***If you are here because of the TWC 2 post, please go here for my rebuttal to what is an inaccurate portrayal of myself and my attitudes towards FDW’s****

We had to fire B yesterday for theft of money and personal items.

The B I had known and considered a member of my family was a woman just several years younger than I.  She was one of my first friends in Singapore, and the woman without whom my home would have fallen apart last year between my eight week stint in a wheelchair and a horribly ill pregnancy.  She was a single mom, who adored Elanor.  When Ravi and I started seriously discussing pregnancy, she was so excited to have a new baby in the house.  We shared a love of Glee and People magazine (which I buy weekly, and would then pass onto her after reading it).  She was nervous around heights and the subway, and medical issues (such as Rhiannon’s hospitalization for RSV several weeks ago) terrified her.  I felt safe entrusting my home and my daughters to her.

I now know that inappropriate things have been going on from the start.  But anyone who knows Ravi and I knows that we are not the most organized individuals.  So when a few things went missing, we looked for them and eventually just chalked it up to carelessness on our part.  Singapore is a cash economy on a scale that neither of us are used to.  So when it felt like we were going through money quickly, we were frustrated, not suspicious; WE must have forgotten three or four cash transactions in the last week to have so little money.

But before a single incident, I NEVER questioned B’s character.

I didn’t write about it here because I didn’t know how.  But about 4-5 months ago, Elanor conversationally said to me “Yaya slapped me across the face.”  Yaya is tagalog for “auntie,” and what she called B.  Ravi and I investigated the matter as thoroughly as we could with a not-quite-three-year old.  When I asked B directly, she looked poleaxed and said no, bursting into tears at the idea that Elanor would say such a thing.  I had doubts as to the veracity of E’s claim, because in my experience B had struggled with giving Elanor time outs, and never raised her voice.  Ravi asked Ellie to slap him the way Yaya had slapped her, and she had no idea.  We couldn’t figure out where Elanor had come up with this, but we just couldn’t prove anything and we just couldn’t believe B capable of such a thing.

After that incident, though, my faith and trust in B were shaken, even though we had concluded her innocent.  I have to assume that on some level I began keeping closer tabs on things, or as much as I could given my advanced pregnancy, illness, eventual hospitalization, and then the haze of new motherhood.  For the first time, I found myself asking Ravi “Hey, did you take some cash out of my wallet, because I should have more here than I do.”  When he’d say no, I’d chalk it up to Singapore’s heavy cash economy (taxis, minimum amounts before you can use a credit card, stores that don’t take credit, etc) and feel frustrated with myself for obviously spending money I couldn’t remember spending.  Once or twice the thought of “could B have taken it?” crossed my mind, and I immediately chastised myself for even thinking such a thing.  The amount of time between my last cash withdrawal and when I felt like I didn’t have the right amount of money was always just enough that I had doubts about how much I must have spent.

The events of the last 72 hours left no doubts.

December 24

At 7pm on Christmas Eve, I took a substantial amount of money out of the ATM to cover B’s Christmas bonus, my spending money for the last week we’d be home before the trip, replenishing our “petty cash” that B used to deal with household expenses (leaving receipts for me to then total), and an extra year-end bonus for B that we’d decided to give her to thank her for going above and beyond during 2011, which had been such a stressful and difficult year for me health-wise.

We went to a movie and I paid cash for the soda and popcorn.  Ravi bought the tickets.  I’m not sure who paid for the cab ride home, but regardless, it wasn’t much.

We paid B a Christmas bonus and her weekly grocery allowance.

December 25

On Christmas, we only left the house to run to the local mall, Great World City.  B was off and out with her friends.

We picked up Ravi’s prescriptions as a credit card transaction.  We went to Starbucks, which Ravi paid for.  After he bought his coffee and my hot chocolate I decided to buy a gift or two there.  We’re not sure if he paid or I did, but we know how much the items total.  We then went to McDonalds for fries at Ellie’s request, which Ravi purchased.  Then we went home.

December 26

Public holiday.  Ravi was home, B had the day off and was out with friends.

We walked from our home to Orchard Road to view the Menorah.  We took a cab from Orchard road to Millenia Walk mall to eat dinner out.  I paid for the cab.  We paid for dinner with credit.  We took a cab home, which I also paid for.

