Thursday, March 15, 2012

hitting emotional exhaustion

Thanks for the comments and letting me rant. Funny How you can always find time to blog when things are crappy, but when they are happy and fun, you never get a moment. RIght now I'm just trying to keep myself from engaging in any retail therapy.

I did call the child advocate yesterday, but despite all my arguments, I was blown off with the answer that the state child protection agency was doing exactly what they were supposed to by promoting the reconciliation of A with her birth mom.

Wow. There are those three letters (WTF) again.

Told ya, birth parents rights always trump what may be the best interest of the kid. As I said to my private agency SW this afternoon, no one in this business wants to talk about the 600 pound elephant that is in the room, which is ::gasp:: reconciling with the birth family may NOT be in the best interest of the child.

Certainly wasn't for that 4 month old little boy last month who was returned to his birth parents, and is now lying in a coma with massive head injuries.

So I was so upset by yesterday's phone call and feeling defeated that I didn't call A's guardian ad litem (GAL), whose name I finally got. Then talked myself into feeling completely defeated and that there was no point. Luckily my private agency SW called to check in on me (and let me cry), and convinced me no, I need to call and ask for a home visit, or appointment so she can meet A. That I need to say this child is 10 months old, and I am the only mother she has know, this is her only family. Maybe things would feel different if there had ben regular family visits, or if my offers to be in contact with birth family and share photos and updates had been acted on. So I called and left a voice mail and will wait to hear back tomorrow. And if I don't, I will call again. And again. I will be that person.

In the meantime, I'm not sleeping. I'm either staying up until all hours doing weird OCD cleaning (i.e., I can organize the pantry and dust shelves no one sees, but I can't manage to vacuum) or just sitting up in the chair, snuggling with a sleeping A, trying to hold on to every minute I have to be with her. I'm trying to prepare myself by mentally packing a suitcase for her, figuring out what clothes she'll go home with, with toys, what ones I have to hold on to for my sake. I spent acupuncture this morning in a fitful doze, realizing I most likely could not handle another foster placement right away, and wondering if I ever could.

I want to hold on to hope that State Y will say no to the placement, but I also know that could be a very slim chance. No one understands why foster care and protective services run they way that they do. The only thing anyone involved understands in that there is always pain for someone involved.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Roller coaster rides

There is always a warning when you enter the foster care system that you are signing up for a years long roller coaster of emotions, hopes and heartbreak. I think in the last few months, I've have my fill for about 3 placements already.

The other two points they emphasize is that your first placement will never be the one who stays to be adopted, and that ever case is unique. Which means every social worker and foster parent knows at least one person who did adopt their first placement.

This placement remains in a holding pattern, but the state worker of late has been calling me and been what I call giving me signs. A great big kibosh has been placed from her last in-home visit when she was all smiles, and I have a feeling this is going to work out. Will you keep her name as [A] or would you change it?

If you are ever a social worker, don't ever start having conversations like that with your clients unless you are holding something in your hands from the court making things official. Because man, that hill that you are suddenly climbing on the roller coaster is not so exhilarating when you suddenly turn the track into a lunge straight down.

First was the phone call where suddenly all joy and grins were gone, and when I brought up the recommendation for termination of parental rights at 1 year (6 months after it was statutorily due), I was told, oh, no, social work can't recommend TPR; it's not appropriate for us to tell legal how this case should be handled. Really? Then what does social work do? But speaking of legal, when is the next court date, because I'd like to attend. That would be a wast of your time, really, no point in your going and a bunch of other stuff, and her never telling me the next court date.

This was all told to my CF (private agency) SW, who pretty much hit the roof. The placement had already been the subject of meetings with higher ups at CF who are done with scratching their heads over how the state is handling this case, and ready to call in the big guns. We've hit the 9 month mark with this child . I'm the only family she has known. There has been no visitation with birth family. Time to start pushing for what is in the best interest of the child

You know that adage. We all know that adage. It's what foster care and family court is all about. Well, except in the real world, when it is all about the state's money first, and birth parent rights second. Even if that means putting a child back into a dangerous situation. Let me tell you about the 4 month old I saw at the hospital ED who had just been placed back with his birth parents over the objections of social workers.

So today's fun was yet another call from my state social worker. Again, all somber. I'm immediately thinking, this is it, A is leaving.

No. Not yet, at least.

It seems my state's (State X) legal team finally realized that State Y (birth mom's claimed state of residency) was not going to take jurisdiction of A. This is what they had been arguing for 9 months. Instead of filing an ICPC to see about placing the child with family in State Y, the state has been arguing that since birth mom was from State Y, they should just take A. Because then State Y would be paying all the bills for her care. Under an ICPC, State Y acts as social worker, "keeping an eye" on the placement, but all the bills are still paid by State X.

Remember, first and foremost, it is all about state money.

State Y had been saying no to this since day 1. State X Family Court kept ordering the issue to be pushed. But I guess in court this morning (which hello, I did have a right to be at and speak at), the final word from State Y came in. So now the court is ordering that the ICPC be filing now, so A can be sent to State Y.

Confused by the letters? Because I only have 3 more: W. T. F.

An ICPC investigating placement with family in State Y should have been done at day one.  If this is what they are going to push, it should have been done in the first 3 months, 6 months maximum. Instead we now have another 3 months wait to find out the answer on the ICPC and a nearly 14 month old child will be removed from the only family she has known. I'm not sure where this is considered int he best interest of the child.

My recovering attorney self is just raging at the stupidity of this all. The ICPC should have been filed first, A placed with family in State Y early on in the process and THEN the whole bone-head argument of jurisdiction (aka, we don't want to pay for her kthnxbye) made. I'm angry, hurt, frustrated, and furious that no one, NO ONE is looking at A to see what is best for her, never mind the foster and birth families involved. Yes, she has a guardian ad litem in all these proceedings. Who has never met her. Who sees her as a case number on a file folder. And just argues what the court wants to hear, which is that she needs to be sent to State Y.

I keep telling myself it's just a roller coaster ride. The only problem is I don't know if it is going to come to a stop and let me off gently or run out of track and bring it all crashing down.