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"I Was Investigated for Child Abuse"

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I've lived every parent's worst nightmare: I was investigated for child abuse.

mother and child

Guest blogger Janice: It all started at a routine doctor's appointment when our pediatrician noticed that our four-month-old son's head circumference was measuring abnormally large. A brain MRI performed a few weeks later showed something perplexing and scary: a hairline skull fracture and accompanying brain bleed. While my husband and I had lots of questions for the doctors, we were not at all prepared for the first question that was asked of us: "Did you shake or hurt your baby?"

Despite fiercely denying ever hurting my son, the fact of the matter was that I couldn't explain the injury. My son had never rolled off a bed, been bumped in a doorway, or been left with a babysitter. In fact, he had never been out of my immediate care since he was born.

The physician was sympathetic to our story but told us that the nature of my son's injuries forced her to take certain measures, which included referring us to the hospital's child abuse prevention team and Child Protective Services. I won't burden you with all the sordid details, but to make a long story short, we found ourselves unwittingly and instantly bound up in bureaucratic red tape. Being formally investigated for child abuse means that you live the constant fear of having your child taken away from you. It is an awful, helpless feeling, but one with which my husband and I were willing to live because we had nothing to hide. As days turned into weeks and the easy resolution we were promised was slow in coming, we consulted with an attorney. It is sad and disheartening that it had to come to this, but the threat of a lawsuit is what ultimately brought about an end to our ordeal. In a daring move, we challenged our accusers to either take our baby away or leave us alone. They left us alone.

Throughout this ordeal, I was embarrassed and scared out of my mind, to say the least. To this day, we still don't know how or when my son sustained his initial injury (they are saying now that it could have happened at birth), and I worry every day that it will happen again. Before this incident, I thought what many of you are probably thinking: if Child Protective Services is involved, this lady must have done something. Child abuse is a serious problem in this country and I understand completely why my son's injury raised red flags. However, I would be lying if I didn't say that this incident has shaken my trust in "the system" in a big way. We witnessed firsthand how easy it is to get sucked into the vortex of child abuse allegations, and how hard it is to escape it once you are there.

Once our case was closed and we breathed a collective sigh of relief, I told a few good friends my story. Instead of taking ten steps away from me, every person I told reached in and hugged me ... and then told me their story. Every mom, it seemed, had a similar experience herself, or knew someone who had. There was the clinically depressed fifth grader who lied and told his teacher that his father beat him; the toddler who fell on the edge of the coffee table and needed stitches; the preschooler who had an unfortunate habit of using the words "swatting" and "punching" interchangeably. The more people I've talked to, the more I get the sense that my case isn't all that unique.

I'm not sure how as a society we got to the place where "better safe than sorry" means overriding good judgment and common sense, yet for better or worse, here we are. The thought that I am not the only one this has happened to is at once comforting ... and terribly distressing.


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131 comments so far | Post a comment now
anna April 27, 2009, 10:24 AM

these are tragic stories. But let’s reflect on some things we as parents neglect. The point about a preschooler using “swatting” and “punching”interchangably, where does that come from? Some of us use the T.V. or d.v.d. as babysitters. We ourselves might not use that kind of language but to invite televisions into our living rooms or child’s bedroom is just as bad. The entertaintment world makes millions of our innocent children, turning them into monsters.

cyndi April 27, 2009, 11:39 AM

Terrible story, but left wondering about the ending. What did they think caused the injuries? Is the baby okay? Kind of left hanging….

Gigohead  April 27, 2009, 11:55 AM

was the baby removed by forceps? Maybe that’s what caused the injuries. How odd for that to happen to a 4 month old.

My sister-in-law who is mentally ill used to call children services on me all the time since I have custody of her son. After many baseless accusations, she was finally confronted by the agency in a hearing and they told her to cut it out or they will arrest her. She eventually stopped.

nicci April 27, 2009, 2:23 PM

but wouldn’t you rather have them check out the situation instead of letting it go? i would. how is your baby now?

Anna April 27, 2009, 3:54 PM

Thank you for this story. I can’t imagine being put in this wrenching situation. But at the same time, my heart bleeds every time I hear of a child who really is abused. For that reason, I am glad doctors are there to look for signs of abuse. It’s a good reminder, though, not to judge other people who may be in this position.