At 11pm I sent B a text letting her know the game plan for Tuesday–Ellie’s gymnastics camp, could she do a grocery store run, etc.  Remembering that petty cash needed money, I texted her that I would put X dollars on the table for petty cash.  I opened my wallet, expecting to find X+more than enough for our personal spending, and a surprise year end bonus for B.  There was barely X in my wallet.  That was weird.  I texted  her that it would be  less money on the table, and put the remainder back into my wallet.

Confused, I went in to ask Ravi if he’d taken some cash to cover his cabs for the week or anything.  He had not.

I walked myself through the last few days, wondering if I’d already given her the X for petty cash.  That would explain things, but I very clearly had not as I hadn’t seen her more than in passing, and I wouldn’t have put money on the table knowing she was off the next day(s).

Ravi suggested I ask her if I already had given her the petty cash, and the answer would be very telling, as we remembered those four or five recent occasions when money seemed to have disappeared or that we just couldn’t account for from primarily my wallet, but at least on one occasion, his.

December 27th

10 am(ish)

I asked B to come to my bedroom where E was hanging out watching her iPod, and I was breastfeeding Rhi.  Playing it off as “forgetful mommy” I said that when I’d gone to put out the petty cash, I seemed to be missing about X SGD.  Had I already given it to her and just forgotten?

With a straight, smiling face, she said no, that I must have misplaced it.  The thing is, normally I would have been running around enough that I would have mostly agreed, or felt less comfortable in saying that money had been stolen.  I got a sick feeling in my stomach.

1pm (ish)

I sent her and Ellie to gymnastics camp.  I get Rhi and I ready to go to her dr’s appointment. I go through the diaper bag to make sure I had my wallet, and when it fell open, I was greeted with less than what I KNEW was in it as of the previous night.  I had thought about taking my wallet into the bedroom the night before, but it had seemed liked (a) paranoia at the time and (b) a valid test because I KNEW how much was in there.

We agreed that at this point, the trust had been broken, and that we should fire her.  We kept trying to justify it, or trying to come up with anything she could say that would explain it and make it okay for her to stay.  It just didn’t make sense.  At the end of the appointment, Ravi and I made the decision to fire her, and I broke down crying.

3pm (ish)–He goes to meet B and Ellie at Marina Square to escort them home, as we no longer are comfortable with the fact that B is alone with Ellie.  I call her and tell her that he’d gotten off early unexpectedly and wanted to surprise Elanor.  I take Rhiannon and go home.  I talk to an agency about the firing/repatriation process.  I go to our room to get her paperwork and passport.  I can’t find her passport, so I decide to go into her room to just see if it’s in her bedside table as I’m unsure if I need the number to book it.

I have never stepped foot into her bedroom.  I had only knocked at her door, looking at the room as her apartment, and treating it with the same respect I would treat anyone’s apartment.  I’m huge on privacy and I wanted to respect hers.

I felt so terrible, violating her privacy to look for the passport as I went into the bedroom.

I glanced around and was confused.  Things I had thrown out were in her room.  To be clear, I would have given them to her in a second, had she asked.  After all, I was throwing them out.  But she hadn’t asked for them.  She’d just taken them out of the trash and put them in her room.  That bothered me.

Then I looked down at the bed and saw a wallet open…with one of my credit cards in it.

I immediately booked the ticket, and I called the police, as the Ministry of Manpower website suggested I file a report with them in this instance, allowing us to have her blacklisted from employment again in Singapore.


B, Ellie and Ravi arrive home.  We put Ellie in front of tv, and sit B down.  We confront her, and ask her point blank, if she had stolen over X SGD from my wallet.  She looks us straight in the face and says no.  I tell her she’s being terminated and going home that night.  Before I’d found the credit card, I would have just let her pack her bag and taken her to the airport without going through her things, because as the theme of this whole post repeatedly points out, I am trusting and borderline stupid when it came to my level of trust in the B I thought I knew.

4:15pm (ish)

The police arrive.  They take her in another room, with one officer taking my statement and the other taking hers.  The wallet that had contained my credit card (thankfully an expired one) had also contained a brand new, valid, corporate Amex made out to a stranger.  We also found plenty of personal cards of mine, including a gift card to JP Licks I’d been so sad to have thought I’d lost on the last trip home (it’s a local ice cream chain in Boston), a discount card to a teacher store (Lakeshore Learning), the IKEA friends card I’d replaced while standing right in front of her confused as to where it could have gone, and others.

The police officer tells me I need to go through her room.


