I’m in training all week with the incredible Dr. Karyn Purvis and about 120 other child welfare professionals from my county. If you aren’t familiar with Dr. Purvis’s work I highly recommend taking a look.
This project (just begun) has the goal of putting every person that touches a child’s life (from the foster parent, the caseworker, the lawyer, the CASA, the therapist) through her trauma informed care training called Trust-Based Relational Intervention.
I am so excited to learn and grow more this week but I also felt a deep sadness today. Ryan and I did not have the skills to help Prince and Lois. I am capable of the thing Dr. Purvis prescribes but I didn’t really even know they existed until we were already well in the weeds with the kids. I feel like their therapist tried to tell me some of this but she did it in such a weird, judgmental way that I couldn’t hear or didn’t understand.
Friendly reminder: your child’s therapist is not YOUR therapist and has no real obligation to you. I told her at one point what a strain I felt the situation was putting on our marriage and her actual suggestion was: “You just have to put your head down and do and hope that your marriage is strong enough that when things calm down in a year it’s still intact.” Um, what? Suggesting we ignore and stop nurturing our main source of support and just “hope” that our 3 year marriage would be able to somehow magically withstand trial by fire and ignoring each other for a year is TERRIBLE ADVICE. All she wanted was for us to not disrupt the placement and she seemed to think it was okay for us to endure anything and possibly destroy ourselves in the name of not necessarily even healing the kids but in simply not moving them.
Dr. Purvis was talking today about a child with behaviors somewhat similar to Prince who needed an incredibly intensive intervention. “Well, the family needed a lot of support. We know this. So whenever we do an intensive intervention I always try to get a small grant to pay for a maid to come weekly, for a local church to bring dinner each night, for the other children to be out of the house and supervised for a few hours each day so that we can help this child.”
What?! Obviously that’s the right thing to do but everyone made me feel like utter shit for not quitting my job (which would have left us homeless in pretty short order) and spending all my time and energy on this traumatized child by myself. Never mind the fact that there was ANOTHER TRAUMATIZED CHILD here already. I felt so guilty for not being able to do it on our own it never occurred to me that most professional wouldn’t have expected us to.
The system failed those kids, but we also failed them and that makes me so sad. I was acting in good faith but I made a lot of mistakes and I wish I’d been able to do better by them. I didn’t know what I needed or what to ask for or even demand. With a larger support structure, more training and this knowledge maybe I could have done better.
The outcome may have still been the same but I might have been of more use while they were here.