Au Pair Departs in a Huff, Then Moves In Next Door

by cv harquail on February 20, 2017

This LongIslandHostMom’s experience triggered PTSD for me.  All the feels. The ugly, angry resentful feels.

6014069776_a13f2d2c70_mAll I could think about, after I readLongIslandHostMom’s email, was how awful it had been to run into our former, “flame out” au pair, when she showed up for a BBQ at my friend’s beach house with my friend’s nanny, acting as though she’d never dumped my family or hurt my kids’ feelings. As though everything was fine.

Because after a rematch, it rarely is fine. All the energy we spent trying to make things work feels wasted. At least one party, if not both, wishes things had ended sooner. Emotions were piqued, resentments amplified, and then all you want is to never. ever. see that Au Pair (or Host Family) again.

Can you imagine if your Au Pair ditched you, and then moved in next door with her “boyfriend”, the son of your neighbors?

Shudder along with me.

Here’s LongIslandHostMom’s email.  We’d love your advice.

Dear Aupairmom,

I am writing to share my story and to get support and guidance from other Host Families.

It’s been an exhausting couple of weeks. My Au Pair left us without any notice.

On 1/30, the day before my 6 year old’s birthday, she texted me at 5pm saying that she has decided to leave that day. By the time I got home, she has already moved out. We had just extended her on 1/8/17. I couldn’t believe she ditched us after spending a year with us.

Of course, we had given her feedback the prior week telling her that we could not continue to accommodate her school schedule — She was pursuing a certification program that required her to work shorter hours for us, since she would be going to school for 4 plus hours with 4 hours commute and 4 days per week.

She got very upset after that conversation, enough to moved into our next door neighbor’s home. She is dating the son who is 26 years old and living with his parents. I reported her to the agency and they dropped her out of the program. She didn’t even try to rematch.

Now to my dilemma…

(wait, what? It gets worse?)

Because our former Au Pair is living next door, I am afraid to go outside.  It’s been a traumatic experience for my 6 year old daughter to lose someone so suddenly, someone who claims to love her.  I don’t want my  daughter to run into the former Au Pair, and I can no longer allow my children to play outside. We are basically locked inside of our home.

I feel like we are being taken advantage of, with nothing we can do.

Plus, we now have to deal with the cost for rematch with another Au Pair, which will end up being an additional $2,000.

 

  • Have other Host Families experienced an Au Pair leaving in their extension year.
  • What did the Agency do, and what could the Agency do?

 

If the Au Pair stays, of course she’s staying illegally.  What action can I take? What action should I take?  Really appreciate any advice and suggestions! Regards,  LongIslandHostMom

 

Image: Helen Haden, on flickr

{ 35 comments }

SeattleHD February 21, 2017 at 11:24 am

Three letters: INS (or ICE or DHS, whatever they’re called this week). She is now violating the terms of the visa and in order to change visa types she would have to go home and reapply. How does that work with the agency – aren’t they responsible to ICE to make sure she goes home if kicked out of the program?

What is your relationship with your neighbors like? Doesn’t sound great – was it ok before she did this? Does she think she can marry the boyfriend?

LongIslandHostMom February 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm

We like our neighbors and we still do. I think they are being taken advantage of without knowing the full scope of the problem. Of course she can decide to get married or get pregnant. That would be within her rights. But it will be a bigger headache for me down the road. It would be very difficult to explain to my kids.

Amelie February 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Maybe she applied for a change of status, she doesn’t need to leave the country to do that.

HMof2 February 21, 2017 at 4:05 pm

When one of my AP decided to pursue a change to a F-1 student visa, we learned that she needed to apply BEFORE her J-1 expired. If the AP leaves with no notice, her J-1 ends immediately. As long as she applied for a visa change first, and then leaves the HF, she can stay in the US while waiting for the F-1 application to process. Not sure if there are similar rules regarding changing status to other visa types.

Amelie February 21, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Some au pairs make sure to apply before they leave. It is possible to apply for a tourist visa also.

5kids=aupair February 21, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Even if the agency deletes her from the program, she can still stay another 30 days from that as a tourist. We just went through that. They don’t advertise that, but if an AP leaves midway, they still get their travel time. So, INS/DHS can’t really do anything about it until that date. I would be PISSED at my neighbors!! How awful that she did that to your daughter, that is the saddest thing.