The stolen money was almost understandable.  Ravi and I had been trusting, careless and put temptation in front of her.  Our income disparities were a chasm.  She had a daughter to support.  None of it makes the theft okay, but we could almost understand how that happened.

Then shit got weird and upsetting.  As I was going through her items, I found (among other things)

  • A cash gift a relative had given us at Ellie’s birth, that we’d been saving to let Ellie pick out something or to put in her college fund, in the original distinctive  envelope.  I had recently found this as I’d been going through some stuff in the office, and had placed it on the desk there to take home and finally just put in a bank account.  It was wrapped inside one of her shirts
  • Two of my nursing bras
  • A burnt silk shawl I’d bought in college when it was something like 1/2 my take-home pay for a week.  In college and after for a few years, I’d hung it on the wall as art.  In Singapore, I’d had it folded on a shelf with other scarves and decorative wraps, as it only really went with one fancy dress, but as I almost never sport a shawl, I hadn’t looked at that shelf in ages.
  • One of Elanor’s bibs.
  • A box of Elanor’s Carnation Instant Breakfast.  The same Instant Breakfast we had run out of two days ago and suggested we buy earlier that day (which hadn’t made sense to me as I thought I had calculated such that we’d have enough to get through leaving for the US and for the first few days back at the very least).
  • Birthday cards to Ravi and I from my parents that we’d (sorry, Mom) discarded in the trash
  • Notebooks of mine
  • Passport photos of Ravi and I that we’d discarded
  • Some thigh high stockings I’d bought at Fredericks of Hollywood
  • The deck of playing cards we’d gotten at the hotel we’d stayed at the night we got married in Boston
  • one of my kitchen knives, blade under the bookcase, handle sticking out  (I actually almost missed this, it was so well hidden).

I also found plenty of things that pointed to a complete disconnect between the B I thought I knew and the B that apparently existed.

  • The B I’d known had said she had a boyfriend back home, and didn’t date or want anything to do with men here.  She’d come crying to me not six months previous saying he’d cheated on her and asked if she could change her number because he was harassing her.  I had been happy for her when she told me that she’d just started dating a new guy one month ago (around when Rhi was born).  I gave her the safe sex talk and she professed embarrassment about condoms, and didn’t want to buy them or use them because using them meant you were “dirty,” something she’d said before when we’d discussed sex (I’m a sex educator…I talk about sex).
    • The B I discovered in her bedroom had tons of condoms, lube, and a collection of hotel keys from around Singapore.  Which is not to slut shame her.  I don’t care if she visited every hotel in Singapore with a different guy on her own time, if that made her happy as long as she kept it separate from our home and our family.  It’s that she made a HUGE effort to present a specific image that did not fit with these items.
  • The B I’d known said she’d never tried alcohol in her life when I was once joking that we should do a shot of vodka after a very trying day with Ellie.
    • The B in her room had a liter bottle of Guinness, half drunk
  • The B I’d known said she wasn’t interested in owning a computer or anything like that when we offered to get her one last year for Xmas so she could skype her family from home without having to go to an internet cafe (which is where, according to her, she spent 3-5 hours every Sunday).
    • The B in her room had an empty Toshiba laptop box.  A brand-new in packaging DVD drive.  Sealed DVDS (and several of mine that she’d appropriated).  The stolen iPod (the iPod we’d considered giving her but hadn’t, instead choosing to give her a CD player and burning her CDs from my iTunes collection because she didn’t have a laptop).
  • When we’d first hired her, B had said she had almost no clothes, so I’d bought her work appropriate shorts and t-shirts, because her previous employer had paid her so little and she’d sent the money home.
    • The B in her room had so many clothes that she had to leave plenty behind.  The majority of which, though, were what I would term club wear.  Miniskirts, crotch level shorts, revealing shirts.  None of which I care that she owned, but again…huge disconnect.
  • B had said she was so upset when her wallet was stolen in part because she didn’t have another.
    • I found over 10 wallets and more than 5 purses in her bedroom

There’s more but you get the point.

The police sit me down and give me my options.

Option #1–I can press charges.  They will take her into custody for 48 hours.  After that, she will be released into Singapore and we will be responsible for her until her court date, which would likely be months away.

Option #2–I can choose not to press charges, and they will write the police report to look like they were called for missing money that couldn’t be found and that I decided she didn’t steal it but was firing her anyway.  None of the other stolen items that were found in their view would be mentioned.  But this was the only way we would be allowed to put her on a plane tonight and be rid of her.

