My Daughters came home clingy, crying and aggressive
When my mom was drinking and using drugs, hours turned into days, and days turned into months. Many times I was removed from my home without every really understanding why.
Until I was grown, I never fully understood that my mother had a substance abuse problem. Instead, I always felt I must have done something wrong. Every time I was removed, I felt even more responsible, helpless and hopeless of ever getting the mother-daughter bond I craved.
Trying to Break the Cycle
I had my first daughter a year after I aged out of foster care, at 22, and I had my second daughter when I was 23. My husband, their father, also grew up in care.
I wanted to leave the trauma of family separation in our past, so when I got pregnant, I signed up for parenting and anger management classes. Preventive services gave us a homemaker seven hours a day, five days a week. I hoped all the supports would be our best defense against ever losing our children.
But in January 2009, when my children were 1 and 2, I started having problems with my medication, and then I stopped taking it. Soon I started fighting with my husband. Once I got so angry I kicked a hole in the door. Another time he broke my cell phone during a fight, and, to get revenge, I called in a domestic violence report.
Repeating the Trauma
In the end, my therapist called child protective services. My daughters were 15 and 32 months when they were removed. They were gone for two weeks until a judge ordered more intensive services so they could return home.
Then in April 2009, the homemaker reported that my house wasn’t clean, there wasn’t enough food, and I wasn’t compliant with services. Again, CPS removed my children for two weeks. When they took my children, I felt like that helpless child I was when I went into foster care. And when my daughters came home, they were scared. Adults may think, “They were only gone for two weeks each time,” but think about it from their perspective: My daughters didn’t know where they were, why we’d left them, or if we were coming back. One time, we didn’t even get to say goodbye.
Clinging, Crying and Aggression
Before my children were removed, it really didn’t seem to affect them if we went out. But after, they started having lots of nightmares, and whenever their dad or I would leave, or even just talk on the phone or go to the bathroom, they would cry and cling to us. At times, they would grow aggressive and throw their toys. And when the worker came by, their smiles turned to tears. It seemed like they were in a panic the whole time that she was going to take them from us.
Judged and Scared
It has been more than two years since my kids have been home but my daughters continue to show signs of separation anxiety. What has helped most is constantly reassuring them, “We’re doing our best to keep you safe at home.”
Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe my reassurances, though, because when I go to court, the worker says that I am not emotionally stable and recommends remanding the children to foster care, despite the fact that my therapist says that I am stable. The judge keeps extending court oversight of our case.
I feel like if I slip up and lose control even once, I could lose my children. I trust my therapist, but with child welfare, I just feel judged and scared.