As I was going through a rough last few weeks of pregnancy my mentally ill daughters feelings and emotions were escalating. And the night before I was going in to have a c-section and deliver my baby, my ill teen daughter made allegations against my husband.
Last year, exactly one year ago from this exact moment... I was laying in my bed- awake and alone... and wondering if I was going to be OK. Wondering if I was going to make it through surgery, wondering if my baby was OK, wondering if my ill daughter was OK, worried about all my other children, I didn't know if my husband could be at my delivery, if he could ever come home, if our children would all be taken into foster care while I was in the hospital, if my life was ever going to be OK again, if my marriage would survive the allegations, if I would ever be mentally stable from all I was dealing with in that very moment... that moment that my world came crashing down around me.
Its scary how fast things can change.
When Sophie made the allegations one year ago today she did so in front of all of the children. All of the children who were over 10 at the time really understood what she was saying and they really got the issue at hand. They knew that she was lying, she had told them all the very same thing a few days prior which they had told her to stop "being gross" and saying "horrible things". Of course they didn't believe her but the didn't want to trouble me and their dad with the things that she said. Sophie had taught Joy to say the same sort of sick things and the older children all just tried to keep Sophie away from the younger children. But Joy was affected, she had heard too much already and had far too much time while I was in the hospital every other day for testing to be around Sophie. (Both of them were home schooled at the time.)
After Sophie made the allegations I instantly made everyone go into different rooms and I sat in the living room with Joy. I held Joy and let her know that it was going to be OK. Joy then knew that it was serious and she started crying. I knew that my husband would never have done anything to hurt anyone and I knew that Sophie had hurt Joy- that Joy was Sophie's latest victim. That Sophie was jealous of cute little Joy and jealous that Grace's biological sister had become such a tight knit part of our family. Sophie was feeling replaced and with the baby coming, Sophie was definitely scared about her place in the family. (Unrealistic to us all, but for her, she was very afraid of losing us all.)
The house was silent and Joy and I hugged each other and sat on the couch together. The baby in my belly was moving around so much and I felt numb. What do you do? What was I supposed to do? I just wanted to tell her to shut up and get out of the house and stop it. But I knew that my husband and I had to call the on call therapists for both of the girls, we had to get someone over right away.
Shortly later Sophie's therapist arrived. By this time my husband and I, my sister and the therapist were all sitting on my bed talking about what to do next... about what happened and what was said... what the allegations were etc. The allegations actually involved Sophies therapist. Sophie claimed that when her dad was "on the phone with her therapist he exposed himself to Joy and made Joy touch his private parts." The therapist was talking about how much background noise there was during there phone conversation a week or so prior. And how he was making lunch and serving the kids lunch and how she could hear all the little kids in the background. She kept going over the entire conversation with him and had taken notes during the conversation about what time they were on the phone with one another and how this was just impossible etc. At the time that the supposed incident happened I was sitting at the doctors office waiting to turn in a urine sample. I was gone from home for less than 20 minutes and during the time my husband was on the phone with the therapist. All of the younger children were home and in raising some odd 50+ children over the years we have never, ever had allegations against us. I don't know what else we could have done differently. I didn't know how we would ever recover. I didn't know how to help my other children feel safe and secure when they were so terrified they would go into foster care.
We continued to sit on my bed and I cried, sobbed, through nearly two boxes of tissues. My pregnancy hormones were out of whack and I was beside myself. I called my Mom and let her know that she needed to book a ticket here from Ohio right away for as soon as she could get here. It was already late in Ohio and I knew I was causing her a sleepless night and a great deal of pain and worry when everyone was already so worried about the baby being born, surgery the next morning etc.
Then the therapist and my sister promised us that they wouldn't let our kids be taken away. That they wouldn't let them be split up. My sister said she would take a leave from work and stay here until things were done. She knew that it might be months but she was committed to doing whatever it took. Then we called and reported the allegations to the child abuse hot line. They talked to me, the therapist and I remember it taking a long time to give them all the children's names and birth dates etc. I remember then calling the older children who were moved out already and getting them on stand by and ready to help. They all came by our side and supported us, stepping in as the responsible young adults to help care for their siblings.
My husband then had to leave. They didn't ask him to leave but because we knew that we were then going to be investigated it would be best for him to voluntarily leave and not be near any of the children. He went to my sisters house and my sister spent the night here with me. I tried to get my act together and finish packing my bag for the hospital. I didn't know if my husband would be able to be there or if he was going to be arrested? Or interviewed? Or what was going to happen or how it would be handled?
The next morning bright and early after a fitful hour of sleep or so my husband and Leishan were here to pick me up and to go to the hospital. When I checked in I didn't know for sure if I was having a c-section or if they were going to let me have Izzy naturally. She was measuring huge and with the gestational diabetes there was a chance for shoulder distocia. They offered me the chance to have a natural childbirth. The doctors came in and we talked. I was exhausted. There was no way I could make it. Not even if I knew she had been a tiny small baby at that point, I couldn't even deal. I was having massive anxiety about the surgery but I knew in my heart the anxiety was about everything else going on too. I was happy to take some silly pills before walking back to the surgery room. It did make some parts of the deliver a little foggy but at that point it was all I could do to cope.