We went with option 2, even though it left a terrible taste in our mouths when I signed the report and Ravi made them put in a line that he disagreed with my assessment of the situation.

745pm (ish)

With an hour before we were going to call a cab and have one of us escort her to the airport, we decided to give her a suitcase.  She had a small carry on, and she was allowed 20kg of checked luggage and a hand bag of 7kg luggage.  She only had a small carry on and there was a mountain of possessions.  Ravi suggested that we show more respect for her things than she’d shown for ours…to be the adults…and give her a larger bag.

We watched her pack.

At this point, I asked Ravi to go through her phone and delete any pictures of Elanor (of which I knew she had plenty).  Scrolling through and deleting, Ravi found photos of a man in a bikini brief/speedo and nothing else, dancing around our living room.

I was enraged and confronted her, asking if my child or children had been home when they were taken.

She said they’d been taken in November of 2010.  That was the visit home when after we returned, the security guard had warned me she’d had friends over.  I’d asked her, and she’d spun me a story of a friend from church coming over and watching movies with her.  When I had yelled at the security guard for treating her as less than human and that she had every right to have a friend over.  What a fucking idiot I am.

8:45pm (ish)-9:30pm (ish)

Ravi escorts her to the airport.  He watches her check in and takes her to immigration.  Once she’s through immigration, her only option is to get on a plane…to leave the airport, she has to clear immigration again, and she no longer has anything that lets her do that.

Just before immigration, she begs him for a large amount of money.

She seemed to not realize he was the nice person.  So she begs to call me.

I tell her that Ravi will give her 50 SGD for a cab home from the airport.  She calls and texts me repeatedly until I call her back.

“Take the 50 SGD and don’t contact me again, or Ravi takes you over the police and we go ahead and file charges.” I told her.

She takes the 50 SGD and clears immigration.


Ravi came home and we talked.

We both feel so raw, so used, so confused.  We can’t make sense of it, and we want it to make sense.

We’re hiring a pet sitter for while we’re away and to keep an eye on things.

When we get back, I’ll try to figure out if I can manage without a live in helper, but I expect that we will need to hire another helper at some point…and Ravi and I are both nervous.

I refuse to be one of those women who lets one bad experience sour her on helpers overall or to start painting all helpers with the brush of a bad apple.  But right now, I just don’t want a stranger in my home.

Especially when I was so wrong about B.

***I edited this entry a day later to delete some details that Ravi was uncomfortable with making public.

***If you are here because of the TWC 2 post, please go here for my rebuttal to what is an inaccurate portrayal of myself and my attitudes towards FDW’s****

This entry was posted in Helpers, Singapore. Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Disconnect

  1. notabilia says:

    I am so sorry you had to deal with this. I hope you heal and find someone you trust (if you discover you need a helper at all).

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks. I’m not sure that a helper is negotiable given our lack of family, but it’s not an option until I know I can hire someone and treat them on their own merits as opposed to reacting to what happened with B. No one deserves to be punished for someone else’s mistake. I’ll manage a new person differently as I’ve learned lessons (don’t leave your wallet laying around), but right now I’d be making irrational decisions to try and regain a sense of safety/control/whatever. So for now I grit my teeth and get it done on my own.

  2. Flora says:

    Oh my gosh. I am so sorry this happened to your family.

  3. Claire says:

    Oh hun – I almost cried when I read through this post. I am so so sorry you have had to deal with all of this, and the awful sick taste of betrayal it must have left in your mouth.

    Just know that you have friends around you, that you can lean on when you need them. Here if you need anything at all (please don’t hesitate to ask).

    Enjoy your break back in the US, and take time to heal. Things will be better when you have some time and space.

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you for reaching out. It means a lot. If there is one good thing to come out of this, it’s a reminder that we’re not as alone in Singapore as I sometimes feel.

  4. Sarah M says:

    Hi, I visit your blog every now and again and was astounded by what you’d written today .. .as something similar happened to my husband and I with our helper this week, although I didn’t fire mine and maybe I should have. I was looking for some washing while my helper was out walking the dog and knowing she sometimes leaves the washing basket in her room, I went in, only to find some random guy still asleep in her bed. She arrived back with the dog without a care in the world, only to have a look of shock on her face when she found him coming around the side of the house where we’d kicked him out of the back door. I think we treat her pretty well, but it was a massive invasion of our privacy to find someone we didn’t even know was there in our house and leaves you wondering how often this has happened and how safe our belongings are. Like you, I don’t care who she sleeps with, where, how or when, but I am not ok with it happening in my house, especially if I don’t know there is someone under our roof.

