Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Some things we learned so far...

We have had 3 classes so far. Again, the trainer is just all over the place - but a super nice guy. We are actually hoping he is the one assigned to our case.

Yesterday's class was about attachment and the issues with attachment disorders. There was a new guy in the class and he was a big jerk. He obviously has kids in his care, so I am not sure why he is at class. Maybe the class is a new requirement since his last placement.

We got off topic (what a surprise) and he made a comment that made me upset. In fact, the whole class was emotional in one way or another for a lot of the class.

We were talking about when kids go back, how sometimes, according to the foster parents, is not in the best interest of the child.

This guy has a child in his house and the mom has been doing everything she was told to do. She has showed up to all visits, got a job, got an apartment, went to treatment and is clean, etc. The guy was BITCHING that the mom works but her job has an 11-8 shift. The kid must be school age. He was saying that this mom was not being a good mom to this kid because she would only see him for about an hour in the moring and an hour at night (maybe). She was also a single mom.

Well, this hit a nerve with me. So much so that when I raised my hand to comment, I started to cry. I was a single mom for 11 years before I got married. A lot of the early years I probably only saw my son a few hours a day. I was a full time student and worked full time at night. I did what I had to do to provide the best for my son. If that meant he was in daycare while I worked, well that is what it was. My son is a great kid.

The past few weeks I started thinking about these moms that have their kids taken away. When doing foster care (or fost/adopt), we need to remember that the goal of Children's Services is to return the children to their parents. To educate the parents how to be a better parent. To help the parent receive services she is intitled to.

Everyone talks about wanting to keep a child - and of course any child that is placed with us we would want to become a permanant member of our family. But, the best situation for us means that a mother loses her child. And, I don't care how bad you have it, I think a mother ALWAYS loves her child.

So, if a mom (or dad) does what she is asked, turns her life around, really loves and wants her kids, how can I be upset about it. The children are her children.

I would prefer any placements be those that have a good chance of staying with us, but I will also pray for that mom - she lost a very precious gift. I know I will be distrought if a placement has to be returned.

Some satistics - according to our trainer, he said about 40% of children are returned to their parents (or a relative). Out of those returned, about 20% will be removed again. Once children are removed again, the original time in the "system" counts toward the manadated timeline to start the termination of parental rights.

Timeline - A parent has a max of 12-15 months to work with Children's Sevices to "clean up their act". At the end of that time (or before in certain situations), there will 2 main decisions.

1 - the parents are not doing what they are supposed to and the goal is Termination of Parental Rights ("TPR")

2 - the parents ARE doing what they are supposed to and the goal is reunification.

12-15 months does not sound like that long. BUT.........after the 12-15 months, that is when the PLAN to terminate is in place. It takes another 5-7 months to have the court date to actually terminate. And after TPR, there is ANOTHER approx 6 months before the adoption is final.

So, we are looking at a possible 2+ years from placement to adoption.

But, like I said before, the clock does not start at zero if a child is removed, returned to parent, and then re-removed.

Example: I will use a removal at birth so the math is easier.

A child is removed at birth and is placed in a foster or fost/adopt home. The mom decides right away that she will go into treatment, but takes her 2 months to get into a place. Her treatment is 4 months. She stays clean for an additonal 3 months and does everything else that the judge says. The judge returns her child to her when the child is 11 months old (11 months in the system).

The mom has the child for 3 months and relapsed. The child is removed again. That mom now only has a max of 6 months to follow the court orders until a plan is determined (TPR or reunitication). However, once a plan for TPR is made, the parent still has that 5-7 months to get her kids back.

This was new info to me, I thought that at the 12-15 month mark, it was then that the rights were terminated. I did not know about the additional year before a child could be adopted.

Sorry this turned out so long, but it does help to get is all down on "paper"

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