I would try to speak with her and tell her that she at least owes it to your daughter to maintain that relationship if she is going to stay there.

Rosy February 28, 2017 at 5:05 pm

That’s not true …. 30 days travel is a ‘prize’ you get if you accomplish your whole year. If you quit before time, you lose the benefit and have to get back immediately.

LongIslandHostMom March 10, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Yes that’s what I found out from the agency too. According to https://j1visa.state.gov/basics/common-questions/

If your sponsor terminates your participation in their exchange program for just cause, the sponsor will enter this information into SEVIS and you will be expected to depart the United States immediately. You will not be entitled to the post-completion 30-day period because you did not successfully complete your program.

HMof2 February 21, 2017 at 12:11 pm

We had an AP who abruptly left. With her sudden departure and the agency ending her J-1 immediately, that probably impacted her plans to change visa status to F-1 as planned. Later, we found out she applied for asylum. As far as we know, she was never persecuted or feared for her life at home. While she was with us, she told us her friend had applied for asylum and found a lawyer to help make up a story and it worked. This AP will try any ploy to game the system and extend her stay here.

We debated over whether to report her to ICE. In the end, we feel that with the agency reporting to SEVIS (we assumed) about her J-1 termination, that was enough. If she choose to apply for other visas, we would let the US government do its job to vet (however effective or ineffective that may be). We really hope that the immigration officers will see through her ploy and question why someone would apply for an AP J-1 visa first, then a student F-1 visa, and finally, an asylum. If she is really fearful to go back to her home country, why is asylum her 3rd choice?

Her action puts a negative light on legitimate asylum seekers, which is a shame since there are people with true life at risk situations and need asylum and she is burdening the system. In the beginning, we “return to sender” her mail back to immigration. After the mail continued to come, we wrote a letter telling immigration the circumstance of her departure and sent her mail back to the immigration return address on these envelopes. So far, no more letters.

HRHM February 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

First off, sorry you are going through this. It sucks that she just left you high and dry. Obviously, regardless of her feelings for your kids (and they may be real) she has decided to put herself first in a real and tangible and painful (for you) way.

Regarding her immigration status, you can be sure, nothing will happen to her in short order. DHS has bigger fish to fry than some young woman who has overstayed her AP visa. Also, you have no idea what is actually going on. If she has applies to change her visa status or obtain asylum, she is free to stay here legally until her case is reviewed and decided. This sometimes takes years to happen, during which she can live next door legally.

My advice is to stop living like a hermit and stop making your kids stay inside. Best case scenario, she and the next door neighbors’ son move into their own place (or break up) and you stop having her there like an apparition hanging over you. But in the event that she is there for the long haul, you need to be able to move on and live happily. Its unclear what your relationship with the neighbors is. If you know them well and think they would respond well, maybe requesting a sit down with them, the son and the former AP to talk about how upsetting this is for you and how to move forward. She owes you an apology and honestly, they may be totally unaware of a) how she screwed you b) her legal/not legal status

Mimi February 21, 2017 at 1:42 pm

I second the advice to not let this prevent you from enjoying your yard. This situation is hard on everyone but is a good opportunity to help your daughter learn how to face awkward, unhappy situations that you sometimes can’t avoid (because we all know they don’t end in childhood).

HM February 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm

I agree with this advice as well. Do not let her make you live like a prisoner. You cannot control what she does or what the state or agency does but you can control what you do. If maintaining a relationship means that much then I would have a friendly conversation with her and or your neighbor and see if you can make an amicable agreement with regards to your daughter. If not, and if your daughter is old enough I would have a conversation with her. I think there are ways to break it to your daughter gently if she is old enough to comprehend. I wouldn’t focus on the neighbor too much, I would just focus on what the future looks like for your family. If your daughter is younger than that, then honestly she will probably forget about her anyway. As far as reporting her to immigration, yes I would but let it go after you report it. Again, another example of why the Au Pair program could be in jeopardy.

Reluctant Grownup February 21, 2017 at 1:55 pm

This does sound hard. I’m so sorry that it happened to your family. The wound can’t heal if you can’t get some time & distance. Is your AP aware of how much you’re scrambling now, and how sad your daughter is? Would your agency try to do right by you, since you just extended? If there’s someone in good rematch longing to stay here, it may behoove them to cut their agency fee. (Especially if you play hardball and say otherwise you’ll switch.)

