It was maybe a week into placement when our son started accusing others of abuse that was not occurring. In the beginning, this was almost always directed at my birth son. There was a three year age difference between them, and while both were excited to have a new brother, it wasn’t always easy for them to get along.
My birth son, however, had never been known to hit anyone at that point. It could happen, but I wanted to be sure before I accepted the accusations as real.
As I have said, both the foster parents and the social workers involved had told us of this tendency to make false allegations of abuse. It was something we were to watch for, but also to understand, knowing where he came from.
My solution to this issue between my sons was to give full supervision while they were together. As my younger son also had boundary issues, I did not feel comfortable leaving him alone with his sisters, either. The boys were then separated into different bedrooms, (which also helped as we found the younger had been stealing from the older) and constant supervision of my children became part of our routine. I didn’t find it exactly difficult. I guess that is one of the strengths of my autism – it is all or nothing, and once I added in this rule to our routine, I found a way to make it work… always.
I put an alarm on the outside of his bedroom door so that I would know if he was getting up in the night (he had a tendency to wander), had him nap, or have quiet time for a couple of hours in the afternoon to give me a break, and watched over him the rest of the day.
For those first two years, this worked most of the time. As long as the social workers didn’t believe everything he said (and since they told us this truth about him, they should have been questioning it all anyway) we could deal with this in a positive way. Supervising, and calmly stating the truth to his accusations, helped him to understand it wouldn’t work to try to get others in trouble in this way. It also reduced the frequency at which this happened.
Of all of my children, I think my younger son had the most growth in those first two years with us. He went through three years of primary school, learned to read well, stopped going up to strangers, stopped asking us to buy him everything he saw… He was settling, and things were going well.
He didn’t rage like my older daughter, though he did have meltdowns at times. Our neighbours would question us during these times, as he would cry for something he already had (such as a nightlight) and they would believe we were withholding things from him. But they weren’t very frequent, and time outs or removing privileges (such as riding his bike) were often sufficient in dealing with them.
He liked spicy foods, so pepper had no effect on him, and wasn’t used. He was 7 when he was placed with us, and old enough to have showers alone, so he was never given cold showers. The limits to his diet were replaced with other items, and we were fully open with the ministry about these things.
There was very little reason for him to be removed from our home.
However, on three occasions, all happening during his second year with us, I did spank him. I wanted to get across to him the seriousness of his offense, but I admit, I was both fearful and angry when I disciplined him. For that reason, I stopped rather quickly, and had him stay in his room in a time out while I went to think about things.
The three times I spanked him were for the following reasons:
- He stole a craft book from one of the children I had in my daycare, and scribbled in it. That child had died of leukemia that year, and I had meant to give the book to his Nana, who was coming to visit me that day. My younger son knew of this child, and also knew that this book had belonged to him, and that I had planned to return it to his family. At the time I thought his actions were deliberate, but as time went by I became less sure.
- While I was visiting my family across the country, he found a way to have time alone with my youngest daughter. He helped her to put on a sweater – which wouldn’t have gotten him in trouble – then hit her for telling me about it. It was that hit which he got in trouble for. I felt it was very important that she be able to tell me if someone touched her, without fear.
- He peed all over his room. It wasn’t just his bed. It was the entire perimeter of the room. On the floor, on blankets, on clothes, in the vent.. all around the room. Afterwards, I realized this was most likely an emotional response to the conversation he had overheard two days prior. At the time, however, I was upset. I did spank him. Did feel it was a poor time to respond in that way, as I was angry, and did stop myself telling him to stay in his room because I needed time to think.
For more reasons than the fact that the ministry found out, and the children were taken, do I regret my actions of those days. I regretted it while I was doing it, which was why I stopped and removed myself from the situation.
For more reasons than that the ministry forbid it, do I regret my response, especially for the first and third times. Where my son was in need of compassion and understanding, he was met with anger. It wasn’t right.
I know I was wrong. I will regret my actions for the rest of my life. I have lost my confidence in my ability to care for children, which was my life until this point. I do struggle to see, however, when so many decent and confident parents respond in this way so much more often, that I am a worse parent than them. I struggle to see how it was better for my children to be removed from my care, than to remain and have supports put into place to help us find better ways to discipline them.
Before we went camping that weekend that we had that confrontation with my sister in law – while my youngest son was awake and listening in the tent beside us – both of my sons had been skating in our driveway on their in line skates. My younger son crashed into one of our fence posts, and fell onto the driveway. He was wearing a helmet, but no other padding. He looked up in shock, but as was his way in larger accidents, he didn’t cry (he would scream for the little things, and carry on for the big ones.) He got up, and returned to skating, but was left with bruises along that side, and on his ear where the helmet strap went across. All of my children, as well as my mother were witness to this accident.
During that weekend of camping, he was active. He didn’t have any accidents, but did get some bruising from that as well.
Then we came home, feeling good. That Monday, my sister in law called the ministry on us, for no reason other than spite for our response to her. My son peed all over his room, and received a spanking for it. On Wednesday, our son had his adoption finalization interview – but the social worker came with the intent to take our children away, due to that phone call.
In our son’s words, the social worker made him say that I beat him up. She got an inaccurate confession out of him, and told him he and his sisters would never live with us again. Then they were moved without question, even knowing full well that he had a tendency to say such things. The allegations were not completely false, as I did spank him that day – but for the rest, my youngest son would say what he believed others wanted from him, and the social worker came looking for this story, so he told it. And then they were gone.