I know there've been lots of threads (some started by me) on this topic -- but right now I'm really wanting to focus on moving forward and trusting people again, and feeling relatively confident that most people have a positive impression of my family and me and aren't looking at us as a dysfunctional group of misfits in need of intervention.
I'll start off by saying that my actual two encounters with CPS were not awful, and both ended well, without any kind of a case being opened. The first encounter was nearly four years ago, when my sister accused us of educational neglect (we homeschool and believe in child led learning), and the second encounter was nearly one year ago when we'd been raising freerange chickens, ducks, and turkeys, thinking we were in legal compliance according to the rules dh had read online, but discovered we weren't when Animal Control showed up and took them -- dh had reacted in anger which resulted in the police being called, and one of the officers had concerns because she looked through our open door and saw that our house was a mess, and our girls looked a mess, too, because they'd been out playing and digging in the dirt and hadn't had their hair brushed since the day before.
As I've already said, our actual dealings with CPS in both these cases were really short and sweet, the social workers were really nice, and I was left with the distinct impression that, at least in my state (Missouri), CPS has absulutely no interest in taking children away from their parents and really wants to keep families together if at all possible. But I have still felt some concern that, should there be more calls, we could end up having a case opened, which could result in some interference with our homeschooling freedoms (meaning, our freedom to continue with our current child-directed approach) and possibly with other aspects of our family life.
I really feel that our family life has already been affected by these two visits, benign as they seemed on the surface, because dd1 has been feeling, more and more, that we are not a normal family and she is not a normal kid. The other day, dh took both girls to the doctor for their yearly physicals, and the doctor ended up pulling him out into the hallway to express concerns that are girls were not "at grade level." Since the physical exam was done, and dh didn't want to make things worse by reacting in anger, he just took the girls and came home.
I spoke with the doctor later by phone, and, although our homeschooling was really none of her business, I explained that we believe in following our girls' interests and helping them learn the things they want to learn. I also added that since dd2 just turned 7 this past March, and children in Missouri aren't even required to be in school 'til the fall after they've turned 7, we considered that her formal homeschooling would begin this fall. I said that up until now, we've just been reading to her and helping her pursue her interests and learn the skills that she was interested in learning.
Now dh and I are kind of on tenterhooks about the possibility that we may be getting another CPS visit. I've already changed physicians, and I've also spoken with two friends who are willing to be references for us if it does happen (even if they don't open a case, they always want a reference). I feel like after about one week of not hearing anything, we can rest assured that no call was made -- but, as you can probably imagine, I'm starting to wonder if, everywhere we go, there are all these people thinking we need special help or something.
Both girls are very extraverted and need more contact with the outside world than they can get just by playing in the neighborhood and going to weekly homeschooling activities. So we joined a church about a year ago that we really love, and that also has some other homeshooling and unschooling families. And a couple of teachers have expressed concern at various times about our girls seeming to be behind other kids their ages in certain skills. Another unschooling mom there has said she had to deal with similar situations there when her children were younger -- but this concern seems to have tapered off now that her children are older and are obviously doing quite well in their lives.
Back to dd1, she is old enough and aware enough that she keeps taking all this stuff in and, in combination with simply being 12 and wanting to fit into society, it's just not helpful that she feels like some others are so concerned about us. It's not helpful to isolate her from society either, and she really wants to be out there interacting with others -- but sometimes I just feel kind of bombarded and paranoid by what sometimes feels like a nonstop barrage of "concern." Are there any others feeling this way?
Edited by mammal_mama - 7/27/12 at 11:46am