Tuesday, February 11, 2014


"I am going to tell you two stories because one arose out of the other. Some years ago I had been trying to help two foster parents get back a foster daughter who had been ripped out of their home. I ran into the mother at a demonstration by wronged foster parents outside the parliament buildings. This is mainly about the needs of the child." by Ray Ferris
Ray is my friend. Ray is the author of 'The Art of Child Protection'.
> Consider Rosanna

(NOTE FROM RON: Ray Ferris is a frequent commentator and occasional post writer here. Ray speaks and writes from a vast experience of 31 years in public service in general public welfare and child welfare, child protection, as a social worker, district supervisor, work among aboriginal peoples, long term foster care supervisor, family court coordinator, director of alcohol and drug counselling. Ray is the author of 'The Art of Child Protection'. He is a decided critic of aspects of MCFD policy as exemplified by the manner in which the Bayne family were treated these past four years. He has written today's piece.’)

Story One: ROSANNA

"Rosanna was born with multiple handicaps. She was nearly blind, micro cephalic and had been assaulted in utero with alcohol and drugs. To add to placement difficulties she was also black skinned. She was so developmentally challenged that she was not able to leave the children’s hospital until she was two and a half years old and she could not yet walk. When she was ready for home care how on earth could they find a home for such a difficult to place child?

This is where Don and Elizabeth H. came in. They had two children of their own and in addition they had adopted two hard-to-place daughters. Both were developmentally challenged and both were dark skinned. These girls thrived in their home and developed to the best of their abilities. These large-hearted people were willing to take Rosanna on an adoption basis, but they were persuaded by the authorities to take her as a foster child because she had so many special needs that the expenses could be heavy. They took her but they did not ask or receive any special rates. Rosanna was in this home for the next ten years and she made astounding progress which amazed the specialists at the children’s hospital who became staunch supporters of Don and Elizabeth. For instance Don taught Rosanna to skate. Her eyesight was getting steadily worse and she could not see where she was going. Don would skate backwards and sing to her and she would follow his voice. I find it hard to find a better example of love.

When she had been in the home for ten years, Rosanna was going to the local school and managing well enough within her abilities. One day at the end of classes she had a tantrum because her favourite snack was not in her lunch box. She screamed and said that she did not want to go home. By this time the oldest adopted daughter was married and living in the vicinity. Rosanna agreed to go to her elder sister for the night instead. The next day when Elizabeth went to pick her up, she found that the social worker had come and taken her away. She immediately went to the office and found that she would not be allowed to see Rosanna until an investigation had been completed. They never saw her again.

Rosanna was seen numerous times by a child guidance counsellor who helped her to reveal bizarre abuses by Don and Elizabeth. It was claimed that they tied her up and urinated on her and so on. It was an obvious case of coercive interviewing by one of those councillors who sees sexual abuse in every corner. Every guideline for forensic interviewing had been broken. This was subsequently proved when the director referred the matter for criminal investigation. The investigating police officer could not find a shred of viable evidence and became a firm supporter of the foster parents. I spoke with him on the phone more than once and he was quite upset at the behaviour of the ministry and wanted to take it up with his superiors, but they declined to act. One of the clinching facts was that the director brought in an expert to do a statement validity analysis. In his ignorance he brought in one of the principal authors of the inter ministry guidelines and who was often called in for defending people falsely accused. He was a great debunker of coercive interviewing. Of course he shredded the counsellor’s findings. How did I know? The policeman had access to the report and he told me. He assumed that the director would release it and it was appropriate to tell me. Of course the director defended release of that document from freedom of information access.

The expert was not named, but I found out in a strange way. I suggested to Don and Elizabeth that they approach him to act for them. He told them he could not, because he had already acted for the director. The director was upset that they found out and accused his staff of leaking confidential information. We found out all this through freedom of information documents. The director in this case later turned up as the director in the Bayne case. So we all know what he was capable of. One day Elizabeth found out where Rosanna was going to school and waited to talk to her as she left school. The caregiver who came to pick her up was very upset and said she could lose her job if she let Rosanna talk to her. Elizabeth just had time to tell her daughter that they did not want her to be taken and they wanted her home. As the girl was hauled away she cried pitifully for her mother. Next week she got a letter from the ministry lawyer threatening her with dire legal consequences if she spoke with Rosanna again. This was ordered by the director.

Tomorrow: Story Two. A Spin off

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