Transparency? More like a two-way mirror…

I’ve been a fool.

I have misguidedly opened my life up to “professionals” (and I use the term loosely), believing that to do so will assist in finding the best solution for Boo. (You can get a gist of the way things have panned out in a post on my other site here).

In short, I have undergone two extremely lengthy “assessments” having been advised that “complete transparency will be viewed upon favourably by the Court.” Failure to cooperate, I was informed, would probably be viewed in the same light as someone who answers “no comment” to all questions after they have been arrested. In other words, the court would automatically imply that I had something to hide, and the chances of Boo returning to my care would be out of the window.

So I agreed to answer their questions. Eight hours of questions in total with the Social Workers, and five hours in total with the Court-appointed Psychiatrist.

And I was transparent. Painfully transparent. They wanted to know everything about me – from birth to the present. They wanted to know about my childhood: how life was at home and school, and I talked about stuff I hadn’t thought about for years, including the ugly stuff I must have intentionally pushed way back into the depths of my subconscious for good reason. Yet here I was, talking about the long-forgotten/repressed ugly stuff to professionals who were obviously going to use the information to help us, right?


The Social Workers, well … I probably should have guessed that they had no vested interest in me per say. They handed me a six-page schedule that they had supplied to the Court prior to our first “session.” It described the line of questioning I would be receiving over the course of the assessment.

I wasn’t going to write it all out, but I think I will, to give you an idea of the depths they wanted to go:

  • Background information to include Alice’s own childhood
  • (Alice’s) Physical needs at various stages throughout childhood
  • Previous/present relationships
  • Education
  • Employment

Parenting Capabilities

  • Basic care
  • Ensuring safety
  • Emotional warmth
  • Stimulation
  • Guidance and boundaries

Child Development – To Include:

  • Physical health
  • Emotional, behavioural development, identity, and family dynamics
  • Social relationships

Parental Stresses and Mental Wellbeing

  • Describe any serious accidents or illnesses
  • Ever seen a Pychiatrist or Psychologist
  • Do you have any illnesses which you believe to be a barrier to providing “good enough parenting styles” to meet Boo’s needs
  • Have you had any emotional problems
  • Are you on any medication
  • Does any illness or injuries affect your ability to look after children
  • Do you require any special help or medical services because of injuries or mental health wellbeing

Parental Stress continued (!)

  • Do you think you are someone who suffers from stress
  • What kinds of things make you stressed
  • Does any group of people make you feel stressed
  • Do children make you feel stressed
  • Describe how you feel when you are stressed
  • Have you ever been to your GPs regarding stress
  • Have you been on any medication because of stress
  • Is there anything which helps to reduce your stress
  • Do you envisage parenting to be stressful

Family Functioning and Environment

  • Family functioning
  • Wider family
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Family social work interventions
  • Community resources
  • Support networks

Now, which area of my life do you think they were most interested in? Hmmm … could it be my mental health/stress issues?

Yet, when my son was beating the crap out of me on an almost daily basis for eight long months, despite all the attempts I made, begging them to intervene and help us, they had no interest in us. Their response at the time was, “We are child protection, not adult protection. Unless we believe Boo is at risk from you, we will not get involved.”

What a difference six months makes! Now they are very involved, and so concerned that my mental health difficulties would place my child at risk that I am now unlikely to ever get him back into my care.

And if the intensity of the assessment interviews wasn’t enough – on the last day at the end of the final interview (which, unsurprisingly, had been about my mental health and my recent lapses into crisis) the Social worker asked, “Does Boo know about any of the stuff we have discussed today?”  I said that he didn’t, and I had made a point of keeping much of this stuff away from him because I didn’t feel it was appropriate to share with a child.

Their response? They suggested that I might find a time to tell him about some of these issues we have discussed, because he will have a right to read the report once it is completed!

I couldn’t believe it! I had no idea that Boo will have access to these reports. Had I known there was any chance he will read about the ugly elements of my life, or about the struggles I have with my mental health and the things I have done when I reach crisis point, I would never have shared with the professionals.

It appears the transparency only goes one way after all.

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]




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