There are a few aspects of older child adoption that we have to factor in. One of the biggest is how it will affect TT and Bart. Bart absolutely ADORES having babies and toddlers in the house. Bart honestly doesn't want to be the youngest child. I think if we had a placement here for several months/years that ended up in a place where adoption was an option, Bart and TT would be OK. But the idea of springing an older child into our home with the notion of "forever" there from the beginning...I'm sure we'd have a heaping load of behaviors from all three of the children.
And no. My forever kids aren't more "important" than a foster child. But I will factor in the dynamics of an addition to our family before I commit to it permanently.
Bopper (our CPS worker) came to the house on Friday for her monthly home visit. She's a sweet young thing. Lord only knows why she chose social work as a profession though. She is a self-proclaimed scaredy-cat.
She told me she had to have some very difficult conversations with Sylvia (bio mom). Bopper didn't have this case from the beginning. And I guess she didn't realize fully that the goal has ALWAYS been family reunification with a secondary goal of relative conservatorship. Not sure why she didn't know this. But she didn't. And after reading through the whole file, Bopper had to staff the case with her supervisor again. After this staffing, she was able to officially change the goal in the case with Russell and Star. The goals are simply reversed now with the primary goal being relative conservatorship and the secondary goal being family reunification. Bopper said it was very hard to explain all this to Sylvia. (And no, it was not a language barrier thing. Bopper is fully bilingual.) She said that Sylvia simply doesn't understand why her kids are in Care. Sylvia cannot explain how ANY of the abuse happened to Russell. And let's be honest...this mother had to have known who was abusing Russell. A child can't have 15 fractures and nobody knows. Not to mention the fact that he was starving so badly and was covered in a layer of filth that CPS literally speculated meant he hadn't been bathed in months...if ever. (I'm sure he had been bathed. He had been hospitalized more than once for FTT over the course of the 17 months of his life before coming in to Care. But the pics of the filth caked on his body when he was removed do point to a serious amount of neglect.)
|Russell is 1 here - taken from a relative's FB page|
So I pressed Bopper a little. It is very clear that CPS is not in favor of Russell (or Star) being reunified with Sylvia. And there are no relatives that can step in. I asked, "So what happens next? How long will you look for a relative?" In Russell's case, it would NOT be safe to send him to ANY relatives that he's known in the area since he was born. In my opinion, they are responsible for the neglect he suffered as well. You could physically see that he was wasting away before he came into foster care. Any relative in his life should have stepped in to protect him if they truly cared.
And I'm going to put this out there. I'm not in favor of relatives getting to just pop up out of nowhere after a case has been going on for some time. Yes...family staying with family can be a VERY good thing. But I don't think CPS should have to DIG for family just because they are distantly related. Not for Russell. Not for any kid. I totally understand that ICPC takes a long time. I totally understand that even moving kids across the state might take awhile. But Russell has been in Care since February. If he's got family that wants him, they should be stepping forward NOW. At least put their names in the hat. And there is no one.
I don't know what's going to happen. Bopper answered my question. She became guarded (as she should - case workers aren't supposed to speculate, I know that). But she answered that she doesn't want to "look" for relatives for very long.
I was blunt. I asked her, "So what if you don't find any relatives? The secondary goal is still family reunification. Will the kids just go back to Mom?"
Bopper bristled at that. I know she does NOT want Russell back with Mom. But the possibility of that happening is very much a reality. Her only answer is that any other goal changes (to TPR) would have to be made in court.
I have a feeling that Wednesday is going to be a very interesting day. I wish I didn't have to drag both babies with me to the courthouse. I'm going to want to be able to hear everything and I probably won't get to. For now though, I've been told that CPS is not recommending reunification and I can expect that both children will be staying with me this time around.