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CYFS got involved – and stayed involved, even when they were not needed.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 17, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

CYFS got involved – and stayed involved, even when they were not needed.
Monday, 14.05.2007, 09:02pm (GMT12)


By “Posie”

This is my story re my ordeals with the system via CYFS.  I did not want to write this story but with the encouragement of another, I decided to put pen to paper, in a manner of speaking.  I know that what you are about to read will produce anger and tears, and that’s ok because it is natural to feel these emotions.  All I ask is that you don’t take your anger and frustrations out on me, please?

I guess my story begins at the time I met Barry Smeath, the father of my son.  I met Barry at a social club gathering in Palmerston North.  After some weeks into the relationship I discovered I was pregnant.  Unfazed with the pregnancy, I thought I’d let my parents know that they were going to be grandparents again for the 20 something time.   Mum and Dad were ok about it.  However when I mentioned to Barry about my pregnancy, he immediately accused me by saying he was not the baby’s father.   I was totally devastated with this blatant accusation, because I was not the type of woman who slept around with every Tom, Dick and Harry.   Crying, I went back to my father and informed him of what Barry had said, as I was engaged to marry Barry at the time.   Dad had phoned Barry and asked him what his intentions were re his youngest daughter?  Barry’s swift reply was that he had no intention of marrying me in the first place and now that I was pregnant I could go to hell.   Well… that was the end of that, but undeterred, I made up my mind I was going to keep my baby and with Mum and Dad’s help I would get through the difficulties.

A few years prior to my pregnancy, I had finally been released fromPorirua
Hospital.  I was placed there, not long after I had my 14th birthday.  I’m not going to mention why this happened, but having worked through issues later on in my adult life, I had been misdiagnosed with having a completely different mental illness than the one I now have and had been suffering for some years.   Yes folks, I have Bipolar disorder.  And before you start with the prejudiced nonsense, I am not a nut, loony tune, or whatever the label that is current these days.  I have a mental illness which in my case is mild and can be managed by knowing my triggers and
St John’s Wort.  Know me before you judge me. 

I was sexually abused at age 4 years.  The sexual abuse demon seemed to haunt me as a few years later I was sexually abused again when 8 years old.  Because of this I was eliciting, odd behaviour.  To find out what was amiss I was sent to a specialist in
Auckland to be examined for a period of 18 months.  During my time in
Auckland I stayed at the Grange, a Salvation Army girls home.  At age 15 years the sexual abuse demon paid me yet another visit and I was again sexually abused by a male charge nurse of Villa 9 (Mr Shuker) and Mr Jack Rankin, a male nurse from one of the other villas.  I eventually became one of a “stable” of girls who were set up to be “prostitutes” for a particular group of male staff.  As a consequence, we girls were placed on the contraceptive, Depo Provera.  If you don’t know what that is, DP is a contraceptive administered by intramuscular injection, every 3 months.  

On having left Porirua, I was now in a vulnerable situation.  At this time I met up with Noel Thomas.  As I thought that I was no good for anything else and because I needed the money, I became a prostitute, with Noel acting as my pimp.  I did this for 2 years, until one night Noel said he knew of a couple of clients who needed younger girls to satisfy their lustful urges.

Hearing this, I was alarmed.  I needed to do something, but what? Not sure of what to do next, I said I knew of 2 who would be adequate.   Noel accepted this and asked me to arrange for these 2 girls to be at the “House”.   I agreed so with a plan in mind to set a trap, I took the 2 girls down to the ‘house’ over the next 2 nights.  I told each girl that they were to trust me as I was going to make darned sure that nothing was going to happen to them.  I also knew that if I did not bring these 2 girls down to meet Noel, my life would be forfeit.   I took one girl down one night and the other girl, the next night.

 True to my word, nothing did happen to the girls, but by keeping them safe, I had jeopardised my own life.  Noel had forced me, by putting a knife to my throat to perform ‘blow jobs’ on him and he brutally sodomised me.   When it was all over, I just gathered up my clothes and ran out of the house absolutely terrified.  Reaching home, I staggered in the back door too scared to even wake up my parents.   The next morning, I told them what had taken place re the girls and of Noel’s threats.  The police were contacted and it was arranged that a friend of mine act as a prostitute to catch Noel out.  This plan had worked as Noel was eventually arrested, charged and convicted of living off immoral earnings, trying to procure young women and girls for the purposes of prostitution and under age sex.

