Archive for January, 2014

Dear Mister Han…

January 7, 2014

Dear Mister Hancock: You proclaim that it has been “hurtful” to hear revelations about how poorly the foster care system in Alberta is functioning. Let me tell YOU what pain is: Watching one’s 8-year-old son, take it upon himself to write a letter of “good-bye” to his sister; walk up to a podium to courageously read the tribute aloud amongst hundreds of onlookers also mourning; return to his seat and collapse into one’s arms, sobbing so intensely that the chapel is wracked with the sound of his distress… And, feel completely inadequate because nothing, not a thing can be done to alleviate such utter hurt within that small child. (Our youngest son was 8 years at the time of loss of his sister – however, suffering helplessly alongside were our 3 other young boys ages 10, 12 and 15.) To know true pain is to believe in the expertise of ministry representatives who direct to what would become an only daughter’s descent into hell and be helpless to retrieve her because the caseworker refused to acknowledge the situation was amiss. Pain is pleading with a caseworker, urging one’s child presentation for medical consultation and being denied. Instead, told that I was only “one voice” in my daughter’s life (blocking legal right as one’s child guardian); coaxing that my child was routinely being taken for medical examination and the placement well-monitored… Hurt consists of having every worry confirmed ten-fold as one finally gains access to the truth with medical and educational documentation demonstrating that others, too, had been voicing concern to no avail. AND, find out that the caseworker who had made reassurances had, in reality, not laid eyes on my child for 14 months. Pain stems from being failed by a system in which the entire purpose for one’s child to be under ministry direction was to receive extraordinary medical supports. Pain exudes with revelation that the caseworker had not followed through in duty to ensure that my child was presented for medical intervention as directed; instead relying upon word of mouth of a foster person who failed to take my child to a physician for periods lapsing 3 years. You want to know what is also hurtful? Learning that the social-worker now holds the position of Provincial Criminal Record Checker. What is painful is standing in a courtroom while having to serve as legal counsel for one’s own deceased child because none was made available to represent her voice within a Public Fatality Inquiry; which, by the way, I – the mother – needed to strenuously pursue because the Province refused to do so on its own. Pain is hearing how one’s child’s remains – sample of brain tissue – was not preserved for evidence. Hurt is, despite severity of proceedings, listening to the laughter and watching the smirks of a foster female who shows no remorse for failing to follow-through to seek medical attention for my now dead child. Pain, worry and horror stems from knowledge that the same individual continues to foster other medically fragile children. So, Minister Dave Hancock… If you are “hurt”, so be it; this is the truth. If you wish to alleviate yourself from pain, take action to prevent other deaths immediately. Start with admitting a problem exists. Denial utterly demoralizes and diminishes the beauty of the life of a child… To know true pain is to witness a beautiful little girl blossom within mere months of exposure within natural family home amongst siblings who loved her. To see a child gain 12 pounds – or in better context – 20% of her body mass as she grew from a 50 pound shell in weight at 13 years when she left the foster system. To hear a child begin to speak after being non-verbal her entire life. To watch the pride in that lovely face as she became self-reliant at using the bathroom following a life-time of incontinency. Witnessing all the gains which took place in so short a time and then watching it all crumble with her sudden collapse. Pain is to always wonder how far one’s little girl may have gone in her individual growth had she opportunity to grow into adulthood. Pain is never being able to hold or smell or smile with one’s precious child. Hurt is seeing the loss extend to loved ones, affecting health so intensely that within 2 months a grandfather’s heart failed… Without the experience of closure through judicial accountability, loss of granddaughter resulted in the other grandfather’s collapse. Next, an only aunt/Godmother would succumb and a grandmother also died; leaving one remaining grandmother. My mother, who suffers from dementia. Pain is viewing one’s mother trapped continuously in a state of anxiety, asking over and over and over whether anyone has been held accountable for the death of her only granddaughter. Mr. Hancock, your hurt pales in comparison. That you would publicly use that particular terminology – comparing one’s “hurt” at attention finally being duly given to 145 children who died under Provincial direction – can only be viewed as an effort to detract from accountability at the exposure to truth. Frankly, on behalf of all who survive the deaths of those young lives, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The loss that I describe is but one family’s tragedy, imagine how many lives are destroyed stemming from those 145 children lost? I feel you ought to be deeply ashamed of a Ministry that refuses to acknowledge that a problem exists or apologize for those losses of vulnerable lives. Instead of saving face, please strive to save our most vulnerable. Sincerely, Velvet Martin, mom of Samantha angel