As far as being trapped in your house, do you have reason to believe she’d be mean to your daughter if you go about your life normally and they run into each other? If your daughter is playing outside, I’m sure former AP would be civil/ even friendly. If she’s not, that’s definitely worth a conversation with neighbors and even the AP herself. (Kill her with kindness. Act like everything is hunky dory. Best case, a single act of denial gets you a pleasant neighbor.

Someone this selfish/ clueless may even complain to you at this point “your daughter still thinks it’s my job to play with her; any way to get her to back off?” If she’s that horrible, that’s when you reveal – “your imagination status is really none of my business unless/until it hurts my child’s feelings. *You* chose to put us in this ridiculous and awkward situation. Deal with it like a mature adult. If you can’t, I will tell the neighbors my side of the story, and may need to contact the authorities…”

This is worst case scenario though. I imagine, like most young people, her life is all about her and she has no idea the hurt she’s caused. It’s not really your job to teach her empathy. The lesson is a hard one and only worth your time if she’d stayed with you. After the friendly treatment, you could mention your daughter’s feelings to her.

In the long run, would it be easier to take the high road? For the initial (huge) effort of forgiving her and being pleasant and civil, you get weeks and months of peace of mind.

And, your neighbors may get tired of supporting their son’s girlfriend. She can’t work or contribute. If she starts seeking employment, there’s another opportunity to tell your neighbors your side.

Ger-Brit HM in GER February 21, 2017 at 2:36 pm

This situation does sound unfair and I can’t even tell you how sorry I am for you and your daughter. However, I’m with the advice on being super sweet and using outside area as before. If she is civilised maybe even request a farewell session with the child?
I had at least 1 day notice when my au pair did something that automatically turned her staying with us into sth illegal and I was forced to make her leave asap. I asked her for a final few games and goodbye with my daughter including that she explained that now she was living with her friend. We showed her the packed bags and empty room a few times. If not for you, wouldnt it maybe help your daughter to be able to chat and wave to her former caregiver.

Reluctant Grownup February 21, 2017 at 2:43 pm

And it sounds like you’ve had a conversation with your poor sweet daughter about how AP leaving isn’t her (DD’s) fault, and sometimes people don’t think about others’ feelings.

DCBurbTwinMomma February 21, 2017 at 7:35 pm

This is terrible. However I second that it is a great teaching moment to show your daughter that people can be selfish and unkind but that is the person’s short comings and not yours and definitely not hers. In full transparency, I would speak with the neighbors all together. Tell them of the rules and how she abruptly quit which makes you concerned for the neighbor’s liability for potentially harboring a person who has now (her one month travel time is over) extended past her visa. Let them sort it out from there. Calling ICE, in my opinion, is petty beyond what she has done. This 100% completely immature youthful and craptastic decision can bar her from international travel for decades if not life. I would hate to now be living through the negative ramifications for some of my decisions in my young 20s. I doubt this relationship will last, but think of how the neighbors would “enjoy” knowing you (attempted to) deport their beloved daughter-in-law.

All in all, I would live my life and enjoy my yard because otherwise you let her have a huge amount of control. This teaches your daughter to cower and not make the best of a terrible situation. I continue to think involving Homeland Security is excessive. Tell the neighbors but be prepared to learn that they already know.

Good luck!

Taking a Computer Lunch February 21, 2017 at 9:42 pm

It’s not clear to me why you’re afraid to go outside your own home. So you feel betrayed by your AP and your neighbors for taking her in (I’m sure she spun a story). Your kids are young and resilient. They may love the AP today, but in a couple of months, they will have forgotten her. Don’t badmouth her in front of them, but don’t encourage their continuing a relationship with her. By all means, enjoy your garden. You get to choose whether or not to spurn any overtures she might make. Don’t let her think for a second that her decision to leave holds any power over her. I’m sure you’ve notified the agency that she’s no longer your au pair. They will inform Homeland Security about the change in visa status. Makes sure all her bank statements, library cards, gym memberships, telephone statement are severed from your address. If need be, invoke a mediated meeting with the LCC when the children are not around to close out her year. You may not receive any money she owes you back, but it may give you the closure you need. The LCC can help the au pair with change of address forms. Give her 2 months, and then start marking the mail with Return to sender, addressee now resides at ….

