One year ago, today, Children and Youth Services, (a government agency that deals with abuse, among other things) took my son into their custody, directly from his daycare, for suspected child abuse.
I have wanted to write about this dreadful day for a while but have been too angry and hurt to do so. Each time I think about it, and even as I write this, tears well up in my eyes as I think about how awry this could have gone. Thoughts of what could have happened terrify me.
I will try to make this short and straight to the point. Bear with me.
Our kid has Mongolian spots, like most other people who have melanin. He is a light skinned biracial kid – his Mongolian spots are a lot more visible than most. These spots are greenish, blackish and are around his shoulders, back, and bottom. He has had them since birth.
On May 25, 2018, his Mongolian spots were confused for bruising, and because his daycare at the time is a mandatory reporter (many day cares are), his teachers called Children and Youth Services who in turn took him into their custody directly from the daycare.
I was at work when I got the call from the director of the agency around mid-morning. He wanted to let me know what had happened and that Gabriel will be transported to the hospital for an emergency evaluation. The entire time I was speaking to him I remember thinking I had to remain calm and speak calmly even though I was raging inside – I didn’t want my anger to be misconstrued for abusive tendencies. As absurd as that thought was, I wanted to make sure I didn’t give anyone any more reasons to be stupid.
My husband and I got on the road some 15 minutes after I got the call. The next 30 minutes was torture. So many thoughts were going through my mind as we drove to the ER. I was so confused. Why now?… He had had these spots since birth and he had already been at the daycare for about a month already. They had changed his diaper and clothing multiple times, why were they just noticing it now? Were they just really inattentive teachers or had a different teacher who didn’t know Gabriel step in to help that day. Why was a different teacher, someone I wasn’t familiar with tending to my child? So many questions… Didn’t common sense tell them to check if the “bruises” hurt before they so callously chose to throw my family into this nightmare of a day? If they were in fact bruises, he would flinch or show some kind of discomfort, Right? Why would anyone think that I, or my husband, could possibly hurt our child?…
I was about 75 percent confident that the situation was going to be quickly resolved but the other 25 percent was telling me to be cautious. I didn’t know the exact process or what could happen. I wanted to be prepared for anything. I called my mother in law to let her know what was happening just in case she had to come get Gabriel. In some cases, the parents aren’t allowed to have the child for a period of time but the child may be released to another close family member if there is one readily available… I also called his Pediatrician to get documentation of his Mongolian spots, it had been noted in his chart at his first visit… I was covering all my bases.
… My gosh, I couldn’t get to the ER fast enough. That drive felt like it took forever. There was traffic, then we couldn’t find parking. Are you kidding me!!!
I heard Gabriel’s voice the moment we walked in the ER. My little boy sounded as content and happy as he always was with his little giggles and coos, charming the socks off everyone. Even though I was peeved that they had made him miss a nap for this, I immediately felt peace knowing he wasn’t distressed. I walked right past the check in and let my husband deal with it. He is a lot more sane-minded and level-headed than I am.
There were a lot of people in the room. A cop, a district attorney, two Children & Youth representatives, and a nurse or two. I will say they were all very lovely people, and kind and they could see Gabriel was a happy kid. The Doctor came in a few minutes later. He looked at the spots, told everyone they were Mongolian spots and that was the end of that. We were out of there within 30-45 minutes, on our way home with Gabriel.
I was glad it was over but boy was I mad. Most of it was directed at the daycare because I trusted and expected a lot more from them. I thought I had a better relationship with the center and it was a rude awakening to see otherwise.
I understand these situations happen. There are in fact actual abuse and reports like these could save a child’s life. I kept telling myself they were just doing their job. But did they really do their job? When a child is involved and the unity of that child’s family is at stake, doesn’t your job demand a lot more caution and delicacy? Doesn’t your job require you to consider all the outcomes, and consequences, and be a little more sensitive in the way you choose to handle a situation such as this… The decision to contact Child and Youth services without trying to have a conversation with the, me, the mother of the child was callous and reckless. It was a complete disregard for my child’s safety and his future.
I was especially pissed at myself at the thought that I had entrusted my child to these people who, in my opinion, had jeopardized his future. I still have not forgiven myself for that.