Friday, February 4, 2011


Yesterday afternoon I was standing in a shop chatting with one of the employees. We were the only two there, so it was pretty informal. My eye landed on a foster-care advertisement, recruiting families. Instant ire. I started telling her about our short, intense career as foster parents, and why I'd never recommend that anyone ever foster with the Alberta government. It's the bloody-minded-est system that was ever conceived in hell's boardroom. It's organized abuse of both the children and the foster-families. Maybe it's an abuse of the social workers too, but from my perspective they look like willing collaborators.

I told her about our experience, how the girls were taken from our home after a month stay because I "wouldn't return the foster-worker's calls", because I'd taken the kids to the mountains - which they'd never seen - for two days, and I didn't have a cell phone 10 years ago. Actually it was because I'd been raising hell with the department over my girls' social worker and her lies to them and to me. I'd been recording and documenting the discrepancies. Two children had already died in that birth family - apparently that wasn't reason enough to supervise them on home visits. I was a huge pain in the ass.

After being taken from our home, they were put in another home, where I later found out that they were sexually abused for five years before it was "discovered" and they were yanked yet again. Last I heard the older girl was on the street.

There are so many other stories, like that one and worse. I hate Alberta Social Services.

But that's not actually what I was posting about, eh? Pant, pant. Okay, I'm pulling myself back together now...

As we talked, she told me that she'd spent time in foster care as a child, what that had been like for her (the homes were decent, at least), how hard it was to be deserted by your mother as a child, and still as an adult.

There are so many things we don't know about the people around us. This isn't someone I'd felt a connection with before. She's "not like me". But when I hear more of her story, things start to fall into place and make sense, and I realize why things are the way they are, and she starts to seem a lot more "like me" than I'd originally believed. Or perhaps it's that I'm more "like her". In a lot of ways we are all "like" each other.

Under it all, almost always same-same. Strange and wonderful and messy.

It makes it harder. If I can believe that someone is "other" or that I am "other" than them, then I don't have to take them into consideration. I can be different, and special, and misunderstood. The fact that I misunderstand them isn't part of the equation. It's all about me.

And yeah, we're all unique. But yeah, we're all the same too. Tough to live that one.

This probably means I'm same-same with the social workers too.



Hellena Post said...

Well I can attest to that....with 4 kids cavorting around us all the time, insisting on talking to nearly everyone they come across, we talk to the strangest people all the time. And always realise we're more similar that originally thought by both parties. I still remember the reaction when I told Currawong that we're the same as everyone else....he was horrified when I told him he too could be like George Bush. What's really trippy is when you start seeing similarities between you and other humans, as well as animals and plants and other random objects. !

Madcap said...

Hi Hellena,

I'm studying cellular biology right now, and when I really get my head into and around the concept that EVERYTHING is made of the same "stuff", it just blows my mind! And from there, it just gets stranger and stranger!

Mercutio said...

Certainly there exists an essential sameness which form some manner of foundation, but things sprout off rather quickly.
Predilection, appetite, and expectation lead us on to paths of divergence. And often the quantities are unknown, even to the person themselves.
Without getting too philosophical or long-and-drawn-out, that essential sameness is more readily accessible in some more than others, while at the same time, there are (ever-shifting, but nevertheless) concrete limits as to the extent of that sameness.

Madcap said...

That's certainly true, that it's a lot easier to touch in on the sameness with some than others. But it's more startling and attention-grabbing when I find that similarity with someone who presents as very different. Or obnoxious. Or whatever the chasm between us is.

WV is "dermic", so I think the universe is making some reference to the "skin-deep" principle...