    Maybe I am much more cynical and less trusting than you are, but I’ve long had a feeling that employers in Singapore are having ‘the wool pulled over our eyes’ by our helpers. I don’t necessarily believe they are all untrustworthy and trying to rip us off, but there seems to be a commonly held idea that they must portray themselves as chaste, religious and shy, when our experiences often tell us that this isn’t so. I know all employers are different and we all come from different backgrounds and cultures, but most western employers seem more relaxed like you are, and yet are constantly having their trust abused. Helpers complain about the tough conditions given out by other employers, but they don’t seem to abuse their trust in the same way.

    We’ve read our helper the riot act and told her that any further transgressions or dishonesty of any kind will mean she is out of a job and she assures us she has learned her lesson, but time will tell. Part of the reason that we didn’t fire her, is that we feel it’s better the devil you know. So many people have similar stories about their helpers, it feels like it’s just a matter of time before someone new does something similar and we feel that live-in help is the best way for us to be in Singapore.

    I feel for you though. It’s obvious the trust, respect and friendship you have placed in your helper from previous posts. I feel more emotional distance from my helper, perhaps because I’m in a job where I have to discipline workers who break rules and so I know that this could happen at any time as a FDW employer. Maybe we all learn something every time something like this happens and we simply put things and rules in place to ensure that it is less likely and the consequences are clear.

    I hope this doesn’t ruin your festive season and you can still relax and enjoy your trip home.

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you for commenting and reading.

      I don’t necessarily believe they are all untrustworthy and trying to rip us off, but there seems to be a commonly held idea that they must portray themselves as chaste, religious and shy, when our experiences often tell us that this isn’t so.

      I think you make a very valid point here. When we were first hiring, the agency made a huge deal out of how often the maids went to church and their devotion….as an atheist, I was actually very uncomfortable with that.

      I feel for you though. It’s obvious the trust, respect and friendship you have placed in your helper from previous posts. I feel more emotional distance from my helper, perhaps because I’m in a job where I have to discipline workers who break rules and so I know that this could happen at any time as a FDW employer. Maybe we all learn something every time something like this happens and we simply put things and rules in place to ensure that it is less likely and the consequences are clear.

      I think some of what happened can be chalked up inexperience on my part. A bit more emotional distance (at least at first) would probably serve me well, although knowing myself…I’m not sure if I’m capable of that. But some time and distance is certainly called for before we can think about a new helper. As I said to another commenter, I can’t hire a new person until I know that our relationship won’t be about taking what happened out on them, if that makes sense. Let a new person sink or swim on their own merits, and change my style to reflect valid lessons (don’t leave $ out for one), but I don’t want to punish them for another person’s actions.

  5. redshoearts says:

    Oh, honey, what an horrifying experience. I’m so sorry. Wish there was something I could say or do to make it better. Glad you’ll be back home soon.

    • Crystal says:

      That makes many of us. On one hand, part of me is freaked about the trip…I have very little time to clean my house and get ready to go (although as Ravi astutely pointed out, at the end of the day all I need is enough stuff to survive the flight–most of our winter wardrobe is already there, and it’s not like Target couldn’t make up the rest as needed). But with new locks, and having alerted security/etc, our home is as safe as it’s going to be.

      Coming home will, I think, really help the healing process. Being in a an environment I know to be safe, the support from our friends and family.

  6. Malaficent says:

    Whoa! I’m sorry that your trust was broken like this. At least you found this out before Ellie and Rhi could be abused any more then they may have. Money and possessions can be replaced, but little lives can’t.

    • Crystal says:

      Exactly. At the end of the day, what’s keeping us up at night isn’t the money lost. It sucks, no question. It was a violation, no question. It’s the stolen items (particularly the personal items from the trash) and what that implies about who she really was….and that we let the person she really was be alone with our girls. That we will never really know what happened when we weren’t around. I’ve been cautiously questioning E, but of course 3 year olds are not the most reliable narrators (mid story some plot element from an episode of Little Einsteins will make an appearance, for example). We’re also going to talk to our pediatrician and such, but we take comfort in knowing that we were changing diapers and clothes frequently enough that had there been physical/sexual abuse, we should have seen it.

