Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Visiting the CPS office

I just got out of a three and a quarter hour meeting with CPS, at their office. I cooperated completely. It was torture. I would have preferred waterboarding.

At the start, Sally Mitchell asked me what questions or comments I might have. I said that I was baffled by her actions, as her cited complaints could not possibly constitute abuse. Either there is more that she is not telling me, or she has misinterpreted events, or overreacted to them, or something. I told her that I had asked others about the incidents, and no one I've asked thinks that anything is wrong with any of them.

She assured me that she was telling me the whole story. I begged her to give me an example of wrongdoing. She then told me of a complaint that I do not always buy what the kids want at the grocery store. In particular, there was an incident a couple of months ago when they wanted to buy clam chowder at the store, and I bought another kind of soup instead. She said that she could see no good explanation for this, as I could have just bought the soup that they wanted.

She quizzed me about the last time we were at the grocery store, and what specifically I bought that they picked out. I told her that I bought a tri-tip roast, salad greens, english muffins, pizza, berry sundae, and berry smoothie entirely at their request. They also picked out a watermeleon and some raspberries, but I forgot about them.

Then she told me about a couple of other issues that were equally idiotic. When I explained those, and begged her to explain what she could possibly find objectionable, she admitted that there was no one thing that she could put her finger on.

Nevertheless, she was sticking to her determination that I was guilty of emotional abuse. Furthermore, she said that under the law, she is supposed to report all such determinations to the state so I can be put on some sort of state dept. of justice registry of child abusers. She said that she was going to do that as soon as she completes the paperwork. Her mind was made up, and nothing would change it.

I asked if I could see the paperwork that she submits. She acted like no one had asked her that before. She said that she didn't see any reason that I could not get a copy. However, she said that it would just declare me guilty of emotional abuse, and not give any explanation. She made it sound like it was just a checkbox on a form.

She did say that I could appeal, and some higher ranking CPS official would review it. I said that I wanted to do that. She looked around, and came back with Jack Pischner. He knew nothing about the case, but she acted like I could talk to him about it for 20 minutes, and that would be my appeal.

He seemed to be trying to psychoanalyze me. He kept asking me how I feel. When I would explain something to him, he would tell me that I am using my head too much, and that I should use my heart.

I begged both of them to tell me what I could possibly do to please them. Mr. Pischner repeatedly said that what I needed to do was to admit wrongdoing, and that that was the only way to resolve the impasse and see my kids again. I was ready to concede that. Just tell me what I did wrong and I'll admit it, I kept telling them.

He insisted that there must be some wrongdoing, or there would not be a CPS file on me. He also acted as if it were unreasonable for me to expect CPS to tell me what was wrong. He urged me to take some parenting classes, get into some psychotherapy, and figure it out for myself.

He said that it was crucial to find a psychotherapist who was smarter than me. He said that he could see that I was intelligent. A lesser therapist might not successfully lay a guilt trip on me. No, he didn't really say that last sentence, but that seemed to be his reasoning.

I explained that I've been in divorce court for four years, and I've already taken every parenting class and seen every kind of psychotherapist that the court could figure out how to send me to. And yet none of them could ever explain how I had ever done anything wrong.

Ms. Mitchell acted as if she had no more responsibilities in the matter, because the court had acted to take the kids away. She admitted that she conveyed some sort of info to the court, but would not tell me exactly what. Now that the ex-wife has sole legal and physical custody of the kids, I have no more opportunities to abuse them, so her job is done.

At the end, in response to Mr. Pischner asking me how I feel again, I told him that I felt like I had just landed on Mars and was talking to a bunch of Martians, because none of this made any sense to me. He said that he could understand me feeling that way.

By an amusing coincidence, the song on the radio as I pulled into the CPS parking lot was Guns N Roses: Civil War. It starts with a clip from the movie Cool Hand Luke. The prison warden tells Paul Newman "what we have here is a failure to communicate". CPS could have just said that, and saved us all three hours and fourteen minutes.


Anonymous said...

Since you've been charged with "emotional abuse", you might want to start by first reviewing the legal definitions of emotional abuse. For example, here is Arizona's legal definition (typical of most states):

"Emotional abuse is evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or improper aggressive behavior as diagnosed by a medical doctor or psychologist and caused by the acts or omissions of the parent or caretaker (ARS §8-201)"

In California, CPS has a publication ( that defines the following "indicators" of emotional abuse:

Emotional Abuse
• Lacks self-esteem; puts self down
• Seeks approval to an extreme.
• Unable to be autonomous (e.g.,
makes few choices, fears rejection).
• Hostile, verbally abusive,

From what you've said in this blog, your kids are doing well and don't fit these "indicators".

Seems like you need to get the file from the social worker, if at all possible. You may be able to use the Freedom of Information Act for help:

You might also consider these options:

Good Luck !

Anonymous said...

So now the government is into regulating how many grocery items in our cart were picked by parents vs. children???

Uncle Sam is in our homes in the worst way. And I believe your claim that the social worker simply made up her mind. Her examples of abuse are light-years beyond laughable.

I don't know about you, but my parents weren't overly concerned with making sure I could pick freely from the grocery aisles.

The process of growing-up is laden with small emotional traumas. Hell, we've all been there! Since when did a child's every displeasure (e.g. didn't get to pick the soup) become fuel for taking them from an obviously-abusive parent (rolling eyes) ? Your children sound better off than most.

It's time for your case to get national attention. This is RIDICULOUS.

Anonymous said...

Pischner died in April 2009.