And really, don’t let her have any emotional hold on you. A sudden departure is a rejection, and hard to take, but be the adult and move on. (I always tell my au pairs, at the end of their year with us, that up to this point in their lives it has always been “See you later,” but now as adults, sometimes they will say goodbye to people with whom they have intense short-term relationships because they spent a year with them, took a class with them, worked with them briefly. Being bigger than your ex-AP does not mean having to love her, but it does mean not hiding from the pain of loss. If you’re going to continue to host APs, then your children will also get a lot of practice saying goodbye.

LongIslandHostMom February 22, 2017 at 10:44 am

Thank you all for giving me the support and advice! As much as I want to protect my kids to seeing the ugly sight of a bad relationship, I guess I am protecting myself from more hurt. It’s not everyday that you get to open up your home and your heart to welcome someone into your life as family. I decided day 1 that I didn’t want an employer/employee relationship. We went above and beyond at making her feel comfortable and always put her needs first. But when it came time for us to need her to step into the role, she threw a tantrum and left in a fashion with maximum damage to everyone possible. So looking back, I share the responsibility because we gave her the impression that her happiness is the most important above all else, including our children’s and family’s well-being.

I will not keep my kids in the house anymore as it is unfair to them as many of you had pointed out. My next Au Pair will be arriving in a few weeks and I have already told her the full story before she made the decision. Honestly I am looking forward to a beautiful new relationship. I know there are great Au Pairs out there and I should let 1 bad apple taint my experience. I see that many of you had great experience and I am hopeful that we will get there. And I can’t wait to enjoy my life and family without daily drama.

The ugly, the deceit and the jealousy will stay with her. I am ready to move on and leave the past behind.

Thanks again for all your kind words and support!

WestMom February 22, 2017 at 11:43 am

I am sorry OP, this sounds like a dreadful situation. It would make me very anxious to live next door to this person. But as most people have mentioned, for your sake and the sake of your daughter, you need to go back outside.

I also think that it’s good that you realize you deserve some of the blame for this. I am puzzled why you agreed to extend with an AP who was unavailable 8hrs per day, 4 days per week and did not discuss this until after she had already started her classes. I also assume that with a boyfriend in town, she doesn’t want to work weekends (and is more interested in extending for her romantic relationship that for her relationship with you). This was a perfect storm waiting to break. If I were the AP, I would be pissed off too (selfishly, but still).

I think there is room for reconciliation. I would invite her for coffee and explain that perhaps how you might have addressed things differently (you don’t have to sugarcoat), and definitely touch on how you would like your relationship as neighbors to continue moving forward. Spring is almost upon us and you will obviously bump into one another more often. And with your new AP arriving, make sure you are on good terms before she meets your ex AP. You don’t want her to sour that relationship in any way. Take the high road…

Former Au Pair February 23, 2017 at 10:00 am

I was going to raise the same point. When you agreed to extend with her, did you agree on her taking the classes as well?

NJ Mom February 23, 2017 at 1:54 pm

For the new HP, every year is a learning experience. Our first year we went a little too far in giving our AP “space” and she felt that we weren’t welcoming. We thought we were giving her freedom. She felt we didn’t want her around. She spoke up, we changed a few things (luckily this was early in the year), and took her feedback to heart with the next AP.

I think your goal for the HP/AP relationship is lovely. The only thing is to ease into it so AP can also learn to reciprocate as well as work for privileges instead of being handed them from the start. Learning to work through discomfort, conflict, or consequences is a skill every person needs so being too accommodating (or removing natural consequences) can end up harming them in the long run.

Count yourself lucky that you’ve had this experience and are learning from it. Imagine how devastating this situation would be if it was 12 years from now with your daughter. Every time we go through something with an AP that makes us want to tear our hair out, we just consider it practice for our children’s teenage years.

DMMom February 22, 2017 at 12:40 pm

We have also had Au Pairs make not so great decisions, but you need to think about it as a “dumb” 20 year old decision and not so much as an evil or malicious plot against you and your family. We did have an Au Pair who in her 7th month gave us warning on Friday afternoon that she would be leaving and getting married on Tuesday. Obviously leaving in a lurch, no child care, no heads-up, nothing. BUT, she didn’t do that to hurt us, she did that because she thought that it was the best thing to do for her, not thinking about everyone else. We were very upset and we also had to live next to her. However, for the children we never talked bad about her decisions and continued to invite her to their birthday celebrations, be pleasent when running into her, etc.

