I switched my blog private a week ago after I received a letter from child services informing me that someone reported a concern about my family to their agency. The letter was addressed to me, and I was freaked out. While the letter quickly explains that they have decided not to investigate said concern, it started me down the road of “what prompted this concern to be raised”. Since it was only in my name, I immediately started looking at things I do personally that would have raised this flag for someone. The biggest thing I do is blog and post about my life including my sex life – and including photos. I was, as you can expect, freaked out that it could be the case.
Over the past week, I have learned a few things. The first is that the letter came to me because it is assumed that of the adults living in the house that I am most likely the biological parent and thereby guardian of the kids. Says a lot about our society when it is policy to file any concerns under the mom since she’s most likely to have custody. This means that the concern may not have been raised about me. It just means I am responsible for it – I get it on my record.
Which leads me into the second lesson: I have to get the concern off my record. Even thought child services has decided not to investigate, it is still seen as a negative. If, God forbid, my brother and his wife were killed in a car crash, it could be seen a a barrier to me getting custody of my niece. Or if a second false concern is made against me, it could be seen a pattern that IS worth investigating – both of them.
I will never learn with certainty who made this claim. Confidentiality policy dictates they suppress that. But I have learned they have to tell me the details of the concern reported. So, I have written a letter asking for them as I will have to refute the concern reported and demand it be removed from my record.
I think I know who filed this concern with them. After panicking and taking action to move the blog to private, there was one person that popped into my head that may have done this – a parent of one of the girls in the troop I lead.
Because I have friends who work for child services, I know that they have 72hrs to make a ruling on any concern reported. During that same time frame that they would have been reviewing it, I received a call from a person at the local head office of the girl scouts wanting to talk to me. I talked to her the day after receiving the letter. During which time, she said that this parent had raised concerns about the troop’s financials. In other words, she was accusing me of running away with the money. This parent had never asked me about the money for the troop. So her leap was made after reading one too m any stories about embezzlement in kid oriented non-profits. Given my experience, I can also see her taking it a step further and accusing me of being a bad parent too. I talked to the woman, produced documents (and sent them to her) demonstrating that all the money is safe, and gave her an earful about why this parent has driven me away from leading the troop in the future. She apologized for my experience, was unhappy that I had such a parent, and said she would handle it. The conversation made my suspicions even more valid.
I will hopefully find out soon if that is the accusation. As I’m finding out, there is no process for me to follow to get this information. It is their policy to provide it if asked, but they do not make it easy to ask. I am attempting to following it backwards from the person I was referred to – knowing it is not in her range to provide the info – and requesting she provide me with a contact. A friend of mine who works there has an escalation point she will send me to if I run into problems.
I can honestly say that I never thought I would have to deal with this agency from this side. I have never in my wildest dreams thought something would prompt someone to report a concern about my family. My kids are good students. They are fed. They are clothed. They are clean (most of the time). One thrives at anything athletic. The other is a black belt in taekwondo. Both are scouts. I have worked my ass off to be a good parent as has G. We aren’t perfect. But we aren’t report-able to child services.
Don’t get me wrong, I like that the system works – that all concerns raised are reviewed and people are notified. I just don’t like the fact that this has happened to me. Because, well, this is all about me, at least in this case. I don’t like how this created questions in my head about my parenting.
After a lot of discussion with G and others, I have decided to turn this back on. I need the outlet. I have seriously missed it. Neither of us feel this is a real risk in this case. Plus, who knows when and I will find out what was said. My choice was either to lock up shop and walk away, lock up this one and start over, or keep going in the mean time. G has been the driving force behind the “keep going” option. He is pretty certain of where this concern came from, so I’m going to believe him and keep going.
Thank you to those of you who pinged me privately and asked about things. I truly appreciate the community we have here in blogland – readers and bloggers alike are supportive. We may not know each others real names in some cases, but it just shows that it is not a barrier to carrying and concern. For those of you who have been wondering, thanks for hanging in there as I sorted this out.