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  1. The Jugendamt visited my home

    This is a difficult post for me to write because my family and I have experienced something that we would have never thought could (or should) happen to us. My SO and I have been married for four years. I am North American and SO is ethnically and culturally German---in other words from here.  We both have professional careers and are university educated I am not saying this to gloat but rather to provide a full scenario. We are very happily married, and I would be considered ‘well integrated’ considering that I speak C1 German and work in professional sector.  We are observant Roman Catholics but not overly conservative.   I work part time and my SO works home office two days a week while I work. Our child just turned two years old in September. Our child has been on the waiting list for a part time place at Kindergarten for two years, but the waiting list is so extensive and most kitas will not accept children under three  years old so we have never been contacted for a place. It is ok; we are both very involved and loving parents. Our child reads, plays indoors and outdoors, does art projects with me and is learning a variety of songs and stories. I keep a detailed journal of all the stuff we have learned and done together which is modelled in the fashion of the binders that kids at kindergartens have. My child also participates in bilingual toddler group. I love being able to spend so much time with my child and I chose to work part time for this reason.   We would love to put our child in more activities, but Corona has suspended all extracurricular possibilities for the time being.   The doorbell rang earlier this week. Two social workers from the Jugendamt. They had two questions: is my child so and so and am I north American?   I was shocked. I asked to see their identification and they asked to see my home and my child. For whatever reason they were most keen to see my child’s room.   What they saw was a clean, large and comfortable single-family home. They saw our Halloween decorations, family photos, framed degrees on the wall and the marks of an observant Catholic home (crucifix on the wall, sacred heart painting.) I also showed them our child’s library and play areas.   This is not what they had been told and they became very apologetic and told me that whenever someone makes a report they must follow up. They said that they found no reason within the context of their visit to support the claim that had been made and so they would not open a case.   They were friendly and I could tell they were embarrassed to be in my home once I offered to show them around and share the basics of our very standard family life.   It turns out that someone anonymously called and believed that my half foreign two-year-old might be at risk of being ‘socially isolated.’   What in the world does that even mean for a toddler in the middle of a pandemic?   Of course, the person who made the report was anonymous. My SO and I have no real idea who could have done this. There are many people where I live who are openly ‘anti-foreign’. The area is very multicultural and I am sure there are many families who do actually need the assistance of the Jugendamt. There are individuals in SO’s family who have behaved in this way and neighbours who work for the government/schools---but we have no idea who exactly would lie and target us like this.   The social worker left her card with me and my German SO was able to speak with her personally over the phone later the same day. She reaffirmed that they found no evidence for the claim that had been made and would not be opening a file.   I am writing this post to understand what our rights are in this situation---can we request the original complaint? What do we have in terms of legal recourse if this should ever happen again?   I should know better after living here so long but it’s hard to fathom that people can judge and construct an idea about someone’s way of life in such a way that they feel they have the right to call the Jugendamt. The Jugendamt serves an important function in society but I also feel that it could be used as a tool of harassment/discrimination in cases where claims are not founded.   This whole ordeal has really taken a toll on my health. I am having trouble sleeping and I find it difficult to trust people. For a good hour after the visit I was still shaking. I have heard many stories about the Jugendamt but they are rarely positive.   Has this happened to anyone else here?   Please feel free to send me a PM if your story or advice is too personal.