It is now 5 years later and we still keep in contact with her and see her occasionally. She still adores the children and has since appologized to us for her 21 year old behavior.

Looking back, we were in a bad position for a week or so and it cost us some extra cash, but if we were 20 and in the same position would have we considered doing the same thing? Yes, probably so.. Was she a bad apple, no not really. She was just increadibly immature with poor decision making. She has grown up a lot since and we harbor no bad feeling torward her. Hopefully you too can get to this place.

Previousaupair February 22, 2017 at 2:39 pm

That sounds like a very difficult and unpleasant situation. I’m glad to hear you are expecting a new au pair in a few weeks and have a positive outlook about your new relationship!
Just to play devil’s advocate a little.. your original email says you told your au pair you would no longer be able to accommate her class schedule for her certification. Since it’s February, I’m assuming this was in the middle of the semester. How much notice did you give her about that? Had she already paid for these classes? Had you previously agreed to the schedule? Had it been clear she could not take the classes before she agreed to extend? While walking out on you and your daughter is very selfish and leaves you in an awful spot, it seems possible you could have put her in a difficult position as well.

HRHM February 22, 2017 at 3:04 pm

It sounds like maybe she was your first AP ever? The whole “above and beyond at making her feel comfortable and always put her needs first” is painfully familiar from my first go as a HM and it backfired for me too. It is a VERY tough balance to be a great HP and still get what you need from your AP while not treating then like the help and honestly, after my horrible results with the first AP, I do lean a bit more towards the “employer” side to start with each. It’s much easier to start out tough and inflexible at the start and ease up when you see that she is rising to the occasion than it is to start out all soft and sweet and then toughen up when you realize that she’s treating you like a door mat.

My advice going forward with your next AP is to be the pleasant, benign but firm boss for the first 3-6 months and then if she’s really making your life great, flexibility is the reward for that awesomeness.

Reluctant Grownup February 22, 2017 at 9:18 pm

I second that wisdom. There are a lot of great discussions on this site about setting up high expectations, and starting out on the right foot. Warm & welcoming, but not “mom.” It’s sad that human nature prevents *most* APs from appreciating special accommodations unless they’re in contrast to the stricter way you start out.

WarmStateMomma February 23, 2017 at 2:28 am

Yep. I made that mistake as well the first time around. Going too far above and beyond to treat someone like family means she acts like, well, family. That means she expects you to roll with her life choices the way she’d expect her parents to react. It means she doesn’t consider the impact of her decisions on you.

It also means your neighbors probably have no idea what’s really going on. If they ask you about it, I’d say that you’re in an awkward position and don’t want to badmouth the son’s girlfriend.

I wouldn’t call the authorities unless I thought someone was a danger to others or planned to stay indefinitely without legal status. Your AP seems to be trying to get legal status so I’d let karma run its course.

When we had a surprise departure, I told my 4yo that the AP had to leave to go back to school. (This was a half-truth: she left early to go to a school near the boyfriend.) We avoided the rejection issues and focused on “you will still see her often.” She has seen her twice since then and it was only a big deal at the first goodbye. Sure, I don’t miss that AP but I’m ok with my daughter thinking everything is fine.

Going forward, I’d be clear that you have childcare needs that can’t be filled quickly and that your children form close bonds with their APs which must be treated gently. And be careful not to discuss the old AP too much; as with dating, no one wants that much info about your ex and you don’t want to sound bitter.

Best of luck to your family!

Taking a Computer Lunch February 25, 2017 at 10:57 pm

My handbook had always made it clear that I considered the AP the third adult in my household. I’m not their Mom – I hope to become a friend (not quite a relative and not quite “just and employer”). First, I always wanted them to behave like adults – and the my least favorite of my APs had no common sense and wanted to be babied for their entire year. I reward success that has been earned. While of course I want my APs to be happy, I don’t believe that I’m the sole source of their ability to have a good year – far from it!

After AP came with no household skills. “Cooking” was warming up food and she had never done a load of wash – I decided that child #2 would learn those skills before high school (we joke about “The Camel” and her laziness all the time – but really she cannot walk, feed, bathe, or dress herself without total assistance). Child #2 cooks a meal each week (we’re still working on clean up), keeps his own space as clean as he wants (yuk!), does his own laundry (the whites are slightly grey-blue, but so be it), and is learning to care for his older sister – which includes diapering and tube feedings. We’re fortunate to live near excellent public transportation – so DH and I basically stopped giving him a lift 2 years ago. I’ve succeeded in making my teenage son more independent than AP #8.

