When People Speak Evil Against You
“Ms. Varblow, this is N---, licensing worker with Washtenaw County. I’m calling to inform you that a formal complaint has been filed against you.”
“Oh, really?” I rolled my eyes. We had been told to expect false claims by unhappy birth family, but I had thought we were doing pretty well with those we’re currently working with.
“I am required to read the charge to you: Code 9---, Hindering Reunification: refusing to return phone calls and hanging up on the caseworker on the phone.”
A stunned moment of silence and then the torrent, “Excuse me? I have never hung up on anyone in my life, and I’ve returned every call from the caseworker within 24 hours. You can check the phone records. That caseworker and I have never even talked to one another in unpleasant voices.” I went on in this vein for a while.
What a slap in the face. We bend over backward to have a positive relationship with the birth family. I count the birth mother a friend. Doing everything I can to help put the baby I love into a different home is not easy, but I do it. I want him to have the easiest transition he can. Instead of gratitude and compassion I get defamation of character. I was irate: How dare the caseworker slander us like this?
In that moment I didn’t just hate her, I reviled her.
I knew where this was coming from. One of the caseworkers was planning most of the visits between our foster baby and his birth parent with less than a day’s notice. I would imagine the supervisor came down on the caseworker, the caseworker lied about me to cover her poor planning, and a complaint was filed.
“Well, I have to do an official investigation. Myself and another worker need to inspect the home. We can be there Monday morning.”
I spent the weekend cleaning the house from top to bottom.
They rescheduled to Thursday.
We cleaned again.
They looked in every room of the house, every closet, peeking in some cupboards and drawers.
“You keep this basement locked when there isn’t an adult present? Where do you keep your emergency numbers? How high is your water heater set? We’ll need to see in that room as well.”
I wondered what evidence of “refusing to return phone calls and hanging up on the caseworker” they expected to find beside the water softener or furnace.
I had compiled all of the phone records and e-mails between myself and the baby’s caseworker. I put together a ten page document telling how I befriended the birth family and aid in reunification. I also enumerated the times the caseworker violated policy and the time she perjured herself in court.
Holding my cell and landline records I asked, “Which days did I supposedly refuse to return calls or hang up on someone? Show me the time and date, and I’ll show you the timely response.”
“Oh, it’s not specific dates or anything like that, just hindering reunification: refusing to return phone calls and hanging up on the caseworker on the phone. I can’t even say which caseworker it came from, just the agency.”
“How am I supposed to defend myself against such a vague charge? That’s like the police sending me a speeding ticket with no time, date, speed, location, or vehicle.”
Shrugs. It was clear that they didn’t really care. The allegations were pretty tame. Even if I had done those things, nothing would happen. They would do what was required; file their findings and be done with it. This accusation would be on my permanent record, but they wouldn’t be losing any sleep over it. It was just my character and integrity in question.
Anger, so much anger.
Lord, take them from me.
This all made a great moral lesson for my kids. (I got to explain that even if you feel someone is a wicked witch, you shouldn’t pray that a house falls on them.) It also made a good vocab lesson as I spewed out every synonym I could think of for “hate,” “anger,” and “liar.” (Okay, not so much a good vocab lesson…)
And I’m getting a lesson in forgiveness, in choosing to forgive, in not passing judgment. In praying for those who persecute you.
It simply amazes me how God heard my prayers and took away that anger, that bitterness, that cynicism. In just a few short weeks the hatred is gone. In its place frustration and exasperation remain. But, I know in time those will go, too. Will I get to the point of loving my enemies? I hope so. For now, I’m awed to watch God heal my heart and draw me nearer to him through this mess. He is so good.