Saturday, December 7, 2013

Being Referred to Social Services

This week I played phone tag with and, on Thursday, finally spoke to "Helen" from the hospital where Gideon was admitted last week.  She indicated that yes, I was being referred to social services for sleeping my son in "extreme darkness." That's right - I'm likely the first mother ever to be referred to social services on that charge.

(Luckily, they had dropped the "he sleeps too much" charge - I'm guessing even the medical staff realized the lunacy of that one, as Gideon sleeps one hour more than the UK recommendation for his age).

As I talked through the illogical of it all with Helen, she admitted that while my concern that Gideon sleep whilst in hospital under conditions with which he was familiar was reasonable, she maintained that the darkness and my behavior to create it were "extreme."  However, she had conveniently not been informed that I had received permission to first sleep G in the bathroom and then to black out the windows when bathroom sleeping was prevented.  She also was surprised to hear that his stats were best (she could have read the report) when he slept in the bathroom and that after coming home, his half hourly wakings dissipated.  That and he is now the happiest baby on the block.  Yet still the referral was made.

Sure enough, yesterday I received a voice message from social worker asking if she could lend me any support.

I am half-minded to respond and say "Sure, I seem to have trouble getting our baby to sleep in the light.  It would make my life so much easier if he would. Although our part-time nanny is a professional sleep consultant, perhaps you have better ideas.  Would you like to watch Gideon during his 2-3 hour afternoon nap and see if you can get him to 1) sleep and 2) transition successfully in the light?"

Any other ideas?


  1. Lorianne, I truly feel for your situation. It can be so tricky working with kids and sleep. Our two year old is a terrible sleeper (getting to sleep) and we sometimes end up spending up to 2 hours in a night just getting him to bed and sleep...Seems like some of the hardest things we have dealt with as parents has been sleeping issues with children. You have done the reading/research, you are trying the best you can, you have the truest and best intentions and motivations, the results are improved, and you haven't broken any laws. I'm not sure I have any advice for the sleep part other than to say we support you and wish you the best with it.

    I find is funny and frustrating as well...our two yr old boy (same boy) found ways to escape the house when we first moved here to California. And although it wasn't very often, twice a neighbor found him on the sidewalk outside the house and brought him to the door. Unfortunately, they also then called the police/social services. We had police men come and follow up on it (they kind of laughed about it), then after the second time, social services got involved and came over. They came in the home and actually asked us to tell them the names, birthdates, etc of all our children and we had to have them come into the room so they could see them! I of course objected because this was after they had already told us they "determined there was no issue to report". So why were they asking for all that information, etc. It was all a very invasive experience. It's really a crazy thing and the system goes way beyond their legal rights and my constitutional rights. They make it very difficult for you to object too.

    Anyway, I sympathize with you and the whole situation. But if anyone can navigate the ugliness of the system and weather a hard issue, it's you! Good luck to you!

  2. Lorianne, I'm surprised it took this long to have someone charged like that. That's what happens when certified smart people impose their idea of help on us, I suppose. Best wishes in overcoming this wrinkle...

  3. I was outraged when I read this post, Lorianne. I work for HSS in Jersey and when I think of the occasions that we struggle to find a social worker to help with our cases and then I read that your perfectly happy, well fed, well clothed and well loved boy was referred to social services, I cannot see the logic in it. My mother used to block out every chink of light when we were sleeping but it meant that we got a good nights sleep which is essential for growth and sanity of the parents! I wish you the best of luck with this and hopefully it will be resolved soon and you will be off their books. Merry Christmas to all.

  4. I am so sorry Gideon was so ill and so glad he is so much better. Now as a grandmother of 8, mother of 3 and wife of a retired pediatrician I did get a good chuckle out of these two stories. I do have a small word of "advice" though. You and your husband are both very intelligent and have the means to have a nanny and the ability to read and make decisions. Unfortunately, many of the children that are seen in hospitals here in the US are from families where parents have little background with small children and almost no understanding of how to take care of a infant. Multigenerational families are getting very rare and modeling for many was done at a day care facility so basic caregiving was not taught or learned. I think 'support" for these women is a wonderful idea and the way the woman phrased it "as support" is helpful for many first time mothers. I have a British friend and from what she tells me they are much more helpful to new moms than the US.
    Now the doctor was over the top! A control freak if ever there was one. Hate to have been her child.
    Advice; Be kind to the social worker, she is the messenger. and you could make a friend.