Two years after leaving Porirua I was still vulnerable and struggling to come to terms with life as I did not go through what would be termed a ‘normal’ adolescence.  At 20 years of age I was still learning about what having a normal life was all about.  I had given up prostitution and made a conscious effort to rid myself of its effects, by vowing that if I had a boyfriend, I would be faithful to him.  It was during these adjustment periods that I became pregnant.

Half way through my pregnancy, my (for want of a word) ‘shrink’ Mason Durie (who is now the head of Maori studies at
University) suggested that I go to Bethany in
Auckland.  I refused to do this as I had loving parents who were already supporting me and would continue to do so.   The very idea of my going to
Bethany was anathema to Mum and Dad.  They believed that
Bethany was reserved for women and girls who had no family to support them.   My parents were wonderful, Dad in particular.  Why was because Mum was somewhat dignified in her approach to children conceived out of wed lock.  Two of my sisters had already ‘been there, done that’, re ex nuptial pregnancies.

Mum was pleased that I had reached my 22nd year with out any children, while unmarried.  Although engaged to Barry, my being pregnant outside of wed lock had shattered my mother’s dreams of ‘marriage first” for me.  

Having shrugged off the “suggestion” that I go to
Bethany, I settled down to continue my pregnancy and subsequent birth of my child.  With six weeks to go until the birth, I received another visit from someone.  Unbeknown to me at the time, this person who entered my life was about to shatter it.   The person or I should say, persons were Jackie Sayers and Les Mundell, Department of Social Welfare Social Workers.  They had come a calling to my parent’s place because I had refused to go to

My Dad being the type of man he was, resented the intrusion of two social workers from the formerly known Department of Social Welfare and demanded an explanation for their visit.  They had been informed by Mason Durie that I was considered an ‘at risk’ parent because of my former incarceration for 6 months at Tokanui and mainly Porirua hospitals.  Because my adjustment into adult society was difficult, I was placed as an out patient at the Manawaroa Psychiatric Unit.  Jackie and Les had informed Mum and Dad that they had a responsibility to do an investigation and check if I was indeed a safe parent.  At this time, it never even occurred to me that Jackie and Les had ulterior motives: ie to uplift my son and place him in foster care, hopefully with enough pressure placed on me, that I would give in and give him up for adoption.  Just two things stood in their way. 1) My maternal instincts and 2) the love and care my parents had towards me and their newest grand child. 

My son had a difficult arrival into this world.  The labour was 21 hours long and try as I might, I could not push my (then) unborn child out into the world.  He, as I soon found out, was having a difficult time with foetal distress because of my long, difficult labour.  I was tired, in pain and sore, wondering in and out of consciousness, with the vaguest sense that someone had said, “Oh my God!! What’s happening?”  I heard my mother say that something was wrong but not being fully aware I didn’t have a clue as to what.  I vaguely remember my Ob/Gyn entering the delivery room, growling at someone.  The next thing I know is I’m waking up in recovery after an emergency caesarean section. 

I later learned why I was having problems giving birth.  My son’s head was jammed against the rim of my pelvic bone at such an angle the back of his head was coming instead of the crown.  With each contraction I was bleeding from a large tear up in the vaginal wall.  At this point I just want to say to you guys that you can thank the good lord above you are male. 

Baby C and I were home 2 weeks later and settling into a domestic routine as most parents do with a new baby.  Having grand parents on deck was an added advantage.  My Dad made a fuss of little C.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for my vigilance, Dad would have spoiled him rotten.  However, difficulties were occurring.  Being a single mum I was entitled to the DPB, but I could not get the full amount unless I named C’s father.  This I did.  Equipped with some hindsight, I sensed that all was not well.  More pressure was being applied by Jackie and Les only this time, pressure was also coming from Barry.  He was simply refusing to be named as C’s father. So consequently I had to consult a lawyer to have the matter settled in court.  I had nothing to hide. I had proven to myself what I had once vowed to do and did not ‘sleep around’.  What’s more, I had witnesses who knew Barry and I had been in a relationship up until I found out I was pregnant.