  7. DT says:

    Not to add on to the paranoia – but you should call the bank and ask for new credit cards. After all, she might have your existing card numbers somewhere and she DOES know your details (full names, dob, etc)…

    To be extra careful, perhaps you might want to change your door locks as well since her local partner might have the keys?

    And to clarify, it seems that you did not file a formal report to press charges then? Does that mean she’s NOT blacklisted from employment in SG and is able to return??

    • Crystal says:

      Door locks were changed before she made it through immigration at Changi (which R escorted her through and physically watched her go through); I could not have slept that night otherwise…and barely did as it was. Credit cards are being changed. I have already spoken to her gymnastics school and will be speaking to her pre-school to be clear that NO ONE but myself and R have permission to pick up my child. Credit reports are being ordered and we are considering credit monitoring (including for E)…we’re reasonably sure she doesn’t have our SS #s, but who knows if we left a tax form laying around? Phone numbers will be changed. Trust me, we take the violation seriously and are doing everything we can to prevent further violations.

      We didn’t press charges. There’s a report, and we are amending it to reflect several things discovered in the last 24 hours. We are also pursuing blacklisting with MOM, as they are the only people who can do it. But it will be MOM’s decision to blacklist or not, sadly. Nothing worries me more than the idea that she will come back to SG. I’m also grateful that we are planning to move when the lease was up (and had been long before things went down with B).

      • DT says:

        Glad that you have changed the door locks. Even though you may have cancelled her work permit & escorted her through immigration, being pinoy or a citizen of an ASEAN country, she can freely re-enter visa-free on a social visit. And the cost of a one-way ticket from Manila to SG on a budget carrier? S$100-$150.

        This is not to disparage them but the unfortunate reality is that the temptation for foreign domestic workers to steal is really great due to the huge income disparity…

        Consider this:
        S$1 = 33 Pesos. The average live-in maid in Manila only earns P800 to P1,000 per MONTH. Thus, even S$50 is a significant sum of money for them.

        Anyway for info, the market rate for a local/part-time cleaner is approx $40 for each 4 hour block. If you have them come in 2-3x a week, its still cheaper than having a live-in help, after factoring the cost of her salary, maid levy, agency fees, ticket and the incidental costs of having an extra person in the house.

        To make it work and since you’re planning to move, negotiate with the new landlord/agent for:

        1) Wall-mounted safe. This is definitely NOT a standard feature at all so perhaps you can propose a cost sharing basis.

        2) Heavy-duty washer & dryer (those 8-10kg versions), auto dish washers, etc that can cut out much of the daily cleaning time. This also allows your part-time cleaner to focus on the general cleaning of your home. Remove carpets and leave shoes outside. Try to use only 1 bathroom in the house to reduce the washing required. Evey little bit helps.


        3) Move to where day/child care are nearby. Novena area is good.

        4) Send the office wear to professional laundry shops.. Some in the Little India area do long sleeve shirts in bulk for as little as $6 each. And it comes back already IRONED!

        5) Consider a weekend car (those red-plates) or join a car co-op. Let’s face it, a car simply makes running errands a lot easier/faster alone.

        That’s all i can think of for now 🙂

      • Crystal says:

        To be honest, we could justify and understand the theft of money. It wasn’t right, but it *is* something we can see how she could have rationalized it.

        We’ll definitely be thinking about those sorts of add-ons/features in our next apartment and support systems (laundry, etc) to make things manageable without a live-in helper. Even though our last few days in Singapore were difficult for a number of reasons, but Ravi and I noticed a change of tone in the home. We were both much happier without an additional person living in our home.

        A car is very much on the table at this point. We’ll be looking at all the options, as we just don’t know all the options beyond buying at this time (I had never heard of weekend cars before your comment, thank you!).

  8. Kirsten says:

    I’m so sorry this happened to you and your family! I hope E is okay – she must be confused about where her yaya has gone.

    I once got burgled when I was at university and it just felt terrible, like someone violated what should have been your safe space. I can only imagine that this, coming from B, must have been so much worse.

    I hope you guys still enjoy your trip home, though. You can worry about whether to get a helper when you get back, but there’s no rush if you’re not comfortable. I’ll be on long-term vacation (i.e. unemployed) by then so let me know if you need an extra pair of hands/sitter/climbing tree for E!

