Because I am Black
at a glance
I am hurt by the treatment of Black women, especially single mothers by the Children's Aid Society. I feel that the CAS is telling me I have no knowledge of how to raise my children because I am Black. Some people might think that racism does not exist here in Canada, but it is still does whether we want to believe it or not. I am seeing this with my own eyes, and hearing comments that I think no mother should hear, regardless of her finances, race, culture, or marital status. My daughter was told that I was a witch doctor because I would sometimes wrap my hair in a traditional African head-wrap. I believe that because we are not an affluent family, we were taken advantage of and exploited. I just want to have my young-adult children back in my care. I missed more than two years of crucial development in their lives and nothing can bring those years back. I have cried many tears and wish that I never reached out to the Children's Aid Society for help.
I found out after my daughter's 15th birthday that she was abused by relatives more than 6 years ago. She decided to speak out by telling me her story in metaphors. Without knowing what happened to her, and with her behaving very aggressively, I misunderstood her situation. At first, I thought she may have psychological issues. As she began sharing details of her abuse, the pain that the abuse had caused her compelled me to seek help for her.
A counsellor at the unemployment centre suggested I contact the Children's Aid Society. I was wary of contacting the CAS because in the black community, we are fully aware of their power to take children away from parents. I chose instead to go to Hiatus House (in Windsor, Ontario), a place for abused women. Since my daughter was under 16, Hiatus House told me to call CAS.
When the counsellor at the unemployment centre told me that if I did not call CAS someone else will, I took this as a threat and called them. CAS took one week to come to my home. By this time, my son and daughter were actually starting to speak to me about the abuse and had calmed down. As a family, we were starting to get to the bottom of their torment. I told my kids that we should cancel the appointment with CAS, but my daughter suggested that we better not or the CAS will get suspicious, and this would make the situation even worse.
The two CAS workers who came to our home told me that my daughter was crazy and will kill me in my sleep if I didn't rush her to the hospital. They paid for a taxi and we left my son behind at home by himself. When I questioned them about leaving my son behind alone, they advised me to leave him. Later, my daughter told me that after I was asked to leave the hospital room, the workers began lying and making up stories. My daughter wanted to leave the hospital and I regret that I didn't listen to her. I thought that by leaving her, I was doing what was best for her at the time.
While my daughter was in the hospital, she complained of being sexually touched by staff. The doctor told her to call CAS, which frustrated her because she felt that if she was not in the hospital, she would've been able to call the police for help and her complaint would've been taken seriously. Instead, the doctor suggested that my daughter was hallucinating because she was refusing to take the meds. I went to the police station on my daughter's behalf, but they refused to help because she was in a psychiatric hospital. After more than two months she was transferred to a hospital in London, Ontario, where the doctor believed she did not have a psychosis. She was then shuffled from hospital to hospital.
I wanted to check my daughter out of the hospital but I felt intimidated and threatened by the CAS workers and the doctors at the mental facility. They would threaten us by saying that if my daughter does not take the drugs (that were making her ill), she would never go home. After I mentioned that I wanted to do some research on my daughter's condition and get a second opinion, the CAS worker threatened me by saying if I don't do as they tell me, it would be a really hard battle against the CAS in court. At that time, I felt naive and bullied. I believed that I had no rights.
I did as I was told and watched doctors lie about me on paper by twisting things I told them into fabricated stories. I could not believe that these were professionals. I even saw with my own eyes, a doctor lying about me on paper that I was in the office with both children and the doctor, when I wasn't.
While my daughter was in the hospital, I had an argument with the worker. The secretary at the psychiatric ward suggested that I cut ties with the CAS if I wanted access to my kids' health records. I thought the decision to cut ties with the CAS was up to me, then realized I was stuck after I called the worker and argued with her. The worker then came to my home and apprehended my son. When she came to my apartment and gave me the apprehension papers, my son took them from her and told her to come back with the proper information because the paperwork was incorrect. He pointed out that the height and weight stated in the papers was not accurate to his own height and weight. He then told the police that he is not leaving his mother.
I told my son to go because I did not want trouble with the police. He was then handcuffed and sent to a group home. I felt this protocol was inappropriate and shocking because my son had never been violent or exhibited any kind of psychotic behaviour. He was telling the worker that the action they took on his family was “not democratic but more of quiet communism action”. While he was kindly telling me 'mom, calm down', the worker was telling him not to lay his hands on his mother. The police report stated that my son was psychotic and dangerous, and that they were protecting me. None of this was actually true. After my son was apprehended, I was not allowed to see him or speak to him on the phone.
After being discharged from the hospital, my daughter was placed in a group home in Windsor, Ontario, where she witnessed verbal and emotional abuse. The kids in group homes are also not the nicest.
At the age of 16, she started running away. On one occasion, when my daughter ran away from a group home in Waterloo, the police came to my home looking for her just as I was leaving for work. They came with two Windsor CAS workers and asked to search my home for my missing 16 year old daughter. I asked them if they had a search warrant or court papers and they said no. When I told them to come back with a warrant, the CAS worker yelled at the police, “This is the mom. Go in!” The CAS workers began walking up the stairs toward my apartment with the police, while I started locking my door, insisting on a warrant. The arresting police officer twisted my arms and handcuffed me, charging me with obstruction. He then started to get very rough and violent with me while the CAS workers laughed. They went into my home and searched the rooms but did not find my daughter because she was not there. The neighbours then saw the police drag me outside in the cold winter without a coat or shoes. Prior to this moment, I had never been in trouble with the law.
My daughter was on her own from CAS care for more than seven months while she was on the run. She was later caught and then shortly afterwards thrown into a adult mental facility against her will. The CAS actually used the hospital as a holding cell. All her freedom as a teen was taken away and she was forced to take drugs. She was on a cocktail of 5-7 drugs at a time, and started losing her hair. Nobody would tell her what the drugs were for, even though she was telling them that she didn't want to take them because of how they would make her feel and the effect they were having on her body. She was blacking out, falling, felt high, and even stopped having her period.
The CAS used my daughter running away as an excuse to keep me from seeing my son for over a year after they apprehended him. They kept me from seeing my daughter for over a year and a half as well.
Today, I see them, but it is not the same. It will take a while before my children get their lives back. My son tells me, 'Mom, it is best you do not have me in your life.' He tells me that he is a burden to me. My children never said such things until they were in the hands of the CAS. I have to work very hard on what I say to them, so they are aware that I love them and know that they are my angels. Every day I cry for them to be together and every day I fight against CAS wanting to make them crown wards. I refuse to give up no matter how difficult it is.
My daughter blames herself for everything because she thinks she ruined our family when she opened up about her past. I keep telling her, 'No. You did the right thing.' Her experience has given her a very low self esteem, which I am working on improving. To this day, she is still locked up in a facility, in another city. She has only seen her brother once since that day she was taken to the hospital in a taxi by CAS. She has been injured in the hospital and they blame it on her not taking her meds. My daughter has suffered so much, just because of one phone call.
The CAS never followed up on my daughter's initial abuse claims. They asked the abusers if they abused her and her brother, and of course they denied it. That was the end of it.
My daughter was 15 now she is 17, turning 18 this year. My son was 13 1/2 and now he is turning 16. I only saw him once in December 2011, and have not seen him since that date. Before the December visit, my last access to him was October 2010. I am fighting crown wardship, for their education, their health and their humanity. Time is a precious thing and no money could make up for the time lost between me and my children. They have lost time with each other and they have lost time with me, their mother.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story.
Source: Esther Buckareff
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