With C now at 6 months of age, the pressure coming from DSW and Barry was now at crisis point. I wasn’t sleeping very well and coping with a boisterous 6 month old baby had added to the problems.  I was turning inward on myself and began to fuel a hatred for Barry.  One night with the hatred so intense during a visit from Les Mundell, I threw C hard down on to the floor 3 times.  I wanted to kill C because of his constant reminder of Barry.  The legal proceedings were emotionally draining.  The constant barrage of questions from Barry’s lawyer left me reeling.  I was cross examined re my past sex life.  I had to ask myself, what did my past sex life have to do with this case?  I was not the one who was running around with another, during our relationship. That had been made abundantly clear prior to my cross examination, by the testimony of several witnesses who had testified on my behalf.   At no time was Barry ever questioned about his past, multiple and current sexual encounters with women. 

After throwing C to the ground I was pounced on and catapulted across the room by Les.  I was screaming, lashing out and trying to get back to C so I could finish off what I had started.  The next thing I know is that the police had arrived and I was carted off to Manawaroa.  I kept screaming and lashing out, attacking anyone with in range due to my hatred of Barry being at full throttle.  My parents could see what was happening to me and understood my rage against a man who as I subsequently found out, was no more that an irresponsible rake.  From Manawaroa, I was sent toLake
Alice for a few weeks just so they could find out what was really going on?  After 2 weeks in

Alice I came home.  I was feeling somewhat spaced out with the medication and barely functioning.  Little C was in foster care. 

I was missing my little boy and wanted to see him, so a visit was arranged at the DSW office here in Palmerston North.  I was unable to see him on the day I wanted to because according to the foster mother, C had a wee bit of a cold.  I waited for a few more days and eventually saw C.  

On the day of the visit, I received a shock, because my son was looking very ill.  My Dad voiced his concern at C’s condition and asked if C had been taken to a doctor.  The answer that was given was that the foster parent, in her opinion, believed C had a cold and would get over it.  I can tell you quite categorically that C’s condition told me that it was something far worse than a cold, so I demanded that C, be taken to my own GP.  The diagnosis was bronchial pneumonia.  I also noticed when changing C’s nappy that he had a nasty looking nappy rash.  Well as the usual story went, the foster mum was on to it.  Bovine scatology, I thought.  Looks like a bit of neglect here, so I conferred with Dad re reporting the foster mother to DSW about C’s care?  Dad felt it was best that he consult my solicitor, for legal advice.  This was done and with in days of the foster parents being reported for the obvious neglect of my son, and my improved state of health, C came home. 

After arriving home, I changed C’s nappy and was immediately confronted with a severe nappy rash.  A well as reddening of the skin, in some places the skin had peeled, was raw and there were blisters, some the size of the new 20c piece.  I cleared up the nappy rash within 2 weeks of C coming home.

I kept asking myself questions on how this woman who was a DSW foster mum, treat my son with such neglect?  How could she do this to my son and why?  Also what happened to the report? My son did come home, but was this foster parent ever reprimanded for the neglect of C?  To this day, I have no answers.

The years went by and C grew in to a rascally toddler. Always into mischief and a delight to everyone he met.  I was coping with support from a hospital social worker and things began to look bright, until a fateful day in June 1979.  This particular day started out like all the rest. An average day. The sun was shining and there had been a frost.  That morning I was pottering around as usual, after having dropped C off at day care.  Dad came over to put some more wood on the fire, when he suddenly doubled over, clutching his chest. With no time to waste I did CPR on Dad.  He regained consciousness and rather than wait around for an ambulance, I bundled Dad into my car and took him round to our GP.  Tests were done because although I knew what a heart attack was, I had never actually seen one.   From our GP’s it was straight to the hospital for Dad.  Over the next 6 months, Dad’s condition deteriorated rapidly with the onset of liver and kidney failure and on 28 December, at 11.10 pm my Dad quietly passed away.  One again, the strain of everything that was occurring with another legal battle re Barry’s vehement denial of being C’s father, my Dad’s illness and subsequent death took its toll on me.  Dad was in hospital during one court hearing.

And again, I took this hatred of what Barry was putting me, C and my parents through out on C. 

