Either way, you are parenting a child who likely has a traumatic history. This makes you more likely to be the subject of false allegations of abuse. It is a sad reality of foster parenting.
Many people who do not live with emotionally strained children, do not understand what a day in the life of a foster parent is like. Family and friends may question why your parenting techniques vary so greatly from “normal” parenting styles. Someone—possibly even a stranger—may report something. Sometimes, the allegations come straight from the children themselves.
Questions to Ask
When you are reading profiles on a possible placement match, one of the things to look for is if the child has ever made false allegations before. If so, ask for more details:
- Against whom was the allegation made?
- What were the details of the allegation?
- How often has he or she made allegations?
- How were the allegations handled?
- What was the result?
How to Protect Yourself
There are ways to protect yourself, and things you should do if you ever find yourself in a position of having to defend yourself.
If you are parenting a child who has a history of making false allegations, make sure that any professionals that you work with are aware of this. Teachers, doctors, day care providers, dentists, etc., are all mandated reporters. If a child tells them they are being abused, they are required by law to report it.
Clue in the Professionals
You can give yourself an extra line of defense by letting these professionals know the child’s history ahead of time. If you have written documentation that proves this, it will help you to provide them with a copy.
Keep Your Cool
If you find yourself in an investigation, keep a level head. Since it may be one of the most emotionally devastating days of your life, you need to be mentally prepared.
Involve Your Legal Counsel
Call your attorney. If you have used an adoption attorney during the process, they should have knowledge of the child’s special needs. They have probably even come up against investigations like these before.
You Have the Right to Wait to Speak
Do not talk to an investigator without a witness present. Whether it’s another family member, an attorney, your partner, a neighbor, or friend. Have a third set of ears listening to the conversation. You will be emotional and cannot rely on your memory during this time.
Record Everything During the Investigation
Ask to audio tape or video tape the meeting. This will give you a full, and factual, account of what was said.
Follow up any meetings with a letter. Give the date and time of the meeting, who was involved, and a list of “this is what I heard you say”, along with a recap of your impressions of the meeting.
Have any documentation that you may need handy. If you have been keeping a file on your child with lists of medications, doctors’ appointments, diagnoses, or history of false allegations, keep it in a place where you can easily get to it.
Include Everyone Who Knows the Background
Call your regular social worker, even if your adoption of a child you fostered has been finalized. A person with a knowledgeable history of your child will be very helpful.
Have the investigator speak with any therapist that you are working with. A good therapist will be able to explain the complexities of parenting a child with special needs.
Honesty Really Is the Best Policy
Be honest. Trying to hide things will only come back to haunt you.
Mind Your Tone
Do not sound defensive. You know the investigation is to help your child. Just because it is not what you do with an emotionally healthy child does not mean it is wrong.
Encountering a false allegation is a difficult thing to go through. You have to prove the truth. Keep your wits about you, and try not to panic. You will get through it.