Your AP is hear to do a job – as well as to meet new people, try new things, travel, and be independent from her family. Emphasize the job, make a monthly schedule in advance – and when she asks you to give on an afternoon or day off, ask her to give. “Hey, I’m willing to give you that Friday afternoon off so you may have a long weekend with your friends. I’m going to ask that you work later the following Friday so DH and I can have a date night.” (As long as you’re keeping each week within 45 hours.)

Relationships require compromise. And that’s okay.

NJ Mom February 23, 2017 at 12:47 pm

There are some things that could have been handled differently by both parties such as working out a schedule that was mutually acceptable prior to extending for a year, timing of AP’s exit, etc. AP may have left so abruptly because she felt it was a bait and switch. Most extension APs expect more perks in the extension year and not less. What’s done is done and only thing you can change is what you do going forward.

I would not call ICE while emotions are still running high. In a few months if you know the AP is violating visa terms, you can reconsider if you want to notify ICE. You don’t want to be the crazy vindictive HP. AP may be young and handled things poorly. You are an adult and can do better. Not to mention you still have to live with your neighbors regardless of what happens with the AP.

I would explain to your kids that AP leaving is not a reflection on them. Something along the lines that AP cannot be their AP anymore because she is going to school (not because she doesn’t love them), etc. They have a new AP, and while new AP won’t replace everything they had with old AP, they will become friends with new AP too. At some point you would have this type of conversation anyways as part of the AP program. Obviously this isn’t the best of circumstances, but within a couple of months the kids will be used to the new AP and routine (assuming the new AP is great). I would explain to new AP a little history so she can better handle the transition related outbursts. The transition is certainly tougher with old AP next door.

Now how to handle the awkwardness (anger, etc) going forward. As best you can, try to go about your days normally. Don’t avoid going outside, and don’t be a prisoner in your own home! Even though you don’t feel it, act as civil as you can. You don’t have to strike up conversation – a simple “hi” when running into each other can suffice. The kids will pick up on any hostility and feel like they did something wrong, or feel caught in the middle. When your daughter feels bad after seeing AP, give her the comfort she needs, and re-iterate that AP leaving is not her fault and doesn’t diminish the love. Once things have settled in with the new AP, you can sit down and talk with old AP and/or neighbors to see what level of contact works for everyone.

In the end, you’ll find that it is easier starting over with a new AP where you are the one setting the work schedule and AP’s other activities have to work around your schedule. The AP program is primarily childcare + cultural exchange. The AP program is NOT a work-study program and there is absolutely no reason why work schedules should revolve around AP classes. Even though AP left abruptly with horrible timing, this will be better for your family in the long run.

LongIslandHostMom February 23, 2017 at 5:42 pm

With regards to why I would agree on the schedule before extension, I did not agree on it prior to the extension. She imposed the schedule onto us after the extension. She registered for the classes and told me afterwards that she needs to change her work schedule. We said we would accommodate reasonable school schedule but this is hardly reasonable. So when we told her that we would allow this for 1 semester since she had already enrolled, that wasn’t good enough. She told us that she is here as an exchange student and can’t give up on her studies. And then the next day, she left us.

Nevertheless, I have decided to move on. I will give her no more power over our lives. I realized that I was angry at myself because I believed her to be a better person than she is. But as soon as I was able to admit that she is just a twenty-some year old being selfish, I was fine with the outcome. Our family will be better off without all that tension. This was my first Au Pair and I definitely have learned a lot from it. Not just how to be a Host Parent, but being a parent in general. It reaffirm my belief in teaching my children to be kind and considerate to others. Our society is full of people who only look after their own self interest and forget the big picture. Karma will fix itself.

NJ Mom February 24, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Thank you for the clarification. From the original post, it sounded like she already had that schedule, then you told her it wasn’t possible in the future.

For her to even think she could dictate a ridiculous schedule and then leave abruptly when she didn’t like your very generous compromise – wow, good riddance! I dread dealing with people like that. Unfortunately I’m related to a few so I just limit contact, don’t get involved in, and put on the happy face when I do have to see them.

