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We've been hotlined!

post #1 of 95
Thread Starter 
Yesterday at around 3pm, there was a knock on the door, and I opened it to find a lady from children's services standing there. She said there'd been a report made on us, and did I want to talk in the house or on the porch?

I stepped onto the porch and shut the door, and she said the report had already been reduced to educational neglect. She said the caller had initially expressed concern about our girls having injuries, but they'd already cleared that.

(When she mentioned about the injuries, I knew she was talking about the fractures both girls had as toddlers -- I know it's weird for toddlers to get fractures, and it has greatly concerned dh and me, but the specialists at our local children's hospital never found any abnormality, and it has now been 2 years since our 3yo's fracture, and 6 years for our 8yo, in spite of both girls continuing to be highly-active little daredevils, so we're hopeful it's a thing of the past.

Anyhow, her mentioning the injury-concern made it clear to me that it was someone in my family who'd called, as our neighbors know we homeschool but have no awareness of the fractures, since they happened so long ago, before we'd even got to know these neighbors.

My husband and my sister actually had a falling-out 2 years ago after our youngest got injured, because my sister asked whether it was a spiral-fracture -- it wasn't, but we know spirals are a "red flag" for abuse, and dh was really angered that she'd ask that, given that she'd previously said she thought we'd caused our oldest's fractures by "picking her up wrong" or something, because she didn't see how it could have happened the way I said it did. The specialists believed me, but not my sister!)

Well, the caseworker said that since the report had been reduced to educational neglect, she just needed to know if I homeschooled. I said yes, and she said that was fine and it was my business, but she just needed to ask because if our oldest wasn't in school and wasn't homeschooling, then that would be educational neglect.

Then she said she just needed to see the house and the girls. Even though I'd previously heard (and advised others) that you should never let CPS in without a warrant, for some reason letting her in seemed like the right thing to do, so I did.

She just casually walked through, didn't open fridge or cupboards or anything, and didn't seem the least bit concerned about the mess (thank God I'd just had the urge to clean our very messy office/playroom!)

She also didn't seem concerned that my 3yo was clad in nothing but a diaper, and my 8yo was still in pyjamas at 3pm. She chatted with the girls a bit, asked our 8yo what she was watching (Ben 10 on Cartoon Network on the computer).

I suggested we all go down and sit in the living room, and we went down. She asked if the girls went regularly to the doctor, and I was thankful that after our youngest's fracture, we'd got back on the Medicaid and started making regular doctor visits, so I was able to give the name of their doctor.

She asked me whether my 8yo had opportunities to socialize, and I talked about her friendships, our involvement in the local homeschooling co-op, and also the new friendships she's making through our almost daily visits to the neighborhood park in the afternoons.

She also asked if there were any concerns about my 3yo not speaking clearly. I said that she hadn't done much talking until she was almost 3, and now she's 3 1/2 and it seems like she's lately been going through a language-explosion. I said I knew that even though we homeschool, we're still eligible for speech-therapy services through the school system if needed, and that I'd be looking into that if dd's speech didn't start getting clearer.

She then said that she saw no need for further intervention, no safety hazard or anything. She said that to close the case, she did need the number of one person she could contact about us, and suggested maybe someone from our homeschooling group. So I gave her the number of the group president (and later let her know she'd be getting a call).

She then asked me to sign a paper. Again, I'd previously heard (and advised others) that you should never sign anything. But after looking over the form, I could see that all it said was no safety hazard had been found. So I signed it, and so did the caseworker, and I now have a copy which of course I'm saving ... even though I doubt anything would be added in later, I want to stay on the safe-side and have my proof that no hazard was found.

I asked if I should expect to hear any more, and she said I should just be getting a letter stating that no hazard was found and the case was closed. I hope this is true! Today I got a niggling fear that maybe someone from the board of education will visit next. We have things in order, but I'd still rather not have any further intrusions on our privacy. But I guess I'll just cross that bridge if/when I come to it, that's all I can do.

Well, even though my mom said she didn't call, and didn't know who did -- she also said that she and many people in the family (including my aunt and uncle) have been "very concerned" about what kind of education our girls were getting. I said that even if she didn't call, she's obviously been saying some really bad things about us, for my aunt and uncle (who've had very little contact with us or our girls) to be so "concerned."

