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.


  1. Wow. My head is reeling. I can only imagine what your's is doing. I do agree with three of those letters though, WTF?

  2. WTF is right! How frustrating. It's just so heartbreaking that money comes before the welfare of a child.

  3. Oh wow. I hope that this sorts our differently than it appears. Good luck!

  4. Geez. We've been warned about things like this (I'm just starting the foster to adopt process), but at least my state (Texas) is so big there aren't usually state boundary issues to add in. We'll get Texas children (maybe/hopefully from a 3-10 hour drive away, but still same state). We have been told, however, that in Texas a foster family has to be with the child for a year before they have any legal rights - then, after a full year, the foster family's point of view gets considered. So stupid; I mean you're only the person/people that see the child EVERY DAY, why should you have any opinion in the matter, right?

    I wish you and Baby A the best and hope the courts manage to see the way to what's right for that baby.