I’ve had numerous shares on a recent post about false allegations being made against foster parents. In it, a woman talked about her experience of being falsely accused of child abuse on an infant who had a brain bleed due to medical issues. The foster parents had saved this child’s life at two months old, done everything right, and were being wrongfully accused of maltreatment. This story shocked and frightened many readers, but there were also those that knew this struggle well and were willing to share their experience with false allegations. Here are their stories:
$50,000 False Allegations
We’ve gone through it, and it was one of the worst times of my life. My house was not searched, but many people were interviewed. The hardest part for me to handle was being guilty until we proved ourselves innocent. We went through 6+ months without support and viewed like the worse carers in the world. Sadly at the end of the day, we weren’t even given an apology. When this started, there was no way I was giving up. It cost me almost $50k in solicitor and barrister court documents that I will never see again and heartache that will never mend. As a result, we’ve decided to never take a teen again. I am still fostering. I wasn’t going to, and it has been a very rocky road of rebuilding trust with the department, but it isn’t and never was the kid’s fault.
My advice to any carer in avoiding the road to hell of false allegations is document, document, document. Every single day, write a quick entry of what that day incurred. Jot down what you did, where you went, and who you saw. One of the things that really helped me was the great paper trail I had. Many allegations are ridiculous, but you will still need factual evidence to back the truth.
An Investigation Disrupts a Healthy Pregnancy
I was falsely accused with three boys we had for four and a half years. We raised them from babes, but they were removed during the process of the investigation. A month after they took them, and as a result of fighting for so long to protect the boys, I lost twins at 21 weeks pregnant. Heartbroken and devastated, I fought on and won to keep my name and accreditation… accreditation I will never use again. But in my heart, I know I won against a corrupt and abusive system. Nothing shows you just how strong you are than going through unbelievable trauma. I could not have done it without my faith!
9 Months of Fighting
It was nine months of fighting to clear my name, facing lies from social workers, biological parents, and others. The poor child was removed from the only people he had an attachment with. Eventually, the panel totally cleared me since they could see no reason why the child was removed. There was no apology. It’s damaged an innocent foster child, damaged my family and made me so cautious and even paranoid. We have continued to foster because it’s what we do, and we know we do it well. But I am nervous. I had a call yesterday where a mom accused me, but this time the social worker believes me. I think a lot of it comes down to how the social worker handles allegations. If I had the energy and time, I would sue social services for the way they went about things, as some of it was illegal, but my time and energy is better spent on the little ones that need me now. My advice to anyone going through an investigation is to stay strong and get support.
Of all the advice given to prevent false accusations, the common theme was to document. One foster parent suggested taking photographs of scrapes and bruises along with a written report of the incident so that you have two pieces of evidence working together. Some suggested asking whether or not the child has a history of lying or making false allegations before accepting the placement. Yet another tip was to be conscious of being alone with the opposite gender with children who have a history of sexual abuse or of spreading lies. While this can’t always be avoided, it’s important to be self-aware. For example, there was a young man who volunteered with us at an orphanage overseas. He was a very enthusiastic and physical touch kind of person. He spent a significant amount of time with the girls (who adored him), butchered the language (which they thought was hilarious), and boisterously sang, danced, and joked his way around the orphanage (who doesn’t love to laugh?). He probably spent the most time with the kids than any other volunteer, but it rubbed several people the wrong way. There ended up being some contention between himself and the other volunteers, not because he was a bad guy, but because he wasn’t aware of how he was coming across.
While we see the children in our care as sons and daughters, we also need to approach our interactions with them professionally. I see a lot of crossover between the boundaries and safeguards in teaching and in fostering. As a teacher, I don’t initiate physical contact, either to show affection like giving a hug or to attempt to physically restrain an out of control child, and the same is more or less true for my foster children (albeit, I’ve only had very young kids so far). Nevertheless, it might be a good exercise for parents to think through different scenarios and what your professional boundaries will be when you receive a placement.
The takeaway I want to leave you with is to keep records, whether daily or when an incident arises, and to stand firm in the face of uncertainty. If we could see every difficulty we’ll encounter in life all at once, it’d seem insurmountable. We’d want to quit before we even started. We’d look at that list of challenges and heartaches and doubt that we’d ever be able to endure all those difficult things. We’d never do anything truly great because all great things come with obstacles. Thankfully, God has expressly told us not to worry about tomorrow and leads us through it one step at time with each hurdle making us stronger and better prepared for the next. James 1:2-4 even talks about how we should be consider it pure joy to endure trials because it’s through them that we develop perseverance and maturity. Be encouraged today that while there are potential injustices about fostering, we can spread awareness on how to better protect ourselves, we can take care of what we can control, and we can let the rest go. The truth always comes out, and the battle belongs to the Lord.