Sunday, July 5, 2015

answers to a reader's questions

Questions from a reader:
OK. Questions: Current children's birth mom has 3 children. An older girl who is with someone else. Russell and Star. Each child has a 'plan' per the court/agency. IS the plan for each child the same? Reunification with Mom? Or with a genetic relative of each child (who could vary due to different fathers)? OR what is each child's official plan re outcome.
Separate from what the official plan is, and assuming safe familial reunification is ideal, what do you ~ based on your incomplete knowledge of mother's situation ~ see as probable outcome for mom and each child?
Clearly Mom has not been able so far to be a strong mother for her children. Do you think this is poor/inadequate knowledge of how to parent/youth, lack of willingness to do the work, terrible life circumstances and partners, or basic inability to learn how to parent successfully? Is she a "horse who is led to water but will not drink" person?
To the best of your incomplete knowledge is mom actively participating in her own court/agency prescribed plan? From what you hear currently can you predict is probable length of stay for the two children in your home? ( a few more months, least 6 months, a year or more). Do you presently see any sign that Mom or her family can learn to be good safe parents for either or both children in your home? If not, currently could you see your family adopting the two children or would they not be permanent good fits for your family as things stand today.
Clearly things do and will change over time but I am wondering if you have guesses on these issues currently.
Sending good wishes and hopes for each and every one of you. 
IS the plan for each child the same? 
There is NO plan for the oldest child, Violet. She is three years old. I have NO IDEA why CPS is not officially involved in her life. I have NO IDEA why Violet isn't allowed to be with her mother. But, nevertheless, Violet is not with her mom. Violet now lives with her biological father. (And yes, all three children have different dads.)

Russell and Star's cases have been officially combined. That means they share the same goal and the same timeline. (Interestingly enough, the same thing happened to Daisy and her sister, Dandelion. And even though Dandelion is only about 6 months old, the goal in their case is now "relative adoption".) The official goal for Russell and Star is still "family reunification". That means officially, CPS is trying to place them back with Mom. I have to assume the secondary goal is relative conservatorship (permanent placement with a relative but rights to Mom are not terminated).

What do you see as the probable outcome for mom and each child?
I have NO CLUE what is going to happen in this case. I do not believe that Russell would be safe going to Mom or any relative! Every single person involved in the first 17 months of his life did not protect him. Everyone should have seen how tiny and starved he was, how he wasn't clean (literal black crust on his body), and how he wasn't developing at all. Maybe he didn't cry when his bones were broken 15 times. But people should have seen how he was being starved.

As far as the probably outcome though? It wouldn't surprise me if the children go back to Mom - if she works her case plan. There are no criminal charges being filed. Mom simply has "reason to believe she committed child abuse" tacked on to her background checks now. Nothing the judge does down here surprises me anymore.

Is Mom actively participating in her case plan?
As of the last court hearing, June 10, no. Mom had missed several visits and hadn't completed some assessment and therapy. CPS gave her another three months to work her plan. I don't know if she is cooperating other than to say she hasn't missed a visit.

What is the probable length of stay for the children?
Again...NO CLUE. CPS could drag a relative out of the woodwork and the kids could both be gone at the next hearing. I hope beyond measure that isn't what they're doing. I believe the maternal side of the family is very large and very dysfunctional. Or, because they rarely do TPR (termination of parental rights) down here, the kids could languish in Care for years until the judge thinks one or both of the kids is old enough to make an outcry. Who knows?!

Do you presently see any sign that Mom or her family can learn to be good safe parents for either or both children in your home?
No. Nobody protected Russell before. I trust no one now. Mom is still incredibly detached from the children during the visits. I don't hear much. I know she is sweet and gentle with them. But she doesn't respond to Russell in a developmentally appropriate way at all. She treats him like a tiny baby holding him on her lap with nothing to do. I have no reason to believe that she would all of the sudden take an interest in his development, therapies or anything else. I fear he would be severely neglected again. Odds are though, she'd probably meet Star's needs. I really believe she doesn't know how to handle the diagnosis of Down syndrome. And there is NOTHING available down here in her case plan to help her understand special needs. ALL parents are pretty much given the exact same case plan from what I can tell. There aren't any special services for parents of kids with special needs.

Could you see your family adopting the two children?
Yes. But the case is NOWHERE near this being an option. If Mom is working her case plan, TPR isn't going to go on the table unless something major happens.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Your history as a fostering family in your area had made me think there would be no immediate move to TPR. Especially given your having not indicated that mother's IQ was obviously significantly sub-normal. It was my impression that her own upbringing and resultant self absorption was the more probable cause combined with her learned subservience to negative male dominance and pressures. The DS issue would aggravate that.
I once heard a family court judge say the prevailing theory was to return children to parents as soon as there was a 51% probability the child could survive, not thrive, the neglect that was clearly going to happen in the birth family. From what you have said that would apply in your area as well. The result here was two identical twins returned, incurred skull fractures and other related damages and then children were returned to the system again and labeled 'un-adoptable' due to the severity of their brain injuries. The saddest part was their first foster family had wanted to adopt but after the return to their first home the children no longer trusted those fostering parents to keep them safe and alternate arrangements had to be found. The children's perception was that the first foster family had been responsible for delivering them into horrendous pain and suffering because they were not old enough to understand the court had order the return.
Thank you for what you are doing for all the children who have passed through your home. And for sharing the truth of what happens to children so it is more widely known. All the foster care posters/bloggers are bringing this information into the light and perhaps some day, as a result, things will be forced to change.
You are making a difference..