I've really struggled with whether or not to write this post. I'm a pretty private person, and I have a hard time letting people in, so to write this knowing that strangers will have access to it is a frightening thing, but what it comes down to is this: I'm not able to function right now. I'm stressed and worried and hurt and angry, and I've always had an easier time expressing myself through writing than I do with speaking.
Some of you know that I am an attorney and that I work primarily as a Guardian ad Litem working with abused, neglected and dependent children. I've cherished that work. I have always believed with all my heart that I am helping those kids and doing the right thing.
I don't know if I believe that anymore.
I don't know because this last week, I was on the opposite side of it all. I was the one with people at my door looking to take my child. All because someone I met once called and told them I was a bad mom.
Long story short, my husband and I breed Bengal cats. They're pedigreed, vet-checked, and expensive. We sold one kitten from our very first litter to a couple, who loved him so much they came back for a second. When the kittens took more than five minutes to adjust, this person began inventing problems. First, it seemed harmless, but annoying. Slowly, it escalated to the point they were claiming thousands of dollars in vet bills, multiple diagnoses(fleas, earmites, intestinal parasites, worms, FIP, Feline Leukemia, panleukopenia, eye infections and lung congestion). I have spent over a thousand dollars proving the remaining kittens in the litter and both parents have NONE of those problems. I have yet to see a vet report from them. Because I refused to give them $6000 based on their word alone and no proof, they proceeded to call Children's Services, the Health Department, the Humane Society and the Dog Warden, claiming my house is filthy, my child is abused, my dogs and cats are diseased and starving and that I'm a liar, a bad mother, and basically a horrible person. They have harassed our veterinarian, accused me of horrible things, and yet refuse to offer any proof of these allegations.
Apparently they don't have to.
Based on the word of one person, who met me ONE time, FOUR agencies took these allegations seriously enough that I ended up with people on my front lawn demanding to see my child, my house, and my pets.
Of course, despite the fact that I wanted very badly to deadbolt the door and demand they return with a warrant, I let them in. All agencies proceeded to screen out the complaint and close the case, determining the complaints were false.
I still haven't gotten over it.
I consider myself a Christian. I try to be a good person. I don't like being mad, but I am. I'm so angry that I want to cry. I want to yell and scream and throw things. I want to send nasty text messages and call these people and say things I'll regret later but truly mean now.
Most of all, I question my work. Am I doing to other people what was done to me? Do I assume since someone says these people are bad parents or that there's a problem in the house that it's true? In a world where someone can call and make stuff up and get it taken so seriously that multiple people come to MY house, isn't it possible that some of these people are being as railroaded as I felt? Isn't it possible we were seeing a good family on a bad day? Shouldn't we assume parents love their children and give them the benefit of the doubt?
No one gave me the benefit of the doubt. No one called to ask me my side of the story. No one cared about my side of the story. They believed what they were told automatically and I was guilty until proven innocent.
I sit here today knowing that what I'm writing is emotional instead of logical. I work with and deeply respect CPS and I honestly feel they do their best and make the right calls most of the time. I know that this is how I FEEL about what happened and that my perception of the situation might be different than theirs, but I can't help how I feel about it despite what I logically know to be true, which is that these agencies and these people were doing their job--a job that is important and necessary. Ultimately, they screened out the complaint against me, so on a logical level, I know it's really no harm no foul. I know what kind of a mother I am. I know my pets are healthy. I know my house isn't a hazard. Am I the best housekeeper in the world? No. I have four dogs, three cats, two kittens, and a toddler. My house gets messy. But has it ever been filthy? No. It has not, and the fact that not one person gave me the benefit of the doubt not only makes me angry, it hurts me. And that's what it boils down to. I dedicate my career to serving abused kids. I've never wanted to do anything else. And last week, I was the one being looked down upon, being sneered at and being suspected. All because one woman who met me one time told them to.
So I sit here, hurting, angry, and sad, and I wonder. I question. And because I'm a writer, because I need to work through what I feel and figure out how to come out the other end in one piece, I write this. I'm a good mom. My child is my world, and I would die before I would let someone hurt her. That anyone thinks differently breaks my heart.