Friday, February 5, 2010

Wow. Yesterday was one HELL of an experience.

I experienced so many different things at my internship yesterday that my head is spinning!

First, we attended a foster care re-licensing session so that my supervisor knows how to properly renew her foster mom's license come this Summer. I tell you what, I am amazed at the amount of paperwork, legwork, etc, that goes into licensing someone to become foster parents. Holy shit! You would think they were applying to become the next President. It is insane, but I definitely understand the need for it. You want to ensure the children are placed with
appropriate people.

During this meeting, people were discussing how they get calls from people who are looking for employment in fostering! I know this is way more common than it should be, but there are definitely people out there who foster for the money. And I will tell you, you don't get a lot, and it is certainly not enough to fully support the child - you need to use some of your own income, for sure. So, it makes me wonder about the children in these homes, and the level of neglect. I think it is less common today with all the checks and balances, reports, etc. - but still...

After lunch, we sorted through legal paperwork for
TPR and Petition for Adoption. What a headache! Then, we went to court to file it. Then we had to retrieve some birth certificates from the Office of Vital Statistics. We tried to squeeze the Social Security office in there, but they close at 3:30! What is up with government agencies closing early? Honestly, I think government agencies should have different or longer hours. If you think about it, the people who most likely need to visit these agencies are the people who don't have the luxury to take time off from work. Our systems are so broken. Boo. GET A CLUE!

THEN - we went to the hospital to speak with a birth mom. This woman is of Mayan decent, so communicating with her was difficult. Supervisor speaks Spanish, and has experience with Mayans, so she said phrases 4 or 5 different ways before B.M. understood. This isn't an ideal situation. B.M. can't understand the process, nor the paperwork she has to sign. Come to find out, she can't read or write either, so her signature was an X. Supervisor told me that she had requested to leave the baby (Safe Haven) but the hospital administrator urged her to speak with us so we could get as much information as possible pertaining to her health, etc. That isn't going to happen. Supervisor is going to look into a translator for when she visits B.M. to get consent, but who knows if B.M. would tell us anything.

We got to see baby and he is just beautiful. He went to term and he is very healthy. They did all types of health screens on B.M. and baby and there doesn't seem to be any health issues, so that is good. The nurses were asking us about B.M.'s bruises, of which we could get no information from her. It would take months, most likely, for B.M. to open up to Supervisor And even then, she probably wouldn't disclose that she is physically beaten by a man/men. She told us she didn't know who birth father was, and where he could be. Not sure if that was legitimate, but it's all we have. People of these ethnic groups (typically undocumented and in the U.S. illegally) are very distrusting of any official-type because we all represent the government to them, which of course means, they could be sent packing. Supervisor told me later that abuse is very common in that culture, and you just don't talk about it, nor confront it. You just accept it. *sigh* Also, when asked if they use condoms, B.M. said they don't like them. It is quite common to hear this, and I assume the women don't dare question it. Blah.

I guess the good thing coming out of this is that baby is going to a good family. I wish I could be there when Supervisor made the call. I hope that B.M. walks away from this into a better situation for herself, and I really hope that we don't meet her again...

Next week:

  • Intake with pregnant teen for counseling, and explore her options

  • Post-placement with couple who adopted an infant from India

  • "Child Abuse and Neglect" training

Monday, February 1, 2010

Water: It's what's for dinner.

2010 Social Justice Reading Challenge

Did you ever stop to think about water, and exactly how important it is to sustain all living things? In America, water is as common as a terrible singer on a popular reality show. We take it for granted. Big time. Are you aware of exactly how desperate some countries are for potable, sanitary drinking water? I would say that access to potable, sanitary drinking water is a basic human right. Wouldn't you? Unfortunately, it is not a reality for many people of the world. People in countries like Bangladesh, Ethiopia and India mostly drink, bathe and urinate/defecate in the same water source. It is utterly despicable that some people must live this way - can you imagine drinking sewage with your dinner? It is also a major source of disease - cholera being a big one. Cholera is a nasty, nasty disease and a shitty (literally) way to suffer and die.
  1. What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of Water as a social justice issue? I immediately think of women living in refugee camps, such as those who have been displaced due to genocide in their country. These women may have to leave the safety and security of the camp to walk for miles to fetch water (although the main thing they collect is firewood) which puts them in terrible danger of being raped/slaughtered by militia. I also think of the many women who have to travel miles and miles for one bucket of water and loose valuable time that is needed to keep their villages alive!
  2. What, if any, exposure have you personally had to a water shortage? My only exposure would be due to a hurricane, and we had to drink/bathe from bottled water for a few days. This is not exactly a shortage though, in the real scheme of things.
  3. What potential action steps can you think of that relate to this month’s theme of Water? We all need to do our part to conserve water. Did you know that it takes 3 plastic bottles full of water to make the one plastic bottle? Ridiculous, I know. One way you can help conserve water is to not buy bottled water, and instead buy a stainless steel container to refill, and a filter for your tap, or a filtered pitcher. You will also be saving the environment buy producing less plastic, which is not biodegradable! As far as the global water crisis, educate yourself and others!,,,

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Theory, Theory. Everywhere.

So I've been doing research for a Family Systems Theory paper I have to write. We have to pick a presenting problem, either real or made up, in our own family. We need to do a bio-psycho-social assessment, apply different family system theories, create interventions, etc. I always struggle with writing - it does not come easy for me. However, the research part is where I excel. I wanted to be a Research Librarian for years (still have that passion, actually).

So, I have to find some theorists. I discovered Dr. Murray Bowen, who developed his own theory, aptly named Bowen theory. He focused on 8 concepts in his research. The most important aspect to his theory is called the Differentiation of Self, which really makes a ton of sense. Differentiation is when an individual is able to separate their thoughts from their feelings. A person of undifferentiated status feels so intensely that they hardly ever distinguish their thoughts from their feelings, and therefore, are incapable of thinking objectively. On the other hand, a differentiated person can balance the two, as they are able to resist being overwhelmed by their strong emotions and remain objective. An undifferentiated person reacts emotionally because they have no autonomous identity - they can't separate themselves from their family. On the contrary, a differentiated person has an established identity and is confident in their ability to think/act for themselves. The less developed a person's "self," the more impact others have on his functioning and the more he tries to control, actively or passively, the functioning of others. Bowen said "People with a poorly differentiated "self" depend so heavily on the acceptance and approval of others that either they quickly adjust what they think, say, and do to please others or they dogmatically proclaim what others should be like and pressure them to conform." Voilà! I think this says a lot about people who are able to think critically about their situation/environment and question it. They form their own identity by believing in their own thoughts and opinions, and not just follow along in the footsteps of others. I think this concept is fascinating.

Virginia Satir developed a concept regarding self-esteem. It is no secret that communication is the key to any relationship. Does you think a person with low self-esteem speaks up often, expressed their opinions, and communicates their concerns? Most likely not. As expected, Satir pointed out that a person with low self-esteem will likely be ineffective at communicating. Thus, increasing an individual's self-esteem would help the family system better communicate thoughts and feelings. Voilà!

Anywho - off to work on the paper.