Monday, April 17, 2006

How Far We've Come, How Far We Have to Go

I wanted to balance out my earlier post by saying that some positive differences have been made in foster care since the 80's... Here are two examples:

1.) The Adoption and Safe Families Act allows Children's Services to sever custody if the biological parents can’t get act together. This puts some teeth on House Bill 484, and forces the court to make custodial decisions, rather than allowing the child to languish in foster care.

Ultimately, the child deserves permanency. However, each state does it differently. In Ohio, a decision must be made within 12 months. There is an option for two 6-month extensions, in case a parent(s) is really trying and just needs a little more time.

2.) Kinship Care is a relatively new initiative. The increasing number of children entering foster care, combined with the insufficient number of suitable foster homes, have led social service agencies to place foster children with their extended families.

Potential benefits of kinship care: It affirms the value of families. A child is not uprooted from his or her biological roots and family identity. Kinship placements often provide greater stability and continuity of care, and allow for more frequent visits with parents.

Potential problems with kinship care: Since abuse is a pattern in some families, tt’s important to do just as thorough a safety check for kinship care as for foster placement with a non-relative, and just as many caseworker visits and counseling sessions afterward. What if abuse was a pattern in this family? But supervision by social workers is often less intense when a child is placed with relatives.

I want children to be safe. If the foster placement is a positive and healthy one, and the child has established positive ties with the foster parent, and if the child's biological parents are abusive and dangerous, then sever custody. Now. Don't wait another minute. Get that child safe and secure as soon as possible.

If there are safe and loving relatives available, then great. Place the child there. Give the relatives financial and emotional support.

But the problem with bouncing a child from home to home at an early age is that it violates everything we know about child development. More on this tomorrow...

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Hey, thanks for the visit to my blog--I couldn't find your email, but you can email me at and I could give you the details of my experience, plus offer any help that I can.
Hi, there. What a great blog with a lot of good info...
What do you think about women who have homicidal tendencies towards their children due to PPD or PPP? Do you think it's better for the child to be placed somewhere else temporarily until the mother gets her tendencies under control, or do you think this is a violation of women's rights? My opinion is the former, but many women's rights organizations back up women who either abuse their children or who have the psychotic tendencies to do so.
According to the National Institutes of Heath:

Postpartum depression affects 10-15% of women any time from a month to a year after childbirth.

Women with postpartum depression may feel restless, anxious, sad or depressed. They may have feelings of guilt, decreased energy and motivation, and a sense of worthlessness. They may also have sleep difficulties and undergo unexplained weight loss or gain.

Some mothers may worry about hurting themselves or their baby.

In extremely rare cases—less than 1% of new mothers—women may develop something called postpartum psychosis.

It usually occurs within the first few weeks after delivery. Symptoms may include refusing to eat, frantic energy, sleep disturbance, paranoia and irrational thoughts.

Women with postpartum psychosis usually need to be hospitalized.
So, what do I think?

I think that PPD isn't necessarily cause for concern.

But if a mom is worried she will hurt herself or her child, if that mom has PPP, ideally there would be a nice relative to babysit for a while.

In terms of removing a child altogether, I am not sure that most cases would warrant that.

Permanent removal should take place (in my opinion) if the parent has Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.

This is where a parent, usually a mother, deliberately makes their child sick or convinces others that the child is sick.

The parent does this by exaggerating, fabricating, or inducing symptoms.

As a result, doctors usually order tests, try different types of medications, and may even hospitalize the child or perform surgery to determine the cause.

This type of abuse can be difficult to detect, since the parent or caregiver appears to be so caring and attentive, often no one suspects any wrongdoing.

According to the Nemours Foundation, children who are subject to Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome are typically preschool age, although there have been reported cases in children up to 16 years old. There are equal numbers of boys and girls, however, 98% of the perpetrators are female.
Thanks again, Lisa. You are a great portal of info.
I agree that it would be ideal for the baby to be cared for by someone else until mom stopped having delusions about hurting the child. Then, returned back home once the PPP was under control. I watched an Oprah episode with Brooke Shields about PPD and PPP, and the things they talked about were heinous. One woman said that she constantly daydreamed of shoving an icepick down her baby's soft spot. I had a headache in the back of my head for two days after that. As someone who has worked quite hard for abused children, it really hurt me to hear this.

I have a great book on Manchausens' by proxy- it's called Sickened: Memoir of a Manchausen's by Proxy Childhood. A very good read. The author, Julie J. Gregory, now has her own website dedicated to advocacy for children affected by this type of abuse.

Check it out.
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