Joined: 2017 December 17
Location: South Africa
I need advice as to if I have any additional avenues or options
to pursue in my case. If anyone has experience with something
I have a foster child who has been with us 2 years, and has
been in therapy going on 3 years now. It's a long and
complicated case, but in summary he was physically abused by
parents, there was drinking and drug abuse, and constant
violent fighting. He was sexually abused multiple times by a
man in their area (because he was on the street) ages 5-6. He
grew up in a small basement room under bottle store with his
mom, dad, sibling, and dad's drinking friend. Him and his older
teenage sister were placed with us. He couldn't concentrate,
remember anything, everything scared him to point tears and
panic, he only managed 2 hours in grade 1 every day. His sister
maintains she never suffered abuse. She had 'dissociation'
issues, she wore placebo glasses to see at school, couldn't
remember her childhood.
Before he came to us he spent a year going to Teddy Bear
closely watched by his biological mother, the therapist never
got him to talk. We put him in therapy when he came to us, but
the first psychologist left, and he is doing well with the second
psychologist but it's a struggle for her to get him to open up.
So for the first year and half, we had bi-weekly visits at a
neutral venue where we supervised. There was always bed
wetting and anxiety around visits. His anxiety around visits
gradually increased to vomitting, headaches and bad behaviour
at home and school, but his older sister's anxiety decreased.
The parents made progress, stopped drinking and moved to a
better place. A court investigator was appointed, he said he
wanted to stay with us in foster care, and she wanted to return
to her biological parents. Because of her age and other factors
she was reunified. Sadly she went downhill in terms of school,
immediately got a job, and other concerning things as soon as
she was returned. The investigator will evaluate every 6
months to see if he must be returned. Visits were also moved
to welfare to supervise.
So we have situation day before visit, he will cry, get dizzy, have
headaches, vommit, have nightmares, and most recently hears
voices (psychologist says not psychotic). After visits he is
aggressive and fights his brother (also foster child). He goes
straight to sleep for a few hours (and he never normally sleeps
day). He is zoned out and anxious state.
At visit he is affectionate with his biological mom, he tells her
he wants to go home, but then comes home and tells us he
wants less visits and doesn't want to ever go back. He wants to
make whoever he is with in the moment love him, he wants
whoever he is with to be happy, and he wants to always prove
he is happy. If questioned, he always gives 'safe' response, he
doesn't talk about abuse or uncomfortable topics, he wants
everyone and everything to be ok. I don't think Shawn is
capable of understanding his own emotional and physical
reactions yet. He also doesn't know what he wants.
Generally he has come so far in all aspects. Other than visit
anxiety, he is a happy, kind hearted, sporty, art loving child. He
is also in Dyslexia therapy and improving at school. But his
marks can fluctuate massively depending on visits. There was
a 6 month break from visits when court was deciding on
reunification in which his marks nearly doubled.
But the result now is visits are regular, welfare is pushing for
extending visits, weekend visits, I tell them of issues, but
because they see the side of him saying he wants to go back, it
looks like we are just too emotionally attached, and are trying
to sabotage reunification. Parents also have lawyer, so
everyone is scared of being sued. We are now constantly
fighting with welfare, and they will call me to explain, if he
doesn't go back, he will kill himself, and makes implications
that I am just being judgemental. I will explain how visits take
him backwards, and we don't get anywhere. I feel like making
him go through this bi-weekly turmoil is abusive in itself.
I have tried taking videos when he cries and vomits, but doesn't
seem they are interested because he doesn't verbalise reasons.
We saw a lawyer this week, but I can see lawyer struggles to
understand why's (everything black and white) - don't think we
will find a SA lawyer who specialises in this.
I am quickly running out of options. What can we do to protect
him? Are there trauma experts that can give us more advice on
helping him, or provide concrete evidence for court, or what are
our options? Any ideas welcome.
Thank you in advance.