  9. bookjunkie says:

    Oh no Crystal. you’re such a sweet person & I just feel so mad that this had to happen to you. But I am glad you found out earlier than later. I am so so sorry that your kindness and trust was totally taken advantage of. Made me angry and sad and all kinds of emotions at the same time. I didn’t want to believe that it could happen as well.

    As the post progressed it just ripped me. I immediately felt worried about your children, especially Ellie. I can’t get it out of my head that your little angel said she was slapped. I can’t even begin to imagine how shattered the both of you must be feeling.

    We had money stolen from us too….and it felt like such a violation. Especially when you trust. It just makes you feel so sick to the stomach.

    I’ve had other types of betrayal and from someone I thought was a friend. It made me feel so enraged and confused and like a total idiot. I never saw it coming then but in hindsight I see all the signs that I missed.

    With each incident I trust less and less and I don’t like it. I like the naive and trusting me a lot more. I don’t want to be angry and not be able to let go of the rage. Betrayal is really the worse thing to deal with.

    I hope you have a good trip back home and this doesn’t ruin it.

    • Crystal says:

      At the end of the day, the money sucks, but isn’t what freaks us out. It’s the disconnect between who we thought we were trusting our children to and who we actually were giving our children to for looking after.

      Hindsight gives us clarity, and there are so many things we’ve realized looking back. We are less innocent, and I’m not sure I”m so happy about it.

      I will enjoy the trip home. It will be really good and healing to be somewhere I know without doubt is safe (in every sense of the word), surrounded by friends and family.

  10. Dot says:

    I found your blog some weeks back. I am so sorry to read about this and I hope, like everyone here, that you recover from this and find trust again. It’s a horrible feeling to be betrayed like this. Take care.

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you for reaching out.

      We will learn from this, we will heal, and we will move on. My girls are okay…and knowing they’re okay will let me move on.

  11. Stacey says:

    What a terrible experience. It made me realize how exposed we are when people come to work in our home. I will be far more careful in future. I often have things like passports out on my desk. Yikes!

    • Crystal says:

      When my father in law suggested we get a safe, I thought he was paranoid. I’m now thinking it’s not such a bad idea if I can figure out a practical one at least for passports and sensitive documents (after all, if the safe can be picked up and walked out the home with, it defeats the purpose).

  12. Ali says:

    I’m so sorry Crystal, what a terrible thing to be going through. How is Ellie taking it?

    • Crystal says:

      Thus far, Ellie is taking it remarkably well. Eerily well

      We ended up telling her that Yaya had to leave because she’d been very naughty and taken things that weren’t hers (as Elanor also had items of hers stolen, Ravi felt strongly that we needed to say something to that effect). We’re not sure if she has fully understood that B is gone. E’s first preference has always been Mommy time, so I think on one hand, she’s just happy that Mommy was around all day yesterday. We’ll be monitoring her to see how she processes it, and get her any supports she needs. But thus far she hasn’t asked for yaya or asked where she is. The only mention of her was when E spilled something on her shirt, that yaya would wash it (to which I replied “No, yaya is gone. Mommy will wash it”).

      We don’t think anything negative ever happened to Elanor (in terms of physical/sexual abuse), but we’re still going to mention it to our pediatricians both here and at home to see to ask if there’s anything we can/should be doing. We each changed her clothes or a diaper almost daily so we have to believe (for our own sanity) that we would have noticed a sign. But we’re forced to question everything now.

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  14. Dawn says:

    Wow – I’m so sorry, Crystal. You must feel so violated. 😦 I wonder if this sort of petty theft is common with live-in maids in SG, similar to how paying them less than the legal minimum salary is common? Seems like an incredibly corrupt industry, if that’s the case. I’m especially creeped out by her stealing the birthday cards and pictures of you (though I’m not sure why you threw those out): what was she expecting to do with them??? (And JP Licks? Why steal something with no value in SG? Is she hoping to get to the US?)

    One suggestion I have for you, given your need for a helper, and your desire not to punish someone else for B’s mistakes, is that before you hire another one, install some hidden cameras in your home. We have cameras outside our home which were installed when we had work done; my husband wanted to make sure the workmen weren’t doing anything nefarious. He set them up with motion detectors so that they only take pictures (still shots once a second or something like that) when things are moving. With cameras, you can closely observe the person you’ve hired and get rid of them at the FIRST suspicious act, before you lose anything of value.

