What I said to the man who called social services on me

social services, called, what i said, thank you

I was 7 months pregnant and I just worked a 10 hour day at my preschool practicum (that means I paid money to work for 10 hours with 30 children). I got home, exhausted, to find a card from Social Services in the door with a note for “Samantha Palmer-please call”.

A million thoughts ran through my mind. I truly couldn’t think of anything I had done to cause a visit from social services. Sure, I’ve yelled at my kids, or threatened to take away all their toys, or sent them to their room, but nothing that most other mom’s wouldn’t do. Still, I panicked.

I called the number on the back only to discover the office was now closed for the weekend. Nope. That wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t be able to sit and stew for 48 more hours. I called the emergency line (this was an emergency-I was going to go insane if I didn’t have answers) and finally figured out what the problem was.

ME: “Hi, I got this card from you guys asking to call. I’m wondering why?”

DISPATCHER: “Were you at Safeway on Friday night with your daughter? There was a man there who said he saw you both and noticed some bruising on the small of her back when she bent over. He said that the interaction between the two of you didn’t indicate there was any abuse, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that someone else in the family couldn’t be hurting the child or yourself.”

ME: “Bruising?!? Oh! You mean the Mongolian Spots??”

Mongolian Spots are caused when pigment doesn’t make it to the top layer of skin while the baby is forming. It’s common in bi-racial children and very much resembles bruising. It goes away with time, but as small children it’s quite obvious.

This lil’ lady has Mongolian spots shown, and also on her shoulders, upper arms, lower back where the diaper covers, and all over her bum.

 

Fortunately, in this case, I had those Mongolian spots documented at her birth. I was able to tell the dispatcher the exact location of the “bruises”, which was verified by our doctor, and the investigation was ended.

As I thought about that night at the grocery store I started to realize which man exactly had reported me. He was a nice man with a son. He sparked up conversation a few times throughout the store. We chatted in the lineup. He walked me to my car (where he took down my license plate to call in). I just thought he was a nice guy.

As fate would have it, my partner and I were in the same grocery store the following week. We got what we needed and were waiting in the lineup to pay when who should walk up and stand right behind me? The man I figured had reported me. I started to shake. My body went cold. I knew I had to confront him.

We paid for the groceries. I sent my partner to the car to put them away, and I waited outside for the man.

ME: “Hi. I think you may have reported me to social services last week.”

MAN: “Ummm.. Uhhhh..Ya, I did, but you see, I…”

ME: “Thank you.”

MAN: “You’re welcome?”

I explained the situation to him and could see the relief on his face. He told me he thought I was a good Mom, but he couldn’t take the chance that maybe someone else was abusing her, and maybe I was in trouble, as well.

There are ever-ending stories circulating the news of families being accused of terrible things and their lives being turned upset down because of calls to social services. I don’t think these accusations should be taken lightly, and any reports must be made with great delibertaion.   Considering the circumstances in our story, however, I truly believe the man was doing what he could to keep my daughter out of harm’s way. The “bruising” on her back indicated that she could be potentially in danger, and for him this was the only way he could keep her safe.

We need more people like him in the world: people who are willing to advocate on a child’s behalf and have their safety as a main priority and who are willing to work together with families to grow a happy and healthy child.

It truly takes a village to raise a child.

 

22 Comments

  1. Jeremy@ThirstyDaddy

    I agree with everything you’ve said here…and still will admit that I doubt i would have looked at the situation so reasonably.

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      It took a while for me to see it like that. There was definitely some anger and frustration. It took me a bit to come to the conclusion that he was indeed trying to help.

      Reply
  2. Erin

    Love this! So many people get so offended at upset at everything. You’re reaction was admirable!

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      Thanks!

      Reply
  3. Debra

    I remember this incident so well. I am proud of you for realizing that there was a learning curve to this situation. While others may have gotten mad and angry, you saw the big picture. This man was doing the right thing. He was looking out for the welfare of a child and mother. There are so many things that we don’t know (i.e. Mongolie Spots), not because we don’t care, but because we have never experience such things. You choose to see the education opportunity. I am proud to call you my daughter, and so thankful that my granddaughters have a mother that sees the big picture.