CPSsucks April 27, 2009, 7:48 PM

Parents everywhere need to start educating themselves, and to start fighting back. If you have been a victim of CPS, and you have managed to get your child back, you need to realize that there are millions of parents around the world who have not been so lucky. If you care about the world YOUR child grows up in, start fighting against the out of control agency known as CPS or Child Protective Services. When children go into foster “care,” they have at least a sixfold chance of being killed or abused (and those are the gov’t figures, which are most likely low). CPS is destroying good families, and causing untold heartache for parents and children all over the world. Parents, and especially mothers, also need to understand the implications of the Mothers Act, which will effectively make it MUCH easier for CPS to take your baby. Please see my website for more information.

Christopher Slitor April 27, 2009, 9:33 PM

Our baby Sabrina was born April 3, 2005. She lost a few ounces after birth. This triggered our pediatrician recommending that we take our baby to Virginia Hospital Center, Arlington, VA. That was a BIG MISTAKE. All the pediatrician had to do was prescribe MORE FORMULA after each breast feeding. Anyhow, a gang of young interns at the hospital were on a “hair trigger” and reported my wife to CPS of Arlington, VA. A social worker came to us when we were exhausted after a long day and she bamboozled us to sign an “agreement to service”. NEVER sign such an agreement with CPS. Always tell a social worker NOTHING and SIGN NOTHING until you get legal counsel. We have spent over $500,000 and went to the Supreme Court of Virginia and we LOST OUR BABY. A politically connected yuppie couple with fertility problems was very “familiar” with the CPS people, the Arlington County Government, and the lawyer foster-imposter father knew all about CPS and “child abuse” law. DON’T LET it happen to YOU!! Demand that the Federal Government repeal the federal legislation which unleashes the CPS Frankenstein Monster. The laws are CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act) and ASFA (American Safe Families Act). These sinister pieces of pork barrel legislation GIVE MONEY to county government for STEALING YOUR CHILDREN, even under the flimsiest and least substantiated circumstances. There are NO JURIES in most states regarding “child protection” law. You face a collusive crew, the CPS bureaucracy, a “Family Judge” who is often a former prosecutor for the CPS people and a County Attorney who only wants MORE MONEY for the county, in this case, BABY BOUNTY money.

Check out our horror story at www.kitandnancy.com

jean April 28, 2009, 3:24 PM

I’m so happy that you were able to get your child back. It is true when CPS says parents are bad, it’s taken as the gospel truth. We were not as fortunate. After thousands of dollars in legal fees we have lost our grandchildren, CPS felt that they would be better with a foster mom that they rallied for her to adopt our grandchildren. I am bitter, angry and hurt, we will never see our grandchildren grow up. The foster mom/adopted mom has shut us off. We have heard similar stories. CPS trades children for cash from the government.

Sherry(the real one..haha) April 28, 2009, 7:49 PM

I have also had CPS called on me for BS. My MIL assumed because things were rough for us we must be on drugs…pssshhh! They came to our house, spoke with us, and then demanded a drug screen. They were able to see that we were definitely not on drugs but still wanted it. I felt it was violating my rights and went to an attorney. In one phone call he told them until they had some type of proof they could get on their own(not that we would help them with that Thank you) then they could go further. If not, leave us alone or we will sue you. THey left us alone!

angel June 4, 2009, 11:10 AM

recently CPS took my daughters 5 month old daughter away from her my granddaughter head started growing bigger and bigger and i was always asking the doctor about it he sent us to another doctor and he said it was a subdurb hematoma and that someone had done this to her at first they said someone dropped her and now theyre saying taht it was SBS they hsve ran all the test for SBS and they all have come back negitive we go to court again june 16 2009 to try to get her back and i have had to borrow thousands of dollars for lawyers i know no one hurt her but no one will listen to us my daughter is only 16 which leaves me to do what ever i can please pray for my family

lizzy June 8, 2009, 3:55 PM

Well i from louisville ky and i have been dealing with cps for 06. They came and took my children on hear say and phone calls.They told me every child i have it’s there baby. My son is 7,my daughter,4 and my other two girls,3,1. i need some help on what to do

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Momma wicked April 7, 2010, 3:28 PM

Been there done that have had four children. They were takein away for the abuse that i did not commit

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