ward of the hospital, where I stayed with him the entire time he was there.
The police were called, and I was questioned, interviewed, and accused of hurting my son by the detective that was handling the case. CPS was called. I was interviewed, questioned, and (I felt) accused by the social worker that was handling the case. The decision was made to remove my youngest son (but not the older two) from my care.
My youngest son, Charlie, was placed in the care of my father and stepmother over the weekend, but they were unable to continue providing care for him, due to the number of hours per week that they both work. In court, a decision was made to hold “the child” (not once has anyone official used my son’s name when referring to him) over in foster care for 30-days while an investigation was completed. My son is a breastfed baby, although he does eat solid foods also.
Family denied contact
I presented to the workers the name, phone number, and contact information for everyone involved. I provided the contact information to the person that witnessed that my son came home with the bump on his head. This same person was present with me in the emergency room, and has been present with me every day, while I am afraid for my child. I have not been permitted to visit him, to see pictures of him, to speak to him on the telephone, or even to know where he was placed. I am afraid for my baby, and nobody is giving me any information to reassure me that he is OK.
In Maryland, when a decision is made to place a child in foster care, the parents have the right to suggest individuals with whom the child is already familiar with, as possible foster care placements. When a parent suggests a possible placement, CPS is required by law to investigate that placement within 3-days.
When my son was placed into foster care on August 18, 2008, I suggested a neighbor as a possible placement, who happens to be a licensed foster care worker, so that I would be able to continue to visit with my child, who is very attached to me and to his brothers, and so that my child would continue to be able to breastfeed. The judge agreed with this person becoming a possible placement, and recommended that CPS investigate them “As soon as possible.”
An investigation has not even begun into the neighbor that I suggested, and my son has been in foster care for 11-days. By law, in the state of Maryland, a home visit is required when CPS is investigating someone, and I was told that there would be no home visit ‘unless the child is being returned’. Again, by law in the state of Maryland, CPS is required to provide a minimum of one visit per week to parents and siblings. I have not been able to visit with my Charlie, his brothers have not been able to visit with him, nor have his father, or his father’s child been able to visit with him.
I am writing this today in hopes that I can possibly use the media attention to prompt the Department of Social Services to follow the laws, begin and complete the investigation that they are to complete, and allow me the visits with my child that they are required to allow.
My older children are devastated by having their baby brother taken from them. My 7-year-old child cannot stop crying, whenever he sees or hears a baby, or anyone mentions his brother. My 6 year old is so stressed out over what’s been going on, not knowing when he’s going to see his brother or if his brother is going to come home, that he cannot stop vomiting.
He’s also very angry, so angry that he cannot even bear to talk about his baby brother. My 13-month-old son has never been away from me for even 24-hours, and now he has been away from me for 11-days, with literally no contact. I am afraid that he feels abandoned by his family, I am afraid that this will leave lasting emotional scars, not only on my youngest child, but on my older children as well.
What has been done to my family by this department is unacceptable, and I want someone to please help me force CPS in Baltimore City to follow the letter of the law, allow my child to visit with his family and begin the reunification process that the department is constantly boasting about.
Contact the Baltimore office of DSS at (443) 423-6300. Ask why an investigation hasn’t been completed, under Maryland law and why this child hasn’t been returned home. Please be polite and respectful.
Additional Contact Information:
Interim Director, Brian Wilbon (443) 378-4600
Legal Services (443) 378-4100
Baltimore City Department of Social Services
P.O. Box 17466
Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7466