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      Thank you<3

      Reply
  4. Alana

    This really made me think. Years ago, I was in a car accident that left me bruised all over, but otherwise unharmed. I went to my water aerobics class dressed in a swim suit and realized, at some point, the instructor was staring at me. I wondered why and later, realized she was wondering if I was being beaten. She never did ask. It’s a hard thing to become involved. Kudos to both of you.

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      It’s hard for other people to ask questions. They don’t want to offend, but sometimes it’s the best thing to do.

      Reply
  5. Sirri

    I completely agree with what you said to him! He was looking out for the best interest of your child! If more people did this more people who are actually being abused may be able to be saved!! My son has a birthmark just above his butt that looks like a bruise, we had his pediatrician document it when he was an infant because I was constantly being questioned why he has a bruise on his butt! I knew nothing good would come from that!

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      Yes, it’s so necessary to document it. This is what happened with our first daughter, and now our fourth has so many more spots. She has them all on her upper back on shoulders…so it may prove interesting in the summer time when she’s in less clothing!

      Reply
  6. Danya

    What a wonderful person you are! There are so many that would have attacked (verbally or physically) this man but you saw that he was only looking out for your child. I’m sorry Social Services had to get involved but you’re right. . . with everything on the news now a days, it’s great to know that there are people willing to advocate for our children. So glad everything was resolved and you were able to confront him. You rock, mama!

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      Thank you so much!

      Reply
  7. heidi

    What a great story! I thought it was going to be way different before I read it. You are so right that we need to show more community like that man did though I am sure many wouldn’t have seen it that way. The info about the bruising was interesting too I’d never heard of that

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      Not many people know, to be honest. I make sure I tell EVERYONE so we don’t have to experience that again:)

      Reply
  8. katie | north to south

    I love this. I love this so much. I love that this stranger was willing to step in, in the best way that he could when he thought something was wrong. I love how you handled it. I love it all. I work for a statewide program which helps to ensure that children who are suspected victims of abuse/neglect get the medical attention that they need from highly trained Child Abuse Pediatricians (yes that’s a thing) and other advanced practice medical professionals.

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      Yes, I bet this really hits home for you. We’re lucky to have people like you; I can’t imagine that’s an easy job. Hugs, Mama!

      Reply
  9. Jennifer

    Wow. Scary to have to go through. I’d rather err on the side of a child’s safety and have the parents mad at me than risk leaving a child in an unsafe situation. “Bruises” on the back don’t usually get there from normal play. Good for that father and good for you for taking the high road and recognizing what he was doing. Not many would have done either.

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      Yes, I completely understood his suspicion. It is an odd spot for “bruising” and I could see where he was coming from!

      Reply
  10. Rebecca

    That’s an amazing attitude to have. It’s very true that (in most cases) social services are there to help and protect children. It be ’embarrassing’ but I’d rather know people were trying to keep my little boy safe than bury head in the sand x

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      Initially I was mortified. I didn’t understand why I would be under scrutiny. After I realized he was trying to keep my daughter safe all feelings of anything other than gratitude dissipated.

      Reply
  11. ClaireW

    Wow you are a bigger person than me. I mean, I guess in this case, if they HAD BEEN bruises, and someone WAS abusing your daughter, this would have been a good thing. But shit man, some people just need to back the hell off.
    I have heard of PLENTY of unnecessary phone calls to police in public places when a completely NORMAL parent is reacting to a temper tantrum in a completely healthy way. In fact, I think police get tired of these calls. That is a great way to ruin a person’s life.
    I’m actually really glad you had a chance to get some closure with this guy. What a violation. I would have been freaking out. And way to take the high road. Going to click around your site…

    Reply
    1. Admin (Post author)

      I’ve had friends who have been called into social services over nothing and been investigated.I also have friends who are social workers who say they get calls like this often. It’s extremely invasive and personal. I don’t think that just any old reason is grounds for making that call. So many do it out of malice and boredom (probably), which is why I did feel this man thought he was doing his due diligence.
      Thanks for checking around my site and taking the time to read the article:)

      Reply

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