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CYFS, you can’t beat the Net – another tragic story.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 8, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

CYFS, you can’t beat the Net – another tragic story.
Thursday, 08.03.2007, 10:31am (GMT12)

CYF, you can’t beat the Net

24 January 2007

The website currently highlighting concerns over the culture of arrogance that seems pervasive within the government’s CYF agency is now the focus of intense legal pressure.

According to NZ Herald reports, the Ministry of Social Development CEO Peter Hughes has told taxpayer-funded lawyers to “do whatever is necessary to get rid of this website” and claims “we will be working 24/7 until that is done.

Well I’ve got bad news for Peter, this kind of stormtrooper tactic simply is not going to work when it comes to suppressing material on the Net.

Clearly Mr Hughes lacks even the most basic understanding of how the technology, and more importantly — the culture of the Net actually work.s

The concept of a government (or agency thereof) suppressing fact, opinion or open discussion through the rule of law has long since disappeared in the 21st century — it just can’t be done.

And today, I’m telling my story of the way CYF wastes taxpayer’s money while indulging in bullying, blocking and decidedly unprofessional tactics.

As I mentioned yesterday, my teenage daughter found herself unexpectedly pregnant last year and decided that it would be in the best interests of the child, herself and some childless couple that an adoption be organised.

Now I have to say that this was a very brave and selfless decision on her part, in an era when adoptions have fallen to an all-time low and there’s almost a stigma surrounding anyone who’d give up their child in this way.

However, there’s just no way that a 19-year-old, in the middle of her education and without any job or other independent means of support could really give a child the opportunities and quality parenting that such kids need to grow up as positive members of society — and she knew this.

My partner and I were in no position to contribute to the upbringing of such a child but towards the end of the pregnancy, we became aware (through friends) of a couple who would make ideal adoptive parents.

Now this would seem to be a win-win-win situation for the baby, my daughter and the otherwise childless couple involved.

This couple came highly recommended by friends and after examining their own situation and establishing that they were good people who’d simply been dealt a tough hand by mother nature, everyone appeared happy.

What’s more, this couple had already applied to adopt children and had thus been carefully vetted by the relevant authorities — what could go wrong?

Well the answer to that was (of course) CYF.

We figured that the best way to handle the whole matter was for the adoptive parents to roll up to the hospital during the delivery and take the child home with them as soon as it was declared fit and healthy.

This would avoid the situation where the mother’s hormones kick in and subsequently create a strong bonding emotion with the child.

But CYF said no.

Their “policy”, we were told, was that the birth mother should look after the child for a period of almost two weeks before it could be handed over to the adoptive parents.

Now this seemed utterly stupid to all concerned. Why force a birth mother into the situation where she will inevitably form a strong bond with the child before they are separated? Why make the adoptive parents wait such an interminable length of time with the threat that the birth-mother will be overwhelmed by hormones and bonding to the point where she changes her mind.

It should be mentioned right now that there is no law that forbids the adoptive parents from collecting the child from the delivery room, none at all. It’s quite legal for them to do so — but it’s CYF “policy” that this must never happen.

When I asked CYF what would happen if we allowed the adoptive parents to do this the threats started rolling out.

If my daughter handed over the child in this way, CYF would oppose the adoption and a placement order would be denied. The child would be taken from the adoptive parents and placed into a home of CYF’s selection.

This was made extremely clear — if you don’t adhere to our “policy” (which is *not* the law) then the child, your daughter and the adoptive parents will pay the price.

At this stage I asked why this was CYF policy.

We were told that it was because the mother needed a reasonable period of time in which to change her mind after the birth.

I pointed out that right now (before the birth) my daughter was thinking rationally, reasonably and logically. Whether that frame of mind would persist after many hours of labour and a flood of hormones was unpredictable – and that being made to care for that child over a two-week period would almost certainly confuse and complicate issues to the point where her decision-making abilities may well be compromised.

Was this in the best interests of the child?

Indeed, I asked just that question — and got this rather stunning response:

“The United Nations has declared that the best place for a child is with its parents and if that’s not possible, with family. If that’s not possible then it’s with someone of their own race in their own country and if that’s not possible, it’s adoption to a foreign country”.

What the hell?

I asked why the CYF person was telling me what the UN was deciding was best for my daughter and her soon to be born child.

She repeated this little bit of canned prose “The United Nations has declared…”

Yes, it was brick-wall time!

So I asked to speak to her supervisor.

Exactly the same “I’m sorry but this is our policy and you have no choice” attitude was encountered.

I then moved further up the chain…

You guessed it — those I’d spoken to earlier were 100% correct, this is CYF policy. Even though you may be legally entitled to hand over the child at the delivery room, it’s against our policy and we will take the child if you do.

I also asked whether it would be possible for someone else to look after the child for those first couple of weeks prior to hand-over.

That would be fine I was told, it’s only the (already approved) adoptive parents who couldn’t do this without breaching CYF policy.

“So *anyone* else can look after the child? Even someone we just picked at random off the street?”

“Yes, that’s right — although I wouldn’t recommend that” was the reply.

