When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

March 23, 2010

The Atlanta Aquarium (March 20, 2010)

March 23, 2010.  Today is an all time low.  I spend the better part of the afternoon and evening vacillating between uncontrolled sobs and searing anger.  Pat and I meet with Peter’s principal after lunch to discuss the poop chore and “beating” comments made by the school psychologist last Thursday.  We talk about building trust and the need to have this woman removed from our son’s “team” so that we can focus on helping him improve his cognitive skills rather than constantly having to defend ourselves against callous, unfounded, and harmful allegations.  We’ve been making this request since Peter started first grade.  But this time he hears us loud and clear and assures us that she won’t be interacting with our son anymore.  Pat and I leave thinking we’ve finally put our long-standing problem with this woman to rest. The kids are happy when I pick them up from school and I have an unusually pleasant conversation with Peter’s teacher, who is often reticent with Pat and me.  There’s a car in our driveway when we get home.  I soon learn that someone from the school – and the school psychologist is the prime suspect – has filed a complaint with Child Protective Services.  Yep.  The school, or at least a representative thereof, has now officially accused us of child abuse.  Apparently giving Peter the consequence of doing chores to deter his day time penchant for wetting, including picking up dog poop in the yard with plastic covering his hands, equates to “excessive corporal punishment” in the eyes of our accuser.  Also, my forgetting to send a change of clothes in case Peter wets at school on a day he’s wearing underpants, a request made by his teacher the day before we left for Atlanta, has been transformed into a “refusal to send extra clothes in an attempt to embarrass.”  I don’t think the principal was aware of any of this when we met earlier, but trust has been destroyed and so I can’t be sure.  Before the CPS investigator comes to our home, which is where I learn of these spurious allegations, he pulled Sophie and Peter out of their classrooms and interviewed them.  I have no choice but to send the kids to the playroom in the basement to deal with him and this manufactured situation.  Sophie is crying and worried about what’s happening but I can’t’ console her.  I’m sure the whole school knows by now and half the town to boot.  Ours is a small, tight-knit community where news spreads fast but where I pray judgment takes a slower, more reasoned course.  The very polite investigator speaks to Pat, Lindy and I for about an hour and says he needs to call Peter’s pediatrician and psychiatrist to make sure they’ve never noticed anything unusual or untoward.  I can’t go into this any further, we’re under investigation after all, but I do find certain parts of this saga ironic.  To our knowledge, no one at the school has ever picked up a book or read an article we’ve suggested regarding FAS or attachment issues, though we’ve distributed plenty.  These people know little to nothing about a very complex, deceiving set of disabilities, yet they feel empowered, even obligated, to interject their “expertise” into our personal lives and private decisions.  If I had to bring my airplane to an auto mechanic, I’d expect him to study car repair before disassembling the engine.  A pediatrician has no qualms about admitting she knows almost squat about prostate cancer.  But apparently certain educators, by right and title, know everything there is to know about all children, all disabilities, and all psycho-social issues.  And if you’re so bold as to question this absolute authority and supreme knowledge?  If you’re so bold as to fight for your child’s future, for your family’s stability, by pointing out when these folks are out of their league and causing more harm than good?  They get hurt, offended, even outraged.  And guess what?  They can call CPS and there’s nothing you can do.  Yes, this woman is making us suffer, surely.  But mostly she’s hurting Peter, the very child she purports to protect.  Where do we go from here?  Homeschooling?  Do we move again?  I don’t know the answer but I do know this: the experiment of full-disclosure and presumption of good-will has failed.  Miserably.