    As for the pressing charges system, that’s the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard, making the victim responsible for the criminal! NOBODY would feel safe doing that – so the only reason the system could possibly work that way is because the police don’t actually want to process these cases/keep the suspect in jail. Ugh. Is it possible to file a civil suit against the agency you got B from?

    Good luck!

    • Crystal says:

      From what I’ve heard, the petty theft is not an uncommon reason for termination. Like you, it’s the other things that were disturbing and frightening.

      We are considering cameras, as we’ll still have a cleaning service/sitters. It seems like a bit of an overreaction, so we need to think it through. In the short term, we’re home and then the first few weeks back I’ll be getting everything up and running on my own.

      Nope, no civil suit possibility. Singapore’s laws are very much written in absolutes and as we repatriated B without prosecuting (and had to sign something saying we had no proof of her theft), they aren’t liable. Ironically, had she been successfully prosecuted, they would have needed to place a new FDW at no charge with us. As if we would want another FDW from that agency (apart from our negative experience with B, they were a problematic agency).

      • Dawn says:

        I don’t think installing cameras is an overreaction. Lots of people have nanny-cams, and even if it’s expensive and doesn’t end up catching anything, it’ll be worth it for your peace of mind. Also, if the people in your home know they’re being watched (though be careful they don’t actually know where the cameras are, or else they can do stuff out of view or worse, tamper with the cameras), it will hopefully act as a deterrent.

  15. Kate says:

    Oh Crystal I’m so sorry you and your family had to go through this. I can’t even imagine how traumatic it must have been. It sounds like you guys are adapting remarkably well, but please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help (we get back on the 1st). Here’s to great new beginnings in 2012 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks Kate!

      Our planes likely passed in the sky–we’re now in Boston for a few weeks. Hoping I’ll get a chance to make it to Wahlburgers 🙂 We’re back just after midnight on the 16th. I’ll definitely be reaching out when I need help…but I’m also happy to learn that there are a variety of options other than hiring another FDW, which isn’t something we want at this point.

  16. bookjunkie says:

    After re-reading this…I really don’t like the 2 options the police gave you. It’s like your hands were tied. I would have chosen the 2nd one too…it just seems wrong that our system here is this stupid and unfair. The onus on the victim…it’s just soooo incredibly dumb. This is really an eye opener for me.

    • Crystal says:

      I definitely feel very jaded about what happened with the police. It’s clearly set up such that they have the least amount of liability and that we would choose to go the easiest route.

  17. laura says:

    I’d seen your tweets but only now having read this appreciate how awful this is and how wretched and violated you must now been feeling. I hope you and your family can recover from this in time.

    • Crystal says:

      We’re already starting to heal. Being home is very comforting, and the twitter/facebook/blog-verse has been wonderful in providing me with options that aren’t an FDW.

  18. plumerainbow says:

    Hi although we’ve never met, I’ve read your blog and enjoyed your writings. This post comes as a shocker: I’m sorry that this happened to you & your family and I hope you’ll recover from this ordeal. Glad for you that your kids are unharmed during the process. Best wishes.

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  20. Oh geeze. I’m really sorry this happened to you guys. What a terrible thing to be violated like that. As you said, it’s a really complicated situation, with income disparity and power imbalances, and all, but still, you showed her a great deal of respect and she betrayed your trust. It sounds like a really crappy situation.

  21. I’ve read and re-read this blogpost, and I’m still at a loss. I don’t know what to say except that I’m so sorry this happened to you. The betrayal was huge and nobody deserved it less than you and Ravi (and Elanor and Rhi!).
    I know you’re carefully considering your options and you’ll make the best decision for you and the kids, I wish you the best of luck!

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  24. Wow, Crystal, I’m very behind on reading your blog so just getting caught up today I was initially surprised that B was gone and to now read this I’m both horrified and deeply sad that your family went through this. Your respect and care for B came through so clearly in your writing that I can’t imagine how you felt that day. I’m so sorry.

    • Crystal says:

      We’re moving on, although I’d lie if I didn’t admit to occasionally having imaginary conversations with her–why did you do that? did I do something? just who are you? As far I know, we were unsuccessful in blacklisting her, and I wonder where she is, or if she came back to Singapore. I hope she not harming another family or neglecting other children.

  25. And that last comment is from rubberbacon, I don’t use that blog “enjoy a taste of the good life” anymore but for some reason it will only let me comment from that blog.

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