Izzy was born. I was elated but not really fully allowed to enjoy her, or my husband, or our moment. It was stolen. It was over. It was gone.
A dear dear friend of mine who is a nurse met us at the hospital that morning and knew what was going on. She stayed in the surgery room and took lots of pictures and was able to help us through. All those days going in for non stress tests had been a wonderful way to get to know many of the nurses. They had enjoyed getting to know us through this mutual friend and through the visits there several times a week. That day while I was having Izzy the police were at my house talking to my sister doing a welfare check to make sure that Sophie and Joy were OK.
The day after I had Izzy the person hired to handle the investigation for the CPS department showed up at the hospital. She was a therapist. She knew about RAD. She was given certain cases at the time that were more complex with more complex kiddos and families. She was supposed to come to the hospital to interview us the day that we had Izzy- but she had refused. That is why the police came to do the well child check up. She didn't want to steal anymore of our moment than had already been stolen. We are forever grateful for that one day of privacy. Because after that... there was none.
With this CPS investigator we had to write a safety plan. My husband would stay with me at the hospital. If any of the children came to visit us a nurse had to be present in the room with us to supervise. I was also being investigated for "neglect"... because if I had known that my husband was abusing the kids and had done nothing, I was potentially guilty by association. So yes, they had to keep our children safe from both of us.
The safety plan was put into my medical file so that all the nurses and our family doctor and the other doctors we were dealing with were all aware of the situation. It was at that point that I knew I had to call my doctor in and just explain to him what had happened. He knew Sophie and the issues and he was mortified that we had been dealing with so much.
Then the police detective came to the hospital. Not only were we being investigated by child protective services but also by the police. Since potentially a sex crime had been committed they had to open up a criminal investigation as well. They let us know that they would be bringing Sophie and Joy in for questioning and that they would have both the police and CPS there. They also let us know that they would be going to the schools of the other child to talk to them.
Numb. Angry. But mostly just numb.
Hours went by and then we got a call. My sister. Sophie had stuck to her story and further embellished and Joy recanted and said that "Sophie had told her to say a lie about Dad." Basically what we had assumed happened, did happen. Sophie had made everything up and was trying to destroy the family. The police and CPS still needed to talk to the other kids and they did end up going to school to talk to all the older children.
When at the school talking to the older children they were asked several really bizarre questions like:
"Do you own bathrobes?"
"Do you wrestle when you wear your bathrobe?"
"Do your parents keep naked pictures of themselves around the house?"
Good Lord. The things that Sophie had told them. Naked bathrobe wrestling matches. Really?
I know its not funny. But we still laugh when we see people wearing bathrobes. Like at the hot springs... everyone wears a bathrobe all over the place. Or when Nana came to visit and wore a bathrobe- we thought for sure we were doomed!
Lauren and Matt came to the hospital to visit and brought Angelina and Jude. The nurse (who happened to be our neighbors sister in law) came in the room and sat with us. She was a true blessing and made us as comfortable as possible even though she was "watching" us. After that visit we didn't have anymore of the kids come to the hospital. We were shocked when one of the therapists called to ask if they could bring Sophie to the hospital to meet the baby. (Umm... NO.)
Before we knew it- It was Friday morning. The day that we were supposed to discharged. We had known that the day before we could have gone home but because the investigation was going on we didn't want to leave without a plan. At one point we thought that I could go home with the baby and be with the kids and my husband would be going to stay with my Aunt. But then we found out that I wouldn't be able to bring the baby to see him or any of the other kids without supervision from a third party agreed upon by CPS. We just weren't willing to give anymore of this time or energy to Sophie. She had wanted all the control over the special moment in our families life and she was given every ounce of it. Even though they all knew that it was NOT true, they still had to get signatures and interviews done and things had to go through the process (which can take MONTHS).
We waited things out. We had the bags packed and we were ready to leave the hospital. We waited many long hours. What we didn't know was that the police detective was running around getting everything done and CPS as well so that we could rip up that safety plan and leave the hospital together and go home. What a blessing to come out of such a nightmare of a time.
I don't blog about this because I want to humiliate Sophie or air our dirty laundry. I wanted to write about it and add more details because I don't ever want to forget how I felt on this day, one year ago. I don't ever want to forget how much she is capable of destroying. I love Sophie so much, we all do. We are working through her demons and we are hopeful. We know that these are just baby steps. But to totally forget the details and forget how I was feeling would be dangerous. So I write because I don't ever want to forget. If I didn't tell you that there was a day in the past year that I didn't hurt because of this- I would be lying.
I am sweetly broken, wholly surrendered. (Listen to the song, so lovely!)