When Being Right Feels Wrong

An unfortunate fact about my life, I am a mandated reporter. While most foster parents are not, I am because I am a counselor by profession. It causes any number of issues at times but today was definitely worse.

Last night I was having a conversation with dear friend. She told me that her daughter who has a long current history with CPS, has let her boyfriend/father of her children move back in. She then told me that the second of the boys reported that Dad had choked him. When my friend asked why the child said “That is what Dad does”

I instantly felt sick and told her I had to stop the conversation. I reminded her that I was a mandated reporter and that if there is a threat of abuse I am required to report it. I asked her if she still wanted to talk to me about this and she said I was a friend and she knew I was a reporter but didn’t care. We talked some more about what her Grandson had reported and I strongly encouraged her to call CPS herself. She wavered a bit but when I pointed out that her Grandchildren required her protection she seemed to understand.

I did not immediately report it. I wrestled all night with my conscious. Yes I should report it but it was not reported to me it was from a third party so was I required? Did I have to say something knowing that the kids had been coached to lie to CPS whenever they came around? I tossed and turned all night and could not sleep. I was actually tormented about this. Morning mercifully comes and I contact my case worker and say I have a third party report of abuse and as a mandated reporter was I required to report it? He answered simply “If I knew a child was being abused or potentially abused and that child got actually hurt I could not live with myself. Could you?”

Well the word that went through my head I cannot print so I picked up the phone. I clarify that it was reported to me by someone and NOT reported to me directly. I repeat what my friend said and gave all the details that I had. My hands shook and my voice wavered I cannot believe how upset this is making me but then again I never had to turn in someone I know personally. I mean I have known my friend for almost 20 years and back then I babysat her daughter. Now here I am turning her daughter in for potential neglect and abuse. Waves of nausea overwhelmed me and I swallowed hard to not lose it. The CPS worker stated that she would forward my concern and that someone would be contacting me shortly.

I felt like a traitor. I hated myself and yes I knew I was in the right but that did not help. I tried to console myself by justifying what I did when suddenly it hit me. Crap….CPS is connected to Foster Care and if the kids came into care as a result of this they might mention they know me. Everyone in foster care knows me and most people in CPS know me, what the heck have I done. I panic momentarily and realize I should tell them first so they knew that I knew this was going on and did not think the family was lying should they say my name.

I call the homefinder and explain the situation. She got really serious and said that she was glad I called. I reiterated I did not know that they WOULD come into care but IF it happened AND they mentioned my name yes I did know them. Yes I said I would help. Yes I knew I had a placement but I was well aware they can make their own rules when it comes to placing kids. The homefinder doesn’t say much more and confirms that she knows of this case because the kids were suppose to come into care two months ago but something “weird” happened in court. Yeah you know the case exactly and yes something weird did happen.

Now I sit and wait. CPS called me but I was at a workshop so I had to return the call and leave a message. I believe I was right if the child is being choked  something needs to done and hopefully my friend called too. I can’t help but wonder will the kids come into care? Will I get any of them and if so how many?

Hey big guy upstairs can you drop me a clue as to why this is unfolding this way?

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