The Dreaded CPS Visit . . .

26 Sep

Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

When we had our CPS (Child Protective Services) visit, back when our son was six years old, I was very glad for a legal organization that believed in the above Bible verse.  In fact, they were a Christian legal organization.  In fact, they were the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, or HSLDA.

Having begun to homeschool Joey the year before (although not required to do so until he turned six, so this was just one of God’s many sovereign works in our life), I had signed up with HSLDA to cover our homeschool legally, especially as I was pretty sure that homeschooling a child with Asperger’s syndrome (high functioning autism) was not going to be a normal endeavor, by any stretch of the imagination.

It was summertime, but HSLDA was happy to take on the case of our CPS visit, despite the fact it was not related to schooling.

They will often do that, even for non-members, if the case seems to be making a precedent for parents’ rights.  HSLDA has long taught that parents in the U.S.A. are losing their God-given right to direct the upbringing of their children.  I now agree with them.

Let me backtrack and explain how we got to the place where CPS was planning to come to our house, inspect it, and meet with us to determine whether we were fit parents to oversee the upbringing of our son.

Our Joey went through a stage when he was five and six in which he was fascinated by spinning ceiling fans.  We had three of them but he always wanted to look at them in other people’s homes, in restaurants, in stores, and, most of all, in Lowe’s and Home Depot, where there were rows and rows of beautifully spinning fans!

I was on my third straight summer of active duty out at Dam Neck Naval Annex, having been hired out of reserve status to write security manuals for a nationwide reserve connectivity project.  Since I had started homeschooling Joey already, we had decided that I would work fulltime during the three summer months, while Noel was Joey’s primary caregiver, then I would be with Joey the other nine months.  It worked great for us and the Navy didn’t mind.

I had been hearing of incidents in which Joey would run away from Noel in public in order to go look at ceiling fans.  This was especially prevalent when they would walk on Chick’s Beach together, something they have done since Joey was first able to walk!

Joey had even entered some homes in which he could see fans through the windows.  Thankfully, Noel was always right on his heels and no harm ever resulted.  His obsession with fans was getting downright scary though . . .

We installed childproof locks on our doors at home when Joey started to sneak out of the house to go look for ceiling fans in the neighborhood.

On the day when a neighbor brought him back while I was on the phone, after she had seen him climb her six foot fence to get into her yard and house, I found a window open and a screen removed.  I childproofed our windows that day, too.

Then, just as we were starting to be able to channel Joey’s love for ceiling fans into field trips with Mommy to Lowe’s again, the worst day of all occurred.

I was at work when I got a call from my husband.  He said that Joey had gotten lost and been brought back home by the police.  He said that CPS had been to the house and left a note on our door.  I didn’t have time to get all of the details from him, but it sounded serious.

Terrified, I finished my day’s work and went home to hear Noel’s story.  Noel had been mowing the grass and letting Joey play in the yard as he did so.  At one point, Joey ran around to the back of the house for a toy he had left there and . . . he didn’t return.  Noel went after him within five minutes, but Joey was nowhere in sight.

As Noel walked through our subdivision, looking for Joey, he did not realize Joey had gone along a major road and into a cul-de-sac that also belongs to our subdivision (but away from the rest of it).  Joey saw a ceiling fan in the upstairs of a home there and he found an unlocked door to enter the house.

The home’s owner was outside painting on a ladder when he looked up and saw the fan in his upstairs bedroom turning on and off, on and off.  Approaching his door, he could tell there was someone in the upstairs of his house.  Knowing the house was supposed to be empty, he called the police.

My son walked out of that house twenty minutes later to police with their weapons drawn!  The homeowner had worked with special needs children before and he was the one who first understood the situation.  He called to the police, “It’s just a kid and I think he is disabled.”  The weapons were holstered.

Joey still remembers being placed in the rear of that police car and kicking and kicking to try to get out.  He was terrified.

So were we when we got the full story and realized all of the places where things could have gone much worse than they did!

We were not out of the woods yet.  Noel had been cited for endangering a child by letting Joey run around the neighborhood unsupervised.  We still had to deal with CPS.

HSLDA counseled me to clean my house within an inch of my life (!), then to come to the meeting with the CPS worker straight from work, with my Navy dress blues on.  Since I was a Lieutenant Commander at the time, HSLDA believed I would convey authority, competence, and diligence by having this particular dress uniform on, with my officer’s gold on the sleeves.

They were right.  I came home that day, met with Noel, Joey, and the CPS representative, and had the case dismissed within ten minutes.  The woman never even looked at the house.  She said she could tell right away that we were caring parents who had been overcome by events beyond our control.

Praise God for that!

And . . . you will never hear me badmouthing a fellow parent who gets into a situation involving the CPS.

Now let’s pray for our friends this week, as the husband is facing a felony charge (and five year sentence) for leaving their baby in the car for five minutes as he dashed into the store for a bottle of milk.

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One Response to “The Dreaded CPS Visit . . .”

  1. Gene September 26, 2012 at 10:14 AM #

    I’ve been following this with interest as my sense as a parent and nearly nearly 2 decades of experience in the criminal justice field has created a dicotomy within my spirit. In our world today we recognize evil exists, and the ‘nanny’ state has created a situation that seems to be more concerned with what “could” happen than what could “actually” occur. I do not believe the government should continue to create laws to protect us from ourselves (ie….. sizes of sodas, helments and seat belts on adults old enough to make decisions regarding their own safety). So the conundrum comes in regard to what laws are appropriate when involving those whose maturatity level is not developed appropriately to make such judgments?

    Having stated that, I “could” go on and on with details of “actual” events where things did “not” turn out well in situations such as the one described and the family now going thru the legal system. I even have details of events that have occured to mature adults that did not turn out well due to the actions of our nations preditors. No matter what steps are taken for our own personal security, they can only be effective in diminishing the determined effectiveness of the preditor.

    Your blogging on this issue brought to mind an experience more than a decade ago when my oldest child was “near-about” at teen status, our second child was about 9, and our youngest was 2 or 3. We were at the point where we felt with the maturity level of our oldest we could leave the rest of children at home in her care safely for a short while for my wife and I ran out for a bite to eat. One day I was headed home and stopped quickly at a local store to pick the proverbial bread and milk type item. I parked in an open spot near the front of the store…..told my oldest to lock the doors with the others and I’d be “right” back. I ran in grabbed the items and was back in less than 10 minutes (after standing in an unbelievable line for that time of the day). As I was leaving the parking area and entering the highway, my police scanner crackled to life with a “chid endagement” call in the parking lot we had just left and a vague description of a car that was similar to my own car. I was now gone, and nothing more could be done in this instance, but it woke me to the reality of extra concern in such matters. While my nearly teen daughter could have handled well the situation, I wondered about the appropiateness of such actions. I would have to say that these are issues that most parents have had experiences with in their child care years.

    Now for what it’s worth, the penalty for the action you are mentioning is a “Maximum” and almost never (unless your last name is Sandusky) is that the final outcome. It would be my “hunch” (for what that’s worth) that this sitution will result in a “probation” status only with no other penalty as long as “any” criminal action of this nature does not occur again within the probabtion period. Just a little encouragement there.

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