When I said the social worker had found no concerns and was closing the case, my mom said, "Oh, you mean she agrees with homeschooling?" in a surprised tone of voice, as if she was disappointed that more wasn't being done to us.

I said it was upsetting to learn that I really couldn't trust the family, and that one of them would actually try to hurt my family, and she said, "Well, this hasn't hurt your family, has it?" as if I was just being melodramatic and blowing things all out-of-proportion. I said my concern was that someone in the family had tried to hurt us, and had made some very serious accusations.

She seemed not to get it, and I don't think she even realizes that this means we can no longer have any contact with her. Some of you know that in the past, I've often been so upset by my mom's criticisms, that I've felt like breaking contact. But I never had a peace about it. Well, I guess what I couldn't do just "for me," I'm finally able to do to protect my girls.

Because even if she's not the one calling us in, it's obvious that if we keep spending time with her, she's going to keep having "concerns" and talking about us with my sister, aunt, and uncle -- and eventually one of them may call again, and how can we be sure that next time we'd get the same nice social worker? It's too bad because Mom's 83, but there it is!

Your advice and prayers are welcome! Thanks for listening!
post #2 of 95
Oh mama, I am so sorry.

I had not really thought too heavily about our decision to unschool and what it might mean to our extended family. I know most are supportive, as long as I phrase it as "homeschooling."
There was a time when I would have been concerned about someone trying to hurt the family by reporting some form of ed. neglect. I honestly have no clue what I would have done. That really, really sucks. I wonder if your mom truly understands what you are doing for and with your kids and why?
It's amazing to me that there are so many who question a parent's desire to mentor/homeschool/nurture their own kids in the way we all have chosen.

I will keep you in my thoughts. And, I am so glad the visit with the CPS person went smoothly.
post #3 of 95
I am sorry. I guess thank goodness that worker was nice. It sounds like she did things the way they are supposed to be done. Check, not assume the report is true right away.

My heart would STOP if CPS showed up at my door. I don't know why. I would totally freeze though.

I am sorry your family is not the least bit supportive. I am glad that it seems you have support elsewhere.
post #4 of 95
Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry!

My son's biological father's mother called CPS on me when Nic was 2 because he burned his arm on the iron. It wasn't terrible, didn't require medical attention or anything but she hated me and thought I had either punished him like that or had just been neglectful. The cops showed up and talked to me and told me CPS would be coming to check us out. They did, and said everything was fine and we did receive a case closed letter after a while. While it all turned out OK, it was absolutely terrifying, the thought of someone tearing our family apart. It has heavily weighed on my mind and all the decisions we make with the kids. It's so unfair to have to think about that kind of thing and not feel like you really have control of your life. Needless to say, the grandmother hasn't seen or talked to Nic since then, which was 5 years ago.

I'm so sorry that happened and I'm sorry it means the end of your relationship. I can't imagine someone you should be so close to betraying you like that, it's awful.

It sounds like everything will be fine but I understand being shaken up. Were the girls concerned?
post #5 of 95
Aw, that just sucks!

Glad everything went fine with the caseworker but, yeah, how can you maintain much contact with someone who either reported you or talked so poorly of you as to cause someone else to call?

Why doesn't your mother understand the caseworker doesn't have to agree with homeschooling? It's legal, pure and simple. (That was a rhetorical question)
post #6 of 95
Prayers on the way!
I know I've dealt with that in my family... as well as no longer having contact with my mom.

It sounds like you handled everything beautifully. I'm glad it went well, it definitely could have been worse.

PM me if you need to.
post #7 of 95
Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
the grandmother hasn't seen or talked to Nic since then, which was 5 years ago.
Nice to know my ds isn't the only 7 yo who hasn't seen his grandma since he was 2! Other reasons, though. Why can't people be normal? (Another rhetorical question, lol)
post #8 of 95
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the quick support! The girls didn't seem bothered -- but will likely be more bothered about not seeing Grandma again ... though we didn't see a lot of her (we'd realized 4 years back that we couldn't trust Mom to have alone-time with dd1, who was then 4, because Mom kept upsetting her by talking about all she was going to miss by not getting to go to school).

So we've basically been visiting Mom about once or twice a month -- dh and I, or at least I, have always been present -- for about one to two hours at a time (Mom's rather critical of me, and it tends to get rather toxic if we stay too long -- she also gets edgy with my girls, being 83 and not as used to small children any more).