Callie February 24, 2017 at 1:22 pm

We have had 2 AP’s leave us in the lurch, but thankfully they went far far away. However, even still, when they left we dealt with it in 2 different ways. Although we were angry and dealt with that with the agency (and in your case perhaps ICE, but I don’t know). But around and with our kids, we treated each of their leaving like it was a good thing. That she’s love you guys, but needs to be with a new family now.

I know it’s hard, but you may consider dealing with this differently with your kids than letting them know how you really feel. Tell the kids to be happy for her and treat it like it is normal and ok what happened. Let the kids know she loves them but has to do her education which is very important to her.

Believe me, I know it’s hard. But I do it this way to minimize any hurt, guilty or betrayal that my kids may feel with this experience goes bad.

Best of luck.

ARLMom February 27, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Our first au pair did a similar thing to us, but thankfully, it was not right next door! We had just extended with her a few weeks before we went on a family trip (we let her stay at home and have the week off) and on our last day of vacation when we were returning, she sent us an email stating she had made the “mature” decision (she was 27) to return to Brazil and her last day of work would be two days from the day she sent the email. When we had to do the exit interview with our Area Director and her, she sat there and said nothing. She couldn’t even look us in the eyes and only said that she was “homesick.” Turns out she just took a bus to NYC and either is still living there or eventually went home.

From what I’ve gathered au pairs can apply to change their visa status to “tourist,” which would allow them to stay in the US for an additional six months. If they get rejected, it still takes several months to get a response so, technically, they’re staying legally until they get the notification to leave (why it takes months to process is beyond me). What I honestly believe in our situation was that the au pair never planned to stay an additional year with us, but she thought she had discovered a loop hole and that once her visa was extended it would be good for the additional year.

I have to say, the whole situation left me feeling really rattled and disgusted about the entire au pair system. For someone to spend a year getting to know our family and extended family to just pack up and leave while we trusted her to stay in our home while we were gone for a few days is really terrible. I have no idea if she had people in our home, went through our things, or what she did. I’d expect that behavior from an 18 year old, but someone that’s 27—never. I almost had our locks changed because I had no idea where our au pair went and who she was hanging out with, but all the agency could confirm was that she hadn’t left the US.

Our area director was very apologetic, but the HQ people we talked to were obviously not surprised by anything they heard because these situations happen on a daily basis with them. All they did was report her visa cancellation to the State Department (they do nothing in regards to reporting visa overstays to ICE and their only obligation is to let the state department know of the overstay.) Of course, they were more than willing to help us find someone else, but they offered no refund of any kind for the visa payment that they had just processed or the payment we had to make to the agency. So unless we wanted to walk away from a few grand, we had to hire a new au pair. We ended up finding someone in our area (there were plenty of rematches to choose from, which should tell us all something about how the system is completely broken) that has been a much better fit for our family and I was so happy to be able to interview someone in person.

She’ll be our last au pair because from my own experience and the experience of our own au pair’s friends, and other families we’ve met with au pairs, these agencies are robbing us all blind. They take money from the girls to come to the US and sell the concept of being an au pair like it’s some sort of vacation. They take money from families to provide minimal training, minimal screening, minimal follow up, and yet we pay the agencies as much as we pay the au pairs that are doing the work.

LongIslandHostMom March 1, 2017 at 11:31 pm

Yes, my experience with my agency is so similar to yours that might just as well be the same company. I come to learn about all the loopholes about our immigration system. It is so easy for dishonest people to cheat. I think some agencies definitely sell the APs a different story than reality. And when they rematch, the agency only get to make more money. There is definitely much room for improvement here!

SunnyDay February 27, 2017 at 7:55 pm

I believe our current AuPair is going to your home next. Descriptions she gave me aline with your situation. Just trying to make you feel better, she is a fantastic AuPair. She is a genuinely nice, mature, and responsible person. You will have a fantastic year with her. We were so sad when she decided to spend her second year in east coast after her first year in west coast. I’m very sure you will appreciate her after what you went through. Enjoy a wonderful year with her!

LongIslandHostMom March 1, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Thank you for your support! I know we would get along with our next AP very well. We are ready to have someone who truly want to learn our culture and appreciate what the program has to offer. We are certainly not going to let the bad experience change the way we treat our AP. Though I don’t intend to stay with the same agency for the next term. Even though our former AP left us without notice, they still treated us like a regular rematch. Nevertheless, we are exciting and looking forward to a brighter future!

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