I was physically abusing my son, by hitting him with my fists, the jug cord, buckle end of the strap, was kicking him with my feet and had pushed him down the stairs twice.   I just couldn’t cope with C around me any more.  I knew I wasn’t insane, but I definitely needed help to separate the hatred of Barry from my son. It was not C’s fault. He just happened to be a constant reminder of the evil that was manifested in Barry and it was this evil I was trying to rid my self from.  Once again,
Clinton was placed in DSW foster care.

I founds out that his first foster mother was dressing him in rags fro school.  This was dealt with and C was placed in another foster home.  These new foster parents turned out to be the same people who used to have the foster home down by my sister in

Waterloo Cres

, in Palmy North.  C also had a new social worker by the name of Eric van Dyke.  Eric was awesome and knew his job.  Because I knew the new foster parents, Eric arranged it so that I could have fortnightly visits with C either at the foster home, or back at Mum’s place. It could not have worked out better.  I was receiving treatment again and was placed on more medication.   Only this time I was also leaning to separate the issues re Barry from C.  There were positive changes afoot.  Every thing was starting to fall into place and life was beginning to become normal.  I knew I still had a few years to go, but what the heck… normality ha arrived.   I was in another relationship with a man I had known since early child hood and was pregnant again.  With the pregnancy I was seeing C on a regular basis.  He was delighted with the fact his Mum was pregnant again. 

One day C came to see me and I was astonished to find him covered in bruises.  I asked how it happened and C told me.  He received the bruises from a older foster boy in W and S’s care, because C had told them that CW had sexually abused him.  Unbeknown to me, this had been reported to DSW and the offender promptly removed to a more secure institution.  This 15 year old could not be charged with any offence as he had not killed any one.  However, the damage to C had been done.   When C’s little sister N was 3 years old, he began to sexually abuse her. 

I found out about this when N and I were talking about the differences between right and wrong touching because N was now 7 years old and at school. The “Keeping Ourselves Safe Programme” had been introduced and was being taught in her class.  Reading this next paragraph one would feel as though WW3 had started.  I exploded.  C had just come in the door and seeing him, I grabbed him by the throat and beat the crap out of him.  I was in such a state, I had almost lost control.   I did not know who to call or what to do.  So I thought that the most logical thing to do was to call my Mum.  We had a chat and she suggested I phone Buster Curson, my social worker at the hospital and find out what he could do.  I needed to keep N safe, but at the same time, I didn’t want C to go back into DSW/CYFS foster care.   C was now 14 years old.  I did phone DSW/CYFS, but sadly C did end up back in foster care.   I was blamed for what happened re my history and that I should have been more vigilant.  Fine words, eh.  Use and blame the past and expect me to be equipped with insect eyes and antennae.  Every parent knows that you cannot be watching your children 24/7.  And besides I did not know that C was sexually abusing his sister although I suspected it.

The judge who presided over the proceedings had the audacity of Satan himself, when he made a reprehensible statement, accusing N and I for concocting a story re C’s sexually abusing his sister.  This accusation absolutely devastated me.   A judge had accused me and a 7 year old girl for making up a story about her brother sexually abusing her.  I was shocked beyond reality.  So shocked, I can’t even recall the judge’s name.  Just as well I suppose.  C was to spend the next 3 years in care.  His social worker was Binky Anderson and her supervisor was Maggie Kazantzis.  Binky was ok, but Maggie was proving to be one queen b***h from hell. 

Under the new CYFS regime, I was not allowed to have any access with C and yet N was allowed access with her brother.   What irony. My access visits with C were denied, yet N was allowed to have access with C and he was the one who abused her.  What the H. E  double hockey stick was going on here?  

I needed to protect N so I made it clear to Maggie that n was not allowed access with C unless I was with her.   Maggie saw this as me being manipulative and replied that either N be allowed to see C on her own or no access at all. So I said, ok, no access it is.   We soon learned to be sneaky re access visits.  N and I lived in the street going into the back of the high school that C was attending.  Some mornings, C would meet us at the back gate of high school, or meet me on my own after school.  Maggie was eventually informed of our meetings and C was moved to another school.  I tried for access again, but it was denied.  Access was only given to N.  Once again I said no.  Eventually they gave in and I was allowed supervised access.  I agreed to this on the condition access occurred at my mother’s place. 