Hang on a minute. According to CYF policy, I could haul some potential paedophile or murderer off the street, hand over my daughter’s child for two weeks and leave them to care for it — and that’s okay with CYF.

It’s no wonder so many of our most defenseless kids have been abused or slaughtered while in CYF’s “care” if this is their attitude.

I should mention that all during this time, we had another CYF worker trying to convince my daughter to keep her child and go on the DPB, like so many other young solo mothers.

“Why not keep the child, the government will pay you a good benefit and you can bring it up yourself?” was the message being regularly delivered here.

I thought CYF was supposed to be non-judgmental and unbiased in respect to a parent’s choices?

Maybe I’m old-school or just stupid, but isn’t it better that a child be brought up in a loving, caring two-parent home where there it gets a good chance at life?

Doesn’t it make sense that my daughter continue her education and become a positive contributor to society rather than a drain on the public purse for the next 16 years as a solo mother, struggling to provide a balanced upbringing to her child?

At this point my partner and I decided that we had no option but to care for this child during those first couple of weeks. Now you might think that this should have been our first option anyway — but we are/were on the bones of our arse so having my missus take two weeks off work immediately before Christmas was a major problem.

I asked CYF “If this child were placed in a CYF home for those two weeks, would that home get some kind of financial support?”

“Yes” I was told.

“So if my partner and I have no option but to care for this child for two weeks, will we get any compensation for the costs and lost income involved?”

“No” I was informed, “you are family”.

Me: “What if I dragged someone off the street?”

CYF: “They could apply for assistance during that period”

I then asked “if the child were taken into CYF care for those two weeks, could you guarantee me that it wouldn’t end up becoming just another victim of that care in the way that too many others have?”

CYF: “What do you mean?”

Me: “I mean abused, or killed while in CYF care”

“Yes, I can guarantee that” I was assured.

Me: “How can you guarantee that, will you be looking after it yourself?”

CYF: “No, but our carers are all approved by the department”

Me: “Were the ‘carers’ of those other kids that were abused or killed approved?”

CYF: “Yes”

Me: “So what’s changed? How can you possibly guarantee the safety of my grandkid then?”

At which point I was told that the conversation was going nowhere and that if I wasn’t happy with the department’s stance, attitude or policy I should take it up with the Commissioner for Children or the minister.

That’s my rather unpleasant dealing with CYF.

They *do* bully people.

They *do* threaten people.

They are interested only in following policy and seemingly unconcerned with the best interests of anyone but themselves.

They *did* say my daughter could give her child to *anyone* (even a potential paedophile or murderer) to care for — but refused to allow the already approved adoptive parents to do so during that first couple of weeks.

Escalating complaints and concerns within CYF gets you absolutely no where, the higher you go, the greater the obstruction.

I now know why there are so very few adoptions these days and why so many young women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant are forced into becoming solo mothers or having abortions. The amount of pressure applied to such women to become a burden on the taxpayer is intense — they are made to feel as if they are bad people if they don’t keep their kid and go on the DPB.

It’s no wonder we have such a problem with youth crime when so many young women are forced into the role of parent by this pressure, at a time when they are totally unprepared and often unwilling.

Is this what we pay our taxes for? Is this what CYF is really about?

It would appear so.

Fortunately, all has ended well — in spite of CYF, certainly not because of them.

My partner and I looked after the kid for a couple of weeks although, because my daughter was living with us, it became an intensely difficult and emotional job to give up the child. I curse CYF and their “policy” enforced under threat of “confiscation” for causing such heartache and grief so unnecessarily.

Our family is still trying to recover from the financial burden that the loss of income and other factors have created in the wake of what should have been a very simple, straight-forward and happy event.

The adoption is an open one, my daughter is able to visit her son and will always be known to him as his birth mother. The adoptive parents are over-the-moon with their lives and the child is thriving with their care and attention. I wonder what the outcome would have been if he’d gone into CYF’s “care” or my daughter had been brainwashed into dropping out of her education and living in a one-bedroomed flat while trying to bring him up herself?

So I am pleased that someone else has also had the guts to raise these issues but I remain pessimistic that anything will change as a result.

Rather than admit their wrongdoings and culture of arrogance, CYF seems more interested in using an army of lawyers to suppress the truth and the revelations provided by those who have been CYF victims.

Thank God we live in an age when technology is stronger than a bunch of bureaucrats who have utterly failed in their duty of responsibility.

CYF, wake up! Put outcome *ahead* of policy and everyone will be better off.

Even if you were tempted to believe that the people on the CYFWatch blog site are simply whining unreasonably, I trust that regular Aardvark readers will consider my story to be an objective and honest representation of my own family’s experiences with this “out of control” government agency.

I’m not publishing names, registration numbers, addresses or anything but that’s only because I don’t think it would make a single scrap of difference. Although each individual should be held accountable for their actions, the most important thing is (as with the IRD) to get rid of this culture of arrogance and abuse of public money and rights. CYF should remember — it is not *you* who are important, it’s the people you are supposed to serve!

And tomorrow we will return to our normal programme 🙂


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