But little as the contact has been, she is special to them, and the contact with her, plus occasional contact with cousins, has provided some sense of extended-family for our girls, especially our 8yo. The cousins are older (teen-to-young adult-age), and have also expressed "concern" about dd's education, so I can no longer even see them as safe either, as they'd be bound to relay stuff back to Mom and Sis if we spent any time with them.

We're off to the park (for socialization) so I'll check back in later!
post #9 of 95
I am so sorry this happened to you mama I would feel absolutely betrayed and upset and I just want to say, you handled the situation with a lot of grace and presence of mind!!

It is a tough decision but ultimately, I would cut contact too if my mom or someone in my family did something like this. I think you are making the right decision, even though it isn't easy.

Thank God everything turned out okay.
post #10 of 95
Wow! How awful.

One thing that we've done in all the years we've been homeschooling (made the decision when DS#1 was 4...he's 9 now) is not give family members any details. They know we homeschool, but they all have in mind...I think...that we school-at-home. And that is fine with me.

My MIL is the one family member who has been deeply critical of hsing in the past...and she would just not be able to comprehend anything other than school-at-home...unschooling would freak her out.

Thankfully she's mellowed over the years and I think it's because she sees how well our eldest is doing and how he's thriving.

But there were days when I thought that she might call CPS on us, because she didn't believe us that homeschooling was legal.

I am so glad that your case worker didn't seem to have any animosity or an agenda. You followed your instincts too! Good for you!

Hopefully that will be the end of it.

I don't know where you live. Is it an area where having the school board involved (if that happens) will be a bad thing? Are there steps you can take to be ready?

post #11 of 95
I'm so sorry for you and your children. What a terrible invasion of your privacy. I can't imagine a family member doing this. Is having a stranger visit and ask 20 questions healthy?
post #12 of 95
Originally Posted by captain crunchy View Post
I am so sorry this happened to you mama I would feel absolutely betrayed and upset and I just want to say, you handled the situation with a lot of grace and presence of mind!!

It is a tough decision but ultimately, I would cut contact too if my mom or someone in my family did something like this. I think you are making the right decision, even though it isn't easy.

Thank God everything turned out okay.
I'll just yeah that CCs post, she said everything I was going to.

mama, you are making the right decision.
post #13 of 95
My stomach hurt the entire time I read your post - I'm so sorry you (and your girls) had to go through that. Sending prayers your way, that you can resolve the family issue easily and that this whole ordeal becomes a distant memory.
post #14 of 95
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the additional support and encouragement! We've just returned from park, and I need to get back to fixing dinner , so I plan to spend some more time responding later when I have more time.

We live in Missouri, and I'm not yet sure about my rights should the school board be called. I'd always heard that the only time they were likely to show up was if called in by CPS during an investigation of a homeschooling family. I'm hoping that since the worker said she was closing my case, she really is and we won't hear any more.
post #15 of 95
I'm so sorry you had to deal with this, but it sounds like you did a GREAT job of handling it.

I don't know what I'd do if CPS showed up at our door, but I'm sure I wouldn't have coped as well as you did.

Sorry about your mom. Why can't people be what we need them to be?

post #16 of 95
I'm sorry you're going through this.
post #17 of 95
It sounds like it was your mom that called, or she knew who called and was in on it. I think breaking contact is a good thing. It sounds like you needed a reason and now you have it. I am so sorry, I can only imagine how frustrating and heartbreaking this must be for you.

It is highly frustrating that doing anything outside of ordinary in our society can get you accused of abuse and/or neglect. People who make such accusations should be made to see real abuse and neglect. There is no comparison.
post #18 of 95
post #19 of 95
I'm sorry! I have an aunt who my daughter has been very close to over the years who is a counseler at a huge highschool in AZ and regularly offers to take my daughter to live with her so she can "go to school" She expresses concern all the time about what Emma is missing out on both in terms of education and activities (we live very rurally) This used to be my favorite aunt, now I just feel like she wants to steal my children.
post #20 of 95
Thread Starter 
Gosh, it's great to have all this empathy!

I'm pretty sure it was my sister who called, and whether or not my mom knew about it -- it was pretty clear from her reaction that she didn't see it as a bad thing for someone to hotline us, she was just disappointed to find that the social worker saw no need to take things any further.

So, yeah, I have no doubt that it really is the right thing to break contact.
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