At the foster home where C stayed, during his third stint with CYFS he was again abused.  He was beaten up and burned with cigarette butts by older boys at the foster home.  I was not informed of this until C had returned home. At age 18 years, it was no longer my responsibility to act on C’s behalf.  This was an issue he would have to face himself.

N and I continued on with our lives.  She felt so miserable, scared and unwanted.  At times she was suicidal and what with me having been finally diagnosed as suffering from Bipolar disorder, I was barely coping.  Still we got through her stormy adolescent years.

As a 15 year old, N had shown herself to be quite the assertive madam, with a temper.  This temper was to prove her undoing.  One day after an argument, N was still in a fit of rage.  Still yelling at me and calling me all the names she could think of, N hurled a half full, glass peanut butter jar at my head.  If that wasn’t enough N picked up the screw driver I had been using and went to stab me with it.  To stop her from causing me further damage and to calm her down, I physically restrained her.   I had grabbed her pony tail, pulled hard and with much force, pushed her up against the cupboard and removed the screw driver.   Not happy with the fact I had restrained her, etc, she went off on what I thought was a bike ride to cool off.  Not so, for a few hours later, a CYFS social worker arrives, with 3 police officers and a ‘Place of Safety Warrant.’

I was so upset at what had just occurred, I phoned John Tonson, pleading or help.  I was a member of P.A.N.C at this stage.  There was not a lot that could be done as it was late afternoon.  I contacted my friend Sarah to let her know what had occurred and she suggested I go down to her place because I was in no state to be left alone.  At Sarah’s I was able to give her more details of what had happened and while Sarah was writing notes, her phone rang.  The caller turned out to be N. 

She was upset, not knowing what to do?  N had realised what she had done and wanted to come home, but didn’t know what to do.  N had told the care giver of her wish to return home but the care giver had said no because of the warrant.  Sarah explained what the warrant was and that is only for 5 days.  If N holds on for those 5 days and doesn’t waver in her intentions to go home, there is not a lot that CYFS can do.  Over the next 5 days N phoned me from school and notes were passed from her and I with one of he mates acting as ‘postie’. 

On the last day of this 5 day period, I had gone to CYFS accompanied by John Tonson for an access visit with N as she had asked to see me.  John and I waited in the office for over an hour to see N, but were told she was not there yet. Some sort delay, they said and asked if we could come back in an hour.  One hour later we returned to the CYFS office and waited for yet another hour and a half with still sign of N.  By this time I was becoming stressed as I did not like being in the CYFS office and quite frankly just wanted to go home with N.  John couldn’t stay any longer so I stayed at the office.  Being fed up with having to wait, I started to walk out the door.  As I did so, I heard N yell out, demanding to see me.  I turned around just in time to see n rush through another door, hotly pursued by Maggie Kazantzis. 

N was telling me something about being at the office all the time, section 139 and demanding her right to go home.  Maggie was firing on all four cylinders and looked like she was about to explode.   N can’t go home yet, she has to inform us of that on her own, away from your influence.  I said, ‘Oh really. Is that right?”  N yelled at Maggie stating that she had already told them of her wish and promptly gave Maggie a swift kick in the left shin for good measure, then walked out the door with me in tow.

I asked N what she was referring to when she mentioned section 139.  I found out that Maggie along with her other social work team members, had conspired to hold N in the office, to force me into signing a section 139.  N had told them that keeping her in the office away from me for several hours, to force me into submission wasn’t going to work.  N said that she had seen me walk away across the road with John and if I had only turned around and looked up, I would have seen her. 

That was the last time my children were to be involved with CYFS.  C and N are both adults with fulltime jobs. I believe that their lives under normal solo parent circumstances would have been easier.  However, they had to live in a situation where their mother had been misdiagnosed initially with another mental illness.  They have been damaged, but it is now for them to work through those damage issues.  Thanks to the wise intervention of Mason Durie I was correctly diagnosed and although I’ve had my struggles, I can look back over my life and say, Yep, you did it. 

I’m not saying that CYFS have gone for good, because once you are in the system, you are there for life.  My concern is for my grandchildren and for other families with CYFS problems. I hope that this story has given some insight and understanding into my own struggles.

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