  1. I just wanted to tell you how much we despise CPS. What is suppose to be in “the best interest of children” is most often a power controlling organization impairing the ability of parents to assume responsibility for the appropriate discipline of their children. I have been following your blog and you are delightful people. Your parenting of your SN son is exemplary!!! Don’t let them stop you from doing what works for your child. No one knows the child like the parents who live with him. That’s why God gave him to you…your best for him!!!! We have had the same experience with our child from Borovichi, Russia in regard to her eating disorder. She would reflux food and swallow in rumination. I was accused of feeding my child vomit because I continued to feed her after she swallowed!!!! Two of my ex-employees who were angry made the accusation to CPS. I called our family attorney. The CPS-SW became infuriated that we contacted our attorney and so they spitefully substantiated. I worked for 14 years in a developmental center for children…of course, I am now unemployed:-(. After 6 years of university education and being a leader for 14 years in my community working with learning disabled and developmentally delayed children…it’s useless to me now. Wiped out just like that!!! We live in a small town in NM and no lawyer wanted to tangle with CPS. I did ask for a CPS appeal hearing. CPS did not grant a hearing to me. They did allow me to met with their supervisor, who was also very angry and made no bones about his feelings. The department of CYF who issues my license, however, did grant a hearing. They fined me $1500 for child abuse. The outcome of this hearing states (signed by the Sec of State) that this substantiation is unfounded and the fine was dropped by the licensing department. They also stated that the Sate of NM failed to uphold the burden of truth. This did not change anything with the CPS department and they refuse to release the substantiation. The regulations for my license states that any person with a substantiation can not work in the field…waaaa. Unfortunately, CPS has over exaggerated “their” powers of judgement in regard to parental discipline and destroyed my career. Sadly, this label on physical abuse will follow us for the rest of our life. I pulled our children out of public school and now home school them where they are safe from the claws of our evil CPS government’s stupidity. Oh…BTW…they strip searched our children’s bodies without any school rep present…not even the school nurse and the school principle was gone for the day. How convenient for CPS. Our sweet little daughter was just 6 years old at the time of the molestation by NMCPS (she greatly favors your girl’s spirit) and she valiantly fought to keep her clothes on to maintain her modesty. She begged them not to strip search her and cried without mercy from them. The SW and her partner tore Karissa’s skirt off her. Was it not enough that they suffered a harsh beginning in a Ukrainian orphanage and then had to endure this atrocity in America??? How rude!!! How cruel!!! The rest of the day my little girl attended her kindergarten class holding her torn skirt up!!! She still has insecurities and additional emotional insecurities as a result of this vicious attack on her person. Do we hold a grudge? You bet we do and our confidence in the system will forever remain damaged and hurt. It will be 3 years this April and our statute of limitations will be up which sets this in stone. I grieve!!! But, now we could not possibly afford an attorney to take this into a court room. Oh how I have dreamed of a judge hearing this. Thus far CPS remains snug and safe….and off the hook. Be VERY careful. I will be praying for you and wishing you the best outcome. We are forever damaged and some days…just down right sad. I really miss my career, but, I am thankful to have my children in my custody, even if we live a life secluded from the CPS. Our last word from the CPS supervisor “Stop your belly aching…we could take your kids from you…so feel fortunate, Patricia.” OMG!!! Many blessings and best wishes…Trisha (mom2R10…twins from Ukraine, 4 from Russia, 1 from Serbia (very SN), 1 IVF 1993, 2 domestic at birth USA 1977 and 1981)

    Comment by Patricia Gartner — March 23, 2010 @ 11:44 pm | Reply

  2. It seems I might have to redefine corporal punishment in the eyes of child protection.

    “But apparently educators, by right and title, know everything there is to know about all children, all disabilities, and all psycho-social issues. And if you’re so bold as to question this absolute authority and supreme knowledge?”

    Now that is arrogance, to say the least.

    Do they, then, think their knowledge is more objective than the parent’s, and act on this basis?

    “Yes, this woman is making us suffer, surely. But mostly she’s hurting Peter, the very child she convinces herself she needs to protect. Where do we go from here? Homeschooling? Do we move again? I don’t know the answer but I do know this: the experiment of full-disclosure and presumption of good-will has failed. Miserably.”

    And as for the ‘refusal to send extra clothes, in order to embarrass’.

    Comment by Adelaide Dupont — March 24, 2010 @ 1:54 am | Reply

  3. My heart is breaking for you. Love and prayers, Sheila

    Comment by Sheila Greene — March 24, 2010 @ 9:52 am | Reply

  4. unbelievable mary. i cannot fathom that giving chores for punishment of improper behavior now constitutes child abuse. all of our parents would have been guilty!! this person at school clearly has done this as retaliation, and i would consider filing a formal complaint with the school on that basis (after all of this has died down). and bottom line, it IS OK for a kid to feel embarrassment when they consciously do something wrong. that’s the whole point of parenting, to let them associate bad consequences with bad decisions, and good consequences with good choices. unpleasant chores are a totally acceptable tool, and picking up the dog’s poop is part of being a pet owner. do they think parents should deal with all unpleasant matters until a child grows up, and then they magically will accept responsibility?? there is no lack of professional resources to back you up on this concept. i’m so sorry you have to deal with this. when westminster was being so mean to jack, i just kindof quietly removed him, and later i was mad at myself for not making more of a fuss. stick to your guns girl. big hugs.

    Comment by mel — March 24, 2010 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  5. Are you kidding me!!!! I make my child pick up dog poop just because that is a chore you do when you own a dog! She does it every week. As for the way you are handling the wetting and poop situation I am all on board. What is wrong with this lady, maybe she needs you and Peter to spend a few nights with her and she can see what it is like to wake up to a mess night after night. She is out of her mind!

    Comment by Maureen — March 24, 2010 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

  6. I feel your pain and suffering. This person is not being objective and has shut his or her mind to what ever you are trying. I myself is a special education teacher and pride myself in creating supportive teams with parents as part of the team. This school “professional” is overstepping her boundaries with your son as I have been reading. She has not taken any steps to helping you or your family or even really listening to you all. It seems she made up her mind from square one that she knows best. If the principal knows this is all going on and is willing to have another person see your son then there is still hope in the district. There are some people there who may see how she is and can help. I would take it all up with the principal and maybe the head of special education. Maybe there is someone there willing to help you out to make the whole situation better for you and your son. We are not there to serve our own agendas but to help and nurture the children.

