I have two step daughters that I really do believe are being abused and neglected at home and I don't know what to do about it.
Their father has talked to FOC who directed us to CPS. I contacted CPS, gave them the details, as well as informed them there was a case open with the children's mother in the past. The denied having any records of the past case, as well as denied investigating now because they don't see reason to until something happens.
Going off just the check list of possible indicators of abuse and neglect the children show a majority of them, along with several others not listed. They hardly speak to anyone other than me when their with us. They had an instant comfortableness with me even though they just met me about six visits ago and show an obvious discomfort around men, even their father and grandfather, which I feel is odd.
There's actually quite a bit that I feel is a sign of abuse and/or neglect, but I would rather not post all the deatails here. If you want further details please contact me and I'll be happy to answer your questions.
Does anyone have ANY ideas and/or advice on how to get the girls to open up and talk about what's going on?
I know I'm not off mark here and anyone that has been around these children has they same opinion that I do... something IS going on. We've tried journals, but they don't really write much which is odd because they were writting us on every visit up until their mother was brought into court by the FOC and since their behaviors have gotten worse.
I just really feel we're stuck between a rock and a hard place. Until the girls actually say something specific, we can't do anything. Nobody at the courts will listen to a "dad" and I'm just refered to byt he courts as the woman that whats to know where his money is going (its sickening).
I hate ask but I have been to every website I could find and I haven't found any ideas whatsoever. Now that their not showing much interest in writting anymore, it really leaves me stumped, but I know that I can't give up until I know their safe.
PLEASE help... ANY advice is welcome and THANKS in advance!!
They've probably been told by their mother not to speak to you or anyone about what's going on at home. My ex-sil used to do that to my niece & nephew -- threaten that they'll never see her again. They may think they'll get into trouble if they talk.
If they like to color, maybe get some some new colors and drawing pads and then just sit with them while they do that. Sometimes kids open up while they're doing craft activities, going for walks or rides in the car.
Maybe just let them know if something is bothering them that they can talk to you or their dad about it, that they can call you anytime and you won't get upset. Tell them that you just hate to see them so sad.
I would say that you and your husband need to be a burr in the side of the CPS workers. Be a major pain in their butt, and don't stop until the situation is investigated. They shouldn't be waiting "until something happens." That seems irresponsible, especially if there are indicators that something has already happened.
In the meantime, continue to forge a bond with the girls, and maybe one of them will open up to you. Continually tell them that you care a lot about them, and that they can talk to you about anything. Of course, don't promise them that you will keep what thet say a secret. They need to understand that if someone is hurting them, it is your job to make it stop, and protect them.
Has your husband considered taking the girls to a therapist who specializes in kids? Might be another way of getting them to open up. From what I've read and heard, play therapy can be very successful.
As far as what Ratatosk was mentioning, we have been doing that. We spend a lot of one on one time with the girls. It just seems odd to me that they refuse to warm up to their dad and they seem to want to cling to me even though they don't know me. But there is NO play or anything unless one of us is involved, they don't even play with one another very much. We're trying to teach them how they can do thing' beyond sitting in front of the TV or cleaning, but their not used to being creative on their own. We want one on one time with them, but we also want them to know how to occupy themselves to an extent. But we're working on all the above.
To Lisa, I right there with you. We're having to wait on the therapist at the moment, but it is something we're working towards. As far as CPS, they told me right over the phone they weren't investigating because there wasn't proof that something has happened. Believe me, we went rounds on the phone with them trying to figure out that one and they couldn't even answer. I mean, how do we PROVE something like that when their not with us when it's happening?
In the meantime, I've spent time with them, their dad has spent time with them, we spend time with them together. We include my parents as well as his, so they have a more loving family than they could ever know. I also have cousins their age, which other than school and their siblings they don't socialize. We tell them all the time how much we love them and care about them but it doesn't seem to make them any more comfortable and like I said, since this court thing it's only getting worse. we know a big part of it's their mom there, but even taking her back into court does nothing, she just doesn't care because she knows she gets away with everything.
All I know is to keep doing what we're doing and sit and wait. Which I hate more than anything, but have no other options.
Thanks again for the replies, it is REALLY appreciated!!
The only other idea I can think of is for you and their Dad to go to their school and talk with their teachers. Teachers are mandated reporters, and CPS USUALLY takes reports from teachers pretty seriously. Maybe find out if the teachers are seeing the same sorts of things you are, and ask them to call CPS. Also, have other people call and report it. The more people there are calling, the better.
It's possible that the attitude toward their Dad is being caused by negative things their mom is saying about him. They may feel like being close to their dad would be like betraying their mom.
It sounds like you are taking all of the right steps. The most important thing I can say is to just keep loving them. This situation won't be solved overnight, it will be a long, long road.