    Comment by Diane — March 24, 2010 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  7. Thank you all for your kind support and comments. I’d write you back individually but I just don’t have the energy right now. I have no doubt the CPS claim will be dismissed – the investigator has already said as much – but I’m still devastated that the school we sacrificed everything to get to would do this to us and to Peter – as a ploy and as retaliation against our strong advocacy for our son. We have so few options from here – but how do we continue to work with this school after this has happened? And yes, one person stepped way out of line, but others joined in. When we asked two key administrators whether they thought we were abusing our son – by being “hard” on him and wanting to pull him up and into the world (and we’ve done a mighty fine job of this, if you ask me), on the heels of their asking us how they can rebuild our trust – they looked us in the eyes and said they wouldn’t answer. Now I’m sure their lawyers told them to keep their mouths shut, but they did ask for the meeting, and they did talk about rebuilding trust. They could have said something. There is no trust, not even a smidgeon. We don’t trust them, certainly, and they don’t trust us. Thanks again. Your thoughts and encouragement mean so much.

    Comment by whenrainhurts — March 25, 2010 @ 8:25 am | Reply

  8. Oh Mary, this is awful. I can’t believe you are having to deal with this. I too believe it will be dismissed, but you are so right, the trust is broken, and I’m not so sure you can ever get that back. Good luck to you.

    Comment by Jane — March 25, 2010 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  9. Mary, Been there, done that! One of my girls had a severe emotional reaction to the return visit to Russia to get her best friend and she ended up in a mental health hospital for a week. She was admitted after I had to call the police for about the 3rd time in a week bacause she wanted to run away and kill herself. When she told the policeman she wanted to kill herself I knew I could get her into the hospital and get some help for her. Seems she was so far gone that she was telling the counselors about stuff from Russia as if it was happening here. Several weeks later I had the papers served while I was picking up my son from school! When the investigator told me the alligations, I asked her if they had told her they were from a girl so disoriented by a trip to her homeland that she was doing a transference to me? Of course, they had failed to mention that in the complaint. A couple of day later, said son through a trantrum all the way to school and arrived with a red, blotchy face. His teacher asked what had gone on that morning and I recounted the events of having to chase him down and put him into the car and put his seat belt on him. At one point he tried to bite me and I gave his cheek a smack-not hard enough to leave any mark, and that he had thrown a tantrum with screaming and kicking the bck of the seat all the way to school. Guess what was all she heard-that I had given his cheek a smack! She called CPS and the lady went that day to visit him at school, and when I asked if she had found any evidence of abuse on his face, she said no. So, hang in there, and just play their game and they usually will see the situation for what it is! As for scooping dog poop, hey even I do it so I can walk through the yard! Not a fun job, but better than rinsing diapers-may want to consider cloth diapers and let him rinse his own when he defacates in them, may be more “acceptable” consequence for the problem! :o)

    Comment by Mama Bev — March 26, 2010 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

  10. I have so been there. FINALLY, after going to DOE in mediation to get a meddling nare do gooder out of my child’s life, the school was mandated to “endure” training on attachment disorders and issues surrounding institutionalization.
    I have been fighting this battle for 15 years..and now am on round 2 ..another generation of adopted children.
    I live over the border, so if you ever want to talk…
    I have SO been there.
    PS..just found your blog…but if you read mine (not nearly as articulate as you) you will see my frequent ranting about the school.

    Comment by ellen — March 26, 2010 @ 9:09 pm | Reply

  11. If it helps, and I know it likely doesn’t, I’ve been through the CPS run also for my little one from Russia. She is going to be nine soon. She also had the accidents in the pants scenario, and does still at times. Hypervigilant is a term used by the psychiatrist for my kiddo. Her teacher thinks she’s just plain hyper. Wrong. lol Also, we have attachment issues. Also, the continued stream of words. The wild child scene (but I do so love that she is fearless, and I do so feel terror for her safety :). I guess I’m the typical adoptive mommy in some ways… I can’t tell you how much it has helped to find your blog today. My ex co-parents. Yes, the adoption was one of the contributors to our divorce…

    Comment by Lori — March 31, 2010 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

  12. I am so sorry you are going through this. We are struggling with a teacher who is certain her methods are right for all children. It is difficult to get her to listen and really understand that our child is not like “all children.” We are seeing a school recommended specialist not because we believe our son needs it but because we hope the specialist can get through to the teacher.

    Just know there are many of us out here who read about your struggles and are in awe of the uncommon strength and love with which you parent.


    Comment by Ronda — April 5, 2010 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

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